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-- © GodSpeak International 2001 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.org> --

Rodney Hogue <RodHogue@aol.com> http://www.restorationdepot.org
Teresa Seputis <ts@godspeak.net> http://www.godspeak.net
Editors: Teresa Seputis & Bob Hawley
Transcriber: Nichole Marshall

Prayer-School Course #17

Getting In God's Order

Lesson Six

God's Model of Authority In His Church

By Rodney Hogue

In Acts 1, Jesus is in His glorified, resurrected gave these final instructions: "That with the help of the Holy Spirit, Jesus told the apostles He had chosen what they should do." He gave them final instructions and He didn't give everyone instructions. He gave just a few people instructions. He didn't tell the entire church, and we know He'd met with more than 500 people after he was resurrected. Yet He met with His apostles, His delegated authority.

Moving on, in Acts 6, we can consider these men the very first deacons. They're not called that there, but they were called to a place of serving and we consider them that. They were chosen as the congregation found people who were servants and filled with the Holy Spirit, but who gave them the authority? In Acts 6:6, they put these men before the apostles who prayed and laid hands on them.

There came some persecution to the church after a little while. The reason? Because God told the church to disperse to spread the good news to the ends of the earth. They weren't doing a very good job of it, so God allowed some persecution and they began to disperse. Philip went up to Samaria and began winning everybody to Jesus. This was a new thing. The Jews had thought Samaritans, who were part Jews, could not be saved. But Acts 8:14 shows that when the apostles back in Jerusalem heard the people of Samaria had accepted God's message, they sent Peter and John there. Whom did they send? Authority! They went to check it out and more power was released when they got there. A minimal amount of power was released until the delegated authority got there.

Paul got saved and Barnabus, it says in Acts 9:27, "brought him to the apostles and told them how Saul had seen the Lord on the way to Damascus." And Barnabus also told them what the Lord had said to Saul and how he boldly preached in the name of Jesus in Damascus. So, when he brought him back into Jerusalem, whom did he bring him to? Who had the say and sanction that it is OK? Who was able to discern whether or not he made a genuine conversion instead of being a wolf in sheep's clothing? Who was able to discern that? Who did they bring him to? They brought him to the authority.

When the Gentiles got saved, the Jews struggled over that. Peter met Cornelius in Acts 10 and 11. And the Jews asked, "Can these Gentiles really become saved?" Peter talked to them and it kept brewing. Sometimes everybody seems to be OK with something and all of a sudden, like a year or two later, it all blows up and we wonder, where did that come from? In a similar manner, the church wasn't settled with these conversions. It had to be settled. Acts 15, "And when they arrived at Jerusalem they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders and they reported all that God had done with them and the apostles and the elders came together to look into this matter." The delegated authority made the decisions and covered it.

When people were sent out, who sent them out? Acts 15:22, "Then it seemed good to all of the apostles and the elders and the whole church to choose men from among them to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabus, Judas called Barsabbas and Silas, leading men among the believers." In Acts 15 and in Acts 13 we find that the church sent people out. No one just got a wild idea and jumped out there. Everybody was connected and under authority. Even Paul was always connected and coming back. Silas was connected and coming back. Philip was connected and coming back. Everybody who went out always had a relationship and was submitting to authority. Acts 16:4, "Now while they were passing through the cities they were delivering the decrees that had been decided on by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem for them to observe."

Look at the pattern. God has put authorities in our lives. Some of us don't like the authorities who are there, but it doesn't matter because God put them there. When we submit to these authorities, we're submitting to God. The government is one of these authorities. Romans 13: 1 and 2 says, "All of you must yield to the government rulers." No one rules unless God has given him the power to rule. So those who are against the government are really against what God has commanded and they'll bring punishment on themselves. What government are we talking about? Does the name of this book this came from give any clue? The authority he was talking about was the Roman Government. Now, the Roman government wasn't nice to Christians; it would burn them and kill them. And yet He said to submit to them. I Peter 2:13, "Submit yourselves, for the Lord's sake, to every human institution." Notice the phrase every "human institution" -- some people bypass these words.

