"RESPONSIBILITY OF SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY"
(A Series on Hebrews)
Westgate Chapel 5/27/90 a.m. Hebrews 13:17
- Last Sunday morning we used Hebrews 13:17 as a spring-board to examine the subject of spiritual authority.
- We took a look at our responsibility to those that God has placed in authority over us.......in the home, in the work place, in government, and in the church.
- We looked at Romans 13:1 which says,
"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God."
- But there are two sides to this subject.
- What if you are the one in spiritual authority......in the home, at work, in city, state or federal government, or here at Westgate Chapel?
- What does God's Word have to say about the responsibility of those who are in spiritual authority?
- It is important for you to understand the responsibilities and privileges that God places on those who are in authority. Spiritual authority is a two-sided coin and in this message we will be concentrating on the responsibilities of those who find themselves in the position of spiritual authority.
- The efficiency of our ministries at Westgate Chapel depend on a clear understanding of both sides of the issue of spiritual authority . . . submission to that authority and the responsibilities of those who are in spiritual authority.
II.THE CREDENTIALS OF DELEGATED AUTHORITY
- Whether it is in the home, the church, at the work place or in politics, the power that goes with being in authority has immense potential to corrupt.
- This is an unfortunate fact of life, but something that is readily observable in the life of someone who just received a promotion into a position of authority.
* It seems as if you can almost watch their personality change over-night. They frequently will change from being caring, compassionate people into being officious, high handed and lording it over those who were once their peers. This is not God's way for those in spiritual authority.
- In his book, Spiritual Authority, Watchman Nee says, "There is no one who is fit to be God's delegated authority unless he himself first knows how to be under authority. No one can know how to exercise authority until his own rebellion has been dealt with."
- There is a brokenness that is necessary when you submit yourself to those in spiritual authority.
* This same brokenness is necessary if you are going to take a position of spiritual authority in the Kingdom of God. With this brokenness a leader in God's Kingdom can be a leader and a servant at the same time. These are Biblical principles.
- Watchman Nee spells out three principle requirements for those in spiritual authority.
1. He must know that all authority comes from God.
* Unless a spiritual leader recognizes this fact, he/she will be tempted to believe that their authority is somehow within themselves. They will be tempted to believe that their authority is based somehow on their own merit....that they deserved the position.
* Any authority that we might have is delegated from God. We are simply granted the role of representing God's authority in a given situation. It is all His.
* It only follows logically then, that the better we know Him the more effectively we will be able to represent His authority. Spiritual hunger and discipline, therefore, are indispensable ingredients to proper spiritual authority. There is no husband, father, single parent, pastor, deacon, elder, or Sunday School teacher who is fit to exercise spiritual authority without actively pursuing God in his/her personal life.
2. He must deny himself.
* Being in a position of spiritual authority does not give license to propagate your own thoughts or insist on your own way. In other words, if you are responsible for financial leadership in the home, the work place, or in God's Kingdom, and are by nature a spend thrift . . . your position of authority does not give you the right to bring your personality to bear on financial matters. Conversely, if you are careless with finances in your personal life, you do not have that liberty with finances in your position of spiritual authority.
* In this sense your own thoughts, opinions, and personalities must be denied and laid at the cross if you are going to properly exercise spiritual authority.
* Unfortunately, in the world, a position of authority gives a leader the right to insist that their opinions and personalities prevail. God will frequently work within the context of the personalities that He has given us . . . and our leadership will be a reflection of our personalities . . . but in order to qualify for spiritual authority that personality must frequently be broken at the cross.
(See The Calvary Road by Roy Hession)
3. He must constantly keep in fellowship with the Lord.
* If we have the awesome responsibility of representing God in any position of spiritual authority, then our close communion and fellowship with Him are essential if we are going to speak and act on His behalf. In fact, using a position of authority to carelessly propagate personal ends would be blasphemous.
* The closer we are to the Lord, the easier we will be able to identify our own faults and cast aside any dependence on the flesh.
* Our role as servant/leaders demands that we wait quietly at His feet and do not move until we have received instruction from Him. This is a lifestyle not an occasional trip to the throne room to receive last minute instructions or directions.
- In summary, the primary credential for spiritual authority is revelation.
* It was God's revelation of Himself to Moses that established his leadership in Israel.
* It was God's revelation to Joshua at Gilgal that established his leadership in Israel.
* It was God's revelation to King Saul, causing him to prophesy with the prophets, that changed him and established his leadership in Israel.
* It was God's revelation of Himself to the apostle Paul that clearly established his leadership in the New Testament Church.
- This was God's method for establishing leadership throughout scriptural times and His methods have not changed for the church today.
- There are many who will try to establish their leadership based on an aggressive personality, personal dogmatism, intimidation, impressive clothes, or a flamboyant lifestyle. This may work for those followers who are impressed by externals, but it is not God's way of establishing spiritual leadership. (Samuel was impressed by the outward appearance of Eliab as a potential king for Israel, but God had a boy named David in mind and told Samuel, concerning Eliab, "I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.") I Samuel 16:7
- This revelation of God to the heart of the man or woman in authority, is not only what sets them apart for leadership, but is the only source of wisdom and strength for the immense challenges that face those who would come under the mantle. This revelation is an internal matter and has very little to do with what we would consider qualifications for leadership.
- It is not the title of husband, vice-president, pastor, elder, deacon or teacher that will give authority but the personal revelation of God to the heart of those He has set apart to serve Him in some leadership capacity.
III. THE SELECTION OF DELEGATED AUTHORITY
- When pastors, for example, are selected, some of the key factors evaluated by a voting congregation will be his manner of dress, his personal appearance, his preaching ability, his educational degrees or his perceived administrative skills.
