Sermon Review. Alliance Church. Bonnie Hodge. October 2, 2011

onnie begins the sermon by recounting  a story about her first job and how you can lose authority if you don’t know how to stand on it. We are told that one of the good things about standing on the authority of Christ is that he walks with us and supports us- that we walk in authority as if Christ is walking in authority, because we have the same authority he does. She quotes Mathew 28:18-20 “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen “

We are Christ’s ambassadors and as believers are compelled by his love to make known his truth and the good news of the gospel. In this, it is his love that compels us to preach reconciliation.

We are given John 14:12 “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. “ and Bonnie asks the congregation to shout out some of the miracles that Jesus did. They offer up things like feeding the 5000, walking on water, controlling the storms, healing thousands of people, raising people from the dead, casting out demons, dying on the cross, and so forth. She then tells the people that they can do likewise.

She tells a story and gives a quote of Elizabeth Elliot, and then says “When we say that we have all authority in Christ Jesus, we so easily say it. It becomes like ‘all authority is in me through Christ Jesus who died on the cross’. But we don’t get it. Until our very will, our very being is in submission to him, that means before we make a step, before we make a life altering decision, that means every day when we open our eyes or when we go to bed at night, that means as we walk along in relationship with one another, that if Christ is at the Lordship of those we are walking in authority. When those things are out of sync, then we do not understand how that authority has become out of sync in our lives, and we are literally walking in our own strength.”

We are told that we need to bow under his Lordship each and every moment of the day. “Are you possessed, are you consumed, are you compelled by the love of God, by the truth of his word? If you are then you walk in authority.” She then quotes Isaiah 61:1-2 and points out that she will quote some verses out of context. She applies the verse to herself and says that Isaiah 61 should be our mission and goal.  [which is pretty curious when you consider that in reality it is a messianic prophecy about Christ as found in Luke 4:16-19. I'm not sure if that's what she had in mind when she said she was going to quote it out of context, but she is right- its definitely not there. ]

She jumps to Mark 5 and the story of the demon-possessed man and offers a brief synopsis of the chapter, highlighting  the healing of Jairus’ daughter. We are told that if you read the chapter in the context of authority that we are able to ask ourselves the questions  of on whose authority did Jesus do miracles? Are we doing it? Are we doing what Jesus did and more? [Interjection, is that the proper contextual lens that we are supposed to view this chapter through? ] We are told that Satan cannot resist the authority of Christ, and that “We carry the authority of Christ wherever we go. The authority of Christ now indwells within us, and is walking with us, before us, beside us.”

She quotes Mark 6: 7-13 “And He called the twelve to Himself, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them power over unclean spirits. He commanded them to take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bag, no bread, no copper in their money belts— but to wear sandals, and not to put on two tunics. Also He said to them, “In whatever place you enter a house, stay there till you depart from that place. And whoever will not receive you nor hear you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them.  Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!”  So they went out and preached that people should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them” Jesus sent them out and gave them this task, and likewise this is our task. Jesus wasn’t telling them what to wear because he wanted to be an authoritarian, but rather he wanted them to not be constrained by what would distract them, so that they would only have as their sole focus his authority. [ It is unclear as to whether or not we are to follow his command, but it appears we are.]

Bonnie then exhorts the congregation that this day they need to make a decision to walk 100% in the authority of Christ, and that The Church is not dead, powerless, or defeated, but rather it is powerful and undefeated. We are weak and powerless to serve effectively under Jesus’ authority  because of our own lack of faith to claim healing and deliverance, to walk in power and authority. We are also told that we can’t walk effectively if we are having negative thoughts about others.

She ends the sermon by saying that all authority and power resides in Jesus, and that we have the same authority that he did. We are told that we can control nature, we can raise people from the dead, we can walk on water, we can go to hospitals and heal everybody, and that we can do all these things when our will and affections are subjected to him.


I really did not care for this sermon at all. There were so many times that I was pulling my hair out, trying to follow everything she was saying and trying to anchor it in the scriptures. But It can’t be done. There is a lot of conjecture happening here- a lot of things which just simply have no basis in the word. I think what threw me off is that she was so blatant about saying that we should be doing all these miraculous things. Usually you hear people asking, oftentimes rhetorically why we aren’t seeing more people saved or more people being healed. But it’s rare to have a preacher straight up saying “In your private life you have the power to and you should be doing greater miracles than Jesus.”   To that effect, there are quite a few things I wanted to point out and comment on.

