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SPEAKING AND TEACHING WITH AUTHORITY
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
3 FEBRUARY 1991
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
In Paul's letter to Titus, he exhorts him to do the job of a Christian leader and, in the process, to make leaders of others.
The most important part of this leadership was to set the proper example, so that through his life, his speaking, and his teaching, others would respond and do likewise.
Paul concludes his instructions with our preparation verse for this morning.
Preparation Verse: (Titus 2:15)
15. These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
Why is it that someone is perceived as having this authority while others are not?
It's because they are believable, and they are believable because they are consistent in everything they do.
To be truly believable in the ways of God, a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ, whether behind the pulpit, or in the pew; whether in church, or in the home, or at work, or at school; we must begin our day acknowledging who God is and our service to Him.
Our opening hymn for this morning is such a place of beginning.
Hymn: Holy, Holy, Holy
Let's amplify what we have just sung by reciting together The Apostles' Creed.
And as we do this, we must further open our hearts and minds to make these words a living part of our souls, a part of our very nature, something so natural that when we itch, we will scratch with it.
Creed: The Apostles' Creed
Response: Gloria Patri
If these words are truly a part of our nature, if we have that inner oneness with Jesus Christ, we should feel His suffering and death every time we sin; for He died to free us from the death that our sins bring upon us.
And in this acknowledgment, we should naturally repent.
And our repentance should be immediate – like scratching an itch.
So, just in case we haven't let go of every sin in our lives, then let's together, right now, in silence, lift these things up to our Lord and Savior.
Confession and Assurance:
If we have cleansed ourselves inside, we should be doing everything in our power to live in the heavenly will of God.
We should be seen as the loving, compassionate, and peacemaking children of God we are called to be, who do no intentional harm to our fellow human beings, to the animals, or to the world in which we live.
It is only then that we can and should begin to speak forth with authority, so that our words would bring forth the wonder of God to others, and they would be encouraged to be more Christ-like.
As we do this with each other, we become stronger and our authority increases, and it is perceived by more and more people; not for our glory, but for the glory of God who gives us this authority.
What exhortation do you have to share with others?
What encouragement to prayer or intercession do you have for us to participate in – even to lead us in that prayer?
Sharing of our Joys and Concerns:
Now, why do we do what we just did?
Why do we make our testimonies and prayers a part of almost every service?
Let's let Scripture answer this question for us. Note what we are told in Mark 1:21-22.
Scripture Reading: Mark 1:21-22
21. And they went into Capernaum; and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and began to teach.
22. And they were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
Yes, Jesus is our Lord and Savior; but during this time the leaders of the temple didn't recognize Him as anything other than a man.
Even to this day, He is not recognized by most people.
So let's put this in context.
Here is a Man, who is not a priest or a scribe of the synagogue, yet He enters and begins to teach, a position that was not His; yet He is perceived as having authority even greater than that of the scribes who were entrusted with the interpretation of Scripture.
Why is this?
It is because Jesus spoke with the authority and interpretation of God, through the power of the Holy Spirit that indwelled Him.
And do you want to know something?
Jesus has given us – each and every one of us – that same power.
Note what we are told in John 14:7-14, and as we read these beginning verses, see our own unbelief being reflected in the words of Philip.
Scripture Reading: John 14:7-10.
7. "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him."
8. Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us."
9. Jesus said to him, "Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say, 'Show us the Father'?
10. "Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.
Quite often we miss the simplicity of the Gospel message and expect to have something spectacular occur, both on our part, as well as from God.
Philip, like us, was having difficulty seeing Jesus as "God with a face."
What Jesus is telling both Philip and us is that we should see the presence of God in Him.
And since that same power and authority is given to us, people should see Jesus in us too.
But the problem is that most people still want to live in the world and even contribute to the corruption and suffering of God's creation, whether it involves other humans, animals, or the environment we live in.
As a result these people lose their spiritual power and authority, because they are not living in the heavenly will of God and Jesus is not seen in them.
What Jesus is doing and saying is not from His own initiative, but the result of His obedience to the Holy Spirit who abides with Him.
This is the reason that His speaking and teaching comes forth with authority.
He is applying the word of God, not just repeating it as the scribes were.
Note what He says next.
Scripture Reading: John 14:11-12
11. "Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me; otherwise believe on account of the works themselves.
12. "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father.
If we are weak in our faith and weak in the word of God because we do not read our Bibles, then at least believe in Jesus Christ because of the works that He did.
But if we truly believe in Him, He is our advocate before our Father.
If we believe that Jesus died for us individually, died to pay the price for our sin, then we will also repent of our sins, and do our best to sin no more, and the blood of Christ cleanses us from all unrighteousness.
Thus Jesus says to the Father, "This person is one of Mine."
And the Holy Spirit will come upon us as He did with Jesus; and if we are likewise obedient, we will do as Jesus did, and according to this promise, even greater things.
Our problem is that we are too timid.
We lack the authority, because we do not seek it.
Scripture Reading: John 14:13-14
13. "And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
14. "If you ask Me anything in My Name, I will do it."
Our problem is that we either don't ask, or we ask with the wrong motive, or we come forth in an unclean manner.
If we live for and like Jesus, we glorify Him, as well as the Father, before others.
But Jesus said that we can do even greater works of love than He did.
We're not to spot with just doing what Jesus did here on earth, we are to seek to live in the perfection of our heavenly Father (Matthew 5:48).
If we say we are a Christian, but do not honor Him with our lives, we dishonor Him and ourselves before the Father and those with whom we live and work.
We either have or do not have the authority and power of God, simply because of our own actions.
Lewis E. Jones wrote about the basics of receiving this power in his hymn. Let's sing it together and hear in our hearts both the message and the music.
Hymn: There Is Power in the Blood
Did you hear these simple truths?
These are miracles that occur every day.
We don't need to see tears coming from the eyes of Jesus on the large painting in this church in order to perceive a miracle.
If we have confessed our sins and receive His forgiveness, the miracle of His tears of joy will flow out of our own eyes, and we will feel His tears of sorrow for those who haven't come to repentance and for the suffering world.
We all know that the sin in our life is a burden; and if we truly repent, we receive God's forgiveness and that burden is taken away, and we will perceive that miracle within us.
If we, in our own lives, have won the victory over evil, and set the example of kingdom living, then as we tell others, we will be speaking with authority.
If our passions and pride are evident in our lives, we have no real authority. Some other losers may follow along and boost our ego; but let something go wrong, and they will all leave.
But if we stand firm upon the things of God, all that we do and say will have a lasting effect. This also is the power of God and true authority.
We must return to the cross daily, or even several times a day, for the cleansing of our sins, so that they do not stain our testimony and take away our authority.
For each time we lose that authority, it becomes progressively harder to regain it.
But if we do cleanse ourselves daily and therefore have God's authority, what
are we going to do with it?
How will we respond to the next question asked of us? "Would you do service for Jesus your King?"
If our answer is yes, then our power and authority will increase, and we will naturally sing His praises.
There is truly a wonder-working power in the Blood.
And with it we can go forth speaking and teaching with authority.
Hymn: Let Your Heart Be Broken