The preacher said to his congregation, “Church people don’t believe God anymore so they’ve lost their God-given authority.” When I think of that living and powerful word that God has given the Church; when I look at the command, authority and promises of the word that Jesus gave His disciples and then look at the state of the world around us, I’m having difficulty in disagreeing with him. I doubt there’s any other way of explaining church people that remain silent when a nation’s president or prime minister, for example, expresses with illegitimate authority his or her endorsement for same-sex marriage.
Yes, I know they are spiritually blind instruments in the hands of the god of this world 2 Corinthians 4:4, who will ultimately have his way and bring this into society, but we also need to know it is silent church people who are helping him achieve his goal. Where are the holy men of God mandated to stand up and declare, “Mr President/Mr Prime Minister, I am a messenger of the Lord Jesus Christ! Hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord…”? And then, speak a judgment of God over their life for their willful rejection of that word. Somebody reading this says, “That’s ‘Kingdom Now’ theology.” No, it is not … it is Kingdom of God theology – it’s always in the now!
It is the exact same theology of Moses and when he spoke it over Pharaoh, God honored his every word. It is the exact same theology of Jesus, who declared, “I give you (the church) the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy…..” Luke 10:19. Whoever God calls to speak for Him, He anoints. In other words, God puts His word in the person’s mouth and when the time comes to speak it, it will roll off the tongue with power and authority … it will accomplish what God sent it to do! The problem is, we’re not often around to see the results. And because we don’t see results, we believe that the word or the prophecy we spoke failed. Never! God is not known for failure.
We must never allow the words of any man to smother the words of God. The words of God are not only authoritative, they are life-giving and powerful – far more so than those of leaders of nations or alliances. That’s why Jesus told the church to preach, raise the dead, open the eyes of the blind. Christian people do pray for their faith to be increased, but I’m suggesting that it might be a good idea to forget about faith and start operating from obedience. So far as I can discern, it is not faith the church lacks, it is obedience. And if the church is not obedient, what hope have we got for any anti-Christ system or leader that seeks to usurp our God-given mandate? As Christians, we each need to face this issue and let God deal with us.
Being commanded to obey the authorities of government does not mean that Christians turn a blind eye to the blasphemies, violations, corruptions and lies of leaders sitting on their earthly thrones of power. When their opinions or statutes or laws contradict those of the Bible our call is to honor and obey the One who sits on the throne of heaven … the One who gave us that Bible! We don’t do it by ranting, raving and rioting, but we should do it by praying, protestation and proclamation. We need to also be reminded that the results of our efforts may not turn out the way we want them to, but that’s God’s problem, not ours. Seeing no results means nothing. Being obedient to God means everything … but that’s our big problem.
Some years ago a young man came into the church as a trainee pastor. He’d spent a couple of years in Bible College and was enjoying his new ministry of teaching and preaching. He was asked to go out on the streets with a brother who had never been to Bible College, was not a teacher or preacher but had the anointing of the Holy Spirit on him for the proclamation of God’s word. He spent two days out there with that brother and witnessed the Lord move in ways that he’d only ever read or heard about from some academic sense. After that experience the young man oftentimes displayed bad manners and discontent. The brother asked him what his problem was and he replied, “I want what you’ve got!” He was told, “That will cost you your life.”
The cost was too great for him. He was not prepared to obey that call. Later he took a secular job. He still teaches and preaches in that place and has some sort of leadership role to play but as far as I know he’s as spiritually dead as the denomination he serves. In reality he is outside the perfect will of God. What a price to pay. Obedience to God is the key – full surrender – dead to self, alive to Christ. Without that, the God-given gift, talent and ability will never function properly. The moment we stop obeying God and choose to operate in some other way He will bypass us and move on to someone obedient. But the deception is; because God still blesses their efforts in some small measure, such people think it’s the real deal.
Worse. The passive pew sitters think it’s the real deal too because that’s all they’ve ever known. They don’t know he’s outside the will of God; everything he says sounds good and he looks good, therefore in their thinking, “it’s all good.” Not so, though. He doesn’t wait on the Lord to get a word from Him, he has no Holy Spirit anointing; his presentation is so carnal that even a biblically informed pagan could do the job equally as well. Disobedience to God equates with disbelief in God which equates with discontentment in life and there are no exceptions. God said it best, ….I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life….. Deuteronomy 30:19. God left the choice up to Israel and they’ve been failing Him ever since. Scary!
