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The Persecuted Church

 

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The new Christian paradigm promises to give us powers beyond what we had before through the ministry of the prophets and apostles. Sounds wonderful because we are told we will use these powers to change the world. There are those who believe the Church will have dominion over the world at the end of the age. The nations and governments will be upon their shoulders as they rule for Christ. With this authority, the church will restructure cities, then countries and then the rest of the world. All the secular authorities, governments, rulers and kings will be under the churches rulership, and we see the world change Christ will then return and the kingdom will be presented to Him. This is hardly the scenario of Isa.9:6-7. This theory is based upon the idea that all authority in heaven and on the earth has been given to Jesus and then to the Church. Others believe, since believers are indwelt by the same Holy Spirit that indwelt Jesus, as his body we have all authority on the earth as Jesus has in heaven. Therefore we can do the same miracles that He did. Some are able to tell God to “fill,” give “more” and spirit come and the Lord immediately responds. They send the Holy Spirit to his work, they bind the Devil and his kingdom, they call out diseases by name, they speak salvation and prosperity. With this authority we are supposed to be able to make a tree wither, we can walk on water and appear or disappear and make the blind see and the lame walk.

I hear too many teachers tell others we have all authority in Christ. We have authority, but we do not have ALL AUTHORITY.

It is not God who gives any man all authority, but it is the DEVIL that offers it. He does it for only one reason, to deceive by power, and to bring a person to a place of operating in pride. Where he can separate him and have him think he can function without being co-dependent on Christ. The first person that was offered this authority was Eve. She was offered to be like God and rule. Instead of being satisfied with her position she had, she was offered more, she coveted the power and position that God had. By this the Devil deceived her into losing even what she already had.

In the New Testament We have Jesus being offered authority over the world from the Devil personally. He did not dispute that it was his. Luke 4:5-7 “Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if you will worship before me, all will be Yours.” Jesus was offered ALL authority, glory, by worshipping a creature only once. Keeping the commandments perfectly and knowing who He was and the Father, He knew he could not worship any creature.

Authority has always been a problem with humanity. Many rulers have come and gone down through the annals of history wanting to rule and become famous. Even the disciples that were learning of Christ whom they were following thought about the authority they would receive from Jesus. “Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest. And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called 'benefactors.' But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves. But you are those who have continued with Me in My trials. And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Luke 22:24-30). The kingdom according to Jesus is inherited by humility, not by taking things through force. Those who want all authority to promote His kingdom now prove they are not under the authority of Jesus. As He said we are servants, and even when He comes back we will be serving under Him.

The Apostles never taught or practiced things that we hear of today. Furthermore God never put in His word of our taking authority over the spiritual realm, binding devils over cities, or even Satan. Scripture teaches that there were demons so powerful that the Apostles could not cast them out. Paul an apostle was unable to heal all-- even he suffered with an affliction. Certainly they did not have all authority. They had to sometimes ask in prayer, not take authority by prayer. Humility is what Christ taught and true humility means to rely on someone who is greater, real humility is to know your position and enjoy it.

Throughout Jesus’ life He made it clear “For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak” (John 12:49) Coming in a humble state He became a servant giving us the perfect example of what the man was created to be like (Phil.2:5-8).

John 7:15-19 “And the Jews marveled, saying, “How does this Man know letters, having never studied?” Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him.”

John 12:48-50 “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him--the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak.”

Notice Jesus does not exert his authority but relies on another for his instruction He teaches us to do the same as in Phil. 2: we are to have the same attitude in us that was in him, the mind of Christ is one of humility.

For even the Spirit does not have the authority that some people claim. John 16:13-15 “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.” The spirits focus is Christ, not himself, not the church, and not apostles or prophets

The Apostles authority

Luke 9:1-2: “Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” Luke 10:19-20: “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” Notice this was power over all demons and to heal. Just because Jesus gave them this authority does not mean in any way they had for themselves all authority, nor did they have it to use at their discrepancy all the time. Even Jesus at that time did not have all authority as He was still in a state of humility, He did only what the Father showed him to do. This changed after the resurrection, when He was exalted (Mt.28). We need to remember that Judas when he was with the others was doing the same miracles right alongside them, but he was a son of perdition. So having this kind of authority really does not validate one being an authentic Christian as Mt.7:21 certainly implies. Certainly this authority was not permanent as they were unable to do many things afterwards, even cast out certain demons. This does not mean we are powerless today, it does mean we should be careful what we are learning about authority and how it is to be used.

