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Authority Restored
 
Part One END-TIME INDEX His Kingdom TO NEXT  
See: The Kingdom of God
  “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” 1 John 3:8.
Warm
morning light shrank shadows as streets filled with early worshipers. From Jerusalem’s temple mount a single flute announced the Hallel song as Shavuot sacrifices began. To the west, a crowded home across the city waited. Then it happened.
 
 
Surging in from the sky, the sound of a rushing wind roared through the building, filling the whole house. In its wake ecstatic worship cascaded out of an upstairs room as wind noise drew the curious in the street below. Languages tumbled over each other down the outside stairs ahead of their speakers. But the inexplicable joy which swirled in their tumult of tongues persuaded gathering passers-by that wine was the culprit.
 
 
Intoxicating joy spilled out of that upper room, till the presence of the confused crowd below moved the leaders forward. The Galilean spokesmanís confrontational tone hushed the hubbub and the impact of his words turned the street into a place of repentance. So began the Christian church and the reshaping of human history.
 
These
Galilean disciples ought to have died out with the Nazarene. Instead they upset the city.
 
 
Decency had dictated withdrawal to their Galilean highlands, but they stayed on and grew, out of all proportion to their education. There was not a rabbi among them, yet they taught daily in the temple. Its priesthood pressed them to stop, but their meetings continued in its most prominent portico. Competing Jewish sects had heard the stories of their prophet, but it was their inexplicable boldness that impressed. The Nazareneís unique authority continued on in them.
 
 
The quality of this authority was that it was rooted in the supernatural. It gave them exceptional influence among the people, and consequently brought violent opposition from many of the Jewish leaders. But Judaic Christianity died with the Jerusalem temple. Like something frozen in a time warp, it failed to move with the newness of the new.
 
The
rest of the church of Jesus moved on however, and spread radically. Even when held captive by vested interests, it spilled over and pressed onward. But increasingly something was left behind, until eventually the principal characteristic of Christianity’s spiritual body was little more than a dedication to its doctrinal bones. The radical dynamic of its authority was only a memory.
 
As history testifies:
Thomas Aquinas (c.1225-1274), nicknamed the Angelic Doctor, was highly regarded by Pope Innocent IV. One day he went to the Pope's rooms, where assistants were counting large sums of money.
The Pope said to Aquinas, "You see, the church is no longer in an age when she must say like Peter, 'Silver and gold have I none'."
"It is true, holy father," replied Aquinas. "Nor can she now say to the lame man, 'Rise and walk'."
(Adapted from Walter Baxendale's Dictionary of Anecdote, Incident, Illustrative Fact. 1889, New York: Thomas Whittaker.)
 
 
The loss of this quality of authority had led to the Christian church’s flirtation with secular authority, with all the corrupting influences that ensued therefrom: none less than the replication of secular authority’s structures and stratagems under other names, which became spiritual prisons to those whom Jesus had described as being as free as the wind –
“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.
So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit”.
John 3:8 (emphasis mine).
 
In later centuries, Bible commentaries produced by some of the greatest scholars then added confusion by ascribing Christ’s authority to His eternal deity. This not only contradicted the teachings of Jesus but also continues to hold the door shut on a restoration of the God-given authority of the People of God today.
 
 
Church histories trace the events, movements and influences that have marked and marred this journey through time, but by their general sociological perspective they further helped confuse both the identity of the church and the character of its essential authority. In later years explanations have been invented to exonerate the subsequent generations of believers from this loss, by setting the church’s terminus point of its unique supernatural authority, as either –
•  the fall of Jerusalem;
•  the death of the last of the Twelve; or,
•  the completion of the New Testament;
in complete contradiction of the New Testament itself.
 
  But the core of this confusion concerns the nature of Christ’s own authority during His ministry.  
Christ
as Kingdom
 
 
The Bible says that the commencement of Christ's ministry was heralded by John the Baptist as –
“Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand”
Matthew 3:2.
 
The word usually translated 'at hand' is 'eggizo', which simply means "is near". This announcement of the nearness or imminence of God's kingdom, God's rule, God's authority, was given as motivation in this call to repent. This nearness of the Kingdom was the focus of John's ministry, and it continued to be so in both Christ and the apostles' public preaching –
"The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand ['eggizo', is near]; repent and believe in the gospel."
Mark 1:15.
 
