PART I THE BASICS: SONSHIP AND SUBMISSION
PART II THE DNA OF KINGDOM AUTHORITY
What does it look like
and how does it work?
PART III NEW CREATION LEADERSHIP
PART IV APOSTOLIC DIMENSIONS OF AUTHORITY
PART V CONCLUDING THOUGHTS AND SUMMARY
The abuse of authority has
proven hurtful to many precious people. This causes fear and
uspicion to arise whenever the topic is mentioned. By merely
reading the word “authority” some will no doubt experience a
twinge of pain because of past negative associations with
abusive authority in the church.
In his book, “Don’t
Drink the Grape Punch,”
Daryl Wood exposes cult-type authority that dominates and
manipulates people. There are those who use God’s people to
promote their own agendas and success, rather than asking God to
use them to encourage and nurture the success of people.
An equally serious problem
is found at the other end of the pendulum swing: people who walk
in a spirit of independence. While much of the world has respect
for authority and honor built into their culture, “doing your
own thing” is popular in the Western world. The independent
spirit of this age is not compatible with the full realization
of Christ’s kingdom on earth.
The dictionary defines
authority as: “The power to enforce laws, exact obedience,
command, determine, or judge.” While this meaning may suffice in
a secular and unredeemed society, its application within the
church brings havoc and damage. At the heart of biblical,
spiritual authority is the concept of servanthood. Jesus'
(Mark 10: 42-45)
makes clear the
concept of service,
“ . . . not so with you. Instead, whoever
wants to become great among you must be your servant."
It is in this sense that the word
"authority" is used in this discussion.
Our initial perception of
God normally comes from authority figures. Dysfunctional
parenting has wounded many people; dysfunctional shepherding has
wounded others. It takes functional parenting and/or functional
shepherding to bring needed healing. God will use whatever
wounded us to bring healing and wholeness to us. We are the
benefactors of the spirit of Elijah, sent by God to
turn the hearts of the fathers to the
children, and the hearts of children to their fathers
The kingdom of God is the
joyous realm of life, love, liberty and peace. It’s also the
sphere of ultimate and life-enabling authority. Humanly
speaking, the twin realities of “life-enabling”
and “authority” would seem
to be contradictory because our earthy and humanistic
understanding of authority falls far short of the true purpose
and function of God’s ways.
God-breathed authority is
liberating and life-giving, nothing like the Gentile authority
that has damaged so many people in search of our Father in
heaven. The CEO-type, top-down approach to church leadership
does not generate the life-giving results that bear the marks of
Jesus. But, neither do independence nor rugged individualism.
Neither Gentile hierarchy nor Western individualism reveals the
mystery of Christ in you, the hope of glory
The mystery is revealed as
we are yoked with Jesus, and thereby with one another, as the
Colossians verse implies—the “you” is plural . . . His glory
resides in all of us . . . together.
Eugene Peterson provides a
contemporary rendering of Jesus’ words that wonderfully captures
the grace empowering, life enabling, essence of submitting to
the disciplines of being “yoked” with Him:
“Are you tired? Worn out?
Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll
recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk
with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced
rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill fitting on
you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and
(Matthew 11:28-30 The Message)
Our hope in discussing
this subject is that reactionary extremes could be avoided, that
a pathway to healing might be opened, and that a proper
understanding of the grace-filled and liberating power of true
God-breathed authority will be discovered.
Jesus declared: “All
authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth”
Matthew 28:18 NKJ
“By tracing authority to its highest source, you
will eventually see God.”
– Watchman Nee
In this essay, we will be
considering Jesus’ authority as expressed on earth. It is our
desire to see “God on earth” –the incarnation of the life of
Christ manifested on earth to the fullest in His Body, the
Church, the Bride of Christ. This includes the expression of His
kingdom authority and life, first in us, then through us.
According to Jesus’
statement, all legitimate authority has its root (is sourced) in
Him. His authority manifests in three specific realms:
touch briefly on civil and familial authority, but the primary
purpose of this writing is the consideration of ecclesial
These are days of
transition for believers and reformation for the church. May we
take a fresh look at spiritual authority as Jesus presents it to
PART I THE BASICS: SONSHIP AND SUBMISSION
1. SONS, NOT SLAVES
bath water is flowing
in a torrent; and the baby
is in jeopardy!
The living waters of rhema
words are washing the church, and revelation knowledge is
catapulting saints from
slavery to sonship.
Much of what we have known as authority in the church is coming
under scrutiny, and rightly so. However, we must be careful of
the extremes on both sides of the issue. The old adage certainly
don’t throw out the baby with the bath
Our Father desires that we
realize our sonship. We are not slaves. We may be servants in
our work, and must be servants in our hearts, but we are to grow
in the wonderful knowledge of our adoption as sons in the
ecclesial realm, the kingdom of God. He has set us free that we
might be joint heirs with Christ as God’s sons. It is His
intention that we grow through obedience to become Jesus’
friends. It is critical that we are all established in the
realities of our sonship, before we attempt to embrace the
disciplines of the yoke.
Jesus’ proclamation, “I
call you friends,”
came after three years of discipleship, learning of Him and His
ways. Though it would take Pentecost to “seal” the lessons so to
speak, the point is, the status of "friends with God" does not
come instantaneously to babies. We start as friends at the new
birth in the sense that the war—the enmity between God and
ourselves—is over. We’re part of His family. There is
affectionate assurance in this great truth. However, the
co-laboring, joint-partnership of friendship develops in
Many maturing disciples
are actually experiencing life as sons of our Father. They are
no longer bound by sin nor subject to the systems of the world
(including religious systems). They are “free indeed” to know
and carry out God’s purpose and their destiny with authority.
see what the Father is
do likewise. This is what sons do!
Jesus did what He saw the Father doing.
That’s what sons do!
Please read John 15:14-16,
then this quote from “The
Language of Kings”
by John Garfield, contrasting the roles of servants and friends
“Servants expect to
receive commands and try to obey them. There is no place for
personal desires. Friends are invited into the ‘master's
business’ in a way that deploys the natural desires of their
hearts. Instead of telling friends what to do, God is ‘inviting’
them to ask for the ‘whatever’ of their heart. Our prayer
changes from talking to listening. To our amazement we hear the
Father asking us the same question He asked Solomon, ‘What's
your dream, how can I help you?’”
2. SUBMISSION TO THE HOLY SPIRIT
It all starts here. Our first and foremost
submission is to the Holy Spirit.
For as many as are led by the Holy Spirit
of God, these are sons of God.
– Romans 8:14
Submission to His guidance
radically affects our lives for good, empowering us to live
lives in subjection to governing authorities in all arenas of
life, civil, familial, and ecclesial. The basis for spiritual
authority is to be found in the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
All of creation earnestly
expects the revealing of the sons of God, who will bring the
long awaited deliverance from corruption
both to the church and
to the earth. The glory of the Father, seen in the sons who bear
(Romans 8:18, 29-30),
will fulfill the law of the Spirit
and bring life and
Consider the following
words of Scripture as they give us promises of what is to come:
The Anointed One, living in many sons, will fulfill the mystery
hoped for—bearing the fruit of
love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control
There will be no end to
the increase of His government and peace
as we seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness
The zeal of the Lord of
hosts will perform this.