Why scary? Because the religious among them don’t believe it. That can be our problem too. Some Christians among us believe they can deviate from what God has told them yet still maintain their authority in God when proclaiming Him. How blind. Unless we do exactly what He says to do, we have no authority. Yes, God might honor the word we express, but He will not honor us. How many Christians started out enthusiastically in obedience to His call of ministry upon their lives, but are no longer doing that ministry? The church is full of such people. They struck trouble, they deviated, they compromised, they disobeyed and now disappointment, discontent and often even depression rules their day.
One of my favorite words in the Bible is ‘boldness’ ……and they spoke the word of God with boldness Acts 4:31. The word is mentioned only ten times but its theme is everywhere. It means: ‘might’ ‘power’ ‘strength’ ‘strong’ ‘outspokenness’ ‘frankness’ ‘bluntness’ ‘assurance’ ‘confidence’ ‘courage’ ‘bravery’. These things belong to God’s people alone, not the devil’s people. The spirits bow to us, we don’t bow to them. These have been given to us by divine right and we have no right to surrender such to them. But when we choose disobedience to and unbelief in God, we do give Satan the right to come and steal them from us. Everything Satan has is stolen; that’s the tree he operates from as do his human cohorts Genesis 2:9.
Disobedient, unbelieving Christians can never truly express boldness even though there are many who give the appearance of doing so. They know they’re a sham, God knows they’re a sham, Satan knows they’re a sham, the discerning believers know they’re a sham … so who’s left? Only those who don’t know they’re a sham; but they’re about as effective as them – good hearers, not good doers. Good hearers but not good doers get offended by true boldness, they interpret it as rudeness and self-righteousness. When they speak of such people they label them ‘spiritually proud’ or ‘unloving’ ‘intolerant’ ‘uncompassionate’ or similar. People of secular influence love this kind of Christian, especially government politicians!
A few years ago I attended a meeting of combined churches who thought it a good idea to get together with community leaders, including local and state government politicians. The idea being to, find out how the churches could be of service in the community. What a disappointing meeting it was. It was not the Christian leaders who had the influence, it was the other lot. Sad to observe many plastic smiles on the faces of our people too. One politician said, “If you want your churches to have meaning in the community, you should…….” Following “you should” came suggestions that demonstrated clearly how unqualified he was as a heathen, to be telling God’s holy body what it should….. How arrogant on his part, how blind on our part!
Church leaders should not be asking community leaders how to best serve their community. That’s a nonsense. They should be asking God for God-ideas, not running to heathens looking for good ideas! Community leaders are full of good ideas but most of them lead to nowhere. Church leaders should be going to community leaders declaring, “This is what we can do for you!” But that can only happen when they get a word from God and stand on that word come hell or high-water and, stop looking for results. When Christian people begin to learn that it is not results that gives them God-given authority, but rather, believing the word given from God, they will find it easy to reject the word and advice of any man that contradicts it.
One of the things I like about unbelievers is their honesty about God. At least you know where you stand with them. They’ll come straight out and tell you they don’t believe; but not so, many Christians. They wouldn’t dare tell you that. Yet when they don’t read, study and act on His word in obedience, unbelief is what it is. When speaking with unbelievers I always tell them, “The fact that you don’t believe, doesn’t change reality. It doesn’t nullify God, it doesn’t nullify His word. It only nullifies your beliefs.” How sad to have to say the same thing to Christians. And He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief Matthew 13:58. That’s pretty much the way it is with too many silent Christians throughout the world.
So as Christians, how do we fix this? Seek God. Here’s what I do. Regularly, I lay the Bible open on the floor. Then I remove my shoes and stand on that Bible. My prayer is, “Lord, regardless of what I don’t understand in Your word, I stand on Your word! On Christ’s solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. Holy Spirit, quicken me according to Your word and by Your power, enable me to obey it at all times.” Any time I sin against the word I don’t wait to confess it later, I deal with it immediately. That’s the only way to remain in unbroken fellowship with God. Is there a payoff for this? There sure is … there’s God-given authority and there’s boldness! “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word Acts 4:29.