I wrote and delivered the following sermon “God’s Word and Our Authority” in August 2016. This was my first sermon and it was quite the experience! The premise is understanding the authority given to believers and how to use it.
God’s Word and Our Authority
Christians Have Authority
How do we tap into the authority we have as Christians? Put simply, authority is delegated power. But there’s more to it than that. To learn more about this specific authority, we need to go to God’s Word. Because it’s in the Bible that we learn:
(A) the reality of that authority–its existence,
(B) the source or the origin of that authority–where it comes from,
(C) the scope or range of that authority–what it all involves, and
(D) the “implement” or expression of that authority–how we use, or how exercise that authority.
We’ve already covered those first two points in weeks past, but let’s review quick, so we’re all on the same page.
God is the Origin of Authority
Let’s look to the Bible.
Romans 13:1 (NASB) Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.
Daniel 4:17b (NASB) “…the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whom He wishes and sets over it the lowliest of men.”
John 19:11a (NASB) Jesus answered [the religious leaders], “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; …”
So, authority comes from God, right? Let’s continue.
Matthew 28:18-20 (NASB) And Jesus came up and spoke to [the disciples], saying, “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 the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
1 John 5:4-5 (NASB) For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Matthew 18:18 (NASB) Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.
So, all authority was given to Jesus from the Father. And now that same authority has been passed onto us. We’re working on his behalf. Make sense?
We’ve also been given power through the Holy Spirit–God in us–to face life and all of its challenges with confidence.
When Jesus returned to the Father–in what we call the Ascension–he promised them a helper.
Acts 1:8 (NASB) “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
Using God’s Word
Okay, so we’ve been empowered. That’s very much evident from what we’ve read so far. God’s authority has been given to us, and we’re also guided by the Holy Spirit… but there’s something else in this equation. And that something else is God’s Word. It’s so very important! We can’t emphasize this enough. We need God’s Word, we need to know what it says in order to fully realize and walk out our authority–and that’s huge when it comes to prayer.
Great authority has been given to us, but until we know we have it, and until we exercise that authority it’s useless.
Too many Christians are living without that power. The extension cord is in their hand (so to speak), the outlet is within reach, but they’re not taking the step to plug into that power source.
There are many reasons why Christians don’t receive that power, such as sin, ignorance, unbelief, fear, and also prayerlessness. Each of these can hinder us from coming into the authority God has given us, because ultimately we’re not trusting God, we’re not pursuing Him as our highest priority, we’re not coming under HIS authority.
The good news is each of these problems can be solved by the renewing of our mind by God’s Word:
Romans 12:2 (NASB) And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
You see, God’s Word is so vital. This is where we learn what he have, from whom it comes, and how to act upon it.
The Extent of Our Authority
So, now, let’s take a look at the scope or the range of the authority that we have as believers. Put another way, let’s look for the Promises.
You see, God’s Word is full of these promises–these guarantees of what God has done and is doing in our lives. These promises are demonstrated through the very character of God, through his actions in history, and through his spoken word.
These promises are a part of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. But here’s the thing: redemption doesn’t end at the cross! We have been saved, and we are being saved, too. We are now a part of that process, and are partners with God in the redemption of all creation!
Colossians 1:20 (NLT) and through [Jesus] God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.
We’re not saved to just be, we’re saved to do. And to do by the power of the Holy Spirit, and in our authority as revealed in God’s Word.
Are you getting this yet? Our salvation doesn’t end with our confession of faith in Jesus Christ, but it continues boldly and powerfully in expressing the authority given to us.
God’s Word is how we comprehend our authority! This right here is a God-given how-to guide and playbook for life. It’s all right here!
The Enemy We Face
But there’s something else we need to understand in order to exercise our authority… there are contrary forces at play in this world–forces that stand in complete opposition to God and his people.