- When deacons or elders are selected a congregation will typically be impressed by social status, educational background, manner of dress, professional or business status, or administrative skills demonstrated by their career.
- When a teacher is selected for a Sunday School class this is often done based on educational background or previous teaching experience.
- Impressive people are often pressed into positions of spiritual authority and are selected based on qualifications easily measured on the outside.
- Impressive people are often plagued by an ongoing battle with pride. Pride is the most disqualifying ingredient for those in spiritual authority.
- The resurrection power of Christ, as a priority in the life of a leader, is the qualification that God looks for when He delegates His spiritual authority to man.
* This is the indwelling power of the Spirit that breaks the power of sin, reveals the will of God through the Word, makes us hungry for God's presence, changes us into the image of Christ.
- This truth was uniquely illustrated in the way that God vindicated Aaron's leadership in the camp of Israel.
- In Numbers chapter 16 the people rebelled against God's delegated authority in Aaron.
- In Numbers chapter 17 God commanded the twelve tribal leaders to bring twelve dead, stripped branches and place them before the ark of the covenant in the presence of the Lord. Aaron was to place his branch along side everyone else's. God instructed that the dead branch that budded overnight would signify the leader on whom His authority rested.....resurrection power.
- In the morning only Aaron's branch had budded.
* God gave no reasons, no rationale and no defense for the selection of Aaron over the others.
* Externals were not even a factor . . . resurrection power in the branch said it all.
* Watchman Nee states that this resurrection power constitutes God's appointment of spiritual authority.
- Aaron could take no pride in the fact that his branch had budded.
* He had had nothing to do with the life in the branch.
* He had just laid a dead stick down.
* Likewise, you and I can take no credit for the presence of resurrection power in our lives or ministries. It is that power that will prove our selection and will be our defense.
- There is no place, in this selection process, for personal striving. In fact, striving will disqualify an individual for spiritual authority. There is place only for death, followed by resurrection, as God's method in the selection of His man or woman for leadership.
- There was no intrinsic difference between the branches of the tribal leaders and Aaron. There is no intrinsic difference between a servant of God with spiritual authority and a servant of God who is strictly a follower. God has simply taken a dead branch and raised it up, by His free choice, for the function of leadership.
IV. THE LIFE OF DELEGATED AUTHORITY
- There are several Biblical principles for the manner in which God's delegated authority is to function.
* Spiritual authority does not insist on having things its own way to the point of using coercion. If those under spiritual authority refuse to follow spiritual authority . . . let them go. If you set yourself up as an authority, you have to defend yourself. If God sets you up, in spiritual authority, He is your defense. Those who rebel must answer to Him. You are free, like Moses, to leave your defense with God.
* Spiritual authority does not take slander personally. When Aaron and Miriam rebelled against Moses for marrying a Cushite woman, Moses did not become personally embroiled in the battle. In fact, in Numbers 12:2 it says, concerning Aaron and Miriam's rebellion, that "the Lord heard this." Moses was such a humble man that he did not take their opposition personally. He didn't think that much of himself.
* Spiritual authority makes no self defense. Watchman Nee says, "He who vindicates himself does not know God. Authority and self defense are incompatible. The one against whom you defend yourself becomes your judge. He rises higher than you when you begin to answer his criticism."
* Spiritual authority is meek. Numbers 12:3 says that Moses was the meekest of all men on the face of the earth. There is violent conflict between personal arrogance and the authority of God. The meekness required of spiritual authority is not a self effacing shyness, but a bold commitment to the wisdom, strength, guidance and power of God. It is a brokenness that recognizes the uselessness of human faculties and casts itself completely in dependence on God.
* Spiritual authority is committed to exhortation and restoration. In none of the instances of rebellion did Moses ever ask God for retribution. Rather, he responded to attack by pleading for mercy and restoration on the part of his attackers. He prayed for Aaron and Miriam to be healed and restored after the judgment of God fell on them. He gave Korah and Dathan repeated opportunities to repent before God judged them. A servant/leader holds the spiritual interests of others, even his attackers, above his own at all times.
* Spiritual authority does not have a judging spirit. Moses' main concern with his attackers was that they had sinned against God. This attitude permeated his response to all who stood in opposition against him.
* Spiritual authority is committed to intercession. Even under attack, personally rejected and despised, Moses, David, and Jesus Himself took the burdens of those who opposed them and went before the throne of God in intercession on their behalf.
* Spiritual authority serves. In the world those who rule, rule by position; in the Kingdom of God those who rule, rule by serving and ministering spiritual life.
- There is a terrible temptation in the church today, for the Christian to adopt the ways of the world that appear to be successful in business management, advertising, communication and public relations.
- While we should not be afraid to utilize any and all methods for the advancement of God's Kingdom, we must be very careful to constantly measure ourselves and all methods by the absolute standard, God's Word.
- The spirit of the world today is that every man is a law unto himself and that, as long as another's rights are not violated, man is free to please himself. The long term result of this philosophy will be the wide spread anarchy used by satan to take charge of the world.
- God's Kingdom is based on order and authority. The order for homes, work places, churches and communities is clearly spelled out in His Word. The authority responsible for maintaining this order is established by God through husbands, single parents, employers, church leadership and politicians.
- Understanding God's instruction for spiritual authority is indispensable to your life, your future and your spiritual welfare. No matter which side of the authority equation you find yourself on, you must walk in the light of God's Word.
- Let the principles in this lesson be a practical guide as you determine to please God in all things.
IN MY LIFE LORD, BE GLORIFIED