THE REVELATION OF OUR AUTHORITY IN CHRIST
I want to look at the authority of the believer. That’s a subject that we’re all familiar with, but I think it’s a subject that we need more understanding of through the Holy Spirit. We need more than just head knowledge, although I appreciate head knowledge; we need the Holy Spirit to release a spirit of revelation in our spirit about this.
Let’s look at the passage here in Ephesians 1:17-23 where Paul is preaching. Ephesians 1:17-23: “[That] the Father of glory . . . may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His”—Jesus as a Man—“feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:17-23).
I’m just going to focus on part of the passage here. He’s praying that the Father of glory would give to the saints a spirit of revelation. Why does Paul pray this? The spirit of revelation is the Holy Spirit moving on the human heart. Why? Paul prays so that the saints could know something and experience it as well.
Ephesians 1:19: “That they would experience the exceeding greatness of the power of God that works towards us who believe”—in other words, towards those who exercise faith to believe in Him—“which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.” The very power that God the Father exerted—that power God the Father worked in Jesus when the Father raised Jesus from the dead—lives in us. The Father raised Jesus from the dead—we know that. The Father seated Jesus at the right hand. Then the Father put all things under Jesus’ feet. Then the Father gave Jesus to be the head over everything, and then He gave Him to the Church. This is a very dynamic principle in Scripture—that Jesus was given by the Father to be head of the Church.
HIS BODY IS JESUS’ CHOSEN VESSEL TO EXPRESS THE FULLNESS OF GOD’S POWER
The revelation of the Church is this: we’re His Body, and Paul goes on to describe what it means in this verse to be the Body of Christ. There are several significant implications to being His Body; but the one that Paul highlights here is this: that the Body of Christ is the vehicle that God uses to express the fullness of the Father’s power in the natural realm.
That’s what it means to be the Body of Christ, which is the fullness of Him. It means that we’re the vehicles to release more of the fullness of God’s power in heaven. It’s already fully manifest in heavenly places; we’re to be the vehicle through which the fullness of the Father’s power is expressed in the natural realm. God is doing it through human beings who are redeemed.
REVELATION OF SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY THAT’S BASED ON OUR UNION WITH CHRIST
We need a revelation of our authority; this authority is based in our union with Jesus. Here’s what it means to have authority based in union with Jesus—the power and the benefits that Jesus received as a man. That’s the important part.
This isn’t the power that Jesus had back in Genesis 1. Jesus has always been God and always will be God. However, there was a point in time when He became a Jewish man. We must remember that a real, physical man died, and this Jewish man was raised from the dead when His physical body was touched by resurrection power. This makes the entire thing even more glorious. Remember that it was a man who was exalted to the right hand of the Father, and the Father gave a man all power over everything. It’s not amazing, or surprising, that God has all power. What’s surprising isn’t that Jesus as God has God’s power; it’s that Jesus, as a human being, has all the power of God resting on Him—even in His humanity.
JESUS AS A MAN POSSESSES ALL THE POWER OF GOD
Now, what Paul is praying is that the saints in the city of Ephesus, the Ephesians, would have a revelation that they’re deeply connected to this Man whom the Father made to be the head over us. For Him to be the head over us is huge; the point is that we have a vital connectedness to Him, just like a head to a body. Therefore, whatever is true of Him in His exalted state is true of the people of God.
What Paul is saying here is that they need a revelation of this. Now these saints at Ephesus were born-again believers, and they know this in principle. However, they don’t have a revelation of the eyes of their heart grasping this reality. Many believers today may be able to quote a few of these points I just made. However, it takes a spiritual revelation to release understanding to our spirit man in order that we can grasp our deep connectedness in the Father’s purpose to this Man Jesus who has been exalted. I mean, there has been a man exalted to the heavens. This is the most astounding thing! Again, remember that He was exalted as a man—not that Jesus was in His deity, as He was always with the Father, but rather that a human was raised from the dead, and He passed through the heavens and was seated at the right hand of the Father as a human being. The Father gave this human being a spiritual connectedness with other human beings on the earth. There’s a vital connectedness, and that reality is called “union with Jesus.”
Then the Father went to the next step: He not only connected us to Him and gave Jesus all authority in His humanity; He connected Him to us—that’s the next point while we’re on the earth; we’re connected to Him. That’s a stunning reality. Then He chose that the Body, the people on the earth, us born-again believers, to be the vehicle to express the fullness of this Man’s power. Jesus wouldn’t express His power simply by Himself, but rather in relationship to other human beings. Only in that way would the power of God cover the whole earth.
