The Question of Authority and Anointing
by Lois E. Gibson
"Saying, Touch not mine anointed , and do my prophets no harm." Psalm 105:15 (KJV)
The teachings on anointing and leadership authority are sometimes distorted by controlling and abusive churches. God never intended this to be a warning not to question what we are taught or to never state that a leader is wrong or in error. The texts used to support these ideas are taken out of context and/or are distorted. Let's turn to the Bible for our answers.
Since Jesus is our main teacher, we should observe how he conducted his ministry. Did Jesus allow his disciples to question what he taught? Absolutely. (Matthew 15:1-20, Matthew 19:8-12) Did he allow those who were against him to ask questions? Absolutely. (Matthew 22:15-46) Did you know that Jesus even allowed some demons to question him? (Matthew 8:28-32) Did Jesus EVER teach that Christians are not to question what leaders taught? No, not ever. In fact, he warned the disciples about the teachings of the Pharisees and false prophets! (Matthew 16: 5-12, Matthew 7:15-29) [These are just some of the examples seen in scripture.]
There was a difference in how Jesus taught and ministered as compared with the Pharisees and teachers of the law. He would amaze those who heard him. The people wanted to hear what he was saying. Why? "For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes." (Matthew 7:28-29) The only real authority a believer has is the authority God has given and he gives this authority to all believers. (Mark 13:34, Luke 9:1)
God does not have 'special ' followers, or 'pets' as some might explain it. Those in leadership are no more special to God than those 'behind the scenes.' Paul went to great lengths to explain the relationship of believers in the body of Christ in I Corinthians 12:12-27.
"But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our comely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular." I Corinthians 12:18-27 (KJV)
As members of the body of Christ, there is no big I and little you. We are all one in Christ Jesus. No part of the body is more important than the other, and if it thinks so, it should try to operate without the other members! The Spirit of God gives each believer his or her ministry to carry out, along with whatever gift(s) he wishes to bestow. We all do not have the same ministries, nor the same gifts, as this would be unprofitable to us. But what we do have is given us freely by God, not because of what we have done or who we are- our ministries for the Lord are HIS doing and HE receives all the credit and the glory!
So though our gifts and callings may vary in the church, the body of Christ, it is that one and selfsame Spirit doing the work and enabling each of us to carry out that calling in our lives. We are all equal in the site of God because we all were saved by his grace. There should be no schisms, or divisions, in the body of believers. Each individual is needed, each has a work to do, and each is equally important in differing ways.
Acquaint yourselves with the Gospels again (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) and by paying attention to these areas, you will notice something quite different than what many are taught in these churches. Pay particular attention to Matthew chapter 15 where the Pharisees question Jesus as to why his disciples transgress tradition. Let his answer sink into you.
"But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? ....Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. ....But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." Matthew 15:3-9 (KJV)
We can actually transgress what God commands by following the tradition of churches, organizations and groups that follow teachings 'just because,' or for whatever reason, when it is not commanded in scripture. When you do so, you are following tradition, plain and simple.
This is an important point to remember as these people ended up worshipping God in vain. We also need to realize that this wasn't some heathen group that was questioning Jesus. This was THE Jewish religious group of the time who should have been leading people to Christ! However, they elevated their added rules and regulations and misinterpretations of scripture to be either equal to or above scripture and it caused them to follow God in vain. How horrible!
Notice that the disciples came to Jesus afterward, saying, "Hey, don't you know you offended these people?" (verse 12) They were not afraid to voice what they felt. The Corinthians asked Paul many questions which he addressed in his letters to them. Do you recall in Acts 6 where there was a dispute over the care of widows? Were the apostles angry that the Grecians brought this up and said their widows were being neglected while the Hebrew widows weren't? No. They got together and talked it over and solved the problem. They never said "How dare you question what we're doing!"
Consider that Ananias questioned God about what God had just told him concerning Saul (Acts 9). Was Ananias afraid to question God and bring up what he'd heard about Saul, as if God didn't already know? No. Did God punish him or strike him down? No.
Let's examine Acts 11 where other disciples questioned Peter, that he shouldn't have gone to Cornelius' house as he was a Gentile. Did Peter rebuke them and say that Jesus had given him the keys of the kingdom and who were they to ask about what he did? No! Instead, he explained in detail what had happened, causing them to rejoice that God had granted salvation unto the Gentiles.
In Acts 15 when certain people started teaching that circumcision must be taught, and there was quite a bit of argument here, it was brought to the elders and apostles who did not rebuke those bringing up the controversy. They gathered together and sought the truth of the matter.