– Isaiah 9:7
Not by might, not by
power, but by My Spirit.
He who raised Christ from
the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His
Spirit who dwells in you.
The reformation process of
the church will eventually produce God’s image and likeness in
perfect man of many members
The body of Christ will do the will of the Father, His way, in
the earth (as it is in heaven). The desires of hearts
will be calibrated to
Father’s heart. And, He will ask the Solomon questions, “What is
your dream? How can I help you?”
God has placed a passion within each person.
3. SUBMISSION TO GOVERNING CIVIL AUTHORITIES
Beloved, I beg you as
sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war
against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the
Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they
may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the
day of visitation. Therefore submit yourselves.
We cannot say that we are
in submission to God and to His kingdom if we are living in
disobedience to the tangible and God-established authorities in
our lives. It will be good to consider Paul’s teaching in Romans
13 by beginning the context at Chapter 12, verse 9. There are
thirty-one specifics regarding conduct in the passage. These
should be connected to Romans 13:1-2:
(1) Let love be without
hypocrisy. (2) Abhor what is evil. (3) Cling to what is good.
(4) Be kindly affectionate to one another (5) with brotherly
love, (6) in honor giving preference to one another; (7) not
lagging in diligence, (8) fervent in spirit, (9) serving the
Lord, (10) rejoicing in hope, (11) patient in tribulation, (12)
continuing steadfastly in prayer; (13) distributing to the needs
of the saints, (14) given to hospitality. (15) Bless those who
persecute you; (16) bless and do not curse. (17) Rejoice with
those who rejoice, and (18) weep with those who weep. (19) Be of
the same mind toward one another. (20) Do not set your mind on
high things, but (21) associate with the humble. (22) Do not be
wise in your own opinion. (23) Repay no one evil for evil. (24)
Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is
possible, (25) as much as depends on you, live peaceably with
all men. (26) Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather (27)
give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I
will repay, “ says the Lord.
Therefore, “If your
enemy is hungry, feed him; (29) if he is thirsty, give him a
drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
(30) Do not be overcome by evil, (31) but overcome evil with
Let every soul be subject
to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except
and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore
whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and
those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.
Liberation from the law of
sin and death is not a license for lawlessness in any realm, but
an introduction to a new kind of life, a “God-kind-of-life,”
which is filled with mercy and grace, longsuffering, goodness
and truth. Paul said
that the grace that has
appeared to humanity is a teaching grace. It teaches us to
abstain from ungodliness, not indulge in lawlessness.
Those who have been
liberated by the power of the Cross and resurrection life learn
to walk in a new and higher level of submission to the authority
of God, bound not by cold and robotic compliance, but rather
constrained by the law of life, love, and liberty in Christ
(Romans 8:2; James 1:25).
Five times in his
writings, the Apostle Paul referred to himself as a
“bondservant,” yet the nature of those bonds was love not
grudging duty. The empowering Spirit of Christ in us, and our
subjection to Him, inevitably produces the right kind of fruit
in every sphere of life.
Because of the love nature
and basis of our submission, Christians are a nation’s best
citizens. And that means more than waving flags. Spirit-led sons
of God are the salt of the earth and the light of the world in
practical ways, making a difference where we live.
Our submission to Christ
will manifest a chaste conduct accompanied by fear, with gentle
and quiet spirits that are precious in the sight of God
(1 Peter 3:2,
4). Sons will
overcome evil with good as we go extra miles, even giving our
shirts, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit of God.
The bylaws of the kingdom as expressed in
Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount will be lived out by grace, because
heaven’s power and authority indwells us as the person of
While it may be
understandable to carnal minds, it is wrong to compromise our
witness by being reactionary, adopting the world’s ways, and
manifesting the strong-arm of the flesh. This simple (but
profound) obedience of faith will take us all the way up to the
point of violating the will and nature of God. Only at that
point will disobedience to civil authority be in order. (We will
touch on this again later in this essay). Even then, we must
maintain the proper attitude of humility and submission that is
expected and empowered by the Holy Spirit
(Acts 4:5- 20; 1
4. SUBMISSION TO ELDERS
Submit yourselves to your
1 Peter 5:5
Many believers have
attempted to live a dualistic life with regard to authority.
While they readily will submit to governing civil authorities
(Romans 13:1), they
live without restraint or submission to authority in their
spiritual lives. We cannot pick and choose the spheres of life
in which we are willing to submit. Jesus spoke of rendering to
is Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s”
Our submission to the
elders of the church is vital for our spiritual development as
kingdom men and women. The nature of our submission, what it
looks like and how it works out, can be as varied as the trees
in the forest. But the fact of our submission to elders is a
nonnegotiable biblical truth.
God places us under
guardians and stewards
who, in turn, give
account to Him for our souls
They are commissioned to willingly oversee us
(1 Peter 5:2)
in ways that equip us for the
work of the ministry, so that we may walk in a manner worthy of
God prepared good works
for us to walk in
works were prepared for maturing believers. Baby Christians must
begin with simple and general lessons as they begin to learn how
to walk in obedience. (If we cannot obey man whom we can see,
how will we obey God whom we cannot see?) We are first to become
disciples, submitted to teachers
10:24-25), so that we
might learn to walk in His higher ways of thinking and
are examples to the younger followers
(1 Peter 5:3).
Our old and carnal ways, the ways of the flesh, cannot please
8:8). Left to our own
devices, we will never walk worthy of our calling, and never be
able to pray as Jesus prayed: “I
glorified You on the earth; I completed the work that You gave
Me to do.” –
By yielding to the
discipling pattern of Christ, in the Spirit of Christ, we will
be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:1-2) and
through encounters with the Lord by the Spirit (2 Corinthians
3:18). This is most often experienced on a practical level
through relationships with spiritual fathers and mentors.
Here’s what submission to
elders/mentors can look like in practical outworking:
From Greg Austin:
My first experience with
“ministry” and authority came soon after I sensed God’s call in
that direction. I began working under a local pastor. I was
saved, filled with the Spirit, called of God, anointed and
excited. My first true “ministry position” began on a Monday
morning. When I arrived at the church, the pastor led me to my
Stacked outside next to a
wall of the church was a large pile of used lumber. The pastor
said: “Those boards are all full of nails. We can’t use them
until the nails are pulled. Here’s a hammer. Lunch is at noon.”
Frustrated, even offended
that my “anointing” was being wasted on wood, I pulled nails all
that day and the day following. “I did this stuff when I was a
fourteen-year old nail driver,” I complained to myself. “This is
ridiculous. I should be out praying for the sick, setting
captives free, preaching the Word of God! I should be doing
something to at least prepare for ministry!”
It took several days for
me to cool off enough for the Lord to speak to me, and when He
did, His words were brief, but powerful. “You ARE preparing for
the ministry. Pull the nails and Praise Me.” I thank God that I
finally recognized that the dead man was trying to revive, and
that I was a new creature in Christ who needed to learn to
submit before I would be ready to instruct. Without submission
to those God has placed over us, we prove our immaturity. God
will not release us to “rule over many things” until we have
first been found to be faithful “over a few things.”
I had a similar
experience. Mine involved a mop! – Steve Crosby
Mine was cleaning toilets!
