Deborah asks a very difficult question:
In today’s climate of evil, it is very hard to not pray for God to overcome the evils. But for believers who want to walk in faith, do we have a duty to expose the devil’s work? I am also studying the book of Luke, chapters 9 and 10. Since Jesus gave authority to the 11 disciples and to 70 other believers, does He give believers any authority today, and what is it?
Thank you so much in advance for answering my questions.
I do not recall anyone asking me that question, or even one like it.
I believe in what is called cessationism. That is the view that certain of the spiritual gifts that God gave to believers during the generation when the apostles ministered (ca. AD 33-90) are no longer given to us by God. In fact, those gifts, often called sign gifts, ceased being given to us while the apostles were still alive (see, for example, “Trophimus I have left in Miletus sick,” 2 Tim 4:20).
I do not believe that Christians today have authority to heal the sick, raise the dead, or prophesy. Those gifts have ceased, though I do believe they will be given again during the Tribulation and probably in the Millennium, too.
What authority do believers have today, especially regarding evil?
Our main weapon against wickedness today is prayer (Matt 6:13; Luke 11:4; John 17:15; Acts 12:5; 2 Cor 13:7). God has given us authority to pray and to enter His very presence (Heb 4:16).
Prayer is also vital in healing (Jas 5:15-16). While God no longer gifts people to heal others by touching them, He does give us the opportunity to pray for people, with the result that some will be healed.
Another authority God has given church-age believers is the gift of teaching His Word. As God’s Word is accurately taught, believers’ minds are renewed, and their behavior is transformed (Rom 12:2; 2 Cor 3:18). God’s Word is “the sword of the Spirit” (Eph 6:17). It is very much vital in our dealing with evil. So, both the teaching and the reception of God’s Word are rights God has given to His children to overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil.
We have authority to share the message of life with anyone who will listen. Some have the gift of evangelism (Eph 4:11). But all believers should proclaim the message of everlasting life (Matt 4:19-20; 9:37; John 17:20; 1 Cor 7:16; 2 Tim 1:7-8; Philemon 1:6; 1 Pet 3:15-16).
Gotquestions.org points out several types of authority that believers have been given. See here. One point they make is that spiritual gifts are to be used to serve one another. We have been given authority to serve. That is a powerful point. Service is not some job that is beneath our sense of dignity. Service is a delegated privilege. Believers are in the service industry.
Our most important authority, the one from which all others flow, is that we hold the status of children of God. The Apostle John says that God “gave [us] the right [or authority] to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12). Leon Morris says, “John does not speak of power, as in the sense of power over sin (though in fact they receive that, too). His thought is that of status. They have received full authority to this exalted title” (John, p. 87).
If you have time, I suggest you study the uses of the word authority, exousia in Greek, in the NT. Such a study reveals to us the authority which God has given to believers.
Finally, did you know that there is a potential future authority for believers? God will give authority to rule with Christ in the life to come for victorious (i.e., overcoming) believers (Rev 2:26).