Let's also remember Acts 17:11-12. The people who searched the Bible, to see if what Paul and Silas taught them was true, were praised. Paul didn't get upset that they were checking out what he taught. He didn't tell them that they shouldn't question his teaching as God had anointed him- rather they were PRAISED. It is a very dangerous practice to simply believe what you are taught without independently searching and studying to determine if it is truly found in scripture.
Galatians 2:11 is one of the best examples I could give to debunk the false teaching concerning God's anointed. Keep in mind Jesus gave the keys to Peter. He was the main apostle at first after Jesus was resurrected. At some point in time, Peter had gotten caught up in the old Jewish law of not eating with Gentiles. Paul openly and bluntly- in front of others- confronted Peter about it.
The meaning in verse 11 for 'blamed' is more accurately translated 'find fault with.' Paul found fault with Peter's actions and because this was causing others to follow his lead, he bluntly and openly confronted him on the matter. Peter did not scream out, "Touch not God's anointed," nor did he say that God would strike Paul dead for doing so. It was okay for Paul to confront Peter. He found fault with him. He confronted and corrected him. Paul did nothing wrong.
I Timothy 5: 19-21 tells us that we can receive an accusation against an elder if there are at least two witnesses and if they have sinned, they are to be rebuked. It does not say we are to sit back and let God correct him if he's done wrong! It goes on to say we are to not be partial in how we treat one another.
Yes, leaders in the church should be respected and given honor if they are truly teaching the precepts of God and are faithful in their Christian walk. However, this does not translate to blind obedience. This does not mean we cannot question. This does not indicate that they cannot be corrected when they are wrong.
Turn to Psalm 105 as this is one place where 'touch not' is written. Note the context of the psalm.
"He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations. Which covenant he made with Abraham, and his oath unto Isaac; And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant: Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance: When they were but a few men in number; yea, very few, and strangers in it. When they went from one nation to another, from one kingdom to another people; He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes; Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm." Psalm 105:8-15 (KJV)
The psalmist is clearly speaking of the Israelites- they are the subject matter as we read these verses. God had appointed the Israelites to be his chosen people, to reveal himself unto the world through them. It is the people of Israel of whom he refers when he states, "Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm."
Who were the anointed??? The Israelites, God's chosen people! Not simply the priests or any leaders, but ALL God's people. This same theme is repeated in I Chronicles 16:20-22.
Now let's jump to where this is tied in with David and Saul in I Samuel 24:1-15 as this incident is often used to support the distorted version of who God's anointed are. Keep this in context. David's men were encouraging him to kill Saul as the perfect opportunity had arisen. David instead cut off a piece of Saul's clothing, and doing so bothered his conscience.
"And it came to pass afterward, that David's heart smote him, because he had cut off Saul's skirt. And he said unto his men, The Lord forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the Lord's anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord. ...The Lord judge between me and thee, and the Lord avenge me of thee: but mine hand shall not be upon thee." I Samuel 24:5-12 (KJV)
Saul had been literally anointed of God- anointed with oil to be the first king of Israel. He was not just anointed because he was a leader- he was physically anointed with oil to signify that God had appointed him to be ruler of Israel.
"Now the Lord had told Samuel in his ear a day before Saul came, saying, To morrow about this time I will send thee a man out of the land of Benjamin, and thou shalt anoint him to be captain over my people Israel, that he may save my people out of the hand of the Philistines: for I have looked upon my people, because their cry is come unto me. ...Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the Lord hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance?" I Samuel 9:15-10:1 (KJV)
Compare all of this to II Corinthians 1 and I John 2.
"For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts." II Corinthians 1:20-22 (KJV)
"These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him." I John 2:26-27 (KJV)
Who are the anointed of God? They are those who follow Christ, who have been sealed with the Holy Spirit! ALL Christians, not just ministers and leaders, are God's anointed. Does this make it clearer? Can you see that there is nothing wrong with questioning doctrine or leaders and that the ministry can be questioned and even corrected?
This teaching alone causes much harm. It holds Christians in bondage to a rule that was NEVER made by God. Man has distorted the teaching- rather, those in leadership have distorted the teaching- in order to exercise more control over those in their churches. God did not appoint ministers to control his people. They are to lead and guide- not control and drive.
If you are a believer, a follower of Christ, then God has anointed YOU and given YOU authority.
You may write Lois at the email address displayed in the image. No correspondence that seeks to debate will be answered as I have no desire to debate. Understand that due to the volume of mail, not every email may be acknowledged.
Posted June 3, 2000
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August 23, 1997
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