Speaking with Authority; July 29, 2020

Mark 1:22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.

I have to say that my first reaction on reading this just now was to remember Preaching class in seminary, where I was required to quote commentaries in every message. To me, that seemed then, and seems now, to be imitating the “teachers of the law,” who go by human precedent rather than communicating what God is saying now. That is evident in Judaism today, when the Talmud is put on the same level as the Torah, but it is certainly evident in Christian churches as well. We are to study to understand history and context and language, but our ultimate source must be the Author of Scripture, the Holy Spirit. When we don’t understand that in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) Jesus was delegating His authority to us, our preaching and teaching will be uncertain and generally off base. There must be an essential humility, understanding that the message does not and must not originate in us, but there should also be an assurance that it is the Word of the Lord, and He will use it to accomplish that for which He sent it. (Isaiah 55:10-11) There are as many styles of preaching and teaching as there are preachers and teachers, and none of them are without value. However, teaching history and context and language must always be for the purpose of preparing people to hear the Word of the Lord in all its power and purity. Humanistic preaching comes in many flavors, but none of them have any real spiritual nutrition.

As should be evident by now, I’ve always felt that prophetic preaching was the way to go. That’s not to say predictive, necessarily, but rather speaking out what God is saying. I’ve heard plenty of that, and I’ve also heard plenty of garbage. I don’t want to be a purveyor of garbage! I do not want to claim to speak for the Lord and then say anything that originates in my mind alone. I recognize that each speaker colors what the Lord speaks through us, because of personality and a number of other factors, but I don’t want to add any distortion whatsoever. I’m grateful to say that the Lord often speaks to me through my own mouth, whether or not I recognize it at the moment. I must be on my guard against the human tendency to feel that “I said it, so that settles it.” I am never the ultimate authority! Pride and conceit have been pitfalls for me all my life, but the answer is not to feel that God can’t use me or speak through me. After all, He spoke through a donkey! (Numbers 22:21-33)

Father, thank You for this reminder. Help me be faithful to listen to You consistently, hearing You accurately and communicating Your Word without distortion. May Your authority operate through me to destroy the devil’s works (1 John 3:8) and set people free, (John 8:32) for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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