Monday, July 2, 2012

Who Has The Authority?

Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Matthew 28:18-20

In the following passage we see that Jesus is the one that has the authority, but something strange happens here because Jesus gives that authority away. Who did Jesus give his authority to? He gave it to his disciples. So this begs the question for us today then, who is a disciple? Simply put a disciple is a believer/follower of Jesus (Rom. 10:9).

This then begs the further question, what authority in this passage was given to all believers? The authority to go and make disciples, to baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and to teach them everything Jesus has commanded. 

In other world religions we see that only the priest are permitted to perform all of the rituals, but in the Bible we see that God refers to all followers of Jesus as priest (1 Peter 2:9), which means we all have the authority to make disciples, baptize, and teach others. What I am referring to here is called the "Priesthood of Believers." The neglect of this teaching from the Bible is one of the many hindrances to reaching people today.

In many cultures around the world it has become the normal tradition to only allow the ordained priest perform any of the rituals mentioned above. But when we operate in that way we are operating as any other world religion, but Jesus himself has given us all the authority.

Now I am not against ordination per se, but there is much in an ordination that can hurt the church overall I believe. For example I just attended my first Anglican ordination where the bishops were all dressed up in funny looking costumes where they performed all of the spiritual rituals. Once again nothing wrong with it in itself; but what it communicated clearly to the context I am ministering in is that only those guys with those costumes and "right" instruments for serving communion can do so.

I understand some of the push back will be that God has ordained or set apart certain people for certain tasks and that in order to be an elder and deacon that there are clear biblical requirements. I would agree with both of those, but in regards to obeying the Great Commission and who has the authority to perform all of the rituals, we all do!

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