Today the Body of Christ isn’t related to Jesus. There are dimensions of His power as a man, as He has been given the headship over everything. He’s head over many things that aren’t expressed on the earth, though they’re even in the will of God to express. There are several different facets in the New Testament that are related to the implications of being the Body of Christ.
WE ARE THE VEHICLE TO EXPRESS THE FULLNESS OF WHAT GOD DESIRES
We know about the unity and diversity of the Body of Christ. We know about other dimensions of revelation of the Body of Christ which are very dynamic and exciting. However, the definition here of this facet is that the Body of Christ is the chosen vehicle through which the fullness of the power of an exalted man is released. All authority was given to Him in His humanity; we’re the vehicles to express this in the natural realm. If we don’t express it, it’s not fully expressed—even to the fullness of what God desires.
It’s incumbent upon us that we have revelation of our connectedness to this Man, and that we have revelation of our purpose of the connectedness. We must realize not only that we’re connected to the head, but also that we’re actually the vehicles. Now I understand that we all understand that in a basic way. However, there’s a time when this revelation must touch our heart, and I want more and more of that. I’m not claiming that I’m there, nor implying, or inferring that at all. There’s a time when this touches our heart by revelation. Then it comes to a whole other place of urgency in our heart when we understand that we’re the Body, the vehicle through which God will express His fullness. He won’t express it apart from the Body of Christ.
GOD WILL NOT EXPRESS HIS FULLNESS APART FROM THE BODY OF CHRIST
There are things that are happening in the world right now that the Body of Christ can change; if the Body of Christ has revelation about these things and then acts out of that revelation and their relationship to Jesus Christ, things can be shifted.
There’s a false and an inappropriate confidence in many in the sovereignty of God. The sovereignty of God is one of my favorite doctrines in the Bible: the doctrine that God has all power. However, there are a lot of people who have an inappropriate confidence in God’s sovereignty. Here’s what I mean by inappropriate confidence: they’re trusting God to do that which God has commanded and mandated us to do.
GOD WON’T DO OUR PART; WE CAN’T DO HIS PART
God won’t do our part; we can’t do His part. When we trust Him to do our part, that’s called presumption, and it’s not faith. There are a lot of people who say, “Well, if God wants the demon gone, and the brother healed, He will do it!” Paul says that the fullness of God’s power is expressed through the Body of Christ, and we need revelation of that.
We must understand that the Lord won’t do the fullness of what’s in His heart to do without us, though He will do many things directly from heaven. However, there are many things that He won’t do except in a connected, vital, vibrant relationship with the people of God on the earth. There’s a spiritual lethargy which results in spiritual compromise that’s rooted in false ideas about trusting the sovereignty of God.
Now, having said that, the subject of the sovereignty of God is one of my favorite subjects; the Body of Christ really needs to trust in the sovereignty of God. I mean, that’s one of our greatest needs today in the Body of Christ, but we need to do it in a biblical and an appropriate way. We can’t abdicate our responsibility under the banner of trusting Him. There’s a lot of spiritual laziness and spiritual lethargy that has always led to compromise a moment later. Just a short while down the road we become ensnared in darkness in ways that we could have avoided if only we first had this revelation. We must have revelation of the fact that we have benefits, though it’s more than benefits. Paul isn’t only praying that they see the benefits; Paul is praying for more than that.
REVELATION OF OUR DIGNITY OF OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
If we had revelation of the dignity of the relationship that we have with God, we would marvel. Things don’t happen if the Body of Christ isn’t correctly related to the Lord. The Lord won’t do a number of things except through His Church. That gives our lives such dignity, such purpose, and such meaning. The fact is that what we do really affects the quality of our life. What we do or don’t do affects the quality of other people’s lives— even believers. If we press in, more happens. If we don’t press in, less happens. We still all go to heaven; we’re born-again believers, but I’m telling you that less happens.
GOD WOULD GIVE MORE IF PEOPLE WOULD OBEY HIM
God would have given more if His people would have obeyed Him, pressed into Him, and believed Him at His word. That’s what Ephesians 1 is talking about. There’s a man who walked on the earth 2,000 years ago. This Man was exalted in His humanity to heaven, and God gave all the power of the universe to Him. Phenomenal! That’s a huge reality! God not only gave all the power to Jesus; He gave that Man to be vitally connected to people on the earth. He gave Him to be head over the Church on the earth. Not only is He exalted, but we have access to Jesus. Not only access to Jesus, we have dynamic connectedness to Him; but, it didn’t stop there. That Man Jesus possesses all the power and is connected to us. There are many things He won’t do except through us. And if we don’t rise up to obey and believe Him, He won’t do a number of things.