It was this being 'at hand' or the nearness of the Kingdom which Christ called the 'gospel', the good news (Matt.4:23), and this 'gospel of the kingdom' became the inclusive description of His ministry and that of His disciples (Matt.4:17; 9:35, etc.).
 
Yet,
this Ďgospelí of the kingdom or reign of God was not what we today call the Gospel. It was not simply a message about Godís forgiving love expressed in a then future crucifixion, nor was it an improved view of God as loving Father rather than as was so often misrepresented by the religiously zealous (Pharisees) and the theologically educated (Scribes).
 
 
The words of the Prophets, read every Sabbath in the synagogues, corrected misrepresentation, but this was different. As important as correction was, it was not the Ďgood newsí. Nothing else accords with the meaning of Christís words in their own context other than that this good news was the nearness of the kingdom of God present in the human person of Jesus.
 
 
Unfortunately, the common explanation of this 'nearness' of the Kingdom in the Christ has often been that this was His incarnation, His deity in the flesh. In other words, that His deity constituted Him as its king and so He was simply the personification of His kingdom. But if the Bible be allowed to speak its own mind, this is clearly not so! Although the eternal Son of God became flesh through Mary, the Kingdom of God did not sleep in the manager: the Kingdom was not in the crib.
 
 
Christís miracles did not prove His deity! Miracles of healing and deliverance from demons expressed the compassion of God, but they were not theological proofs of Christís deity. Neither His walking on water nor His killing of the fig tree with a word were pointers to His deity. This is underscored by Jesus Himself in His repeated pointing of His disciples to Ďfaithí as the key to their own initiation of the supernatural which they saw in His ministry.
Matthew 14:31.
Concerning
this supernatural authority in His ministry, Jesus declared –
"…if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you."
Matthew 12:28.
 
Jesus' personal and unique relationship to the Spirit of God was in itself the immediate presence of the Kingdom of God. His miracles were not exceptions such as they had been among the prophets of old. They were the norm of His ministry. They expressed the immediate unseen presence of God's Kingdom rule or authority in Jesus: its nearness to the people in need.
 
 
Scholastic sounding voices have downplayed this statement of Jesus by treating it as a moral principle rather than a spiritual relationship, as though every sign of Godís power was somehow an approach of Godís kingdom. This is not what the Bible is saying.
 
 
Christís authority over demons, disease and nature began as He came up out of the water under the hand of John the Baptist, and even so became effective only after His 40 days of testing in the desert; regardless of the medieval myths about His powers as a child. At His baptism Jesus received a relationship to the Spirit of God that was unique and a radical new beginning. Hence the Spiritís appearance to John as a dove – reminiscent of the worldís new beginning with Noah.
 
 
Christís receiving the Spirit had nothing to do with the eternal relationship between the Son of God and the Spirit of God. This was no ontological experience of Christís deity breaking through into His humanity, either.
 
This was the beginning of something absolutely unique in human history.  
 
Jesus’ new relationship to the Holy Spirit was beyond that of any anointing of any godly prophet or priest, ever. In the lives of the prophets miracles of healing and power over nature were special events. In the ministry of Jesus it was the norm. Hence the sign of the new beginning in the form of the dove by which the Holy Spirit chose to show Himself as He came upon Jesus, ordaining Him uniquely as the Christ, Israel's Messiah. In human history this was as much a new beginning as the world had ever experienced after the world Flood for its implications stretched across all nations toward a future without end.
 
 
Although this relationship was yet invisible to the world it was immediately expressed in Christ’s conduct after His baptism. The Spirit “led” or “drove” Jesus away from people into the desert, subduing the legitimate instincts of His body in prayer during a fast of 40 days. From there He thus returned in the power of the Spirit. In this power came the full authority of the Kingdom, and from this flowed the whole of Christ’s following ministry.
Luke 4:14.
Thus,
from the time of John’s baptism of Jesus, God’s Kingdom walked among men!
 
 
Jesus had stated the historical perspective of this truth when describing the pivotal significance of John the Baptist’s ministry. He explained that all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John (Mat.11:13), and that –
From the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of Heaven has suffered violence,
and the violent take it by force."
Matthew 11:12.
 
Jesus was also not exaggerating when He said to the listening crowd –
"Truly, I say to you,
there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom."
Matthew 16:28.
 