"Whether to a king as to one who is in authority." This says when we submit to authority, we're submitting to God. When we rebel against authority, we're rebelling against God. Now, there may come a time that our authority or government may ask us to do something that violates the laws of God. If God gave the authority to the government that means God's authority is always higher than the government's.

Whenever the two are in conflict we always obey God. It's that simple. When Peter and John were before the Sanhedrin and the Sanhedrin said, "No longer are you to preach in the name of Jesus," they were authority. The apostles said, "We'd like to oblige you in every way we can, but we can't do that. We're going to preach in the name of Jesus because He has compelled us to." But the rule is you obey the government when we can unless there's a conflict between what the government tells you to do and what God tells you to do. We always obey God because He's the highest authority.

There's authority in the church. The Bible says, "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you." The weight we bear increases as we move into leadership. Talk to people in leadership and they will say the same thing. Where there's responsibility, there's accountability. James 3:1 says, "Let not many of you become teachers for you will incur a stricter judgment." We have higher accountability. There's a greater accountability before God.

There's authority in the home. In Ephesians 6:1 it says, "Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right." Colossians 3:18 says, "Wives yield to the authority of your husbands because this is the right thing to do in the Lord."

God establishes order. He establishes His order and when His order is intact there's authority released. Why does God do this? What are the purposes of God's order of authority? When we're under authority, we're in the flow of power. Jesus very clearly illustrates this with the talk He had with the centurion. In Matthew 8:5, "when Jesus arrived in Capernaum, a Roman officer came and pleaded with Him, 'Lord, my young servant lies in bed paralyzed and wracked with pain.' Jesus said, 'I will come and heal him,' and the officer said, 'Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my house, just say the word from where you are and my servant will be healed. I know because I am under the authority of my superior officers and I have authority over my soldiers. I need only to say go and they go. Come and they come. If I say to my slaves do this or that, they do it,' and when Jesus heard this He was amazed. Turning to the crowd He said, 'I tell you the truth. I haven't seen faith like this in all the land of Israel.' " The man understood authority. He said, "I am under authority when I submit to my leaders." He really had the authority of the Roman Empire -- Caesar. He represented that and he said, "Because I am under authority, I have authority."

So long as we are under authority, there's a flow of power. It's like a piece of pipe that isn't in the flow, but bring it underneath and it's in the flow. Authority is in the flow. When we submit to authority we are in the flow; when we get out of the flow, there's no authority, there's no power. There's a measure of it, but it's not the full measure we could be experiencing. It's very limited.

Being under authority also means we have an umbrella of protection. Romans 13:3 and 4 says whenever we're obeying and submitting to the government there's a protection about us. There's a spiritual covering, a spiritual protection. So long as we're under the umbrella, we're covered. We're protected and whatever is falling won't touch us. But, if we're out from under the umbrella everything is falling upon us. When people get out from under authority they start going away and we're running after them trying to cover them. This is a lot of work, so we don't do a whole lot of it. As much as we like to give covering to everybody, it just doesn't work. So people who submit to authority get covered and protection.

There's covering and there's protection. In the Old Testament, there were elders stationed at the gates. There were watchmen stationed upon the walls. And spiritually, the watchmen were people who prayed and interceded. But those at the gates were the authority. They knew who was in the city and who wasn't in the city. They guarded the city; they protected the city. There was a protection there. There is a protection God wants to give us. But, if we are going to be running from under the umbrella, we are going to get rained on. All of a sudden all of this stuff is going to start falling upon our head and we're going to wonder, "What is going on?" It is because we don't have any covering or it is very limited. A lot of times we are not earnestly submitting to authority and covering and that makes us easy prey. The devil is looking for people who don't have covering, so he can take them out.

-- © GodSpeak International 2001 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from copyright@godspeak.org --

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