In the opening paragraph of Luke 20 (vv. 1-8) is the story about the Jewish leaders confronting Jesus as He taught in the temple. They asked Him where He received His authority or who had given it to Him. He replied with a question to them about John the Baptist–was his authority from heaven or from men. Caught in a dilemma the Jewish leaders refused to answer, and so did Jesus.
What the Jewish leaders were really asking is: Who gave you permission to come into our temple and teach the people? Jesus had not come up through any of the rabbinic schools, and He held no position of rank among the religious status quo.
On the surface their question did not seem unreasonable. In your standard church today the pulpit is not open to any Tom, Dick, or Harry who walks through the door. Normally churches select teachers based on giftedness, experience, and education. Some self-styled prophet who walks through the door is not automatically given the right to disrupt the service. The first Amendment does not give you the right to shout fire! in a crowded theatre or set up a soap box in the middle of a grocery store.
But the Jews should have recognized Jesus’ authority based on the confirming miracles He performed and by the content of His message. Jesus had an authority that was inherent in His person. People were blown away by the authority with which He spoke, in contrast to the dry teaching of the scribes in the synagogues.
We do not have authority in and of ourselves. As believers we have been entrusted with the gospel and the truth of God deposited in the scriptures. When we present the gospel clearly and accurately God’s word carries its own authority. It is my belief that if you are gifted in handling and presenting the word of God and you are walking with the Lord and trusting Him, then God has a place for you to minister. If you plug into a Bible-believing church and seek prayerfully to be used, God will open doors. To be very honest the churches today are seeing a famine for God’s word on par with the days of the prophet Amos. All manner of watered down culturally hip politically correct pabulum is being barfed forth from pulpits across North America, and many churches are becoming gargantuan goatfolds with a few sick sheep mixed in. Goats love garbage and if you feed them they will come. Give them shallow narcissistic albeit well-produced music, skits, puppet shows, and so-called Christian comedians. Anything but the clear teaching of the Bible–in context, properly exegeted.
I will give it to you straight up. One reason I left the pastorate is that it was a hindrance to my ministry. This blog and my men’s group (Fight Club) afford a golden opportunity to present truth. Who gave me permission to do this? Where does my authority come from? Ultimately the Word of God carries its own authority. My job is to handle it accurately and present it clearly. Beyond this I claim no spiritual authority except that which I exercise as I serve my family as a husband and father.