– Don Atkin
At its heart the call to
discipleship means submission, dying daily to futile
self-effort, dreams of grandeur, to hopeless laboring in the
flesh, and to the systems and values taught us by a world out of
sync with God. It is choosing the resurrection life that Jesus
brings us on the other side of the cross.
5. SUBMISSION TO THE BODY
Submitting to one another
in the fear of God.
- Ephesians 5:21
effortlessly recognizes and submits to a superior and usually
invisible divine figure, but recoils at submission to another
person (not even a prophet or an apostle) but simply a peer, the
the “one another” in whom
the Spirit of God dwells. This crucial test reveals our true
spirituality and maturity.
In an hour when many
believers have experienced the leading of the Holy Spirit to
leave the institutional traditional church in search of a more
biblically based worship and life experience, the following
truths remain constant: God’s plan for individuals is found
within the context of His Body, the Church.
Forms of church
expression, traditional versus house church, institutional
versus organic church should not be confused or necessarily
equated with the genuine church Jesus declared He would build.
The key is to differentiate between “body” and “institution,”
between living organism and lifeless organization.
Life begets structure.
Structure (regardless of what type) does
beget life. Our values
and mission vision should dictate form. Form should neither
limit nor compromise values or mission. The reason the Spirit of
God moved on the formless deep in Genesis 1, bringing order and
structure, was because they were necessary to sustain life. Life
is the goal, not merely order. All of God’s order, without life,
is not yet “good.” Only when life is manifest can it be called
as God did in Genesis–good. Order serves life.
While we may not yet be
able to cogently identify and define the church that is
appearing, what is of supreme importance is that while we may
leave one tradition, we dare not in our zeal create
another—inadvertently or consciously. Regardless of the
expression or form the church may take, the Body of Christ, the
Church of Jesus remains, and within this context believers find
origin, identity, meaning, purpose, and destiny.
Submission to the Body
means, in part, recognizing the Spirit of God within the Body
and submitting to the Father’s authority as it is manifested
through the Body. This is not a call to submission to man’s
authority manifested through a denomination, presbytery,
fellowship, parish, or even an apostolic network. Heaven’s call
is to humble submission to one another as we seek to follow and
walk with Jesus.
Perhaps you are currently
contemplating a departure from a traditional church structure.
While God indeed may be the genesis of your consideration, stay
connected until you know without doubting that God is
transplanting you. Don’t leave your roots exposed to the
elements. It is better to be part of a body where reformation
may not yet be recognized, than to be a “Lone Ranger” with no
True, godly relationships
will always include accountability. Parents often tell their
erring children, “If I didn’t love you, I wouldn’t correct you.”
The same is true in the Body of Christ. Within such a
relationship, being accountable is neither arduous nor negative,
and does not require the familiar “trappings” that we have known
as “church.” Traditional church dogma is based on structures,
while God’s governmental structure is based upon relationships.
It is important to have the “Amen!” of the Spirit within you
regarding your placement.
Relational accountability is essential to our
participation in the unfolding purposes of God.
Both mutual accountability
among brethren and accountability to those who have been given
oversight are necessary for true spiritual maturity to occur.
The Holy Spirit of God establishes righteous accountability in
Christ. Although we serve according to the example of Jesus
Christ, we are not merely servants. It is primarily relational
accountability that facilitates our growing into full and
experiential sonship, and subsequently into full participation
in the reformation of the church. First, we realize our place in
the family, and then we find that we have a part in “the family
The life of Christ is by
definition, submissive and accountable, if indeed it is Christ’s
very life in us. It has to be, and it has to manifest. However,
you can produce accountability from the Adamic nature and not
possess the life of Christ. Accountability is a by-product, a
fruit, of something else. It is not a free-standing entity of
its own. If we preach and experience the life, we will get the
fruit quite effortlessly. We don’t preach accountability. We
preach Christ, accurately, incarnationally, empowered, and
accountability will result.
Brick masons understand
the importance of aligning bricks so that they are level, square
and plumb. The Bible describes disciples as “living stones” that
are being built together as a habitation for God. Scripture also
uses the human body as a metaphor. Bodies sometimes need a
chiropractic adjustment. We desire for Father to ask us the
Solomon question: "What's your dream, how can I help you?”
Filled with His life-giving Spirit, and rightly ordered in heart
and relationships by His divine Hand, He will give us the
desires of our hearts.
PART II THE DNA OF KINGDOM AUTHORITY - WHAT
DOES IT LOOK
LIKE? HOW DOES IT WORK?
The creation waits in eager expectation for the
sons of God to be revealed.
– Romans 8:19 NIV
It could be said that the
issue of this essay is the recovery of God’s DNA in authority on
earth. It is a very real battle for spiritual DNA. What follows
is our estimation of some of the genetic structure that makes up
Christ’s authority DNA.
1. KINGDOM AUTHORITY IS SUBMISSIVE
A father notices that his
five-year-old son is standing up in the back seat of the car,
and instructs him, “Son, sit down and buckle your seat belt!”
The son ignores his dad, who then more emphatically says, “Son,
sit down and buckle your seat belt, right now!” Again, he is
ignored. “If you don’t sit down and buckle your seat belt now, I
will stop the car, we will both get out of the car, and you will
be sorry!” (Meaning: “I’m going to HURT you at the God-provided
spot on your body which cannot be damaged.” Or, “I am going to
get to the “seat” of this problem with the “board” of
“education!”) The boy sits down, and the father hears him
mumbling, “I’m sitting down on the outside, but I’m still
standing up on the inside!”
Many who consider
themselves adults are “still standing up on the inside,” waiting
until obedience is forced, either by direct command or by
When I was a child, I
spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child;
but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
Submissiveness (an inward
attitude) is even more foundational to the Christian life and
witness than obedience (an outward action).
attitude will—sooner or later—drive our outward actions.
Behavior modification (in the world and in the church) is no
substitute for conversion and the renewing of our minds.
This is not a concept that
can be understood by natural humanity (the unregenerate Adamic
nature), nor a command that can be obeyed by carnal humanity.
Only the new
creation, formed from heaven’s Seed can experience
the dimensions of God’s authority. This is the unprecedented and
supernatural life of a new species
in the earth. We like
the way Warren Litzman explains this: “If any man be in Christ,
he is a new race…” Warren goes on to explain every race began
with the seed of one man, and reproduced from there. Again, It’s
all about the DNA of Heaven.
The principle of God’s
universal authority applies in the civil and familial arenas of
life for all mankind. However, the capacity for true and full
obedience is only found in and among the new creation.
nature of ecclesial authority is “love.”
Therefore, by love (the
fruit of the Holy Spirit within and upon believers) they are
uniquely empowered to excel in civil and familial arenas as well
as parts of the body of Christ.
Christ in us, portraying
the higher thoughts and ways of God, and demonstrating the way
of the Spirit in true humility in the face of authority. The
Spirit of God is still honoring the Father by honoring those who
are given authority in the earth. Understanding this, we will no
longer vilify people in places of authority. For, in doing so,
we are vilifying God! On the other hand, when we honor
(I Peter 2:17)
we give honor to
2. KINGDOM AUTHORITY IS JURISDICTIONALLY
The three realms of
authority—familial, civil, and ecclesial—do not necessarily
operate identically. While the concept of submission is
identical in each, the expression of submission is not. We must
not blur the distinctions.
