Apostolic Note Vol 4 No 6 (download PDF version)
Authority is not a quality one person “has,” in the sense that he has property or physical qualities. Authority refers to an interpersonal relation in which one person looks upon another as somebody superior to him. Erich Fromm
Being sent to operate in Kingdom (apostolic) authority implies that someone of a greater power is designating where I am to operate my authority. This illuminates a key principle to using authority:
To the extent that I am submitted to authority,
determines the level of authority I can operate in.
Using Jesus as our example, we see that He was submitted to the one who sent him. This resulted in His ability to manifest the authority and power of God. His submission was evident by what He said and did. Jesus Himself said He came down from heaven, not to perform His own will, but the will of the one who sent Him. He further states that His doctrine was actually not His, but it was of the one who sent Him (Jn 6:38, 7:16, 8:28, 12:49, 12:50, 17:8). This is truly apostolic: being in submission to the authority of the one who is sending. As a result of not seeking His own will, we see His ministry was one of the miraculous.
Failure to be in submission to authority can result in our lack of authority because we cannot be trusted. In Acts 19:13-17 we observe the failure of certain individuals who attempt to operate in apostolic authority without being themselves submitted to authority. There were seven sons of a man named Sceva who were vagabond Jews. They took upon themselves to call the name of Jesus over those who were filled with evil spirits. They invoked the name of Jesus who Paul preaches. Unfortunately for them, it states that the spirits recognized Jesus and Paul, but questioned who they were. Subsequently, the man who was possessed of the spirit lept on them, prevailed physically, and forced them to flee from the house wounded and naked.
Examining this incident closer we see two potential reasons for their failure.
First they were vagabonds. This word has been translated as wander, wanderer or vacillate. They were individuals who did not have a place to settle and were not committed anywhere. They were men looking unto themselves.
Secondly we see they were the sons of one Sceva. Holman Bible Dictionary says of Sceva: ”No such Jewish high priest is known from other sources, particularly not one living in Ephesus. The title may be the result of a copyist or a title Sceva took upon himself to impress leaders of other religions in Ephesus.” If this is correct, we see that the father, Sceva, was a man who desired to lift himself up in the eyes of others and was not submitted to authority. This attitude exemplified by Sceva could have been passed on to his sons.
The combination of these two attitudes seems to have resulted in sons who wanted authority but were not willing to walk in submission. Subsequently, when they attempted to exercise authority they failed.
A final interesting note in this story is the response of the spirit to these men. It said “Jesus I know and Paul I know.” Both Jesus and Paul were submitted to authority, Jesus as the Apostle coming to do the will of the one who sent him, and Paul an apostle doing the will of Jesus who sent him. These men were under authority and they were known in the spirit realm.
Last year while ministering in Pakistan, one of the missionaries told me a modern day account of this type of incident. In a city, there was a woman who had been possessed for years. Multiple attempts by ministers to cast out the spirit ended with humiliated and broken men. On the next to the last attempt, the spirit spoke up and said they were so strong that not even Ali Sabbabas (I am not spelling name correct) could cast them out. Immediately the family began to inquire who this person was.
After a couple of months of searching, they found this apostolic pastor. They informed him of the situation and asked if he would cast the spirit out; agreeing, he went with them. The account is that he walked into the room an in a matter of seconds, took authority and cast out the spirit!
When we submit ourselves to authority and begin to operate in authority, even the spirits know who we are!
For us to walk in the same authority that Jesus did, we must be submitted as He was. In placing ourselves under God’s structure of authority we can be assured that He will willingly authorize us to use His power.
Food for thought –
Are you submitted? Do you have a mentor in your life?
Adapted from the book: Apostolic Authority, Every Believer’s Privilege.