There are a number of things He will do in His sovereignty. But what concerns me are the things He won’t do if we don’t respond to Him with radical Christianity and what we call faith in the Western culture. Today, what’s considered radical obedience and faith is really different than the faith and radical obedience of the New Testament. Beloved, there’s so much more that God wants to do in our nation.
WE’RE WAITING ON GOD, BUT GOD IS WAITING ON US
We’re waiting on God, and God is waiting on us. There are sovereign times and seasons—I believe that. However, even in a season in the divine calendar, that’s not the season of fullness; there’s still a lot more that can happen in this season. I believe that there are sovereign seasons for nations, but there’s a whole lot more in whatever season we’re in. However you describe it, there’s more that can be experienced in God and more power that can be released regardless of what season we’re in. There’s more than what we have.
A lot of people find comfort in waiting on God; in Isaiah 30:18, the Lord says “I long to be gracious to you. I wait on high to give grace to you, and when I hear the sound of your cry, then I will answer” (Isa. 30:18, paraphrased). We’re waiting on God, and God is waiting on us. We’re trying to convince God to release power, and God is trying to convince us that He wants to release power, but only in His way.
WE WANT MORE FROM THE LORD, AND THE LORD WANTS MORE FROM US
We say “More, Lord!” and the Lord turns it around and says, “OK, more—well, I want more from you!” We want more from Him, and He wants more from us. I’m not talking about earning anything. There’s nothing we can do in our weakness that would qualify us to have a vital connectedness with this exalted Man at the right hand of the Father. It’s impossible to do anything to earn that connectedness. It’s impossible. It’s out of our reach.
The grandest thing that you could do is to earn that connectedness with God; it’s an utter gift of God. When we say, “We want more of You,” the Lord answers, “I want more of you!” because as we give ourselves more to Him, there’s more that God will do.
I’ve said these kinds of things for some years, and people say “Well, that puts pressure on us,” and I say, “It’s supposed to put pressure on you. It’s called the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and it’s supposed to put pressure on you.”
We’ve made an idol in this nation out of comfort; and we’ve brought it over to the Church. If we’re disturbed, it can’t be the Holy Spirit because we’re disturbed. Of course, part of the prophetic ministry is to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comforted. That’s part of prophetic ministry, for real: to afflict the comforted and comfort the afflicted. In our nation, we’ve made an idol out of comfort, and we’ve figured out a way to dress it up in the doctrine of the grace of God and with biblical language. We preach that our comfort is synonymous with true grace. God doesn’t buy it; the devil doesn’t buy it. It’s really popular preaching. It’s not the spirit of truth. It’s supposed to make us uncomfortable to know that in the dignity of our relationship with God, the dignity He has given us, that our choices really matter. Yes, that puts pressure on me because I want to enter into the fullness of what’s available to me. There’s pressure, and I feel I don’t want to come up short. That’s called the fear of the Lord. That pressure is a godly pressure. It’s not a pressure to earn God’s favor. It’s a pressure that we’re not wasting our lives by dabbling with the spirit of darkness. I don’t want to waste my life with a trumped-up doctrine of an American version of the grace of God; this doctrine isn’t the real thing. I want to feel this pressure if it’s of the Holy Spirit.
MATTHEW 5:3: “BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT, FOR THEIRS IS THE KINGDOM”
In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, we read the eight Beatitudes. The first one is Matthew 5:3: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 5:3). There’s a little pressure there. The poor in spirit feel poor. The poor in spirit say, “I have need! I have need of more!” I mean, it’s not just a casual recognition. There’s a divine pressure on the human spirit; it’s called revelation. “I have need of more! This isn’t OK the way things are!” There’s Holy Spirit pressure. It disturbs me. When I walk in poverty of spirit, as I hope to do all my days, it’s disturbing. It’s a paradox, because while we have poverty of spirit, we have confidence in the love of God. Those aren’t opposites; there’s no contradiction between the two.
“BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO MOURN, FOR THEY SHALL BE COMFORTED”
Then poverty of spirit grows up into the next beatitude in Matthew 5:4: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Mt. 5:4). What does it look like to mourn? What? We think, “Wait, I’m an American; I want to be comfortable. I want things to be easy. I want to have confidence that things will be easy. That’s what the American gospel is. Not just confidence in God, but I want confidence that things will be easy.” I tell you, you can find a thousand places in the land that will affirm that with great energy—way more than a thousand. I’m not interested in feeling good; I’m interested in being right with God and being fruitful to make a change in people’s lives. And, of course, that’s why you’re here. I mean, you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t care about that.