Civil authority is
positional, potentially coercive (no choice involved), normally
non–relational, and static (rigid). That is, civil authority
only changes (in our society) through the electoral or
legislative process in civil government. Legitimate kingdom
authority in the family and church is not static. It is
relational, volitional (in the church), and most importantly
seasonal. Since its foundation is relational, it’s expression
changes as the relationships change as the result of growth in
the seasons of natural and spiritual life. (See Part VI of this
Wholly furnished with
power from on high, anointed saints are equipped for exemplary
demonstrations of the kingdom of God in societal and family
life. In the familial or ecclesial (spiritual) arenas of life,
silence and submission are not biblically required in the face
of abuse, injustice, or corruption. We do submit when these
authorities are moral, ethical, legal, and jurisdictionally
It’s possible to get hold
of a legitimate concept of God and make God submissive to His
own principles as if the principle itself has within it
animating life. If we animate a “thing,” like accountability,
and present it as something to be pursued, we have subordinated
God. This is, of course, fundamentally idolatrous. We pursue
God, and we get accountability. We don’t pursue accountability
thinking we get God. It is a root and fruit issue.
Life is the root.
Accountability is the fruit.
But this matter is so
slippery because we often think we are representing God’s
interests by advocating for one of His principles, when in
reality, we are advocating a form of religious idolatry. There
is no substitute for the root and fountain of life. Cut off from
Him/It, any principle becomes an idol, even when it is a good
We have not seen a more
submissive man in history than Jesus Christ, who is
in us—the hope of glory
Jesus modeled the new creation life of love. Jesus lived His
life on earth completely under authority by honoring
relationships. When He was young, He was in subjection to His
parents. After His baptism, the Holy Spirit led Him into the
wilderness. After emerging into ministry, He only did what He
saw His Father doing. That’s what sons do!
As He is, so are we
in the world
(1 John 4:17).
Because the submissive
Christ is in us, we can be
salt and light
in any situation.
Kingdom authority happens by influence. One of the reasons we
should not be too hasty to remove ourselves from present
situations that are less than perfect is because of the
potential loss of kingdom influence at our departure. There is
no perfect situation among today’s options.
While some may eventually
close, other local church expressions are being transformed from
within and may eventually flow together with others in their
geo-political sphere. Don’t be distracted by form; rather look
for substance. God looks upon the heart. Learn to eat the meat
and spit out the bones. Extend the same mercy and grace that you
need extended to you!
The Spirit of God will not
lead you to be critical or judgmental. He will lead you to love
Bottom line, we are accountable to God. That
accountability is worked out on practical levels through our
accountability to one another.
3. KINGDOM AUTHORITY MUST BE SPIRIT-SOURCED AND
yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake,
whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who
are sent by Him for the punishment of evildoers and for the
praise of those who do good. For
this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to
silence the ignorance of foolish men
– as free, yet not
using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God.
people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.
– 1 Peter
The obvious question is,
“What if those in authority are unfair, ill-advised, could cause
undue suffering?” Peter continues:
Servants, be submissive to
your masters with all fear,
not only to the good and
gentle, but also to the
this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one
endures grief, suffering wrongfully
This conscientious conduct is evidence of a new
a new species in the earth, demonstrating the kingdom of heaven
by the power of the Source of all authority, God Himself.
This is the faithful and
overcoming lifestyle that comes from the Seed, the Seed of
Christ in you, the hope of glory
(Galatians 4:19; Colossians 1:27)!
This kind of conscience toward God
(Acts 23:1; I Peter
2:19) only comes
by the renewing of the mind
and the embracing of God’s
higher thoughts and ways
This does not mean that we
are to simply “roll over and play dead” in the face of abusive
or unjust leaders in the familial or ecclesial arenas. There is
also a place for peacefully opposing prevailing civil
authorities (e.g. Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela,
opposition to the Third Reich, Stalin, etc).
However, it is beyond the
scope of this writing to address the many specific challenges
that may confront the believer with regard to abusive, unjust,
or manifestly evil civic leadership.
When specific situations
arise, our trust is in the Holy Spirit and His promise to
provide wisdom and direction for that moment. Jesus resisted
unjust authorities in His life (Roman and Jewish), and submitted
to them in His passion. There is no “canned answer” substitute
for being led by the Spirit. May we be gracious with one another
in these matters.
4. KINGDOM AUTHORITY BEARS THE AROMA OF CHRIST
The following quote from
David VanCronkite expresses the contrast between what Jesus
modeled and what we see today.
“The Kingdom is
relational, not organizational. It is a supernatural expression
of His essence. The Church must have a religious structural
organization today because it refuses to be relational and
disregards the supernatural. It needs a religious form to let
men know if they are meeting the expectations. Kingdom needs no
man to affirm, only man to love and encourage, giving the same
grace and mercy to one another that is received from God.”
We must go all the way
back to Jesus’ earth walk for an authentic model of kingdom life
which is to govern the church, that being the interaction
between Jesus and His Father.
We are being raised up
to manifest His life and authority—a supernatural expression
of His essence—in
God resists the proud, but
gives grace to the humble
So much of what we have seen and experienced in what we have
called “church” has reeked of the boastful pride of life.
We are watching leaders
succumb to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the
boastful pride of life
We are not to be driven by
passions, possessions or position. Our only ambition should be
to serve the purpose of our Father, by doing what we see Him
doing. Jesus did nothing of His own initiative
(John 5:19, 30).
He is our model for true spiritual authority. Jesus did not
drive people; He led them—those who chose to follow Him. He
explained how the shepherd functions:
He calls his own sheep by
name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep,
he goes before them; and they follow him, for they know his
voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will
flee from him, for they do not know the voice of a stranger.
The good shepherd gives
His life for the sheep. I know My Sheep, and am known by My own.
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.
- John 10:3-5, 11, 14, 27
should be mutually confirmed. The fact that we cannot hear any
particular “voice” may not mean that they themselves are
questionable so much as an indication that they may not be
The government of God is
carried out through relationships. Spiritual authority is
rightly working when believers are accountable where they have
12:18). A proof of
God’s placement is the ability to hear what the Spirit is saying
to the church,
in particular through godly servant-leaders and
Following one of Jesus’
teachings in the synagogue in Capernaum, many of His disciples
responded, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?” In
the same way that He explained the contrast of two realms to
Jesus said to these people:
It is the Spirit who gives
life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you
are spirit, and they are life
Knowing from the beginning those who would not believe and would
He revealed a principle that also applies to the
setting of order in His body:
“Therefore I have said to
you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him
by My Father.” From that time many of His disciples went back
and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do
you also want to go away?” But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord,
to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
A significant portion of
our storehouse, the words of eternal life, will be found flowing
through the relationships that God has appointed for us. Truth
will be spoken in love, with humility, from pure hearts of
servant leaders who will lay down their lives for the sheep
We will grow up in all
aspects into the Head, Christ
under the protection and with the provision of good shepherds.
We will discover our vocations and destiny in the safe
environment which they provide. We will be prepared for and
released into our life’s work by ministry gifts
that are flowing
in God’s anointing.
5. HOW DOES SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY WORK?
I exhort first of all that
supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be
made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that
you may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and
reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God
our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the
knowledge of the truth.
