SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY (Covering)
We received the following question:
I WAS GIVEN AN INVITATION TO A MENS PRAYER MEETING. A LIST OF QUESTIONS TO BE ASKED AT THE MEETING WAS PASSED OUT. ONE QUESTION WAS "ARE YOU UNDER SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY". KNOWING THESE MEN. I KNOW THAT THEY MEAN A SPIRITUAL LEADER. HAVE YOU EXPLORED THIS QUESTION YET? THIS SUBJECT IS A HOT POTATO IN MY BOOK.
First, there are men who seek and who love power over other men. We should not be "taken in" by such men.
There are good men whose point of reference is a strong local organization that they call the "church".
Everyone knows that a good "organization" needs good, strong leadership and by virtue of the authority of the "positions" they are placed in, these men have "authority" over others. There are some Scriptures that would get us thinking along these lines, such as "obey them that have the rule over you..."(Hebrews, I think). We should not ignore such verses, but neither can we ignore other verses, as follows......
Historically, Israel was a theocracy, but the people wanted a king to rule over them just like the other nations had. God said OK, you want a king, you shall have a king - he will take taxes from all that you earn, he will take your sons to fight his battles, he will.... God was not enough for them, or so it seems. God granted them the desires of their hearts, but sent leanness to their souls (Psalms). So it is for SO many today who are desirous (and content) with having someone "over" them who is responsible for everything (and therefore accepts the blame for everything) and the individual passes on HIS own responsibility to another person - the one "in authority" (it doesn't work that way, but many are deceived in that way)
Israel had some bad kings. The people were still accountable for themselves! ! ! ! but the bad kings will receive greater judgment.
In somewhat like manner, no church member, pew sitter, etc. is excusable based on the error they hear and believe, nor for the decisions they make. But those "over" them will have a greater judgment.
In Matthew's gospel (9:36), Jesus speaks of those who are as sheep without a shepherd. So many will say, See, we NEED to have shepherds "over us".
Yet there is ONE Shepherd! that Great Shepherd of the sheep!
Does God intend that the more mature in Christ will lead those who are less mature in Christ?
Yes, see 1 Peter 5.
And we are instructed to submit to one another (that is not speaking of a leader-to-subject relationship, but a brother-to-brother relationship!)
But likewise, the authority is based on the mature "LEADING" the sheep, not lording over them, as the Bible warns against.
In 1 Cor. 1:3 we are reminded that the head of man is Christ. Period.
We are instructed to call no man father, because we have One Father!
May God grant you wisdom in this matter!
Following is a response we found on the internet to a similar question:
The teaching on "covering" goes like this. Everyone needs to be accountable to someone who is spiritually his or her superior. This someone may be your cell group leader, the head of a church department or your senior pastor etc. In turn, these leaders receive covering from someone further up the line, for instance a denominational leader or a "recognised" apostle. The necessity for this covering is based on the belief that believers need to be safeguarded from falling into error and/or sin. So covering is provided by those who are more spiritual than we to protect us from such error. At the top of this pyramid of covering there is quite often a well-known and recognised "name" but the chances of meeting or having any kind of relationship with that person if you are at the bottom of the pyramid are fairly slim. Currently, there are several networks offering this kind of covering to those in some form of church leadership or ministry, more often than not for an annual fee. The annual fee usually provides for the running of the network, and conferences where you can fellowship with others under your particular brand of covering. You may also be denied entrance from one of these networks because you don't have the appropriate credentials.
One of the strange things about this "covering" teaching is that rarely is anyone asked about their spiritual covering, until they step outside their particular church, denomination or network. However, the minute a believer shows signs of having something important to share with the wider Body of Christ, suddenly all and sundry are interested primarily in that one important question: "Who are you covered by?" It all sounds pretty reasonable except for one problem - it's not found in scripture. In fact, the early church was taught to rely on the inner anointing to discern the spiritual source of potential ministers. (1 John 2:20; 1 John 4:1)
So, where did this idea originate that believers need to be "covered" in order to serve God and minister within Christ's Body? Are you, like many others, living your Christian life under the shadow of this fear that without "covering" you dare not minister, preach, pray or do a myriad of other things you're called to do by the Spirit of God, because you will somehow be ministering without protection?
The purpose of this article is to shed some light on this issue based on scriptural truth. To begin with, though, we need to understand that this need to be covered by a perceived spiritual authority, and the scriptural instruction to submit ourselves to God's delegated authorities, are NOT necessarily one and the same thing.