Authority of Believers
God Gives Authority to Man
Adam Gives Authority to Sin
Abraham Releases Faith
Faith Raises Jesus
Jesus Takes Back Authority
Jesus Assigns Authority to Believers
All scriptural references here, are given in the New International Version, NIV. When it is necessary for a fuller understanding of the intent of the scriptures, the words are underlined, and in parentheses, further translation is offered, based on the meaning of the original word, as defined in Strong’s Concordance.
The Devil is a lawyer. I don’t mean any disrespect to either lawyers or the Devil, I’m just stating the facts. God is the Righteous Judge who rules over all His creation. Everything He has ordained is operated on a system of laws. There are the natural laws that govern the universe. Every atom and sub-atomic particle obey the laws God layed down when He ordered the universe. Without these laws, the universe could not function, but would fly to pieces. Then there are the spiritual laws. God put in place spiritual laws and principals to govern all activity. These spiritual laws work in concert with natural laws, but govern the unseen spiritual existence that overlays everything that is tangible to the natural senses. It is the existence of God’s order of laws that has required Satan to become a lawyer.
Lucifer was created by God and operated within God’s dominion. He was a very important servant in Heaven. He had much responsibility and authority in his service to The Most High God. But things began to go astray as Satan’s heart was swelled with pride. We can piece together a general outline of events from elements left for us in the Scriptures. We will begin by establishing the most important eyewitness account available to us, the testimony of Jesus, the only begotten Son of God.
John 1:1 & 14 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. NIV
Jesus, the Word of God manifest in human form, has been around since before time. He has seen everything that has gone on. Jesus’ testimony is always true and can be counted on to be accurate. So, when Jesus says in Luke 10:18, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven…” NIV, you can believe it happened. But what exactly happened?
The prophet Isaiah laments Satan’s fall from grace because of his pride. Before the Devil rebelled against God and was cast out of Heaven, he was created by God as Lucifer, and called the Morning Star, Son of the Dawn. But serving our loving God apparently wasn’t good enough for Lucifer. He came to believe he could rule better than God. So Lucifer rebelled against God’s authority and became known as Satan, the Devil, the Serpent.
Isaiah 14:12-15 How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit. NIV
Isaiah gives us a look into the heart of Satan – and humanity. The Devil wasn’t content to be governed by a loving and benevolent God. He wasn’t willing to live under God’s authority any longer. His heart was filled with pride and he decided he wanted to rule his own life and not be subject to the rule of God. Doesn’t that sound an awful lot like us?
Lucifer lost their place in Heaven because only those who accept God’s authority can abide in His kingdom. Satan was cast out. Jesus, as the Word of God, was there to witness the whole event. God’s adversary was exiled from Heaven and took refuge on the earth. The story gets sketchy at this point and is subject to interpretation. It appears as if Satan set up his own kingdom on earth. Since Satan wasn’t motivated by love; but by selfishness; he wasn’t a kind and benevolent ruler over his own kingdom. Unlike God, who ruled according to His boundless love for His subjects, Satan ruled to satisfy his own ego. Ultimately, Satan destroyed his world through his selfishness.
Isaiah 14:16-17 Those who see you stare at you, they ponder your fate: “Is this the man (the other) who shook(quaked) the earth and made kingdoms tremble, the man (the other) who made the world a desert, who overthrew (destroyed) its cities and would not let his captives go home?” NIV
It would appear that this kingdom existed on earth, but was destroyed by Satan before the creation of humanity. If this is true, it would explain why the earth was “void and without form” when the age of mankind began to be chronicled. God had created earth perfect when all of creation was spoken into existence. Satan inhabited earth after his exile from Heaven and destroyed it through his selfishness. When God decides to create humanity in His own image, He re-habilitates earth as the habitat for mankind.
Genesis 1:1-2 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was (became) formless (desert) and empty (ruined), darkness (destruction) was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. NIV
We see in Genesis 1: 1-2 that the world had become desert and ruined and that destruction was over the face of the deep, yet, God’s Spirit was there, hovering over the waters. How we choose to interpret these scriptures isn’t central to the truths that will be illustrated. It may, however, help things make more sense. Regardless of the specifics of the events, it is obvious that Satan was stripped of his authority and cast out of Heaven and ended up on earth. This sets the stage for the eternal struggle between the forces of darkness and the Father of Light for the hearts of humanity.
Many people have difficulty understanding why God created Lucifer and why God allows humanity to be cruel. This misunderstanding is often used as an excuse to reject God and His authority over their lives. “If God is a good god, then why does he let bad things happen?” The short answer is, “God doesn’t let bad things happen, we let bad things happen.” But this answer doesn’t make sense to the people who ask the question. Here is the explanation.
God, in His ultimate authority and power, lacked only one thing, the fellowship of love. This isn’t exactly accurate, because God the Father had with Him His Son and the Holy Spirit. But the Trinity is so One, Jesus told his followers, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen my Father.” The Godhead is so much One that their love for each other is the same as loving themselves. God, just like each of us, longs to be loved. Yet, for all of God’s power, for all of God’s majesty, God’s primary relationship, beyond the Trinity, was in the devotion of His servants. The angels in Heaven are created beings. Their existence is to serve.
The angels, as created beings, were devoted servants of the Most High God, created for service. Devotion will go a long way towards satisfying needs, but it is no substitute for love. To truly love, there must be a choice. Participants must be able to choose to love, or not to love. Without a choice, it’s emotional slavery, not love. When we invest our emotions in loving someone, we become vulnerable to the object of our love. We can be offended by the action of those who work for us, but we can only be hurt deeply by those we love. And just because we love someone, there is no guarantee they will love us in return, no matter how we express our love for them. So, when God decided to create humanity in His image; with the authority to choose - He was taking a great risk. God was exposing Himself to love. To expose Himself to love, God had to make Himself vulnerable to rejection, because love isn’t love unless there is the authority to choose to love. When you love someone without reservation, without regret, with an intensity that cannot be diminished or shut down by rejection, then you understand vulnerability.