How we are to conduct ourselves as servants to others is illustrated by the disciples who became apostles.

2 Thess.3:7-9: “For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; nor did we eat anyone's bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us.” Paul’s example was humility, following the example of Christ’s servanthood, no one was abuse or misused. They were careful with their leadership and did not use the office of apostle or prophet as a “above others” position. They remembered what Jesus said “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant (Matt 20:25-28). Their authority came with the willingness to be a servant.

How did the apostles use their authority? 1Thess.2:5-7 “For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness-- God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children.” When was the last time you saw a healing or miracle service where someone famous did not say everyone can or will be healed (flattery) or ask to give to his ministry so they can reap a blessing (a cloak for covetousness). Or where someone was not brought up on stage to give an advertisement and to interview them on what happened (glory from men). Or the speaker went in the audience to slay people “in the spirit” and its shown on camera.

Today’s Christianity for the most part lacks servanthood, compassion, kindness, instead it is ALL about authority and power. Selfless service, mercy, and helps are gifts of the Spirit that few want. Most desire gifts that can be used publicly and make a BIG impression. We now define ministers and valid ministries by how many miracles and healing they report, something you will not find in Scripture. “A man came to Jesus saying “Teacher, we know that you are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do you care about anyone, for you do not regard the person of men”(Matt. 22:16). How different it is today with those who proclaim their authority, everything is watched by others and filmed for the public.

2 Cor. 10:13-18 “We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us--a sphere which especially includes you. For we are not overextending ourselves (as though our authority did not extend to you), for it was to you that we came with the gospel of Christ; not boasting of things beyond measure, that is, in other men's labors, but having hope, that as your faith is increased, we shall be greatly enlarged by you in our sphere, to preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man's sphere of accomplishment. But “he who glories, let him glory in the LORD.” For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.”

The apostles’ leadership was true shepherding as they exemplified the Jesus style of servanthood. As True shepherds they taught people how to follow the one shepherd: not themselves. Cults and abusive leadership will always put themselves in between the people and Christ having them as necessary for someone to follow Christ or for the Church to succeed. We can see this being stated by the apostle prophet movement today. The apostles did not dictate what people were to do but through being personally involved in their lives they instructed them by Scripture, and showed them by example. They did not prophecy who to marry or where one is to move to for ministry. When people tried to follow a certain apostle they were rebuked (1Corinthians1:11-12). Today many popular teachers make disciples after their own selves. As true shepherds the apostles stood against errors and denounced false teachings and letters that were not from them. 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13: “Now we ask you brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are “over you” in the Lord.” The phrase “over you” in the Greek is also used in 1 Timothy 3:4-5 and 1 Timothy 5:17. It does not mean a “position of authority,” it means “to assist, to protect, to care for or give aid to.”

In third John 9, John named Diotrephes who was the first church cultist. Diotrephes wouldn’t accept the teaching of the apostles and he spoke against them. He wanted to be in authority, to be first among them; he wanted to be noticed. He would not allow other brethren to fellowship with the church he presided over. Isn't that what happens today when people are separated and told not to talk to those who are from another church or those who are being Bereans? There are those who are afraid they will lose control over their members.

There are many who are claiming apostolic authority today. True apostolic authority was to be sold out for the Lord, where they did not love their own lives but instead they give their lives for the sheep. Many commend themselves into a apostolic leadership position that God has not given them. The true New Testament apostles were qualified by the fact they saw the risen Lord and were personally chosen by Him (1 Cor.9:1). The latter rain teach many prophets and apostles are to rule today instead of one person ruling over the Church (such as a Pope). When we get down to it, there is little difference.