Unfortunately, scholars have tied themselves in knots trying to satisfactorily explain what Jesus meant concerning this end-time setting up of God’s Kingdom on earth and have often missed the fundamental of Christ’s perspective on God’s Kingdom. Within that same week the eyewitnesses saw it.
 
 
Peter, one of these, later described this transfiguration of Jesus on the mount as Christ’s parousia (literally, His ‘appearing’ or ‘arrival’, sometimes translated ‘coming’) and uses the exact same word for the second coming of Jesus in the glory of His Kingdom to end this age.
2 Peter 1:16 & 3:12.
 
The Spirit’s transfiguration of the man Jesus on the mount had made His unique Spirit-anointed state physically visible. From this unique relationship of the Holy Spirit to Him flowed Christ's authority to directly represent God in doing and saying as the Father showed Him. Hence, the words of the Father on that mount to the three witness –
"This is my beloved Son; listen to Him."
Mark 9:7.
Christ’s
unique anointing was the essence of this hidden Kingdom of God present in the world, and from which His unique authority flowed.
 
The physical inclusivity of this anointing of the Spirit is underscored by Christ’s response to the woman who was healed when her faith touched the clothing of His body. Many touched Jesus, as Peter dared to remind Him. But Jesus knew that something supernatural had happened by the dynamic of the Spirit that flowed out of Him in response to an unknown person’s faith. He said –
"Someone touched Me, for I perceive that power has gone out from Me."
Luke 8:46.
 
Jesus was not play-acting; pretending not to know who touched Him. He spoke in truth. His knowledge had come from the awareness in His body that the Holy Spirit’s power had flowing out of Him in response to someone’s faith; a faith which He wished to confirm.
 
 
The uninhibited rule of God, the Kingdom, walked in the flesh of Jesus Christ!
 
 
The practical walk of this Kingdom is doing God’s will, as Jesus taught us in the pattern prayer: ‘Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done’. For this reason Jesus publicly explained –
"Who is My mother, and who are My brothers?" And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, 'Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in Heaven is My brother and sister and mother'."
Matthew 12:48-50.
 
This intimate relationship will outlive all other relationships.
 
 
At the end of this age the Spirit’s anointing on the bodies of these, the precious family of Jesus, both the dead and those who live and remain till the coming of the Lord, will be physically visible as they join the glorious coming of their Lord to be as He is. Then, it is the “Kingdom come”, in its full revelation, which will destroy everything with which it conflicts as Christ Himself rules.
 
Christ’s
Church as Kingdom
 
 
The New Testament's description of the Christian Church as the 'Body of Christ' accentuates the continuance of Christ's unique mission in His people. This spiritual identity of Christ's people as His Body is the direct practical outcome cumulatively of His redemptive death, resurrection, ascension, and His gift of the Holy Spirit to His followers.
 
 
This lifted the corporate spiritual identity of Christ's people, His Body, above the level of any previous generation and constituted their mission as the direct continuance of Christ's mission.
 
 
Unlike all previous generations of believers, through the work of Jesus Christ God gave to all His people
1.  a personal regeneration within the spirit of every believer  – in Christ's Resurrection;
2.  a new corporate standing/status of all believers before God's throne  – in Christ's Ascension; and,
3.  Christ's gift to every believer of His own human-relationship to the Spirit of God  – at Pentecost in 30 AD.
So
as a direct consequence of this, the Christian church is now in principle at a very personal level the continuing ministry of Jesus in this world with all which this implies.
 
 
As Christ’s Body therefore, His church bears within itself the nearness of the Kingdom of God (the “drawn near”, ‘eggus’), which John the Baptist, and Jesus, and His disciples, had announced, and which only Jesus Himself personally was during His ministry in this world.
 
 
When Jesus sent out 70 of His disciples (or 72 as some text-versions indicate), extending His anointing to them to practice His ministry ahead of Himself as time ran out for Israel, they were told to teach that 'The Kingdom of God has come near to you' (Lk.10:9); and were instructed to rebuke those who rejected their ministry by saying –
 
  "Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you.
Nevertheless know this, that the Kingdom of God has come near."
Luke 10:11.
 