- 1 Timothy
God’s thoughts and ways
are higher than man’s thoughts and ways
We are called upon to
seek Him while He may be found
repenting of our instinctive human concepts of authority, and
embracing what is revealed to us by the Spirit of God.
“Spiritual authority is exercised
church, not over the Church.” – David Newby.
Shepherd the flock
of God which is
among you, serving as overseers . . . not as lords,
but being examples
(I Peter 5:2-3).
Much of the church is yet
under Gentile authority. Temporal, static, positional authority,
while established by God to govern human institutions and
situations, falls short of the will of God for the church. Human
institutions, no matter how rightly motivated, cannot provide
heaven’s government. While positional authority is normative in
the civil arena, “it shall not
be so among you” is Jesus’ word
on the subject. Only when love fails or immaturity reigns may
such positional authority become necessary in the familial or
ecclesial arenas. Perfected love is our goal, not the
maintenance of order. Perfect love rules in heaven, and earth is
supposed to reflect heaven (as it is in heaven, etc.) Expressed
authority is the restraining necessity upon a fallen creation.
It is God’s preventative against chaos, which is the tendency of
all things natural when the love reign of Christ is not
Our attempts to organize
and structure an acceptable wineskin for the church will always
fall short of the divine ideal. No institution or facility is
the true wineskin of God. All are the products of man’s
creativity and ingenuity. At best, present-day structures,
organizations and facilities are humanly devised scaffolds. At
worst, they pervert and limit the purpose of God to fill the
earth with His government and glory through mature sons.
The principle was made
evident when a righteous and good King David determined to build
a house for God. The Lord’s response was simply:
“You shall not build Me a house to dwell
(1 Chronicles 17).
Jesus told His disciples, “I
will build My church . . .”
And God has already begun to
pour out His Wine into His acceptable wineskin.
The body of Christ IS the New Wineskin!
When Jesus walked on the
earth, His body was heaven’s wineskin. He was filled with the
wine of God. Since His ascension, Jesus has a new body on the
earth now. When Jesus
was here in bodily form,
His earthly body (birthed by Mary) was the Wineskin. Today, His
body on the earth is His wineskin. The church is God’s
acceptable wineskin, but the church is not a building, it’s not
a program, and it’s not an organization. God’s wineskin is a
(1 Peter 2:10),
living stones (1 Peter 2:5),
built together through relationships to receive and rightly
steward the wine of His Presence and the temple of His
Many saints who do not
struggle with accountability anywhere else are struggling in the
church. They are fitting into the world’s systems, but not into
the religious systems. Hearts given to the Lord Jesus Christ are
frustrated in their search for placement
12:18) and purpose
Corinthians 12:7; Ephesians 2:10)
in the body of Christ.
This revelation will
necessarily revolutionize our entire concept of the church. The
contrast is now becoming clear:
That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born
of the Spirit is spirit
are to be accountable to authority in every human realm.
However, the church is neither birthed nor nurtured under
humanly devised authority.
6. KINGDOM AUTHORITY IS A PILGRIMAGE
Blessed is the man whose
heart is set on pilgrimage.
– Psalm 84:5
While some are
others are settlers, we are all to be pilgrims. We
pilgrims understand that, as
sojourners, we are
seeking a city whose builder and maker is God
abstain from fleshly lusts which war
against the soul, having our conduct honorable among the
Gentiles, that they may glorify God in the day of visitation
may be content within
the confines of their present church situation. Pioneers
may be looking for more. Both are encouraged to seek the heart
of God. Both settlers and pioneers are to have hearts set on
The bride, the Lamb’s
wife, the great city, the holy Jerusalem, will descend out of
heaven from God, having the glory of God.
The glory of God, the
government of God, descends out of heaven. The authority of God
originates from Him and points to Him. Wherever Christ is
manifest, His government is present. That includes in one
another. We can learn to submit to one another as we recognize
one another according to Christ, not according to the flesh.
We can discover who we are
in Him. We can look upon one another after the Spirit. We can
see Christ in one another,
the hope of glory,
and recognize the authority of God in our lives with one
another. We can! We must!
PART III NEW CREATION LEADERSHIP
The next step in reformation will require fresh
and profound revelation about spiritual authority.
Reformation of the church will require a brand
new architectural design!
According to the
grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I
have laid a foundation.
– I Corinthians 3:10
God set Jeremiah over the
nations and kingdoms,
to root out and pull
down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant
This is a prophetic look at what needs to happen today.
1. PROPHETS IN TANDEM WITH APOSTLES
Both prophets and apostles
are to be involved in fulfilling this Jeremiah commission—but
not alone and isolated from one another.
The household of God, having been built on
the foundation of the apostles and prophets
needs these two grace gifts to labor together.
The simultaneous exercise
of (1) the prophetic grace to
root out and pull down, to destroy and to throw down,
and (2) the apostolic grace to plant and build up, will
lead to an unprecedented response from believers. There is a
spiritually instinctive desire within the hearts of those who
built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit
for authentic, safe,
Christ-like, foundational leadership.
Most prophets and apostles
are still operating independently, so the “Jeremiah commission”
goes unfulfilled to date. Many prophets are following a variety
of rabbit trails, and some apostles are still trying to fit into
old wineskins. There are apostles who are suspicious of prophets
and prophets who are not walking and working with apostles.
is changing as God knits hearts and lives together in His
family, and connects foundational brethren in the family
business of the kingdom. Our trust is in Him. Jesus is Lord of
Much that is to be rooted out, pulled down, destroyed and thrown
down remains. And much that is to be built and planted has not
yet begun to appear or to be recognized.
There must be a radical mutual accountability
among prophets and apostles before a radical reformation of the
church will take place.
Yoked together in Jesus,
apostles oversee the construction and prophets provide guidance
and encouragement for the job being done. Because they are
together, apostles are free to focus upon the master plan, and
prophets are free to focus upon both the logos and the rhema of
to these developments, the
teachers will be able to begin grounding the church, building on
a right foundation, under proper government and guidance, rather
than focusing upon their own perspectives and teaching their pet
God establishes His order,
first apostles, second prophets, third
Yet even in this “first,” “second” and “third” order, many miss
an important truth:
Ephesians 2:20 speaks of
the household of God “having
been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus
Christ Himself being the chief corner stone.”
The apostolic and prophetic
are foundational. The foundation is both crucial to the overall
construction of the building and it is the lowliest part of the
Without a true understanding of this
order, we wrongly move once again into a hierarchical definition
of leadership and authority and we seek the “after that”
list—miracles, gifts, healings, etc. or we wrongly elevate the
apostle or the prophet to a place God never established. God can
give it all to us, as He wills, as we maintain His priorities,
seeking first His government (kingdom).
2. MINISTERS WITH RIGHT HEARTS
If a man desires the
position of a bishop, he desires a good work.
First, the “b”
is not capitalized (in contrast to today’s
practice). Also, note that it is the work that they desire, not
the position. Bishops, overseers, elders, are initially
positioned by apostolic appointment, to serve as overseers and
examples to the flock:
Shepherd the flock of God
which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but
willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being
lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the
- I Peter 5:2-3
The emphasis is upon
serving. Those who rule well are deserving of double honor
but should not demand or necessarily expect that double honor.