So, in order that He could be truly loved, God created humanity with the authority to reject His love. God loves each of us with an intensity that He would die for us. And, of course, He did. But that intensity isn’t diminished with rejection. The love that drove God to offer up His Only Begotten Son on the cross isn’t extinguished when we turn our backs on Him. It burns more brightly because of God’s self-sacrificing desire for us.
Humanity chooses to reject God’s self-sacrificing love. The evil humanity expresses towards one-another is the result. Because of evil, the goodness of God and His love exists alongside our selfish decisions – and we have to make a choice. When we see the destruction caused by the evil present in mankind, do we compare it to the self-sacrificing love of God? When we see the results of greed, selfishness, the abuse of power, violence, lust, depravity and willfulness, do we compare it to God’s message of love and compassion toward one another? The ugliness of Satan and his selfishness – and that same selfishness mirrored in mankind – should illustrate for us the ultimate wisdom and goodness in God’s selfless, limitless, unconditional love for all of humanity. Yet, human nature is such that we turn God’s goodness around and fling it ungratefully back in His face. “Why do you allow us to be so bad?” we shout at God! Then we use our rejection of God and His love as an excuse to live our lives of selfishness.
But for those few who receive God’s gift of unmerited favor, those who accept God’s sacrifice for us, for those who experience God’s grace, for those who embrace the love of the Father; for these few, the gates of the Kingdom of God are thrown wide open. And because of the returned love of these few, our Loving Father endures the rejection from the rest. It breaks His heart, but He can handle it, because He has our love.
So God created humanity – to express His love and to be loved in return. But, to be loved, He needed to create humanity like Himself, with the authority to choose. In creating humanity like Himself, God had to accept the inevitability that His own creation would reject His love. With rejection, God had to design a way for estranged humanity to be reconciled to its loving Father. So, with a plan as intricate as the laws that intertwine the functions of the universe and keep it from flying to pieces, God layed out the plan for the redemption of humanity before humanity was even created. God created humanity in His own image, and armed humanity with authority. God gave humanity authority knowing mankind would turn against Him. But He also knew, He could never experience our love, unless we had the authority to choose. So it began…
God Gives Authority to Man
Genesis 1:26-27 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. NIV
It was as simple as that. God armed humanity with authority over all the creatures and earth itself. God gave mankind dominion over the earth to rule it. Earth still belonged to God, but it was man’s to rule over. God, the ultimate ruler and authority of all things, gave humanity its own little corner of creation to rule over. When God establishes an issue, it is established. Just as creation is bound to follow the natural laws established by God, God follows His own Laws. Since God is ultimately righteous, God’s word is ultimately true. God cannot go back on His word, because to deny His word would be to deny His authority, which establishes His word as truth.
God began the human race with the man Adam and his wife Eve. God lived in close communion with the two; enjoying walks in the garden with them, talking with them, just spending time together. God loved them and they returned God’s love. More importantly, they obeyed their loving Father. God had told them not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and they didn’t. As long as they obeyed their Father, they enjoyed His presence and company.
But there was trouble brewing in the garden. In chapter three of the book of Genesis, it tells the story of how Satan, in the form of a serpent, deceived Eve and she ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Eve, then, prevailed upon her husband to eat the fruit also. In their act of disobedience to the only law God gave them, Adam and Eve cut themselves off from communion with their Father. The fruit of the tree didn’t have any mystical power to change the couple. It was the knowledge of what they had done that affected the pair. In eating the fruit, Adam and Eve discovered that they could make a choice - and disobey God. They now knew the difference between good and evil. They had known communion with God, now they understood the evil of rebellion. They had to hide, and quickly! God was coming and they couldn’t stand to face Him.
Genesis 3:8-10 Then Adam and his wife Eve heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked so I hid.” NIV
Here we have a perfect illustration of the cause and effect of sinning against God. We are no different from Adam and Eve. When we sin, we do the same thing they did, with disastrous eternal effects. Adam and Eve, understanding they had rebelled against the loving authority of their Father, separated themselves from the presence of God. We all stand naked in the sight of our Father and He knows every sin. We can’t abide the shame of being in His righteous presence, so we cut ourselves off from communion with Him. But He is our life, He is our salvation, He is the source of truth. When we cut ourselves off from God, we die. The Father had told Adam and Eve this would happen. As the Devil was tempting Eve, she told Satan about God’s law.
Genesis 3:2-3 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” NIV
Satan, having experienced expulsion from God’s presence, had an understanding of what God meant when He told Adam and Eve they would die. But the Devil, always the deceiver, saw the perfect opportunity to misinterpret God’s word.
Genesis 3:4-5 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” NIV
As we continue to read on in chapter three, it may appear that Satan was right. Adam and Eve didn’t drop dead. But God wasn’t talking about their physical lives. God was talking about their spiritual lives. On that day, Adam and Eve did surely die, and the rest of unborn humanity with them. Because, being dead, is being cut off from what gives you life. If you look at the human body, it becomes dead when it is cut off from what gives it life: the oxygen and nutrition gathered from the world around it and circulated through the blood. Stop the heart, stop the lungs, shut down any other vital function of the body, and the body is cut off from its life giving surroundings. In death, the human body can no longer function and interact with its surroundings. It is dead, cut off from the world and the living.
In chapter three of Genesis, we witness the death of Adam and Eve. Because of their knowledge that they had rebelled against God, the pair cut themselves off from communion with God. They were ashamed. They hid themselves from God. They cut off the spiritual communion that connected their spirits with the source of their spiritual life. They could no longer sustain spiritual life cut off from the Father. They separated themselves from the source of their spiritual life because they couldn’t abide the presence of God knowing what they had done. They became spiritually dead. But God was prepared.
Genesis 3:21-22 The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” NIV
Who made clothes to cover the shame of Adam and Eve’s sin? Their Father. What did he cover their sin with? Clothes made from skin. How did God get skins to make clothes for His children? He killed animals and stripped the hide from their bodies! Imagine the horror and remorse as the God of Creation destroys His own innocent creations to cover the guilt of Adam and Eve. Imagine the revelation that dawned in their hearts as they realized that the life of the innocent had to be sacrificed to cover the shame of their guilt. God revealed to humanity what was required to cover sin, the sacrifice of innocent life.
The plan for the redemption of humanity was established from the foundations of time. The sacrifice of innocent animal life would cover humanity’s sin. But God was preparing a perfect sacrifice to be offered in the place of humanity, a sacrifice that would blot out the sin of His beloved mankind. God had set in motion the redemption of the human race – and now it all began to unfold before our eyes.
I can’t imagine there was any surprise in God’s voice as the Trinity talked among themselves about fallen mankind. I hear - inevitability. It was with a certain amount of dreaded anticipation that man would fall, and thus discover there was a choice to love. And God, in His compassion for His beloved, fallen, humanity, could not allow them to exist eternally separated from Himself. They would have to experience physical death, so they would have the hope of resurrection from the dead to new life. So God barred the way to eternal life so humanity couldn’t inter into eternity in their spiritually dead state. They would have to be liberated by death to escape this fallen life.
God armed humanity with authority over the earth. Mankind used that authority to rebel against their Father’s loving reign. The knowledge of their sin against their Father drove them from God’s presence, separating them from their source of spiritual life. Adam and Eve and all humanity after them, became spiritually dead. But poor choices like this are inevitable whenever there is a choice to be made. And it was necessary for humanity to be able to choose so they could have the opportunity to truly love God. But the Father had already set in motion the way for mankind to be reunited with Him, even before they fell. The plan would develop and be put into place one piece at a time, so in the fullness of time, all things would be fulfilled.
Adam Gives Authority to Sin
Genesis 3:17 To Adam he (God) said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ “Cursed (separated from God) is the ground (world) because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life…” NIV
Here are the dictionary definitions of cursed as used in the Bible.
Cursed: execrate, bitterly curse
1.To detest utterly; abhor, abominate. (All these words have their root meaning in avert.) 2.Avert: 1. to turn away or aside
Because of Adam’s sin, God turned away from Adam and all of humanity after him because God’s kingdom only includes those who serve Him. The earth itself was cut off from God because God had given humanity authority over it. Adam had cut himself off from God and rebelled against God’s authority over humanity by disobeying God’s one law for mankind. Follow the chain of events: God gives authority over the earth to humanity. Humanity is cut off from God because of sin. The earth is cursed, separated from God, because humanity has authority over it, and humanity is separated from God by spiritual death. Since God gave legal authority over earth to humanity, God must honor His word. Having given man authority over the earth, God no longer has legitimate right to operate directly in the earth. God must find humans with authority in the earth, who are willing to work with God to accomplish His plans for the redemption of humanity.
You will recall that God, to cover the sin of Adam and Eve, killed animals and made clothes to cover their shame. Physical death was necessary to cover spiritual death until the time Jesus, God’s perfect spotless Lamb, could be offered in our place. This tradition of sacrifice for the covering of sin, was necessary for humanity. It allowed mankind to commune with God from the fall of mankind, till Christ’s sacrifice. Animal sacrifice, for the covering of sin, was practiced by Adam and Eve’s sons.
Genesis 4:2-5 …Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. NIV
Notice that both Cain and Able brought sacrifices to present to God. But, Cain’s offering was rejected by God, why? Cain’s offering didn’t require the loss of innocent life as a covering for the guilt of sin. Notice what God says to Cain next.
Genesis 4:6-7 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” NIV
Again, we have humanity facing the dilemma of obeying God or rebelling and doing things their own way. Cain had an opportunity to serve God according to the law that God had set before him. It was as if God were saying to Cain, “Cover your sins with innocent blood, and your offering is acceptable to me. You don’t fully understand, but I see forward to the fullness of time when your sins wont just be covered by the blood of an innocent animal. I see the time when your transgressions against Me will be blotted out completely by the blood of my Only Begotten Son. I will offer Myself through my Son in your place and my perfect sacrifice will set you free from the law of sin and death!” As we read further in chapter four, we see that Cain didn’t honor God, but instead, went out and killed his brother. But, in Genesis 4:7, we see an interesting effect of sin in our lives. God warns Cain that if he doesn’t do right, sin is waiting to take him captive. When we obey the desire to sin, we become the slave of sin. Instead of us mastering sin, sin becomes our master. Listen to the words of Jesus.
John 8:34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word. I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you do what you have heard from your father.” NIV
Jesus tells us that if anyone lives habitually in sin, they are slaves to sin. He also tells us His Father has told Him these things. He goes on to tell us that anyone who lives habitually in sin is only doing what they have heard from their father.
Who then, is the father and author of sin, and what is the nature of sin? As we have read, it was Satan himself who tempted Eve and introduced humanity to sin. Satan’s original sin was to exalt himself above the throne of God. The Devil, in his heart, rejected God’s authority and threw off God’s laws and couldn’t abide in God’s presence in Heaven. This was sin. Satan is the father of sin and everyone who habitually indulges themselves in rebellion against God’s judgments, is a child of sin. Our sin drives us away from God. But what is the essences of sin? What makes an action sin? All of God’s laws are designed for our good. They hold us together and keep us from flying to pieces. They protect us and give us fullness of life. Anything that transgresses God’s laws, by nature, is destructive to God’s creations. So, the essence of sin is: any action, thought, or attitude, that hurts us or those around us. God hates sin because it hurts us.
Jesus came to break the chains of sin that have bound us as captives of sin. Jesus came to take our place and to throw off sin. So he was born a man, tempted by sin in every way just like we are tempted, yet, Jesus never gave-in to sin. Satan tempted Jesus personally and failed. We can learn much from the encounter.
Luke 4:1-13 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan (where he was baptized by John and the Holy Spirit descended on him in the form of a dove and the voice of God, from Heaven said, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”) and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: Man does not live on bread alone.’”
The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”
The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written:
“’He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus answered, “It says: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. NIV
Jesus resisted every temptation Satan threw at him by relying on God’s word. This is very important to remember when we are tempted by sin. But what I want to point out from this passage is what the Devil tells Jesus. “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours.” God had given authority over the earth to humanity. Mankind had become the slave of sin. Man’s authority, as a result, had been passed on to the father of sin, Satan himself. Since the fall of humanity, Satan had subjugated mankind to sin. Man’s rightful authority over the earth, had been usurped by Satan, through mankind’s rebellion against God’s law. Satan was willing to give it to Jesus if Jesus rebelled against His Father and worshiped Satan. The Devil knew he would loose nothing in the deal, Jesus would become a slave to sin and all authority in earth would be Satan’s again.
It is interesting to see how the fall of humanity plunged the whole earth under the authority of Satan. And in turn, how Satan’s selfishness doesn’t allow him to care for what falls under his rule. The Apostle Paul gives us a glimpse of the callousness of the Devil’s rule.
Romans 8:18-21 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, (moral depravity) not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. NIV
We see that the whole creation waits for the sons of God to come into their own. The earth itself is subject to moral depravity, not by its own choice, but as a result of humanity handing over authority to Satan. We see the hope that the degenerating nature of the earth’s condition will come to an end when the children of God again rule. We might ask ourselves, “When will that be?” I’m not sure. I assume it will be after Jesus’ triumphal return to the earth in His glory. I don’t know. But I do know, we don’t see it now. Nor has it been evident at any time since the fall of humanity.
Jesus summed up the condition mankind finds itself in, when the spoke about the love of money. When you analyze the motivation behind worshiping money, it boils down to selfishness.
Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other...” NIV
When humanity devotes itself to it’s own self-interests, it despises God. This is the condition of mankind since rebellion against God in the garden. Yet, there have always been a few who have covered their sins with innocent blood and followed after God to please Him and do His will. The Bible follows these individuals, and at times, nations, through the history of humanity. Since authority in the earth has fallen into the hands of Satan through sin, these individuals have been pivotal to God’s plan for redeeming mankind. These few, who have covered their sins with innocent blood, can approach God. These few, who seek after God’s will and are not the slaves of sin, still wield their authority in the earth. These few, these precious few, have co-labored with God to implement the plan for humanity’s redemption.
Remember, God gave authority to mankind. For God to work in the earth, He needs people who will speak His words, people who will have faith in what God has told them. Throughout the Bible, the prophets of God have been pivotal to speaking God’s words into reality. God, when he retained all authority, spoke all of creation into existence. God had the faith and fullness within Himself, so that His very words were powerful. When they came out of His mouth, they exploded into everything that we now see. God then handed authority in the earth to humanity, and humanity abdicated authority to Satan through sin. For God to get things done, He now needs people who will speak His words and have faith He will perform them. We see an excellent example of this in Ezekiel.
Ezekiel 12:25-28 But I the Lord will speak what I will, and it shall be fulfilled without delay. For in your days, you rebellious house, I will fulfill whatever I say, declares the Sovereign Lord.’”
The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, the house of Israel is saying, ‘The vision he sees is for many years from now, and he prophesies about the distant future.’
“’Therefore say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: None of my words will be delayed any longer; whatever I say will be fulfilled, declares the Sovereign Lord.’” NIV
God had an obedient servant in Ezekiel. Ezekiel’s sins were covered by the blood sacrifices he offered on God’s alter. Ezekiel wasn’t a servant of sin, but a servant of The Most High God. When God told Ezekiel what to say, Ezekiel said it. When Ezekiel said it, Ezekiel had faith that God would perform His words. In this fashion, throughout history, God has gained the cooperation of individuals, who would wield their authority in the earth to speak God’s word and bring about God’s will. God had the legal right to intervene in the earth because he was operating in the authority of cooperative human beings. Human beings who have not yielded their authority in this earth to sin, retain the authority given them by God. Through the faith and spoken words of authority wielding humans, God’s will can come to pass in the earth.
Abraham Releases Faith
Among the men of the Bible who would yield themselves to God’s will, there was Abraham. Abraham is known for several things in the Bible. He is called the father of faith, the father of Israel - and he was a prophet of God. That Abraham was a prophet is unknown by most Believers. Abraham didn’t write a book, Abraham didn’t speak forth any startling predictions for the future, yet God called Abraham a prophet. We find this revelation in Genesis. As Abraham traveled about, he was always afraid other men would kill him so they could take his beautiful wife Sarah. Sarah was Abraham’s half sister, so they told everyone she was his sister. Twice, other men actually took Abraham’s wife from him, thinking she was his sister. King Abimelech was the second man who took Sarah away to be his wife. God came to him in a dream and warned him that Abraham was a prophet, and Abimelech would die unless he returned Sarah to her husband.
Genesis 20:7 Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all yours will die. NIV
Two common ways for prophets to relay God’s word are through example and speaking. We are most familiar with prophets who speak God’s word and write it down to be preserved. We are less familiar with prophets who are an example. Hosea was a prophet who lived what God wanted to tell Israel. Hosea’s life and message were written down as well. In Hosea’s case, God was upset that Israel was serving other gods. So God told Hosea to marry an adulterous woman for a wife. Hosea married Gomer, and the rest of his experiences and God’s warnings to Israel are written down in the book of Hosea. King David was a prophet of God as well as Israel’s king. While David didn’t write a book of prophesy, aspects of his life were used as a foreshadowing of the Christ. And likewise, Abraham before David and Hosea, was a prophet of the Lord.
God knew Abraham’s heart. Throughout the course of Abraham’s life, God developed Abraham’s obedience and faith through the things he experienced. God proved Himself faithful to Abraham; teaching him that the Lord would do everything He told Abraham He would do. In this way, Abraham was built up in his relationship with God so he would trust in the Lord and follow His leading. When Abraham was mature enough, and God could trust Abraham, God implemented Abraham’s role in the redemption of humanity.
The children of Israel are called Abraham’s descendants. Believers in Christ are called the spiritual descendants of Abraham. God’s promise to Abraham was that the Lord would make Abraham the father of many nations. God also promised to establish an eternal covenant, not through Abraham, but through his son Isaac. This is where Abraham begins to step into the fullness of his role as a prophet of God. Abraham’s actions and faith in God’s words, begin to affect the future of humanity for all eternity. Humanity’s future isn’t tied to the physical DNA of Abraham, but in the everlasting covenant God established through Abraham’s son Isaac. The Lord began dealing with Abraham about this covenant before Isaac was even conceived.
Genesis 17:19-21 Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with (by) him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants (fruit) after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. But my covenant I will establish (accomplish) with (by) Isaac, whom Sarah (Princess) will bear to you by (at) this (the appointed) time next year (next age).” NIV
While God was talking specifically to Abraham about the son who would be born to Sarah, the Lord was also prophesying through Abraham’s life, about the coming Christ. God was about to do something spectacular. The English translation of this passage is made using words that speak specifically about Isaac. But the full meaning of the Hebrew text is not limited to the situation of Isaac’s birth. If read with a prophetic understanding of the words meanings, it becomes clear God is foretelling the birth of the Christ; “I will establish my covenant by him as an everlasting covenant for his fruit after him…But my covenant I will accomplish by Isaac, whom the Princess will bear to you at the appointed next age.” God intended to accomplish his covenant by Isaac. It was through Isaac that God intended to establish the everlasting covenant for Abraham’s fruit after him. It is important to understand God’s intention was to establish the everlasting covenant by Isaac, not with Isaac. God did established a covenant with Isaac and his natural descendents after him. But God also established an everlasting covenant through Isaac. Through Isaac, an everlasting covenant was made with the spiritual fruit resulting from Abraham’s faith in God’s promises about Isaac.
Abraham had two sons, but God’s everlasting covenant was through Isaac, the younger one. The older son, Ishmael, (who’s name means: God will hear), and the younger son, Isaac, (laughter), also illustrate the earthly covenant, (resulting in the nation of Israel), and the spiritual covenant, (resulting in The Body of Christ, the Church). God told Abraham that his real fruit, his spiritual offspring, would be reckoned through Isaac.
Genesis 21:12 But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy (Ishmael) and your maidservant. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. NIV
God didn’t establish Abraham’s lineage through natural genetics, but through spiritual laws.
Romans 9:6-9 It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through (by) Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. In other words, it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring. For this was how the promise was stated: “At the (his) appointed (proper) time I will return, and Sarah (Princess) will have a son.” NIV
The children of the promise are Abraham’s spiritual offspring. What was the promise? God’s promise to Abraham is repeated in Hebrews in an interesting context that gives us a fuller understanding of exactly what that promise was.
Hebrews 11:17-19 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through (by) Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death. NIV
By faith…by faith Abraham, when tested by God, was obedient. What is going on here in the reality of God’s spiritual laws? Abraham has receive, what appears to be, contradictory instructions from God. On the one hand, God has said Isaac is Abraham’s posterity. On the other hand, God has told Abraham to kill Isaac. How can God establish an eternal covenant with Abraham, through Isaac, if Isaac is dead? Part of the answer is at the end of this passage. Abraham had faith that God could raise Isaac from the dead.
In the NIV translation, the full impact of what God revealed to Abraham about raising his son from the dead is incomplete. Some translations indicate Abraham actually saw Isaac raised from the dead in a vision and already accepted Isaac’s resurrection as a fact. In addition to whatever God showed Abraham concerning Isaac specifically, God also shared another vision with His servant. God allowed the prophet Abraham to see The Day of The Lord. Jesus tells about this glimpse of the future Abraham was allowed to see.
John 8:56 Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” NIV
God’s plan for Jesus, shown beforehand to Abraham, wasn’t just something that was being made up as things went along. God had set into place a plan for humanities salvation long before mankind was created: Revelations 13:8 …the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world. NIV Jesus was the sacrificial lamb, offered for the sins of the world. God had revealed just a small portion of that plan to Abraham, but it was enough to give Abraham faith. Abraham needed that faith – and he used it
- when his faith was put to the test by God.
Genesis 22:1-18 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell your about.”
Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”
Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are hear,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an alter there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the alter, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”
The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” NIV
As the test unfolds, we see Abraham’s heart of faith. When he leaves the servants, notice what Abraham tells them. “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.” He hasn’t told the servants he is going to kill his son and heir. He leaves them a good distance from the mountain so they won’t be able to stop him. But he does tell them that he and Isaac are both coming back. There is no doubt in Abraham’s mind, or heart, that God will raise his sacrificial son from the dead. Abraham makes his son carry the very wood he will be sacrificed upon, on his own back. The Son of God will later carry His own wood on His back also. As they trek towards the mountain, Isaac asks where the lamb for the sacrifice is. Abraham tells him that God will provide the lamb. Abraham is talking about his son Isaac as the sacrifice, but he is speaking prophetically about Jesus as the sacrifice.
Abraham binds his son and lays him on the wood of the alter. God bound His Son as well, not with cords, but with His everlasting word and Jesus’ obedience. Abraham’s heart is resigned to sacrificing his son and burning him to ash as an offering to God. He may not understand how, but he believes that God will raise his son from the dead and they will return to the waiting servants together. Abraham raises his arm and is in the very act of delivering the killing stroke when The Angel of The Lord cries out to stop him. “Do not lay a hand of the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” Abraham has released his faith through his actions and God is satisfied.
James 2:21-23 Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. NIV
We see that even though Abraham was stopped before he had killed his son, his faith was made complete by his actions. The faith of Abraham was made complete. What does that mean in the realm of God’s spiritual laws? On the spiritual level, Abraham, operating as a prophet of God, released his faith, according to God’s revelation to him of Jesus. In doing this, God’s eternal covenant was established through Isaac. Established, not in Isaac, but through Isaac. Because you see, even though God didn’t raise Isaac from the dead, Abraham’s faith that God would raise the sacrificial son from the dead, was made complete. Abraham, operating as a prophet of God, released his faith that God would raise the sacrificial “Only Son” from the dead. Abraham, speaking as a prophet of God, said “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And, God did provided the lamb; Jesus, God’s Only Son.
Abraham obeyed God, and offered sacrifices. Abraham retained his authority in the earth, given to humanity by God. Abraham had faith that God would raise the sacrificial Only Son, provided by God himself, from the dead. Abraham’s faith was made complete by his actions. This faith Abraham released, established an eternal covenant for Abraham’s spiritual offspring. There was a covenant established with Abraham’s physical descendents through Isaac, represented by the nation of Israel; but the everlasting spiritual covenant was established through Isaac, as a foreshadowing of the Christ, with Abraham’s spiritual descendents, represented by the Church, the Body of Christ. We are the spiritual fruit of the faith Abraham released.
Faith Raises Jesus
Having established the role of the prophet who retains authority in this earth, to speak God’s words and bring God’s will into effect in this earth; let’s discover how the fullness of God’s plan is spoken into existence by the prophets of God. To mention every prophet and every prophecy of God’s plan of redemption would be like re-writing the Bible. It can’t all be covered here. Just the highlights will do for now. King David has already been mentioned as a prophet of God who’s life and words often foreshadowed the coming Christ. This passage from the Psalms speaks directly of Christ’s resurrection from the dead.
Psalm 16:9-11 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. NIV
God has revealed the plan for redemption and eternal life to King David. The king knows death is not the end of his existence, but that God will raise him to eternal life and joy in the Creator’s presence. He has also been shown that God’s Holy One will not see decay. King David wasn’t speaking of himself when he said this; but, as the Apostle Peter points out, David was speaking of Jesus.
Acts 2:22-36 “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. David said about him:
“’I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’
“Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,
“’The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”’
“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” NIV
Since the garden, prophets of God have waited on God, received understanding from their Creator and have spoken His words for the rest of humanity to hear. Remember, in the beginning, it was The Lord God who spoke His own words; and everything that is made was spoken into existence by God. God then gave authority over the earth to humanity. Any person who hasn’t yielded their authority, by serving sin, is the legitimate authority in earth. Prophets, under the atonement of sacrifices, un-yielded to the mastery of sin, but servants of The Most High God, have spoken God’s words with authority. With faith that God will perform His words, these things spoken have been established in the spiritual realm as spiritual law. These words of God, spoken by man, (with faith that God will perform them), allows God to operate in this earth. These spoken words and the faith in them, allowed God to raise Jesus from the dead.
Remember the faith of Abraham. His faith was made complete by his actions. Abraham released his faith that God would raise the Sacrificial Lamb from the dead. That faith, made complete by Abraham, was the legitimate authority that allowed God to raise Jesus from the dead. Because of Abraham’s faith, used to raise the Only Son from death, we can be reconciled to God through The Christ. We are the spiritual result of Abraham’s faith. We are the spiritual offspring of what Abraham’s faith made possible.
As Believers, we have entered into reconciliation with God through Christ, and we might not even understand how it happened. Many know about God and the Bible, and understand the concepts, and feel like they are doing everything they are supposed to do, yet somehow feel like God isn’t close to them. There is an eternal difference between knowing God and knowing about God. Being a close personal friend of the President of the United States and knowing who the President is, are two different things. Having a relationship with the President will get you into the White House. Knowing who the President is will allow you to tell everyone the President lives in the White House. Too many “Christians” know God lives in heaven, but they don’t have a personal relationship with The Creator that will get them invited there. What’s the difference? What’s the difference between knowing God and knowing about God? Well, knowing God, through Christ, changes you eternally.
Romans 10: 8-10 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. NIV
In this passage, we see the same spiritual dynamics God set in place when He spoke all of creation into being. God, when He created heaven and earth, had faith within Himself that what He spoke would become. The power of His faith exploded into being as He spoke creation out of His mouth. The prophets have done the same thing. They have had faith that what God tells them to speak will come to pass. We are told here, that if we confess with our mouth that “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, we will be saved. Believing in our hearts is FAITH. When we speak God’s truth, “Jesus is Lord,” with FAITH, we follow the example of God and His prophets by speaking spiritual truth into existence. We are told we are justified and made righteous by the belief in our hearts. This is the same word used when the Bible tells us Abraham was made righteous by his willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac. When we release our faith in God’s truth by speaking it with our mouths, we put the power of God into action in our lives. The Holy Spirit actually performs a miracle in our spiritual being based on our spoken faith. We are re-created new spiritual beings through Christ and everything about our spiritual nature is changed.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! NIV
This isn’t the end of our salvation, it is just the beginning. Our old sinful human nature wars against the new spirit that dwells within us. God’s Spirit begins a lifelong struggle to conform us into the image of The Son of God by putting to death our old nature.
Romans 12:1-2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will. NIV
It is a spiritual transformation that consumes the rest of our human lives.
2 Corinthians 3:18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. NIV
As we journey forward into ever greater communion with the Father, through our Lord Jesus, this world has less and less allure. Our goal should be to echo the words of the Apostle Paul.
Philippians 3:7-14 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. NIV
Jesus Takes Back Authority
Jesus accomplished so much on the cross. Often, we are so enamored with our salvation from eternal torment, that we overlook other important aspects of how Jesus restored us to a right relationship with our Heavenly Father. Remember that God had given humans authority over the earth. Humanity gave itself over into slavery to sin. Part of what Jesus accomplished on the cross was the restoration of authority in the earth. Authority wasn’t restored to humanity, it was legitimately won by Jesus through his sufferings. He endured temptation to disobey His Father, yet never yielded His authority to sin. He resisted sin, all the way to mortal death, without once yielding to sin’s subversive power. Jesus followed God’s plan, to the end.
