Power and Authority

Luke 9:1.---' He called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority.'

Up to this point our Lord's ministry was distinctly personal and unique. He had not bidden any of His disciples go forth and proclaim the truths which He had been teaching; but now His own personal ministry was to be supplemental by the ministry of His followers and messengers. There is a certain amount of work in relation to Christ that must be done by proxy, done by is servants.

There must be some point of contact between the preacher and the hearer, between the messenger of Christ and the world to which he went forth; and one point of contact would be just this, the extension of hospitality to the messenger. The very dependence of the Apostles upon kindness, the hospitality, and sympathy of the world was to be an element of strength in their mission. If an Apostle accepted a meal from a man, there was a relationship at once established which would make the message of that Apostle all the more effective and all the more powerful to that man.

It is not enough to preach love of poverty to the poor, to tell them of the rich beauty of poverty. The poor do not believe the words of the rich until the rich are become poor by choice. The Apostles, who were to preach of the joys of poverty to the rich and the poor alike, must themselves be living examples of that which they teach, displaying that joy, day by day, to all men and in all places. They must carry nothing with them save the clothes they wear, and the shoes that are upon their feet; they must accept nothing save the 'daily bread' they will find upon the tables of them who give them shelter. The nomad priests of certain Oriental divinities carried with them, beside their idols, a sack for offerings, because the vulgar esteem but lightly those things that cost them nothing. But the Apostles of Jesus must refuse all gifts and payments. 'Freely ye have received, freely give.'

In sending them out Christ gave His Apostles 'power and authority' to cast out devils and to cure diseases. Notice that the power has the precedence of the authority, and that the authority is by virtue of the power. We too readily snatch at the authority without being careful about having the power. If we only learnt this one lesson---that Christ gave authority to those whom He first of all gave power, we should rid ourselves of a great deal of vanity and a great deal of disappointment. Capacity is, after all, the proof of authority. The qualifications for the work of the ministry or for any effective Christian service do not come to us through the ordination [whether it be episcopal or otherwise] of any man. We are all too apt to fall back upon the authority that we receive through some human agency. Qualification does not depend upon the outward 'authority,' but primarily upon the inward 'power.' It was when Peter gave proof of being inspired that he receive the keys. It is ever true that only to the extent that a man is endowed with power from Christ for the work that he has to do is he clothed with authority to do that work. So all spiritual authority is the outgrowth of spiritual power; and the only proof of authority is efficiency. If, for instance, any man has the authority to preach he ought to be able to preach. If he cannot preach, he may well doubt his authority. He who supplies the one also invariably supplies the other. If a man cannot preach, then all the credentials that he can supply in the form of the laying on of hands go for nothing. The man's authority to preach the gospel shows itself in the power of his message and the efficiency of his service.

In Christ, timothy.