The Four Phases of the Work of Christ on the Authority of the Believer Essay
When God created man, His intention for man was to exercise dominion. However, man resorted to disobedience and this brought about a separation from God – the source of his authority. He became subjected to bondage and fear. God had to send His son Jesus Christ, to rescue man from this position and restore him his lost dominion. This paper describes how Christ accomplished this through a fourfold activity – his death, going to hell, resurrection and ascension to heaven. It further enjoined believers to grasp the understanding of this fourfold work and start walking in this authority by faith. Table of Contents
Contents Page Title Page 1 Abstract 2 Table of Contents 3 Introduction 4 The Believer’s Authority 4 The Work of Christ – the Mystery of the Gospel 5 – Stage One – the Passion of Christ (the length) 5 – Stage Two – the Descent into Hell (the depth) 6 – Stage Three – Resurrection (the breadth) 7 – Stage Four – Ascension (the height) 7 Walking in the Authority 8 – Faith is needed 8 – Speaking the Word 9 Conclusion 9 References 10 The Four Phases of the Work of Christ on the Authority of the Believer Introduction
God has a great intention for man and this is wrapped up in the instruction he gave him in Genesis 1:28. After blessing and commanding fruitfulness, he asked man to “…rule over…the earth” (NASB). In this context, dominion is best described as an act of ruling (Strong, 1995). It reflects authority and lordship. God’s desire for man is to rein in this world and he did for a moment until sin was found in him (Genesis 3). This act of sin (disobedience to God’s command) robbed him of this status of dominion. However, all through the history of man, he still sought to have this dominion, though not in the way ordained by God.
Man resorted to tyranny and oppression in exercising dominion. The cases of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:3-9), the slavery in Egypt (Exodus 1:1-16), the cruel rein of various kings in man’s history are all instances of the perverted way of seeking dominion. It was obvious from the history of man that the only way that man can exercise his authority the right way is to come back to him. It was in the recognition of this truth that God send Jesus, his son to redeem man back to him so that man can have access to exercise authority, the proper way.
Any one who believes in Jesus has the right to this authority; “…the right to become children of God” (John 1:12, NASB). The Believer’s Authority The authority of the believer is founded on the work that Jesus Christ did for man. Ephesians 1:16 – 22 records that Christ has been made to sit “…in the heavenly places, far above all rule, and authority…” (NASB). In addition, he makes the believer to sit with him (Ephesians 2:5-6). Though the believer is supposed to be human still leaving on earth, this description of his position is an allegory, representing where he occupies in the spirit realm.
Obviously, this authority cannot be described as carnal but spiritual. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 captures this better: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses…. destroying speculations…, and taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,” (NASB). However, as good as this position seem, not many people can maximize these benefits. It takes an understanding of the things that Christ did and a practical application of these. The Work of Christ – the Mystery of the Gospel
The scriptures emphasized that the secrets in the works of Christ is a key that opens the door of authority to believers and whoever desires to enjoy this authority will need to unravel this secrets. Ephesians 3:16-19 stresses this and, in addition, highlighted that there are four stages in the work that Christ accomplished: “…to be strengthened with power through His Spirit;…that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you…may…comprehend…the breadth and length and height and depth…filled up to all the fullness of God. ” (NASB). Stage One – the Passion of Christ (the length)
After being accused unjustly, Jesus was paraded before a kangaroo trial and he was sentenced to death by crucifixion. He was beaten and subjected to a level of humiliation accorded to thieves. He was left in agony on the cross for several hours before he died (Dake, 1999). The implication of this verse draws attention to the authority of the believers over the flesh and its sinful tendencies. When Christ died, the believer, in his erstwhile sinful nature died with him. The sinful nature is dead! This liberates the believer from servitude to sin. Therefore, the believer is to take himself as “…dead to sin…“ (Romans 6:11, NASB).
Now he lives in authority above the tendencies to sin (Romans 6:14). Besides this, the scourging of Jesus reveals another dimension to our authority. Isaiah 53:3-9 established that apart from handling the sin issue, the scourging of Christ gave the believer passport to peace and healing. Even when diseases and illnesses are imminent, the believer obtains his victory through the finished work of Christ on the cross. He experiences the peace that human understanding cannot explain at all times. Stage Two – the Descent into Hell (the depth) After his death, Christ descended to hell where the devil and his cohort live.
“(Now…“He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended (first) into the lower parts of the earth? …)” (Ephesians 4:9-10, NASB). What was the reason for his descent? “…He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them…” (Colossians 2:15, NASB); “…he led captive a host of captives,…” (Ephesians 4:8, NASB); “…that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.
