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“The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to reserve the unjust for a day of judgment, to be punished, and especially those who walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise dominion. They are darers, self-pleasing; not trembling at glories, speaking evil” (2 Peter 2:9-10 MKJV).
The mindset that all believers have equal authority and status with God is another doctrine of devils. It breeds independence and disrespect for those God has set in His Body as leaders, making their responsibility so much more difficult and robbing those who believe this lie of the things they could have of God. They are damned by their thinking, which is prideful and rebellious.
To despise authority is the sin of the sons of Korah, who were swallowed up by the earth, they, their loved ones, homes, and possessions. That’s what happens with those who gainsay and resist the anointed leaders of God. They are swallowed up by the world in Hell and death.
This doctrine arose partially as an unlearned reaction against the abuse of authority by mainline religious organizations and churches, like the Catholic Church, Orthodox Church, the Church of England, the Lutheran Church, and others that taught that only the clergy could have access to God on behalf of the laity. In revolt, the baby was thrown out with the bath water, and soon nobody acknowledged duly-appointed authorities of God. The general root of the sin, however, is pride and a heart willingly independent of God.
In the “Christian” world today, there are both extremes – too much and too little mediation. On the one hand, we have people believing they can receive nothing but by human mediators, like priests and pastors, thus receiving nothing from God personally. On the other hand, some think it is solely between them and God, thus receiving nothing of Him from His servants who come as the Lord did, outside the systems of men. God doesn’t talk to the proud and independent souls who think to hear from Him while doing their own thing.
Both situations – those dependent on men and those who look only to themselves – undermine faith and discourage the practice and privilege of prayer, which goes unanswered by God.
It’s true that all believers who walk by faith have access to God, but not all have equal access at all times.
It is written, “For there is one God, and One Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). Using those words, some assume all Christians need nobody to go to God on their behalf.
I believed this error for years, until God spoke to me saying I could come to Him not only for myself and my family, but on behalf of any who had problems or questions. Since then, on several occasions, believers and unbelievers (yes, even unbelievers) have come to me, requesting that I petition God on their behalves, and prayers have been directly, specifically answered, some with miracles.
I began to wonder why believers should come to me for prayer if they had that same privilege themselves, according to this doctrine of equal status and power before God. I realized the Scriptures are full of evidence that there are varying limits to what privileges certain believers are granted of God.
Why would Peter and John have to pray for the Samaritans to receive the Holy Spirit? Why couldn’t Philip pray for them on this matter? After all, he was full of the Holy Spirit and faith (Acts 6:3-5) and had preached to the Samaritans, whereby they believed. He had even cast devils out of them and many were healed. Miracles were happening by his ministry (read Acts 8). Why couldn’t the Samaritans, who were now believers, ask for themselves?
Why are elders called for to anoint the sick and pray for their healing? The sick of whom James speaks were believers. Why don’t sick believers exercise their own priesthood privileges if they’re equal in authority and power?
“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the Name of the Lord” (James 5:14 ESV).
Why did the Ephesians need Paul to pray for them (Acts 19)? Didn’t they believe? The Scriptures call them disciples.
Not only are there differing levels of authority and privilege with God, but intercession comes on common levels as well, such as when they are told to pray for one another that they may be healed:
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16 ESV).
Who needs another to pray for him if we always have equal privilege with God? Apparently we need one another and the Body of Christ. No believer is an island, though there may be times of being alone.
I haven’t brought up the Old Testament, in which there are many examples of mediation on the part of a man of God, because it could be argued that Christ had not yet come to grant priesthood to all believers. But didn’t the Lord say to Israel, not just the Levites, “And you shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation”? And: “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for His treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 14:2 ESV).
Certainly, there is partial truth in the doctrine that all believers can come to God. Some who came to me requesting prayer also heard God’s voice at times – they prayed on various matters and received answers. Where the line is drawn, I haven’t determined. We have gone only as the Lord led us. I do know that healings, receiving the Holy Spirit, deliverance from devils, and solving problems are areas where people have asked me to mediate, and God has clearly and wonderfully answered. Is it any virtue of our own when God answers? Not at all. However, James said:
“…The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous one avails much. Elijah was a man of like passion as we are. And he prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for the time of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth caused its fruit to sprout” (James 5:16-18 MKJV).
It simply is not true that all believers have identical prayer privileges at all times. God has set forth authorities and occasional privileges for all members, and He expects them to be honored. Paul says to humble ourselves and submit ourselves to one another in the fear of God (Ephesians 5:21).
What, then, of the words that there is only One Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus? The answer is that Jesus Christ is the Head, and the Man is His Body. His Body is composed of those having His Spirit. Furthermore, those in His Body who are mature reign with Him on His throne, having overcome, even as He overcame and reigns with His Father on His throne. Reigning, they mediate with Him as one, because they are also “the Man Christ Jesus.” This is a wonderful truth!
Read in our section Submission According to God.
Consider the alternative to believing this doctrine: Fall in line with God’s established order and experience truly answered prayer, rather than the wrath of God that befalls the children of disobedience who despise His order and authority.