First, the entire universe at present is in open rebellion to God–it’s fallen, corrupted, and decaying. Because of mankind’s initial rebellion against God in the Garden of Eden, all of creation has come under what the Bible calls the Curse of Sin and Death. Because of this, we’re dealing with the consequences of that rebellion. We see this demonstrated in the nature of all created beings toward selfishness, violence, and all kinds of perversions. But…
Galations 3:13-14 (MSG) Christ redeemed us from that self-defeating, cursed life by absorbing it completely into himself. Do you remember the Scripture that says, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”? That is what happened when Jesus was nailed to the cross: He became a curse, and at the same time dissolved the curse. … We are all able to receive God’s life, his Spirit, in and with us by believing…”
Another opposing force that we’ll encounter is Satan and his lackeys–the fallen celestial beings that instituted rebellion against God before the world itself existed. Satan, or the Devil, hates God and all that he stands for. And we as humanity, bearing the very image of God, are also his enemy. He wants to keep us down and out from knowing God’s Plan of Redemption, and he definitely wants to stop believers from comprehending and then using their authority.
We’ve not just been saved, we’ve been empowered. We don’t just have hope for eternity, we also have power for this life. For here and now.
We don’t have to afraid of these forces working against us.
Romans 8:38-39 (NLT) And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Luke 10:19 (NLT) [Jesus said] Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you.
Ephesians 6:12 (NLT) For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
So, there are chaotic forces in this world and there is an enemy set against us. But as believers, having received new life and power through Christ Jesus, we can stand against all of it. We don’t belong to Satan’s Kingdom anymore, we’re not under the Curse. We can believe God and have faith in how he defines us and what we have in him.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT) This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
Colossians 1:12-14 (NLT) …He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.
Confessing the Word
These promises belong to us already. God said so. But now we need to confess–or speak out our given authority. There is power in our words, and when we speak out those promises, they become manifest.
In fact, it’s a spiritual law! Proverbs 6:2 says, that we are trapped with the words of our mouth. In Mark 11:23 Jesus tells us that we can have anything we say as long as we do not doubt in our heart, but believe!
As far as God is concerned, He has already provided everything we need to live a victorious Christian life. All of the promises in the Bible are already ours!
The way we obtain what is legally ours according to God’s Word is by believing and confessing it. God wants us to know and enjoy the reality of what He has provided for us and He has already told us how to do it through His Word.
It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are, how we feel, what people say–nothing matters but what God has already said in His Word.
Proverbs 18:21 says “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” We choose life, or we choose death!
In matters of illness or disease, financial lack, relational struggles, addictions–anything!–we need to respond with God’s Word. We don’t lie to ourselves or deny what is plainly evident, that’s not what I’m saying. Exercising our authority means taking hold of what we can’t yet see, knowing that it’s already been promised to us–it’s ours: the deed’s been signed, the price has been payed, the check is in the mail! It’s ours! It IS ours already. We only need to confess that promise, believe that promise, and then just thank God.
To grow spiritually, to know as a personal reality that what God says is true, we need to confess it. We need to speak it out. The more you declare it, the more you believe it. The more you talk about Him, the more real Jesus becomes.
Even if you don’t believe it right away, speak it out!
Romans 10:17 (NASB) So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
As you speak the word, you hear it coming out of your mouth, and faith comes!
Go through the Bible (especially the New Testament), and find verses with “In Christ,” “In Him,” “In Whom,” “Through Him,” etc., personalize them, and then speak them over your life!
Start saying, “This is mine … this is who I am in Christ … this is what I have in Christ … this is what I can do in Christ.” When you do this, your redemption–your authority–becomes a reality to you.
Those promises are a reality in the spirit realm, but they need to become real in this physical realm where we live. We don’t need physical healing when we get to heaven, we need it now. We don’t need money when we get to heaven, we need it now. We don’t need deliverance from Satan’s bondage in heaven, we need it now, in this time, on the earth where we live today!
Let’s practice the exercising of our authority, by praying the Word of God.
Praying the “Word” is one of the most effective ways to pray. Throughout the Epistles, Paul prayed for those to whom he was writing, and these passages of scripture focus on God’s will for all believers. These “Pauline Prayers” are a great place to start renewing your mind, building your faith, and equipping your authority.
