Understanding Spiritual Authority--Part 2
Nov 09, 2011
The kind of love found among men and man-made religions tells men to kill for the honor of God. Its greatest manifestation is seen when men are willing to die for God. But the agape love of the Bible shows that God is willing to die for us--and not only that, but He is willing to die for those who hate Him and curse Him.
He is not only willing, but able. He is not only able, but He has actually done so in the Person of Jesus Christ. For God to be incarnated as a man is largely incomprehensible to most religions, but for that God-man to actually die seems ludicrous to them. Nonetheless, this is the full expression of divine Love, and those who truly believe and understand the Love of God will automatically begin to take on His character as well.
If Christians believe that God is a "God of vengeance," then they will adopt the same attitude in their own judgments of others that they believe God would do. If, on the other hand, they understand that "vengeance" is a poor choice of English words and that He is actually a God of restoring the lawful order by the power of His Love, then His followers will follow that example.
The Law of God is designed to recompensate the victim by correcting the sinner. If this is our view of God's character and Love, then we will imitate Him in the manner that we behold Him. Anything less than this will cause us to fall short of the Love of God in our treatment of others.
The Power of God is His ABILITY to accomplish His goals and plans. The Love of God is His CHARACTER that provides the framework for the entire plan He intends to accomplish. The Wisdom of God is the actual PLAN itself and the manner in which it is accomplished. It takes wisdom to know how to fulfill the goal without violating His character of Love.
Wisdom requires knowledge of every detail of the plan from beginning to end, leaving nothing to chance. To leave anything to chance would immediately undermine His Power (ability) to succeed. Hence, the Wisdom of God does not give sovereignty to any man or devil, but instead delegates authority that is subordinate to His Power. Proverbs 8:12 says,
(12) I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and I find knowledge and discretion . . . (14) Counsel is mine and sound wisdom; I am understanding, power is mine. (15) By me kings reign, and rulers decree justice. (16) By me princes rule, and nobles, all who judge rightly. . . (22) The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His way, before His works of old. . . (27) When He established the heavens, I was there. . . (29) . . . When He marked out the foundations of the earth, (30) then I was beside Him as a master workman; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him. . . (36) But he who sins against me injures himself; all those who hate me love death.
By Wisdom was the earth fashioned. With Wisdom is knowledge, discretion, counsel, understanding, and justice. These are all portions and characteristics of Wisdom. Each portion was employed when the Logos of God created all things. That Logos was the Living Word which was embodied in Bethlehem so that we could behold the glory of His Power, Love, and Wisdom.
Hence also we see "Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1 Cor. 1:24). Again, in verse 30 we read,
(30) But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.
As the Living Word, Jesus Christ is the bodily expression of the Law and the Prophets. Moses said in Deut. 4:5 and 6,
(5) See, I have taught you statutes and judgments just as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do thus in the land where you are entering to possess it. (6) So keep and do them, for that is your wisdom in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, "Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people."
Those who study the Law and learn to apply it as Jesus did by the leading of the Holy Spirit are those who possess the wisdom of God. The Law is an expression of His Wisdom and Love and also demonstrates His Power.
Hence, we see that God has the Power to accomplish whatever He intends. He will do so, however, only in accordance with His character of Love. But the Wisdom of God is the plan itself and the manner of its accomplishment. Because God is so much wiser than men, it often appears to us that the plan is impossible to accomplish. God loves to do Mission Impossible, because it always demonstrates His wisdom and knowledge of how to be successful in all things.
The Israelites questioned God's Wisdom when they were trapped at the Red Sea. They questioned God's Wisdom again when they ran out of food or water in the wilderness. Job questioned the Wisdom of God when he thought he was being unjustly treated. In each case, they did not yet understand the Wisdom of God. It was only after the conclusion of the matter did they understand God's Wisdom.
We, too, follow the same path of all men. When we run into trouble or hardship and pain, we question God's Wisdom or doubt His presence (Ex. 17:7). If we were never tested in this manner, we would never grow spiritually. We might be able to learn by reading, but we can never become the Living Word except through experience.
The Exercise of Spiritual Authority
I have expounded on these three primary attributes of God in order to give us the divine example by which we ourselves are to exercise spiritual authority. Paul says that we are changed by beholding Him (2 Cor. 3:18). When we get a clear view of the face of God, then we ourselves are transformed into His image and imitate His character and works.
Many sincere believers have been called to various ministries and have been given tremendous giftings by which to accomplish their ministries. Unfortunately, many have also retained inadequate or incorrect views of the character of God. Many have not really understood the divine plan or even His will. Hence, they have conformed themselves to an image of God that contains some distortions.
Nonetheless, the Gospel has gone to the whole world, even by the witness of imperfect men. Because God engages in on-the-job training, He gives jobs to those who are still learning. Their mission not only benefits the recipients of the Word, but also trains the one commissioned to give that Word. The revelation of a commission always contains within it the authority to accomplish that Word. Yet in its commission, there are always surprises along the way, due to our lack of understanding or lack of full revelation. It is those surprises that provide us with the most important training, because God brings us into unknown areas to shed light and give understanding.
Spiritual authority is a byproduct of intercession. Most people intercede without their knowledge, because surprisingly few Christians even know what intercession is. They think of intercession as just a deeper form of prayer. If I pray for someone, it does not normally give me personal reward, other than the reward of seeing how it benefits the other person. But if I am called to intercession for that person, group, Church, or nation, I become an active participant in a revelatory process that catapults me in the end to a position of spiritual authority.
Intercession matures believers in order to qualify them for spiritual authority.
To be continued.
This is the second part of a series titled "Understanding Spiritual Authority." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones