Power and Authority

Our Lord’s model of discipleship was to prayerfully choose twelve disciples. He invited them to come with Him and observe. The next step was to do ministry together. The third step of discipleship is to have them do the ministry, and He would observe. Luke 9:1-3 shares what His instructions were for this third step; “And He called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. And he said to them, ‘Take nothing for your journey, no staff, no bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics.’” That is a little different test than the seminary exams we give today.

Essentially the twelve were to confront the kingdom of Satan, address human need, proclaim the kingdom, and depend only on Christ. To accomplish this Jesus gave them authority and power over “all demons.” Authority is the right to rule, and power is the ability to rule. Authority is the issue when kingdoms are in conflict as is the case between the kingdom of darkness and the Kingdom of God’s beloved Son (Col.1:13). So who has the right to rule spiritually on this planet?

The twelve came back and reported what they had done (9:10), which sounds like the annual report of a church going nowhere. Look at all the things we did last year. We went here, and we went there, and we did this, and we did that. Scripture never asks about our programs and activities, it only asks how much fruit we are bearing. Actually the twelve didn’t do well, and the rest of the chapter shares how Jesus confronted their self-sufficiency, and revealed seven kingdom-killing attitudes that needed correcting. What was most revealing was their inability to set a demonized boy free. So the father brought his son to Jesus who said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you and put up with you? (9:41). Ouch!

Such correction would seem a little over the top in our contemporary society (You don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings), but this is not a game that we can afford to lose. God needs a clean vessel to work through, and we can’t bear fruit if we limp along in unbelief. The same power and authority was given to the seventy two in chapter ten of Luke, but they came back and said, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name” (10:17). They passed the test.

Dr. Neil

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