Summary: What authority is to be wielded by those God has called? What is authority? What limits has God placed upon us?
When a pastor begins to speak about “spiritual authority” in a church, there is always a cringe on the part of the congregation. Women expect a sermon about “submission,” deacons expect a message on “getting in line behind the pastor’s vision,” youth imagine being told they better “stop dying their hair purple,” and most protestants envision a papal decree.
As I researched this message, I found that spiritual authority had much less to do with “submission” to those in authority over them than it did to understand the nature of Jesus and how he gained and used authority in His ministry. We are so used to someone abusing authority, ruling over someone else, that we cannot imagine there is an alternative.
This morning I hope to guide you in an understanding of what spiritual authority is and isn’t, how you get it, how you use it and how you can lose it.
WHAT IS SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY:
a. The dictionary defines ’authority’ as the power or right to give orders and make others obey, or to take specific action. Authority is usually conferred upon a person by someone of higher rank. Democratic leaders are voted into authority. To be of any value authority must be coupled with power and proved valid by worthwhile results. Indeed, authority is the right to exercise power. It is the ability to control and influence people and events.
2. The Centurion:- Lets look at a Centurion who understood the nature of authority and expressed his faith based upon that understanding.
a. Matthew 8: 5 When Jesus arrived in Capernaum, a Roman officer came and pleaded with him, 6 "Lord, my young servant lies in bed, paralyzed and racked with pain." 7 Jesus said, "I will come and heal him." 8 Then the officer said, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed! 9 I know, because I am under the authority of my superior officers and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ’Go,’ and they go, or ’Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ’Do this or that,’ they do it." 10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to the crowd, he said, "I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all the land of Israel! 11 And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven. 12 But many Israelites – those for whom the Kingdom was prepared – will be cast into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." 13 Then Jesus said to the Roman officer, "Go on home. What you have believed has happened." And the young servant was healed that same hour
i. The Centurion is a gentile, a non-Jew, and is equally despised for his being an occupying soldier in Israel. He is what some might call a “God Fearer”…that is, a Gentile who worships the God of Israel.
ii. The Centurion doesn’t seek out witches, wizards, or diviners for his servant’s cure, but comes to Jesus.
iii. His servant has palsy, which in this case is a form of painful paralysis. The Centurion says he is “senseless with pain.”
iv. And at the same time, he has a humility that understands his place in the Jewish world…that he would be asking too much to ask a Jew to defile himself by entering a Gentile household.
v. And here is where he not only expresses his faith, but also his understanding of spiritual realities and authority. Look at verse 8 and 9:
vi. “Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed! I know, because I am under the authority of my superior officers and I have authority over my soldiers
vii. He knows the dominion he has over people as a military leader; he understands that when he gives an order it is obeyed, and obeyed instantly and absolutely. And it is clear that he understands that Jesus has that kind of absolute authority over all of creation!
1. And in this case…Over disease
2. He understood that Jesus has that absolute authority to command sickness to be healed. He understood that Jesus had the authority of God Himself.
3. He believed correctly, that Jesus had the right AND ability to exercise power in this arena of life.
b. Let’s take a look at God’s Authority
i. To understand God’s authority, we must realize that the conflict of the universe and of eternity is based upon WHO will have the authority.
ii. God’s primary goal in creation is to demonstrate and establish His own authority in all of creation.