Many claim to be prophets but they are prophesying at a 30% average rate of accuracy. This is an abuse of both the title and gift. No true prophet ever had this poor a record: they were 100% correct. Anything less than this is a false prophet and false prophets don’t care if they are right all the time! There are people who are concerned about certain teachers being misrepresented on what they say. I would like to see them have the same concern about the Word that God has said! We cannot separate Jesus from His Word they go together as the truth. To love and hold to His word is to love Jesus. We should have no other word, no other Word.

We were not given the ability to say and do whatever we want. Tagging His name when you exercise authority does not make it anymore valid or authentic. To claim we have all authority; is to say we have the same authority as Jesus; this means we are not under His authority. We are told by Jesus a servant is not greater than his master. Are we servants or are we masters?

2 Peter 2:10-11 “and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries, whereas angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord.” Those who want to have authority and rule over people and nations even if they have good intentions need to beware. Jude 7-11 “Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries. Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves. Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.”

When you see people mocking the devil and his angels, speaking boastfully of what they will conquer, boasting of using authority in the spiritual realm, claiming to be the army of God, this is exactly what Jude was speaking of. If you look at the story of Balaam he wanted to make money on his ability to prophecy. In the rebellion of Korah we see people going against what the leader (Moses) spoke that we now have as our Scripture. It is always about challenging what God has said. When people teach new revelations, saying God is revealing more to the Church at this time and it is not found in the Scripture, or is at best distorted Scripture; this is exactly what both Peter and Jude are addressing.

For those who seek authority can easily fall into a trap, great authority and power will be offered at the end. The second beast that is coming will look like a lamb and he will promise authority and a kingdom. Rev 13:4 “So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, "Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?” Here is the same authority that Satan offered to Jesus, but Jesus refused and stayed a servant. The one who is called the beast will accept it and use it. Rev 13:6-7 “Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation.” Notice He is able to say things about himself that is supposed to be attributed to God. He is able to exercise all power over the whole earth.

Rev 13:12-14 “And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast.” This man will have authority he will have the ability to do miracles and he will accept peoples worship.

He was able to deceive by his authority (power). If you wonder whom the Christians are that Jesus warned about the deception in the end, it will be the ones who look for authority, power in miracles and signs as the proof that something is of God.

Dan 7:6-8 “After this I looked, and there was another, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird. The beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it. “After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. “I was considering the horns, and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. And there, in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words.” V:11-12 “I watched then because of the sound of the pompous words which the horn was speaking; I watched till the beast was slain, and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame. “As for the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.

Rev. 17:12-14 “The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast.”

 Dan.7:19-28 “Then I wished to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its nails of bronze, which devoured, broke in pieces, and trampled the residue with its feet; “and the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn which came up, before which three fell, namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth which spoke pompous words, whose appearance was greater than his fellows. “I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them “until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom. “Thus he said: 'The fourth beast shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be different from all other kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, trample it and break it in pieces. The ten horns are ten kings who shall arise from this kingdom. And another shall rise after them; he shall be different from the first ones, and shall subdue three kings. He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time. 'But the court shall be seated, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and destroy it forever.

Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him.' “This is the end of the account. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts greatly troubled me, and my countenance changed; but I kept the matter in my heart.”

Kingdom and dominion is coming when the king comes. The church was never given authority to rule the earth before the king arrives. For whatever kingdom is ruling when Christ come he will destroy.

It was only Jesus who was given all authority. Nowhere does it say we were given all authority in the New Testament. Matt 28:18-20 “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” So he tells the apostles and us “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.” Amen. The word for authority is power. If one has all power they have all authority. It is not the church that has all authority, we need to be under Jesus’ authority just as he was under the Father when he came as a servant. Leadership in the church is about being a servant. Only Jesus can have all authority for the simple reason he is sinless and can rule perfectly, the church is not sinless and can never be trusted with all authority. Yes we as the church have some authority, but not all authority. The sooner we learn this, the quicker we can come under the authority of Christ and enjoy serving under His Lordship.

 

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