This same gospel-of-the-kingdom-preaching continued in Christ's early church as a consequence of His gift of the Spirit after His departure, such as in the ministry of Philip to the Samaritans (Ac.8:12), and in the over-all ministry of the apostle Paul to the Gentiles (Ac.20:25). This was not as an end-of–the-world expectation, but as an immediate and authoritative reality among them, which therefore required repentance, and which would ultimately subject all else to itself in the return of their blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
 
 
The supernatural events which accompanied this early preaching were simply the expressions of this authority of God in His compassion, even if it meant striking someone with blindness as in Paphos (Ac.13:9-12).
 
 
This reality of the ‘nearness’ of the Kingdom in the ministry of Jesus therefore continues, no less, in the church today: the church which has received His own anointing, His Spirit. Thus, Christ’s church is far more than simply the custodian or gateway of God’s (future) kingdom, as some allege (tending to confuse the Kingdom with Heaven). The Christian church is now the secret presence, the ‘mystery’ of the Kingdom: its immediate hidden presence in this present world!
See: The Hidden Time.
However,
it must be remembered that God’s people are only God’s people because they are “in Christ”: accepted in the Beloved; our substitutionary atonement to God. Thus it is “in Christ” alone that the Holy Spirit has been given to them, continuing in them Jesus’ own human relationship to Him, the Spirit of God. It is this which constitutes the Christian church as His Body today, His presence on earth. So, it is this awesome relationship of God’s people to the Holy Spirit, in Christ, on earth today that is itself the continuing nearness of God’s Kingdom as it was in Christ.
See: The Body of Christ
 
This relationship to the Holy Spirit cannot be separated from the church without the church ceasing to be the church. The relationship is indissoluble. From this flows the authority of the church or it has none.
 
 
Historically, the full practical restoration of this authority is ultimately the Elijah-effect which anticipates and precipitates Christ’s return in power and glory.
 
Authority
of the Kingdom
 
 
As the presence of God’s Kingdom in its hidden form, the people of Christ are therefore in essence the authority of God in this earth.
 
 
This is the authority which in the beginning was originally designed into Adam and Eve and then betrayed by them, was fully restored in Jesus Christ's humanity, and now continues in His people – the direct authority and responsibility to represent the Creator in His Creation, to His Creation.
 
 
This Kingdom of God is not a future fulfillment of Israel's Davidic kingdom, as some have taught, of Israel ruling over all nations under their Messiah. This is the restoration of God's original intent before there was a nation which, as Israel's prophets had foretold, would displace the governments of this world in its visible coming. It is the essence of this Kingdom which is present in principle now through the Gift of the Holy Spirit.
 
 
The implementation of this authority means simply this: as the presence of Jesus was the presence of the Kingdom, and His works made that visible, so also the Christian church is, by its actions, to make the Kingdom of God visible to those who do not know God.
 
 
Christianity is more than a message. It is more than a community of those who believe. The old covenant of God with Israel was ostensibly a community of those who believe, as Christian denominations today confess to be by their creeds and catechisms.
 
 
But Christ’s new covenant community, across these Christian denominations and beyond, is more than this. By the Holy Spirit, His community is the very presence of God’s rule, God’s own authority walking in this world – as Jesus was in His time.
 
 
This authority in His church has absolutely no ranking of hierarchical or social status, either in organisational structure or special gifts of the Spirit. The direct representational nature of this authority was explained by Jesus.
 
"He sat
down and called the Twelve. And He said to them,
'If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.'
And He took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them,
'Whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me,
and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me
.'"
Mark 9:35-37.
 
To digest the practical implications of this, one needs a more detailed study of the life of the Lord Jesus and the beginnings of the early church, and this we will do. Here, it is enough to set our study within a context.
 
But,
to help prevent misunderstanding let’s begin by saying to what this authority of God is not attached!
1. 
It is not attached to the governing structures of church organization, no matter how wise or blessed they may be, and even less to majority decisions of leaders or congregations per se;
2. 
It is not attached to a religious office, no matter what primacy is claimed for it either locally, regionally, or world-wide;
3. 
It is not attached to an individual spiritual ministry, no matter what demonstration of Holy Spirit anointing it may enjoy.
 
 
The history of Christianity has too often been blighted by the above three forms of authority misused: either within the structures of Christian religious life, or without, in Christianity’s attempts to gain an advantage by alliance with, or manipulation of, secular authority and its methods.
 
 
The authority which Christ exercised is attached only to that which also makes each Christian’s physical body the temple of the Spirit of God: a place where the world is meant to thereby encounter God’s presence, recognised or not.
 
