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Whenever you talk about miracles, you touch the area of the sovereignty of God. People automatically identify a miracle by referring to it as "a sovereign act of God." But one time the Spirit of God spoke to me, saying, "Have you ever noticed that the word sovereign is not in the New Testament?"

I couldn't think of a scripture at that moment, so I began to study it out. To my surprise, I found it to be true: The word sovereign is not used in the New Testament - not even once.

Therefore I realized there needed to be qualifications on exactly what we mean when using certain terminology. When speaking about sovereignty, we must begin by examining the subject of authority; so when this began to stir inside me, the first thing I did was refer to a dictionary.

I found three meanings for the word authority:
Power to influence. For instance, a policeman has the power to influence. When he holds up his hand to oncoming traffic, he has authority over those drivers. He has the power to influence them to stop. If they fail to be influenced, then they will suffer consequences.

Persons in command. A person who has authority is a person who has command or responsibility in a given situation.

Grounds, or convincing force. A synonym for authority is influence or power. The word power can be used in the same sense as authority. In translating the Bible, many times the word power is used meaning ability. Therefore, you must rightly divide the Word of God.

In researching the Old Testament, I discovered that the Hebrew used only two words translated authority.

The one Scripture which applies in this case is Proverbs 29:2 which says, "When the righteous are in authority the people rejoice." The word for authority in the Hebrew language means "to increase." This is quite enlightening when you think about the righteous having authority, or the ability to increase. After all, part of the blessing of God causes increase.

In researching the Greek, I found seven different words in defining authority. Four of them were nouns; three were verbs. First we will look at the meanings as nouns.

A noun stands for a person, place, or thing. The meanings of authority as a noun are:
Lawful or liberty. The word authority can also mean liberty, freedom, or that which is lawful.
Upon order, or commandment. When someone gives you a command to do a certain thing, it is because they have authority to give orders.
High place, or excellency. God is high above, and we are seated with Him in heavenly places, or in places of authority.
Power, might, or potentate. When someone has power, he has authority.

A verb has to do with action. The three definitions of authority as a verb are:
Power, or the authority of God in force, in operation, in manifestation.
• To exercise authority at home.
Self-working, or dominion. The Scriptures teach that we have dominion. God has given us dominion on earth. When someone has dominion, it means he can act on his own.

It may seem as though many of the definitions are being repeated, but I want you to get a complete picture. There is more involved here than just one meaning; there are several types and levels of authority.

We need to understand the importance of authority. Without authority to do certain things, we can get into trouble. Without the understanding of how to utilize the authority we have, we can be hurt.

There are instances in the Bible where people have endeavored to exercise authority when they didn't have the right to. For example: in Acts 19:13-16 the seven sons of Sceva attempted to cast out an evil spirit "by (the name of) Jesus whom Paul preaches."

Needless to say, they carried no authority. In fact, the evil spirit overcame all seven of them, tore off their clothes, and chased them down the street!

On the other hand, there is a perfect example of understanding authority in Matthew, chapter eight. In verses 8-9 a Roman centurion says to Jesus: "Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof; but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it."

Here is what the centurion was implying to Jesus: "You have authority. Therefore, if You speak the word only, my servant will be healed." Jesus replied to the centurion in this way: "I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel" (v.9).

What was so great about the centurion's faith? He understood the principles of authority.

It requires an understanding of the principles of authority in order to understand the elements of faith. If we misapply authority, we will miss the elements of faith. No person will ever receive God's best in the realm of faith until he understands these basic principles of authority.

I pray that you will open your heart and allow the Spirit of God to minister this truth to you - that you may have a greater understanding of the connection between the principles of authority and the elements of faith.

Source: Understanding Authority for Effective Leadership by Buddy Harrison
Excerpt permission granted by Harrison House Publishers

Author Biography

Buddy Harrison
Web site:
Buddy Harrison and his wife, Pat, were co-founders of Faith Christian Fellowship International Church. He served as president of the organization from 1978 until he went home to be with the Lord on November 28, 1998.

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