While God invites all peoples to come unto Him through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, forbidding none, He has an established pattern of calling and choosing certain individuals or nations to accomplish specific tasks. For example, God chose to make a covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that through them all the nations of the earth might be blessed. [1 Chronicles 16:13-17, Leviticus 26:42, etc.]. He chose the people of Israel to bring into a promised land. [Deuteronomy 7:6-11. God even chose Jerusalem to be the place where His name would be found and David to be King over His people. [2 Chronicles 6:6].
The Lord has established this pattern that He might grant authority and thereby demonstrate His glory before all nations. For if He is to invite all men, He must first ordain those who are to bear witness of Him. And this He does so that others will know the truth and not be deceived. It is not to say that some are more worthy or more important than others [Deuteronomy 7:7-8], but so the Gospel message might be proclaimed to every creature under heaven. Thus, if there is to be a Church of Jesus Christ, it must have authority from God. Otherwise, it is a church of men.
The authority of the Lord Jesus is the perfect example. The disciples did not follow Jesus simply because of Him alone, as He had no form of comeliness [Isaiah 53:2], but in part they followed Him because of the power and authority that He had through the Holy Ghost, which was exhibited in the miracles and works that He performed, which testified of His divinity. Nonetheless, throughout His ministry, many individuals were amazed by the authority and doctrine that Jesus possessed as they recognized that His authority did not come from man, but from God. “And no man taketh this honor [meaning priesthood] unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. [Exodus 4:14-16, 27-30 and Exodus 40:13]. So also Christ glorified not Himself to be made a high priest.” [Hebrews 5:4-5]. Although Jesus “thought it not robbery to be equal with God,” [Philippians 2:6] He too had to follow the example of priesthood that was established by His Heavenly Father. In other words, individuals are not to call themselves to this responsibility, but rather they are to wait until they have received a testimony from God. For only God possesses the authority to choose who will represent Him.
Moreover, when Jesus went to be baptized in order to fulfill all righteousness [Matthew 3:15], He did not just look for any random person to baptize Him, but rather He traveled approximately 60 miles from Galilee to the river Jordan seeking John the Baptist. Why? Because God had given John authority to baptize by water. [Mark 1:1-8, Luke 1:76-78, and John 1:29-34]. Following the baptism of water, the Spirit of God descended like a dove, lighting upon Jesus. “And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” [Matthew 3:17]. Thus the Father testified to the world concerning the authority which He had given to Jesus to be the visible “image of the invisible God.” [Colossians 1:15]. It was through this selfsame authority, as witnessed by the Holy Ghost, that the Lord Jesus called and ordained the Apostles so that they could then bear record of Him, which authority was granted unto others through the pattern of the laying on of hands. [Acts 6:1-6, Acts 13:2-3, 1 Timothy 4:14].
It is important to understand that this authority does not come by works, but by the grace of God. For Jesus told the disciples, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain.” [John 15:16]. Similarly, when Simon the Sorcerer “saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.” Peter answered him, saying, “Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.” [Acts 8:18-21].
The authority that is resident in the Church of Jesus Christ is granted only by God, it can neither be earned nor purchased. However, it can be taken away if those who have covenanted with the Lord turn their hearts far from Him, just as Israel did. Thus, in order for the spiritual house of the Lord to be made manifest on the earth, it must have authority from God with the Spirit as its witness that it is truly His Church. These witnesses include the gifts of the Spirit [1 Corinthians 12:4-12, Acts 2:17.] “For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, an in much assurance.” [1 Thessalonians 1:5].
Scriptures to Consider
Mark 1:1-8 (KJV)
1:1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; 1:2 As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. 1:3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 1:4 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
1:5 And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins. 1:6 And John was clothed with camel's hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey; 1:7 And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. 1:8 I indeed have baptized you with water: but He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.
Luke 1:76-78 (KJV)
1:76 And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways; 1:77 To give knowledge of salvation unto His people by the remission of their sins, 1:78 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us,
John 1:29-34 (KJV)
1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. 1:30 This is He of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for He was before me. 1:31 And I knew Him not: but that He should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.
1:32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon Him. 1:33 And I knew Him not: but He [God] that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, the same is He which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. 1:34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.
Acts 1:4-5, 8 (KJV)
1:4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith He, ye have heard of me. 1:5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence… 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Hebrews 5:4-5 (KJV)
5:4 And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. 5:5 So also Christ glorified not Himself to be made an high priest; but He that said unto Him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.
Exodus 4:14-16, 27-30 (KJV)
4:14 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and He said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart. 4:15 And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do. 4:16 And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God.
4:27 And the LORD said to Aaron, Go into the wilderness to meet Moses. And he went, and met him in the mount of God, and kissed him. 4:28 And Moses told Aaron all the words of the LORD who had sent him, and all the signs which He had commanded him. 4:29 And Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel: 4:30 And Aaron spake all the words which the LORD had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people.
Exodus 40:13 (KJV)
40:13 And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him; that he may minister unto me in the priest's office.
John 15:16 (KJV)
15:16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, He may give it you.
Acts 8:18-21 (KJV)
8:18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, 8:19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. 8:20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. 8:21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.
Galatians 1:1, 11-12 (KJV)
1:1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;) 1:11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 1:12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 1:5 (KJV)
1:5 For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, an in much assurance
1 Corinthians 12:4-12 (KJV)
12:4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 12:5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 12:6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
12:8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 12:9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 12:10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues. 12:11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. 12:12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.
Acts 2:17-18 (KJV)
2:17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 2:18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.