” (Hebrews 2:14 -15, NASB) It is believed that the keys of hell and death in Jesus’ custody in Revelation 1:18 was taken from the devil at this time of his descent. (Dake, 1999). The joy and delight of the believer is that the devil has been rendered powerless by this act of our Lord Jesus. He delivered man from the fear of death and every other works of the devil (I John 3:8). The believer only need to key into this work of grace. Stage Three – Resurrection (the breadth) Jesus eventually resurrected against all odds and this was a further confirmation that he has power over death.
Besides, it was after his resurrection that he could declare he had all power on earth and in heaven (Matthew 28:18). It would not have carried much weight if he had claimed this before his death and resurrection. He had tasted death and had gallantly overcome, rendering death powerless. Who else is fit to make such a declaration? Romans 6:9 declared “…death no longer is master over Him. ” (NASB). This is the climax of the whole show. Furthermore, the scriptures declared that since the believer died with Christ he, like Christ is resurrected into a new life (Romans 6:9).
His victory is secured in this fact and he can conveniently exercise his dominion over death because of his stand in Christ. As Strong (1995) puts it, the believer’s resurrection figuratively represents his rising from death, sicknesses, diseases, ruins, destruction and very other thing that the devil represents. Now he lives above all these. Stage Four – Ascension (the height) The fourth dimension of the believer’s authority lies in the ascension of his Lord. Christ’s ascension paved way for his enthronement into “…the heavenly places, far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name…” (Ephesians 1:20-21, NASB).
One exiting thing about all of these is that this was done for the church – the believers. In his enthronement, the believers are also on the reining spree with Christ. The powers that man had previously been subjected to could no more intimidate him (Ephesians 2:6). In addition to this, the believer enjoys the privilege of having an advocate before God in the person of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 4:14-16, 5:1-5). He understands the way we feel having passed through this world also as a man. He stands before God to supply us with the needed strength to face the challenges of life with the consciousness of victory that it demands.
He is indeed our high priest. Walking in the Authority Jesus made it plainly clear that his presence here on earth is not just for fun. He intends to raise an army of people who will rein on earth the way he reined. He wants men and women who will exercise dominion through his four-fold work as explained earlier. The scriptures were very explicit on this. Jesus promised us power to “…bind…and…loose…” (Matthew 16:19, NASB), power “…over unclean spirits…disease and…sickness” (Matthew 10:1, NASB) and so on. However, the exercise of this authority depends on the individual Christian.
The fact that Jesus has procured the necessary dominion for humanity will not become real if the believer does not know how to enjoy this benefit. How then can a believer walk in his authority? Faith is needed. Mark 11:23 projects the truth about faith being a vital key to the exercise of a believer’s authority: “…whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. ”(NASB). The believer must study the word and allow the truths that are revealed in the word of God about his position to permeate the whole of his being.
He takes the word as it is and meditates upon the truth therein (Joshua 1:8). As he does this, the reality of these words begin to dawn on him and faith rises up in him to believe them. The faith that is needed comes by the word (Romans 10: 17). Speaking the Word. After the faith has swelled up in a believer’s heart, he needs to speak up; he needs to speak the word as he has believed in it (2 Corinthians 4:13). This is what his father (God) in heaven wants to hear and as he speaks the word, the force to accomplish what he speaks out is released in the spirit realm.
Invariably, what he speaks becomes manifest in the physical. This reality is made clear when one considers the story of the centurion in Matthew 8:8-10. The man understood what authority means in the practical sense. He asked Jesus speak the word to bring about the healing of his servant the same way he would normally speak the word to release a command. Christians should understand that there are heavenly armies also ready to attend to their commands; speaking the word is the key that releases them into action. The scriptures talk about the angels as the army. (Hebrews 1:7).
Furthermore, the Christian must not have any iota of doubt about the feasibility of what he has spoken, the situation around him notwithstanding. There must not be any room for doubt (Mark 11:23). Even when it seem that it is taking long for the result to manifest in the physical, he should just hang on, not allowing doubt to rein in his heart. At the end, it shall surely come to reality. Conclusion Romans 5:17 declares that God wants his children to rein on earth and exercise authority on his behalf. This is his desire for his beloved. However, it is not by physical force or exercise of the physical muscle.
It is by God’s spirit through what Christ has accomplished for man. The Christian needs to have this understanding, rise up to the challenge and take his place appropriately in Christ Jesus. References Dake, F. J. 1999. Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible, Large Print Edition. Dake Publishing Incorporation, Georgia, US. Strong, J. 1995. The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville. The Lockman Foundation. 1995. The New American Standard Bible (NASB). Retrieved May 4, 2009, form http://www. biblegateway. com/versions/? action=getVersionInfo&vid=49.
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