We should be extremely wary of those who demand five-star
hotels, limo service, or luxury rental cars, and huge
honorariums. Perhaps they still love the world and the things of
Peter also identified
himself as an elder
(1 Peter 5:1).
Surely, the standards to which elders are called apply also to
apostles! Paul protected his testimony:
I was a burden to no
one—in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in
prisons more frequently, in deaths often. Beaten, stoned,
shipwrecked, perils, weariness, toil, sleeplessness, hunger and
thirst, fastings, cold and nakedness.
Above all of these, he was
daily burdened by his deep concern for all the churches
Corinthians 11:28). He
had a true apostolic heart—the heart of Jesus—who
made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant,
and coming in the likeness of men, humbled Himself
3. MINISTERS WITH RIGHT PRIORITIES
The husband of one wife,
one who rules his own household well, having his children in
submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to
rule his own house,
how will he take care of
the church of God?).
Not a novice,
lest he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he
must have a good report of those which are without; lest he fall
in to the reproach of the devil
– 1 Timothy 3:2, 4-7.
Four key opportunities for
proving one’s ability to serve in God’s leadership service are:
(1) wife, (2) household, (3) children and (4) testimony of
unbelievers. God is concerned about His wife, His household, His
children, and unbelievers. He does not want them in the care of,
or handled by, unproven, prematurely appointed leaders.
How can a man who cannot
take care of his wife take care of the church—Jesus’ wife? While
fidelity, protection and provision are essential, wives are also
to be loved! It does not take long to discern whether or not a
wife is loved by her husband. The woman is the glory of the man
love your wives,
just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,
that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water
by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious
church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such things, but that
she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to
love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife
Husbands, likewise, dwell
with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to
the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of
life, that your prayers may not be hindered.
1 Peter 3:7
How can a man who cannot
take care of his household take care of the church of God? The
household of God is a people, not a place. Nevertheless,
servant-leadership among the people requires being fiscally
responsible. We are not talking about a pop prosperity message.
We are talking about
upon the saints, so there is no one among us
For all who were
possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the
proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the
apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.
– Acts 4:34-35
Not long afterward it was
brought to the apostles’ attention that the needs of some widows
were not being met. They immediately administrated the
fulfilling of those needs. Their proven status as guardians
(protectors) and stewards (providers) was apparent in the
household of God.
How can a man who cannot
take care of his own children take care of God’s children?
And you, fathers, do not provoke
your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and
admonition of the Lord
It is the affirmation and exhortation of fathers that results in
the motivation of children. Fathers’ comfort gives the security,
and their charge imparts vision and destiny
Undisciplined, unruly, or
unloved children are indications that a man is not yet ready to
rule in the household of God. Though the father may live in the
home, these signs of neglect are indications of wrong
Proper care of our homes,
families and finances is a foundational qualification for
righteous ruling in the house of God. There is a mutual
accountability among family members, as well as accountability
for the stewardship of any material possessions.
outside the community of believers
This is hard for many to
swallow, but the Scriptures teach that the testimony of
unbelievers must be considered when evaluating someone for
“ministry” or church leadership.
When Paul refers to “those
who are without” he is referring to those outside the community
of faith: unbelievers. This is a matter that we “church folk”
are often not serious about. A person’s testimony and
relationship with unbelievers is part of the qualification to
lead in God’s Church. This is particularly true in the matter of
morals and ethics—how we live behaviorally before the eyes of
the unbelievers in our spheres of life. Contextually in the
1Timothy passage, it can also link to the idea of not having any
criminal or legal judgments pending against a leadership
If a person walks on water
and prophesies like Jeremiah on Sunday, but cheats on his taxes
and is an overbearing, offensive, religious zealot at his place
of work, Monday through Saturday, that individual does not
belong in any form of church leadership. If the individual’s
relationships with the unbelievers in his sphere of influence
are not right, that individual should not be in church
4. MINISTERS WITH RIGHT UNDERSTANDING
We must understand that
(1) we are ministers of the grace of God, by the grace of God
(2) we are oracles of the word of God, (3) we are messengers,
not managers, presidents, or kings and (4) we have specific
spheres of God-given responsibility, with corresponding
1. Ministers by Grace
by grace I am what I
am (1 Corinthians 15:10).
To each one of us grace was given according to the measure of
Apostleship, as with all gifts, is an extension of God’s grace
to His creation.
For you see your calling,
brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many
mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the
foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God
has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the
things that are mighty; and the base things of the world and the
things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which
are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh
should glory in His presence.
We have become partakers
and dispensers of His glory because of His graceful choice. We
live and serve by His unmerited favor and power. We are graced
with the Spirit of sonship that we might be joint heirs with
God is opposed to the proud and gives
grace to the humble
2. We are to speak as
oracles (1 Peter
The word is not ours, but
His. It needs none of our embellishments. God does not need our
word is alive, powerful, and sharper than
a two-edged sword
It stands on its own, and will not return unto Him void.
It will accomplish His purpose in sending it forth
We should not
unnecessarily raise our voice, or shout at people or talk down
to people. We should avoid being driven by religious spirits to
change our voice quality or demeanor. We are simply oracles of
God. The Author does the work through the Spirit as we, in
faith, share what we have been given to share.
We are to
speak the truth in
love (Ephesians 4:15).
God is love (1 John 4:8).
Anything less than love is not fit to bear the truth to others.
Love makes the word acceptable, palatable, overriding all
prejudice and previous pain. Love cuts through the obstacles of
the flesh and pierces the heart.
In Chapters 2 and 3 of
Revelation Jesus dictated seven letters to John, who was an
apostolic father to the seven churches in Asia. These seven
individual evaluations and directives were addressed to the
individual cities/regions. These apostles were in John’s sphere,
and accountable to him.
However, not all are
apostles or prophets or teachers
12:29). Not all
are elders (overseers). There are gifts of helps and
administrations. There are managers. It is honorable—equally
valuable—to be called by God to the ministries of helps,
Jesus dictated through
John individual letters to the messengers of the seven churches
We are writing to messengers,
not managers. So many who have been graced as messengers have
allowed themselves to be unduly burdened as managers.
Please note how the Lord’s
first twelve messengers preserved their rightful role:
Seek out from among you
seven men . . . whom we may appoint over this business; but we
will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of
– Acts 6:3-4
Organization is necessary
in the body of Christ. Unnecessary organizational encumbrances
will be eliminated as the church is reformed. Developing a right
understanding of these things will set us on course for kingdom
4. Spheres of
relationship and influence
Knowing our spheres of
responsibility and corresponding authority
10:13) helps us to be
properly yoked with Jesus, whose yoke is easy and burden is
Rest for our souls is the fruit of being rightly ordered.
Sons do what they see
their Father doing
No less. No more. Maturity releases us from pleasing men, from
our own selfish ambitions, and frees us to walk in peace. (We
are praying that we may grow up before we grow old!)