When we as believers confess Scripture, two things happen:
1) as that Word is spoken over and over again, revelation of the Truth of the Word begins to drop into the heart
2) as a result of that revelation, our lives begin to be transformed into the very image of the Word being spoken. Whether you are speaking these prayers over yourself or others, it is a powerful way to grow in the Lord.
Today we’ll look at two of these passages, both from Ephesians. The first is,
Ephesians 1:17–21 (NLT) asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come.
Here’s an example of a confession based on this passage:
I ask and thank you God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ for giving me spiritual wisdom and insight so that I grow in my knowledge of You. I thank you that my heart is flooded with light and I understand the confident hope You have given to those You called, Your holy people who are your rich and glorious inheritance. I also thank You that I understand the incredible greatness of Your power for those who believe in You. It is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. He is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else – not only in this world but also in the world to come.
Let’s continue with…
Ephesians 3:16-20 (NLT) I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
Here’s an example confession:
I pray and thank You Heavenly Father that from Your glorious, unlimited resources You empower me with inner strength through Your Spirit. I thank You that Christ makes His home in my heart as I trust in Him. My roots grow down into God’s love and keep me strong. I have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high and deep Your love is. I experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. I am made complete with the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to You, God, who is able through Your mighty power at work within me to accomplish infinitely more than I might ask or think.
God’s Word says we have healing, we have long-life, we have prosperity, we have peace of mind, we have joy, we have eternal hope, etc. They belong to us, legally, because of the work of Jesus Christ. He made the transaction, the giving of his life, and he rightfully reclaimed authority from the kingdom of darkness, and gave that privilege-of-rulership to us!
John 3:16, 18 (MSG) This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. … Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.
A few chapters later, in
John 14:13-14 (MSG) “Believe me: I am in my Father and my Father is in me. If you can’t believe that, believe what you see—these works. The person who trusts me will not only do what I’m doing but even greater things, because I, on my way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I’ve been doing. You can count on it. From now on, whatever you request along the lines of who I am and what I am doing, I’ll do it. That’s how the Father will be seen for who he is in the Son. I mean it. Whatever you request in this way, I’ll do.
Here’s the reality: We as believers–followers of Jesus Christ–have tremendous “delegated power” to be used in this world. The source of this authority is born from the highest authority–God the Father–and was made possible by the life and work of Jesus Christ, His Son. We have been given authority over “all the power of the enemy” and “nothing can separate us from God’s love” and the promises (the guarantees) of his love. We implement this authority by receiving, believing, and confessing the very Word of God. Which is also returned to our remembrance by the Holy Spirit. In our mouths, this action of confession– coupled with our faith–brings forth God-Reality into our reality. Spiritual truth becoming physical truth.
If you don’t know Jesus Christ, today, as your Lord and as your Savior, if you want to make yourself right with God, be transformed by his power, and granted the authority promised in His Word–as we talked about today–pray with me, right now.
Dear God in heaven, I come to you in the name of Jesus. I acknowledge to You that I am a sinner, and I am sorry for my rebellion against you; I need your forgiveness.
I believe that your one and only Son, Jesus Christ, spilled His precious blood on the cross at the hill called Calvary, and died for my sins, and I am now willing to turn from my sin.
You said in Your Holy Word, in Romans 10:9, that if we confess the Lord our God and believe in our hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead, we will be saved.
Right now I confess Jesus as the Lord of my soul. With my heart, I believe that God raised Jesus from the dead. This very moment I accept Jesus Christ as my own personal Savior and according to His Word, right now I am saved.
Thank you Jesus for your unlimited grace which has saved me from my sins. I thank you Jesus that your grace never leads to license to sin, but rather it always leads to repentance. Therefore Lord Jesus transform my life so that I may bring glory and honor to you alone and not to myself.
Thank you Jesus for dying for me and giving me eternal life. AMEN.