Authority Born From Love
As wide as our sphere of love, to that extent we have spiritual authority. We see this in the mother who loves her child. Such a woman has authority to protect, train, and nurture her offspring. She has authority to protect what she loves. The same is true of the husband over his family. His authority is not merely to rule but to establish his home in the life of Christ. True spiritual authority is born of love.
The individuals who love their local congregation have authority to build up that congregation. Their authority is not extended, however, beyond the boundaries of their love. If we love the entire body of Christ in a locale, our authority touches the lives of those in our city or region, either through the burden of prayer or through teaching or service.
The testing ground of all spiritual things is love, for love alone purifies our motives and delivers us from the deceitfulness of self. Even authority in spiritual warfare must be rooted in love. David gained the skills to slay Goliath, not on a battlefield, but by defending his father's sheep from vicious predators. He loved the sheep so much that he would even risk his life for them. So also we grow in authority as we protect our Father's sheep, the flock He has given us to love.
Authority is muscle in the arm of love. The more one loves, the more authority is granted to him. If we love our cities and are willing to lay down our lives for them, God will enlarge our hearts, granting us authority to confront principalities and powers.
However, no man should ever engage in confrontational warfare who does not love what he has been called to protect. If you do not love your city, do not pray against the ruling forces of darkness. Satan knows the genuineness of our love by the brightness of the glory that surrounds us. A man without Christlike love will soon shrink back and fail in spiritual warfare.
Therefore, in His mercy God restrains most Christians from understanding the doctrines of authority in spiritual warfare. For there are many things He has to say that we are not able to hear until the base of our love is expanded. In His love He protects us from presumptuously attacking the strongholds of hell and suffering loss. Yet, if we are truly anointed in God's love, the price to see our cities saved is not too great, for it is the price love always pays: the willingness to die for what we care for.
Authority to Build Up the Body of Christ
"For even if I should boast somewhat further about our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you..." (2 Cor. 10:8). Many so-called "prophets" today think they are called, like Jeremiah, to "pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow" (Jer. 1:10). Jeremiah's message was to a people who were destined to be carried off into Babylon. He spoke to a people who did not have the Holy Spirit and the blood of Jesus, a nation that God Himself said was destined for captivity. (See Jeremiah 12:7.)
The whole commission of Jeremiah, though, was more than confronting sin. It also included promises of restoration and deliverance, "to build and to plant" (Jer. 1:10). To represent the heart of the Lord, which is the true prophetic role, the servant of God must know if the Holy Spirit is preparing to destroy or seeking to rebuild.
Today we are a people coming out of captivity, a people whom God is encouraging to build, as they did in the days of Nehemiah, Ezra, Haggai, and Zechariah. We have been in exile from the promises of God, but we are returning to rebuild the Lord's house. It is not a time to tear down the body of Christ; it is time to establish and to build up.
The authority coming to the Church in this next outpouring will be an authority to restore the local, citywide church. Like Paul's authority, ours will be given for building and encouraging and not for destroying.
God has this new leadership constantly before His eyes. Pastors from many denominations, along with their congregations, are meeting together in prayer, seeking to draw the very fire and heart of God into their souls. Emerging from this foundation of humility and prayer is a new authority to make disciples of Christ. Because their love encompasses the entire city, their authority reaches even into the heavenly places. They are beginning to impact the spiritual atmosphere of their cities; in many cases, they are becoming effective against the principalities and powers ruling there. These are the leaders whom God is raising up, whom He will back up with His power.
Dear Lord, make me a willing sacrifice. I desire Your authority, Lord. Give me courage to surrender in obedience, even when I do not see the outcome and when all I see is loss. Help me to trust as I walk through the narrow gate. Establish in me Your love that I might defend Your people with authority. In Jesus's name, amen.
Francis Frangipane serves as the overseeing pastor of River of Life Ministries in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and is the author of several books, including his latest, When the Many Are One.