“Blessed are those that mourn”—so we go from being “poor in spirit” to mourning. We have great need that leads to mourning. Do you know what that beatitude means? We feel the weight of it so fully, we become desperate enough to make a change. It doesn’t mean we’re sad over a calamity; that’s not what He’s talking about. It means we’re desperate. We feel weight on our spirit about our own lives. And we’re thinking, “I’ve got to make some serious changes!” Beloved, that’s the gift of God operating in your spirit.
I remember some years ago, my wife Diane came to me and said, “I just feel miserable. I’m backslidden. The Word of God is dry. I don’t feel the spirit of prayer; I don’t feel His presence. I’m not really pressing into His presence.” She was just living a nice pastor’s wife’s life. She said, “I feel terrible!”
And I was watching her in that season, and I thought she was doing pretty well, which shows where my discernment was. I mean, she was reading her Bible every day, and I thought she was doing OK. Diane always thought I did well on Sunday mornings, so I thought she was flowing in the Holy Spirit. And I was getting ready to say to her, “Oh sweetheart, that’s not truth.”
Right in flight—I don’t know if you’ve done this, as it’s just an accidental prophecy—right in flight I found myself saying exactly the opposite of what I initially intended. Sometimes the spirit of prophecy operates that way. Now don’t blame everything on God when you don’t have wisdom! That’s not a big catchall for thinking, “Well God made me do it;” it’s not one of those things.
However, I was getting ready to say to her, “Oh, sweetheart you’re great!” and I said, “You’re backslidden and so am I!” I said, “Ah!”
She didn’t even think it was weird. She just said, “Yeah, I know!” I mean, I was startled because I felt the weight of it when I said it. I wasn’t going to say that. She was already sad, and she said, “Yeah, I did that.”
Then I went on to give her this concept: “This mourning in you is the gift of God to you.” Because that’s what the Lord was putting in my heart that very second: “Don’t steal that out of her spirit! This is Me. Her desire for Me is My gift to her. Don’t you dare put out this fire that I’ve set aflame in her spirit!” That power is called, “Blessed are they who mourn.”
What I mean is when we have revelation—and I need so much more revelation—as I look at this passage in Ephesians 1, I say, “Lord! The revelation that there’s a man at the right hand of the Father who is the head of everything—that’s just stunning. Oh I love that, and that I’m connected to Him like a head in a body. And then, I’m part of the expression of the fullness of His power in the natural realm, and that’s the perfect will of God. And God won’t change that plan because He chose it, and that will be His plan forever. Forever, it will be true: we’ll be the vehicles through which the Man, Jesus, will expresses His purposes in a larger dimension. I love this, God!”
It’s as if the Father says, “Jesus, I don’t want You to exercise Your purpose independently. I want You to do it through a people who will be Your bride.”
Jesus might turn to the Father and say, “Father, Your plan is brilliant! It’s a brilliant plan and that plan will never be changed or improved upon.” We’re on the earth, and we can really make a difference. We can really change lives, but the Lord wants us to give more of ourselves to Him. He wants us vibrant in faith. He wants us alive right now in our spirit. It’s not like it all changes in one day, but He wants us on the journey of walking full of the Word and full of the spirit of obedience. It takes time to do that. I’m still on that journey. I’m not there, but I tell you that I’ve set my heart toward this. I’m going after it. I’m in the midst of a people, and we’re going after it. We’re full of weakness and brokenness; we’re full of all kinds of things. However, our obedience and our love for God is fragile and weak—just like you; but, it’s sincere.
The Lord says, “I can deal with your weakness and your fragile love, but I want you in a hot pursuit for more— and not just more power.” God means more in the sense of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. That’s what’s really on my heart. We need to be hungry for the gifts of the Spirit. That’s not my point right now.
PRESS INTO GOD DAY BY DAY IN YOUR WEAKNESS AND BROKENNESS
He wants us to have power to give ourselves to Him, power to believe Him, and power to persevere before Him. He wants us to give more of ourselves to Him in a bigger way than as in a vacuum. “Lord, I want more of the gifts of the Spirit. When they come, I’ll be ready. I’m here when You want me,” and after ten or twenty years have passed, we say, “I’m still here God! Whenever You want the full gifts of Your spirit, I’m here. I’m Your guy!”
The Lord says, “That’s not the kind of relationship I want with you. I want you actively pressing into Me, day by day, in your weakness and your brokenness.” I mean, the Lord evaluates our lives through the grid of grace. In our weakness and brokenness, we can still pursue Him in a way that pleases Him. I’m not talking about a new class of elite “super saints”: you know, the three in history who ascended. I’m not talking about that; I’m talking about us. I’m talking about folks—just us. We can do this in a way that pleases God.
BREAKING OUR ALLEGIANCE WITH FALSE IMAGES OF GRACE AND CHRISTIANITY
However, one thing we have to do is break our allegiance with the false image of radical Christianity that’s in the Western culture and is hardly recognizable as Christianity through the grid of the Word of God. Because we’re more radical than the group down the road or the other people in the other part of the Church, sometimes we can slip into buying into wrong thinking.
Beloved, there’s only one standard of what radical, faithful obedience is; it’s in the Word of God, and that’s what we measure our heart by. It’s not to condemn us; it’s to measure our heart to see what God will give the human spirit in this age. I don’t read those passages and say, “I’m a creep. I just need to quit!” Rather, I read those passages, and I say, “This is what God will give the human spirit. This is what He will give people in this age.”
WE HAVE ACCESS TO GOD’S THRONE BY BEING SEATED IN HEAVENLY PLACES
We have been raised to sit with Jesus in heavenly places. Paul tells us God “raised us together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come, He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6-7). Ephesians 2:6 tells us that we’re seated with Him—that we have access to this Man’s power. That’s what it means to be seated. Our physical bodies are here on the earth. I’ve read things on this throughout the years, and people try to figure out some mystical way where they climb to heaven, and scoot over, and there are a billion of us sitting on the throne. No, that’s not what it means. Does it mean that a billion of us are seated there, and we have to picture it somehow? No. It simply means that we have access to the throne of this exalted Man. We have a dynamic access, and when our prayers are in the will of God, it draws on the throne of this Man.
The reason I keep saying “this Man” is that I’m really into Jesus being eternally and fully God.I love that Jesus has always been God and always will be God, but a Jewish man being fully God stuns me. That’s a stunning reality. I can’t get over the incarnation; I just can’t get over this. This Man is the model of what God is going to do to humans forever, and it starts in this age. It’s fantastic.
JESUS AS A MAN DEFEATED SATAN
At the cross, Jesus, as a man, defeated the demonic powers. Paul writes, “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it” (Col. 2:15). He didn’t defeat them as God. As a man under the anointing, He defeated them. He made a spectacle of them. The audience of heaven saw a man defeat Satan. They had never seen anything like this. Elijah wasn’t even close to it. David wasn’t even remote; no one was close to this. A man defeated Satan, and the audience of heaven exploded. The audience of hell trembled by the realization that this Man defeated Satan because He triumphed over them; He made a public spectacle of them. The corridors of hell trembled that a man broke through, and therefore, others would follow in His wake.
AUTHORITY IS DELEGATED POWER
Authority is delegated power. There’s an example I’ve heard over the years from many, and I’m sure many of you have heard this analogy. Imagine a policeman stops a car: he holds up his hand by authority and not power. When a car is coming, and a policeman puts his or her hand up, he’s not going to tackle the car and stop it with power. In order to do that, he would have to body slam the car, and they don’t do that. The power is in the U. S. military, and when the policeman puts his hand up, all the power of the White House, the government, the Congress, and the military is behind that man’s hand.
Of course, it never goes to that extreme. However, if the car didn’t stop, it might take the entire military to stop one who said no. In other words, the police stop the car through authority. They don’t have the physical, raw power. The power that’s standing behind them can absolutely annihilate someone who objects through the entire power of the military.
That’s what’s happening with us. We stretch out our hands in that sense, not that you have to put your hand out, but we say, “In the name of Jesus.” The authority of a man and His might comes forth, and the right hand of the Father is behind us.
My point is, it doesn’t matter whether we’re in a good mad or a bad mood; it’s an issue of authority. Demons move by authority. I feel really bad one day, and I feel spiritually good on another day. The authority of the policeman doesn’t change when he puts his hand out; it doesn’t change depending on whether he’s in a good mood or a bad mood, because it’s a legal connectedness to the military might of the nation. I go to prayer lines feeling bad, and the Lord says, “You know, it’s not about you feeling good or bad; it’s about the authority of a man who has been exalted and made head. He’s connected to you; He’s head, and you’re His choice to express His power on the earth.” The you is the Body of Christ. When we have revelation of this Ephesians 1 passage, we started with, we realize that it’s a remarkable passage—it’s absolutely remarkable. It’s not enough for us to have head knowledge of this; we need a dynamic heart revelation of this.