God’s plan for humanity’s restoration is older than humanity itself. In the book of Revelations, Jesus is referred to in Revelations 12:8b as, …the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world. NIV As God planned the creation of the world, He planned the redemption of a humanity that was not yet created and had not yet fallen from grace. The plan for mankind’s redemption was established and put into place piece by piece since before human history. The sacrifice of the Christ was foreshadowed by God’s implementation of blood sacrifice to cover sin, even before Adam and Eve left the garden. These animal sacrifices looked forward to the day when the Son of God would be sacrificed to redeem humanity. God’s plan was established in the laws He gave to Israel. Jesus said he had come to fulfill the law. One law in particular was pivotal for God’s plan to go into effect.
Deuteronomy 21:22-23 If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and his body is hung on a tree, you must not leave his body on the tree overnight. Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse. You must not desecrate the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance. NIV
The law said anyone who was hung on a tree was cursed by God. Remember in the beginning we found out that to be cursed means to be separated from God. Adam and Eve found themselves separated from God by their sin. Any one hung on a tree was separated from God. This law was established so that; Jesus, who never sinned and couldn’t be separated from His Father by sin, could become separated from God by The Law. Jesus bore this separation from His Father on our behalf, so that we would never again have to separated from The Father by our own sin. Remember, Adam and Eve separated themselves from God because they didn’t want to face Him after they had sinned. Sin still has that affect on humanity. When we sin, we avoid God.
Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” NIV
Jesus, the Christ, the Only Begotten Son of The Father, the Word made flesh, had existed from before the foundation of time with the Father. Jesus had never known a single moment away from His Father’s presence. He had been in continual communion with the Father always. Try to imagine knowing the presence of God since forever. Then imagine being torn away from that loving presence because of something someone else had done. Jesus had the power to stop what was about to happen, but for us, he endured the shame and agony of separation from His Father on the cross. God, according to His own law, turned His back on His Son, making Jesus cursed for our sake. We can hear Jesus’ pain as he cries out from the cross.
Matthew 27:46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” – which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” NIV
Jesus couldn’t be separated from the Father by sin, because there was no sin in Jesus. Disobedience didn’t exist in The Son of God to come between Him and The Father. But God, bound by His word and righteousness, was committed to separating Himself from His beloved Son, according to the law, as Jesus hung on the tree. Hanging on the cross, bearing separation from The Father for us, Jesus endured the penalty for humanity’s sins.
Matthew 5:17-18 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished…” NIV
Jesus fulfilled the law by becoming cursed for our transgressions. In submitting Himself to the will of The Father, Jesus took the result of our sin upon Himself. But even in His isolation from the Father, Jesus knew what had to be done. He was obedient to His Father’s will to the very end. Though Jesus couldn’t feel His Father’s presence, Jesus never yielded His life to sin. On the contrary, with His dieing breath, Jesus turned over His cursed spirit to His Father.
Luke 23:46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he has said this, he breathed his last. NIV
With that, Jesus died. The heart, the point, the piercing effect of sin; is death. Without sin, Adam and Eve could have lived eternally in their earthly bodies. But, the whole point of death, is the sin that makes it necessary to die.
I Corinthians 15:56-57 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. NIV
But Jesus gave up His life to His Father, not to sin. Death had no legitimate hold on Jesus because sin didn’t exist in Him. Jesus retained His authority in this earth because He had not become a slave to sin. He submitted to death to prove that death had no hold over Him and to break death’s hold over humanity.
Romans 6:3-14 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. NIV
Only God Almighty could have raised Jesus from among the dead. This honors and exalts the Father and His righteous exercise of power in this earth. Jesus, having triumphed over sin and death by being obedient to His Father, even to death, (though death had no legitimate hold over him), lives now to the eternal praise, worship and glory of The Father. In this same way, we should consider ourselves dead to sin and its mastery. We should enter into true living – a life lived in service to The Creator of All Things - by submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. If we are slaves of The Christ, we cannot be slaves to sin. A person cannot serve two masters. God’s grace, the favor He shows towards us even though we don’t deserve it, allows us to remain in communion with The Father.
Now, if we have put to death our fleshly desires and died with Christ, we are free from sin to live for God through Christ Jesus. On our own, we are undone, but through Christ, we can be resurrected to new spiritual life in Christ.
Romans 7:24-25 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord! NIV
Colossians 2:13-15 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers (magistrate) and authorities, (jurisdiction), he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. NIV
Jesus didn’t just die for our sins. Jesus warred against the powers of sin and conquered them. He took back authority from sin, triumphing over it’s rulers in their own jurisdiction. Jesus publicly defied sin and death by enduring separation from God, submitting to death on the cross and then proving that sin and death had no hold on Him, he rose from among the dead. Jesus won back authority over sin and death and utterly destroyed their power through His resurrection.
Ephesians 4:7-10 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he led captives (captured captivity) in his train and gave gifts to men.” (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) NIV
Jesus descended into the lower earthly regions, into the very stronghold of darkness, was raised from the dead and ascended into heaven where he now sits at the right hand of The Father, forever making intersession for the saints, (those who believe and have made Jesus their Lord and Master). After His resurrection, Jesus spent some time with His disciples before He ascended to sit at the Father’s right hand. During that time Jesus told His followers about the transfer of authority, not only in the earth, but in heaven as well.
Matthew 28:18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. NIV
Jesus Assigns Authority to Believers
So, the long battle for authority in the earth; started in the garden, finished with the empty tomb. Even though Jesus triumphed over sin and death, stripping them of their authority over humanity, winning for Himself all authority, not only in the earth, but in heaven also, the war is not over. The price has been paid. Salvation is secured for all who call upon the Risen Lord, but the war is not over. On the contrary, for us, the war has only just begun. All Believers have been entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation. Our battles still lay before us.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. NIV
Each Believer, everyone who is called by the name of Christ, has been given the ministry of reconciling this world to God through the good news of Christ’s sacrifice. We are ambassadors, honored representatives of the Kingdom of God. God is making his appeal to the inhabitants of this earth through each of us. Our Heavenly Father would not send us into battle for the souls of the lost without equipping us for the task. The Spirit of Christ dwells in us and we are new creations in Christ - and Christ has been awarded every power and authority.