In
principle therefore this authority is with the individual believer in no less a manner than it was with the sanctified flesh of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. That means, with every born-again Christian.
 
 
It is this perspective which is behind Christ’s strong aversion to any Christian adopting any title of religious status in relation to other Christians –
“But do not you [in contrast to their religious leaders] be called Rabbi, for One is your Leader, the Christ, and you are all brothers.
And call no one your father on earth, for One is your Father, the One in Heaven.
Nor be called leaders, for One is your Leader, the Christ. But the greater of you shall be your servant.
And whoever will exalt himself shall be humbled, and whoever will humble himself shall be exalted.”
Matthew 23:8-12 LITV.
 
However, to deny or contradict counterfeit authority in the actions of any person, office, or organization, does not mean to have disrespect. Respect for people and for what is part of their lives is simply part of loving those people. In particular special respect is due according to the special responsibilities carried by a person, such as a parent, a civil magistrate, a church pastor, etc.
Remember: respect, like love, is owed; in contrast to trust which is earned.
 
Some aspects of our human culture, such as prayers and offerings to the ‘dead’ whether to ancestors or to saints, are demonic contaminations. Even sincere prayers for the dead are a disregard of God’s loving care for all the deceased and thus unintentionally dishonour Him. No Christian can have any part in these, but that does not mean the people who practice these things are to be despised. Love is the great teacher when it comes to respect.
 
 
But love also teaches us to hate – to hate those things that hurt and damage people. And in this regard the deliberate practice of God’s authority is essential to establishing and protecting the character of God’s name in His people. This love initiates and sustains the vital pre-condition necessary to God’s authority in His church: the Christian peace, in which the rediscovery of our heritage in Christ lifts us completely above petty bickering, denominational competition, or the disinterest that divides.
 
However,
this unity does not mean conformity for the sake of social 'peace'.
 
 
Yes, on non essentials of the faith, such as Paul practiced concerning Timothy's circumcision (Ac.16:3), this is useful in loving outreach toward to others. But, where office bearers within the structure of church life may sometimes exceed the Bible's type of shepherding (feeding and protecting) and try to exert controls over the believers beyond Biblical principle it is the loving duty of believers to refuse to conform, if this in any way curbs the ministry of grace through them toward others.
 
 
Let leaders remember that where guidance is needed, it is by persuasion, not coercion. Sadly, the abuse of position/structural authority within Christian church life has frequently violated the rights of the Holy Spirit in the individual believer, in whom alone the gifts of the Spirit are lodged.
 
 
The practice of this Christian peace given in Christ is a fundamental pre-condition for any Christian or group of Christians to even begin to grasp the full restoration of God’s representative authority in His people. If God’s acceptance “in Christ” of individual believers is not directly mirrored in the quality of their own mutual acceptance of each other, which we state each time we share Holy Communion, no other form of unity, of spiritual peace, is valid.
See:
Most Sacred Celebration
 
The practice of this authority requires a defiant faith: starting internally with a defying of false horizons that inhibit our relationship to God and our service for Him. It means saying ‘no’ to anything, however legitimate in itself, which pulls us away from God’s better way. It means saying ‘yes’ to everything that is good: everything rooted in the first intention of God our Creator.
 
 
This authority therefore requires going beyond the patterns of experience and expectations of our natural lives. To spiritually live in God’s Kingdom means implementing God’s authority: making it visible in our lifestyle and relationships.
 
But be
warned. The supernatural authority whose application grows in God’s peace among believers sadly also stimulates the same antipathy that Christ experienced from the world. The authority of Christ’s Body, as the nearness of His kingdom, will always bring persecution upon God’s people. It is the inevitable outcome of an unavoidable antipathy generated in the practice of this authority.
 
 
The Christian church’s re-discovery of this immediate and direct authority to do all the desire of God in the earth, in all circumstances, is a spiritual birth-right too long delayed whose application is an essential pre-condition for Christ’s church of His return.
 
 
Truly then –
"He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the Kingdom of his beloved Son".
Colossians 1:13.
  "Worthy are You to take the scroll and to open its seals, for You were slain,
and by Your blood You ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and You have made them a Kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth."
Revelation 5:9-10.
  "To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father,
to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."
Revelation 1:5-6.


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