God is not establishing many individual
Realizing that the poor
will always be with us
we learn to not be motivated merely by discernible need. Rather,
we become motivated by obedience that will address both
perceived need and need which may not be apparent to the natural
eye or the mind. So many concerns are wiped away when we know
who we are, where we are placed, and what we are to do. Only
this kind of mature understanding qualifies us to lead as
servants in this greatest time in history for the reformation of
As we come to realize our
identities, our places in the body, and our spheres of
responsibility (with corresponding authority), we will
in due time
(I Peter 5:6)
increase in our influence and effectiveness in the kingdom. We
will bear fruit that abides
PART IV APOSTOLIC DIMENSIONS OF AUTHORITY
1. POSITIONAL VS. SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY
Jesus Christ commissioned the apostles:
All authority has been
given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make
disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the
Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to
observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with
you always, even to the end of the age.
I will not leave you
orphans; I will come to you. A little while longer and the world
will see Me no more, but you will see Me.
– John 14:18-19
who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me,
and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love
him and manifest Myself to him.
Even the demons are
subject to us in Your name. “Behold, I give you authority.”
– Luke 10:17-20
When we are under God’s
authority, the authority that we have comes from God. There are
spheres, boundaries, and limitations on all God-given authority.
Even when spheres, boundaries, and limitations are exceeded
and/or violated, we are still accountable for how we respond.
All that we think, say or do in every circumstance is to glorify
authority flows from the throne of God into the earth realm
through those who have been
raised up together, and made to sit together in the heavenly
places in Christ Jesus
Christ Jesus rules, He is in us
and we are in Him
Here’s an important
but He normally functions in and among His people as
God has set humanity over the works of His
hands, But we must learn to function in His
This is the clear difference between
He is our pattern and
God has set man over the
works of His hands, and put all things in subjection under his
feet. He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do
not yet see all things put under him. But we see Jesus
(From Hebrews 2:5-13).
We are running with
endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus,
the author and finisher of our faith
We would already see all
things put under us if positional authority were all that is
needed to realize God’s kingdom. However, it is the anointing
that breaks yokes
not Gentile authority! God has already declared our position as
joint heirs with Christ
But, to rule and reign with Him
(II Timothy 2:12)
gradually emerges to
the extent of our maturing as the glorious bride, the church
We have already received
the crown of anointing
as the virtuous bride
We have received an anointing from the Holy One
(I John 2:20).
Although the anointing abides in us, we are still learning how
to abide in the Son and in the Father
to abide in the anointing
authority was prophesied by Isaiah and demonstrated by Jesus.
Because of the significance of this point, we will consider both
of these passages:
“Behold! My Servant whom I
uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My
Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles. He
will not cry out, nor raise His voice, nor cause His voice to be
heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break, and
smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for
truth. He will not fail nor be discouraged, Till He has
established Justice in the earth; and the coastlands shall wait
for His law.”
- Isaiah 42:1-4
“In an acceptable time I
have heard You, and in the day of salvation I have helped You; I
will preserve You and give You as a covenant to the people, to
restore the earth, To cause them to inherit the desolate
heritages; that You may say to the prisoners, Go forth,’ to
those who are in darkness, ‘show yourselves.’”
“Behold! My Servant whom I
have chosen, My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased! I will
put My Spirit upon Him, and He will declare justice to the
Gentiles. He will not quarrel nor cry out, nor will anyone hear
His voice in the streets. A bruised reed He will not break, and
smoking flax He will not quench, Till He sends forth justice to
victory; and in His name Gentiles will trust.”
We can look at these
prophetic passages and see the higher ways and thoughts of God
as they were demonstrated through the earthly life of Jesus.
This will help us to evaluate what the anointing looks like in
action! Notice that in the four gospels, Jesus only used the
word, “Authority,” a few times:
He did not break bruised
reeds or quench smoking flax
He identified the
exercise of Gentile authority as Lording it over others
· He responded to
questions about where He got His authority
· He used the word in the
parable of the servants
· He acknowledged that He
had been given authority
· He claimed all
authority, both in heaven and on earth, while commissioning the
Those who have been given
authority do not need to talk about it! Jesus simply lived in
the anointing that He had received from Father. True spiritual
authority is not exercised; it operates within the anointing.
We will learn how to abide in the anointing that
breaks yokes of bondage off God’s precious creation and releases
captives into their rightful inheritance as sons.
We are holding to the prophetic promise spoken
through Isaiah 9:7:
Of the increase of His
government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of
David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with
judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The
zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
We are being
among the nations in order to be given to
the nations! We are
positioned for the inheritance through our adoption as sons.
Creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. The
last Man, through the sons, will fulfill the original commission
that was given to the first man:
Be fruitful and multiply;
fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over every living
thing that moves on the earth.
– Genesis 1:28
Most people will discover
that their primary purpose is to be walked out in their homes,
in the marketplaces of education, science, commerce, medicine,
industry, the arts, etc., not as a “hireling” or “CEO” of a
religious institution. They are to be equipped and under- girded
through placement in the body of Christ so that their kingdom
light will freely shine wherever they are and whatever they are
2. APOSTOLIC GRACE
The authority given to
apostles is to be held lightly, exercised faithfully, expressed
relationally, and followed willingly.
We should not neglect
the very nature of God’s Firstborn Son as we look for His life
and ministry flow among men.
Jesus is the Way to the
and all believers have
bold access into the Holy of holies
blood (Hebrews 4:16).
Each of us has been given individual authority that frees us
from the past and enables us for the future.
That future is to be
found, uncovered, discovered and embraced, within the body of
Christ. We have been given
the right to become children of God,
through faith in His name
As we choose to obey and
guardians and stewards
they will help us grow
to maturity, and to our places of mutual accountability within
the family of God.
God has appointed these in
the church, first apostles
Responsibility and the
corresponding authority for establishing and overseeing the
church is given first to the apostles, and subsequently to
elders in cities and regions
(Acts 12:23; I Titus
Does apostolic authority
continue after elders (overseers; shepherds) are appointed?
Let’s look at a few examples of continuing apostolic oversight.
Now concerning the
collection for the saints, as
I have given orders to
the churches of Galatia, so you must do also.
Paul continues with
detailed directives throughout the next several verses. It is
clear from this passage that the church in Corinth was to (1)
relate to Paul, (2) accommodate his schedule, and (3) help him
on his way
Paul was also specific
about how they were to receive and treat Timothy. And, he urged
submit to everyone who works and labors with them
(1 Corinthians 16:10-16).
(Paul was a father who knew who he was, as well as who his
servant-leadership is saturated in love and is decisive,
specific, and clear on issues of order, authority, and
accountability. The Corinthian Christians were still babes, and
needed this kind of clarity. Boundaries are essential for the
security of both natural and spiritual children.
Another example is
recorded in Acts 20, where Paul summoned the elders from Ephesus
to meet him in Miletus. It was no small task for them to do so.
Yet, there was no question. They did so. Their
inconvenience served Paul’s convenience.
3. DIFFERENT ADMINISTRATIONS OF AUTHORITY
Paul’s epistle to
Philemon, demonstrates how Paul expressed his authority to one
who was mature. Philemon was Paul’s beloved friend and fellow
laborer. You will remember that Jesus called the apostles
“friends” only after three years of posturing themselves as
The language of this
letter makes it clear that Philemon was a peer in ministry. Paul
does exercise his apostolic authority, but in a different way.
He appeals to him on behalf of Onesimus.
Paul summarizes his appeal
Having confidence in your
obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more
than I say.
