THE USE OF AUTHORITY AND POWERBack to Alphabetical Index | Back to Chapter Index
Although there are many examples in the Bible of the elect of God using their delegated authority and power, we need only to review the examples concerning the healing of physical illness and how to deal with evil spirits to illustrate how spiritual leaders and congregational members are to use and invoke their delegated authority and power through the use of the name of Jesus Christ.
AUTHORITY TO HEAL THE SICK
Historically, there have been two distinct categories of physical healing that those placed in positions of spiritual leadership within the early church had authority to perform: healing within the church and healing outside the church. It is important to understand the distinction between the process of anointing with oil and praying for the sick by the elders and the process of restoring health to a person outside of the congregations of God, because there were two different purposes being served by these processes. Healing inside the church was for the benefit of the elect of God, but healing outside the church was an act of mercy and compassion along with the proclaiming of the Father's good news message about his son and his coming kingdom.
Within the Congregations
"Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him" (Jms.5:14-15 KJV).
Here is a specific set of instructions to the elect of God within the early church who were in need of restoration to health. The following had to be done by both the member of the congregation and the elder:
1. It was the responsibility of the one who needed healing to call for the elders for anointing and prayer. Although it was not specifically noted, it can be inferred that the call for the elders was made in the case of serious or life threatening illness.
2. The elders had to anoint the person with oil and pray the prayer of faith over them. It is clear that, when they used this authorization, the elders had to clearly state to the Father that they were coming to him to claim the promise he had made to heal the individual through this process. Moreover, they had to clearly state that it was through the authority that resides in Jesus Christ that they were coming before him to claim this promise.
3. These instructions show that the elders of the early church had been authorized by Jesus Christ to intercede on the behalf of the elect of God to claim a promise from God. When the instructions were followed, the sick person was healed, because the promise was unconditional. However, if the anointed person was not healed, the following might have been true:
The elect of God who were ill were instructed to call the elders of the church when they had a major sickness that needed attention. The elders were instructed to anoint the person with oil and pray for their healing. When the men who were truly elders did this for one of the elect, that person was healed.
It should be understood that the process of anointing with oil and praying for the sick had nothing to do with the gift of healing, which was used in the process of evangelism. The process of anointing with oil by the eldership was only to be performed for those who were of the elect of God.
Anointing and Healing Today (1998 A.D.)
The instruction given by James concerning the anointing with oil for the healing of illness within the early church raises some major questions concerning the spiritual leadership of God's people today, because it is obvious that no such authority exists today. In fact, no such authority has existed among the spiritual leaders of God's people for many centuries. This is not to say that such an authorization will not be manifested at some point in the future:
"And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name they shall cast out devils; . . . they shall lay hands upon the sick, and they shall recover" (Mk.16:17-18 KJV).
Anointing with oil as James instructed depends upon the following two things:
1. There must be spiritual leaders within the congregations of God who are authorized by Jesus Christ to anoint and heal the sick.
2. An oil must exist that is supposed to be used in the anointing process. Because we are not told what kind of oil the eldership of the early church used, we can only assume that the oil was a special mixture like the oils used for sacred purposes under the first agreement with national Israel.
Because these two things must exist in order for the instructions of James to be carried out and there is no indication that this method of healing will again be authorized, anointing with oil today seems presumptuous. This does not mean that God the Father will not intervene to heal people who cry out to him. There have been and will continue to be many people who are healed by the power of God.
As with many other things concerning the spiritual leadership that will exist during the last several years before Christ's return, the scriptures are silent as to the process by which the elect of God will be healed of illness during this time. However, if it is to be as it was during the early church, it will be revealed to those who will be authorized to perform such healing.
Outside the Congregations
"And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name they shall cast out devils;. . . . they shall lay hands upon the sick, and they shall recover" (Mk.16:17-18 KJV).
There are many scriptures that show the apostles healing people as acts of mercy and compassion while going about fulfilling their commission to proclaim the Father's message of the good news and establishing congregations of God wherever they went. The scriptures clearly show that when these healings were performed, those doing the healing did so through the discretionary use of their authorization to heal the sick.
In the following account, we clearly see that Peter used the power and authority that he had been delegated over the physical laws of this world to heal a man who had been lame from birth:
"Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; . . . then Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed to them, expecting to receive something from them. Then Peter said, Silver and gold I have none; but such as I have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise and walk" (Acts 3:1-6 KJV). See also Acts 3:16.
When Peter performed this act of mercy he said "Such as I have I give you", which made it very clear that he had the power to heal at his discretion. When Peter said, "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise and walk", he was not only announcing by whose authority he was removing this man's paralysis and making him whole but also commanding the act of healing to be done by the authority and power that he had been delegated through the office of Jesus Christ.
By Whose Authority?
While being questioned by the high priest and other religious leaders of the Jews concerning his authority to heal a lame man, Peter clearly told them that he received his authority and power to perform this healing through Jesus Christ who was also the Savior of humanity:
"If we be examined of the good deed done to this man, by what means he is made whole; Be it known to you all, and to all people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him does this man stand here before you whole" (Acts 4:9-10 KJV). Please read both Acts chapters 3 and 4 for more details.
Because of a lack of understanding in today's world concerning God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ, one who is authorized to heal, such as Peter was, should clearly explain who it is that has given them their authority to heal by using such words as: "I heal you through the power of the Sovereign God of all that exists, and by the authorization of his Son Jesus Christ the Redeemer and Savior of the world". These, or other similar words should be used in order to clearly separate God the Father and Jesus Christ from the gods of this world. Moreover, it is important to clearly show that it is the Father's power that heals and the healing is performed through the office and authorization of the Father through his son Jesus Christ.
It is important that those who are healed and those who are aware of the healing clearly understand that all credit, praise, and honor for any healing performed by the elect of God belongs to the Father and Jesus Christ, not to their servant who performed the healing.
In Acts 19:10-12 there is a reference to the apostle Paul healing the sick and casting out evil spirits through the use of a piece of cloth sent from him to the person who was in need. We are not told whether or not this method of healing was for those within or outside the congregations. What is clear is that this was a special authorization given to the apostle Paul.
Although it is not recorded, it is obvious that, in order to use the cloth for its intended purpose, Paul would have sent along instructions detailing what to do and say surrounding the use and disposal of the cloth. In the case of the removal of an evil spirit, it is obvious that Paul had delegated his authority to cast out evil spirits to the one who was to perform this task on his behalf.