Colossians 2:8-10 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. NIV
Jesus, having received all authority and power, in turn, delegates that authority to His Believers. This doesn’t mean Jesus has given His followers a blank check to spend however they see fit. The authority invested in Christ is not trivial or to be considered lightly. It is not for disciples to use at their own discretion. On the contrary, we are to submit ourselves to the authority of Jesus and be used by Him as He wills. So much of the teaching in the church for the last thirty years has twisted the Word of God around backwards. If you want to understand the source of the power in Jesus’ ministry, listen to the words of Jesus Himself.
John 5:19 Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does...” NIV
Jesus was submitted to His Father. Jesus didn’t decide what miracles He was going to do, He just followed the Father’s instructions. He only did what He was instructed to do by The Father. Because Jesus was completely obedient to follow His Father’s instructions, God could manifest His power through His yielded Son. Likewise, if we, as Followers of Christ Jesus, want to be used by God, we have to submit ourselves to the Lordship of Jesus. That means more than just confessing with our mouths that Jesus is Lord. It means we have to be submitted to His lordship. Slaves are obedient to their master. Slaves don’t do their own thing. If a slave wants to be trusted by his master, he follows his master’s instructions. If a slave won’t follow instructions, he is never entrusted with authority by his master. But if a slave is obedient, he is entrusted to do the work of his master.
John 14:12-14 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name,(authority or character) so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name,(authority or character) and I will do it. NIV
Jesus tells his followers they will do the works he is doing, and greater, because he is going to the Father. Many teachers have taken John 14:12-14 and made lots of money telling churches God will do what ever a person wants if they ask in the name of Jesus. But look at the meaning of what Jesus is saying, it’s spelled out in the parentheses. Jesus is saying, “I will do whatever you ask in my authority and character, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.” This is a far cry from most teachings, but it fits in perfectly with the context of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus exercised miraculous power because he only did what he saw the Father doing. The Father approved of Jesus’ submitted life, and proved it with signs and wonders and miraculous displays of God’s power. We are told that we will do these same things, if like Jesus, we are submitted, and ask in the authority and character of Jesus, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.
God put his seal of approval on Jesus’ submitted life and worked miracles through Him.
Acts 2:22 “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know…” NIV
God likewise approved of the ministry of Paul and Barnabas and made it possible for signs and wonders to be done by working through them.
Acts 14:3 So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders. NIV
God approves of the Gospel message of salvation with His miraculous seal of approval, and displays His power, not as any individuals desire, but according to the will of the Holy Spirit, which is at work among humanity.
Hebrews 2:4 God also testified to it (the message of salvation) by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. NIV
Take a look at the pattern of events, from Jesus ministry to the present day. God approves His servants and His message of salvation with signs and wonders and miraculous events. Many religious teachers will say, “Those displays of power have been done away with. They are not for today. If God was still doing these things, we would see them now!” But listen instead to the Word of God!
James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. NIV
GOD NEVER CHANGES! He is still in the God business! He is still interested in the salvation of humanity. And how about Jesus? Has Jesus changed His message or gone into retirement?
Hebrews 13:7-8 Remember your leaders, (our New Testament examples) who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. NIV
If we look to our Biblical examples recorded in the word of God, and consider their lives, why shouldn’t we have faith in the same things they had faith in? Perhaps if we did, we would have the same results! And how about Jesus? He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is at the right hand of the Father, forever making intersession for the saints. He is waiting for us to, ”… ask me for anything in my authority and character and I will do it.” So why don’t we get the same result today if God and Jesus and the Gospel of Salvation are still the same? Could it be the church has changed? Could it be the message from the pulpit has changed?
The natural, un-regenerated personality of humanity, always wants to blame our shortcomings on someone else. Teachers of religion say God has changed His ways and miracles are not for our day. The Scriptures prove to us otherwise. But we live in perilous times. Twisting the truth of God is easier than denying God’s word altogether. The Dragon, Satan, the Father of Lies, is at work in the hearts of the children of disobedience. To convince people that God never existed is impossible, but to twist the truth into a lie and say God has no power for today is much easier.
2 Timothy 3:1-5 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. NIV
Religion teaches a form of godliness, but denies any power for today. If we have our ears open to the words of God, rather than a desire to hear what makes us feel better about ourselves; we will know we shouldn’t have anything to do with anyone who appears to be godly, but denies there is any power in Godliness. It is godliness, holiness, being set apart for God’s purposes, that authorizes and empowers Believers.
God hasn’t changed His miraculous plan for spreading His Good News of reconciliation to humanity. If we submit ourselves to God, lay down our lives, crucify our flesh and die to our own desires; if we study to show ourselves approved by God; if we are found to be alive towards God and living in Christ; if we spread the pure and untwisted truth of Christ; if our service to God is untainted by spiritual pride, selfish ambition, a desire to be recognized as somebody important; if we labor to glorify the Son of God and not to glorify ourselves or our cause; if our hearts burn for the lost, not for their sake, but for the sake of Christ Jesus who purchased them with His life; if we travail for the souls of humanity so that Jesus may receive the reward of His suffering; if we are souled out for Jesus and live only to glorify our Father – then - God will have His purpose fulfilled in us! What is our Father’s purpose for us?
Matthew 28:18-20 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go 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 I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” NIV
The authority of Believer rests in submission to Christ Jesus, the Lamb that was slain, The Beginning and the End, The Lion of the Tribe of Judah, The Great “I Am”. Our authority in this earth only extends as far as our submission to Christ. Christ’s authority knows no bounds. If we will die to self so we may live for Christ, then we will wield authority in this earth. If we are submitted, even to the death of our own selfish desires, then God’s power can use us to fulfill His will in this earth. God’s message hasn’t changed. We must change to transmit the message clearly.
Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what Gods’ will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will. NIV