Maturity, peer status, and
friendship, do not diminish God’s apostolic order and authority.
Ways of relating change as people grow in the Lord, much as they
do with our children.
Relationships may last a
lifetime, but the application of authority in those
relationships changes. As a parent your expression of authority
is different with a baby, child, adolescent, or adult. It is
appropriate to restrain a 4-year-old who is trying to dart
across a road. It is not appropriate to hold on to an adult who
is trying to pursue a future life plan that you may not agree
In the church, the
expression of authority changes with a baby, young man, or
father (not gender specific). Corinthian babies needed a certain
form of strong-handed spiritual parenting from Paul. Their
maturity and condition necessitated a certain “style” or
expression of authority that would have been inappropriate for
Paul’s relationships with Timothy or Peter.
Seasonality in authority
applies to everyone. Those with authority who don’t know how to
practically change their approach (“learn to let go”) as the
“children” mature, whose concept of authority is rigid and
static like in the civil realm, will suffer and those under
their care will suffer. Those who act adolescently in a
premature desire to throw off authority will likewise suffer, as
will those around them. In our living out of kingdom authority,
all parties must be sensitive and in tune to the seasons of
Paul entrusted spheres of
responsibility with corresponding authority to these sons in the
faith. He did not interfere with the daily operation of their
ministries. He trusted the Holy Spirit to guide and empower
them. He knew their character.
Fathers, sons, grandsons
(male and female) all make up one family and one kingdom. The
flow of authoritative counsel continued to flow from the Holy
Spirit through Paul to those whom the Lord had given him. The
same is true of today’s apostles.
4. ELDERS APPOINTED IN EVERY CITY
We will see kingdom order
increase as our understanding of and adherence to this kind of
accountability increases. Spiritual order will gradually replace
human order. Denominational designations will be overshadowed by
citywide and regional identities ~
the church in Corinth,
The softening and
purifying of hearts toward God, and the increasing revelation of
the Lord Jesus Christ, will cause men and women to reconsider
their ways in favor of God’s higher thoughts and ways. In time,
God will make evident those whom He is placing in overseeing
roles. Apostles will emerge, anointed to serve cities and
regions. Elders who are relationally connected with apostles and
one another will be set in place in each geo-political sphere.
They will be found in the gates of cities, sitting with Jesus
(see Proverbs 31:23).
The reader might ask at
this point, “Who will establish these designations, and who will
ensure that leaders will work cooperatively?” The question
points back to our former structures, and gets at the weaknesses
and failures of our institutional memory, but the answer is
simply, “The Lord will do it!” This supernatural church will be
led by supernatural means. In our highly competitive church-view
with its hierarchical history, in order to transition to the
city-wide church it will be required that we adopt the mind of
Christ in order to comprehend such supradenominational
expressions of the Lord’s Church.
We began this essay by
highlighting the essential value of accountability in the
process of reforming (re-forming) the church. We pointed out
that God is the highest source of authority and order. We then
reminded the reader that all of creation is waiting for the
revealing of the sons of God.
Those who are born of the
Spirit have God’s DNA, and are the true church. This church will
be reformed according to His architectural design (revealing how
God does and governs life).
Apostles are the master
builders, who are graced to raise up and release people into a
new order of living life before God and man.
God loves His bride, and is committed to
completing what He has begun.
We pray that no one will
try to “make this happen!” History is filled with accounts of
those who tried to make something happen before the proper time
and before the proper components were in order. We don’t need
PART V CONCLUDING THOUGHTS
will play a vital part
in the unfolding of God’s eternal purpose through His reformed
Church. The accountability of God’s people is necessary for
God’s order to be manifested and His will to be carried out on
the earth as it is in heaven. Each member of the body is to be
accountable to the other members, as God places us in His order.
All authority in
heaven and on earth originates with God
Boundaries and spheres measure authority, and those allotted
authority are to operate within those limits or allotments
The Scripture outlines abuses that, in extreme cases, justify
Even in such cases,
submissive attitudes are to be maintained in a spirit of
humility and meekness.
3. While we are subject to
Gentile authority within human structures, we are never to
exercise such authority
We are to manifest God’s higher thoughts and ways in our
conduct, both in submission to and in the exercise of authority.
Gentile authority has no place in the church that Jesus is
kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy
church is both the agent and manifestation of His kingdom.
There is an old song that
captures the essence of body life. It points out that “the foot
bone is connected to the ankle bone, which is connected to the
shin bone, which is connected to the knee bone, which is
connected to the thigh bone, which is connected to the hip bone,
which is connected to the back bone, which is connected to the
neck bone, which is connected to the Head!”
All of life flows, in an
orderly manner, from the Head to the entire body. This requires
order. Positional authority may hold things in place in an
orderly way. But, only organic authority releases the flow of
Life to all who are connected.
Ox carts are common in
India and other Third World cultures. The oxen are equally
matched in size and strength. No one puts an elephant and a
puppy in the same yoke. They are teams. Some of them differ in
color and in gender. But, they are the same type, size and
strength. Jesus invites us into His yoke. He is the firstborn of
many brothers. God is bringing many sons to glory. We will do
His works according to His capacity, leaving behind our own
We are being transformed
into His image and likeness to multiply as the growth of His
authority expands to fill the whole earth. His authority, His
government, and His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. We have
no alternative to being intimately yoked with Jesus and one
another according to His placement and order.
The late Bill Britton
penned a fitting parable about two young horses romping in open
range. It went something like this:
“ One day, the king’s
horseman selected one to be added the master’s stable. Although
the other horse missed his friend, he went on enjoying the lush
pastureland and running in the fresh breezes. When he felt like
it, he would lie down in the warmth of the sun. When he felt
like it, he would run as fast as he could until he was totally
winded. He would then walk along in his leisure graze until he
had his fill. He was full-bodied, and his coat had a beautiful
sheen to it. He often thought to himself, “It just doesn’t get
any better than this!”
One day, the king’s
carriage came by, and there—harnessed with three other
horses—was his young friend. He asked, “Isn’t it uncomfortable
for you to wear that harness? To be pulling such a load? To be
unable to frolic in the
fields, drink from the brook, and nibble on grass at will? I am
so sorry for you!”
His friend responded, “I
am well-fed. I am brushed daily. I enjoy having the fellowship
of other horses, the care of the king’s horseman, and having
purpose for my life. You don’t need to feel sorry for me.” His
free-spirited friend, chuckled as he kicked up his heals and
proudly demonstrated his liberty by running off and leaving the
king’s horse in the dust.
But then, drought hit the
land, the brook and the grass dried up. There was inadequate
food and water. For the first time in his life, he began to
hunger and thirst. There was no rain or relief in sight. The
young horse began to worry. He lost weight. The sheen was gone.
The energy was gone. There was no more running and leaping.
There was no more grazing and sipping. There was only
hunger—starvation. The young horse’s freedom became meaningless
in his struggle for survival.
One day, he heard the
rumble of the king’s carriage, accompanied by the “clip-clop” of
the team’s shod feet on the dusty road. Soon, he could see cloud
of dust as the carriage approached. He saw how well fed and well
groomed his friend and the other horses were, how they held
their heads up high and their tails were like flags in the
He finally understood. He
finally ‘got it’.” May we all!