Church Authority

In the beginning, God gave humankind authority over the earth:

Then God said, “Let us make humans in our image, according to our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over the cattle and over all the wild animals of the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”   (Genesis 1:26)

That authority was surrendered to Satan in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve accepted the lie of Satan over the truth of Almighty God. This brought consequences. Adam and Eve had fellowship with God, but now they felt estranged from God:

They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”  (Genesis 3:8-10)

They could not hide their sin. Darkness and light do not mix. The rule of humankind on the earth depended on obedience to God. Thus, by their disobedience they broke fellowship with God. Satan stepped into the empty seat of authority.

When the Son of God came to the earth, he came to reclaim save humankind and to reclaim their authority. He faced the prince of darkness over the issue of authority:

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written,

‘Worship the Lord your God,
    and serve only him.’ ”   (Matthew 4:8-11)

Satan was still in charge. He ruled the kingdoms of this world. When he said the kingdoms were his, they actually were. Jesus did not dispute the matter with him. He said his kingdom is not of this earth, but rather a heavenly one. This will change when he comes again. At that time the kingdom of heaven will be on the earth.

The Son of God became the Son of Man. He gave up all his divinity before coming to the earth. He was not without power, however. When he was baptized by John in the Jordan River, the Holy Spirit came down from heaven and descended upon him. Because of this, and because he was without sin, Jesus had authority over evil spirits. He delegated this authority to his disciples:

Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness.   (Matthew 10:1)

Later this authority was given to the Church, the body of Christ. By the cross, Jesus disarmed Satan and the forces of darkness:

And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it.   (Colossians 2:13-15)

Before his ascension into heaven, Jesus made it clear that he had all authority. Though he was living the earth, his Spirit would still remain. His body remained spiritually through the body of Christ:

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”   Matthew 28:18-20

What did authority mean? Jesus said:

 Indeed, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will hurt you.   (Luke 10:19)

For unbelievers, this earth is still ruled by Satan. He is able to control and manipulate humankind. We see clear evidence of this today. Why does appear that evil is in charge of so many things? Because the Church has not understood its authority and exercised it properly.

Jesus work was finished on the cross. We must now take up his work as the body of Christ. We have the power of prayer. Even from the Old Testament we have this promise:

if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.   (2 Chronicles 7:14)

God does not need the explanations offered in our prayers. He wants us to speak our with authority and faith. If we pray God’s words by the power of the Spirit, we will destroy evil just as Jesus did on the earth. Our prayer must become prophecy.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes[o] with groanings too deep for words. And God, who searches hearts, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.   (Romans 8:26-27)

Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.   (Ephesians 6:18)

We need to meditate on the scriptures which speak about our authority in Christ. We then must flow in the Spirit and use the words of the Spirit in our prayers. The Spirit and the Word work together. That is how Jesus in his earthly ministry took authority over evil. We must continue his work in the same way. Word and Spirit!