1. Several times she affirms an incredibly high view of scripture that I would certainly agree with. She goes through great pains to emphasize the pre-eminence, authority, and perspicuity that the scriptures have,  but that high view doesn’t mean a thing if you can’t rightly divide and preach it. For example, several time she claims that we have the same authority that Christ has- ie “all”.  It begs the question “If all authority has been given to Christ in heaven and on earth, do we also have all authority in heaven, or just on earth, and how would you biblically show the difference?” Furthermore, and specifically,  I would ask where in the Bible does it say we have all authority? The biblical case is that we believers have some authority, not all. The foundation of this sermon is knocked off kilter when we see that early on she makes a leap from Matthew to John that she had no basis for making. That is a problem and that is cause for much of the confusion we’re seeing.

2. In the context of us being able to do everything that Jesus can do, she says “This is from Jesus. This is not Paul telling us, this is not Peter, this is not Matthew. This is Jesus words himself. “I tell you the truth.”  This is something that you can stand on. This is something that is guarantee. This is something from all eternity. “I tell you the truth anyone who has faith in me will do what I am doing. He will do even greater things than these because I am going to the father.”

Would it make it any less authoritative if Paul or Peter was saying it? Would it make it any less truthful? Is there any practical difference between Jesus telling us and Peter and Paul telling us something, under the power of the Holy Spirit? If not then why make that distinction? Paul is speaking with equal authority as Jesus spoke, and so I don’t like the seeming second class scriptural citizenship that Paul is being relegated to. Just a really…unfortunate distinction to make.

3. Where in the Bible does it say, as Bonnie attested to in her sermon, that  we have to walk 100% in authority with Christ to do greater miracles? Where does it say we can only accomplish these miracles if we bow under the Lordship of God every minute of every day? Those are assertion, but they are not proven.  If we are to take John 12 in the same way as Bonnie is doing, all it says is that if we believe in him we will be able to do the work he is doing, so why all these added unbiblical caveats? Bonnie recounts that Jesus says, concerning his ability to do awesome miracles  “I tell you the truth; anyone who has faith in me will do what I am doing” What biblical defense could be offered to the charge that if  people aren’t doing these miraculous work  then they are not believing and they do not have faith in Christ?, or at the very least are being disobedient?

4. Bonnie says, when speaking about Mark 5 “Jesus looks at Jairus and says “do you trust me? do you trust me?” and I think those are key things that we need to remember in our lives when God asks us to take that step of faith and we hear that nagging sense in our gut and in our head “do you trust me?’ And Jairus’ daughter was risen from the dead because he trusted.”

That’s not what Jesus said and that is an incorrect conclusion to draw. We read in Mark ” While He was still speaking, some came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?”  As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not be afraid; only believe.” In Luke 9 we read Jesus saying “ Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well.”  There is nothing about “do you trust me?” Jesus never says that. The call to believe is to believe in who he is and his ability to heal, not in voices in our heads and sensation in our guts. This is an improper handling of the scripture and she is drawing improper application.

5. Bonnie states “We have the authority today, that when we are being tempted, that we are being bombarded by the evil one, we have the authority to say “be gone” and the only response, when we stand on Christ’s authority, when we do it in Christ authority, the only response is “ok, I’m gone.” Cause there is no other response from Satan himself. When Christ is in the room, Satan isn’t. There isn’t a conversation going on here between God and Satan, wondering whose going to battle over your soul. If you have given your heart to Christ then you stand on the authority of Christ, and when you say Satan, evil one, evil thought, temptation be gone, it is gone, because of that authority.”

It seems that Satan and Christ have been in the same “room” together [If one can could a desert as a room] and that there have been conversations going on between God and Satan over a man. [Job] The real crux of this is that as Satan is not omnipresent, I’m not sure that we can be speaking to him/are speaking to him. I would like to know where in the Bible it says that the only response from Satan will be “ok, I’m gone.” It seemed that the demons exchanged a fair amount of banter between them and Jesus, and I’m wondering where this is revealed? Also, if even the Apostles couldn’t cast out some demons, but rather they only left after fasting and praying,  doesn’t that suggest that we can’t just say “be gone” and it will always happen that way?

6. Bonnie says that “The key to having authority is not just head knowledge of scripture, but passionate knowledge of God.” Where in the bible can I read more about this key? Where is this stated or inferred from the scriptures?

7. Bonnie says that  “God is interested in knowing that you are being available and humble enough to be used by him.” Where does the Bible say that I need to humble myself by my own efforts so that God will use me? How humble do I have to make myself? Will Christ use me if I am 75% humble and only 25% proud? Am I solely responsible for my own humbling, or does Christ help me out in any way? Where is this played out in the Bible?

8. If doing greater, more spectacular miracles than Jesus is normative for all who believe, why is it that no one has ever done them? Can Bonnie name 10 people in the last hundred years who has done this? How about in the last couple thousand years who have done greater works than Christ? I know we’ve all heard stories of people healing tribespeople “in Africa” but who can be named that has, without a doubt,  preformed greater miracles than Jesus that have not been contested or challenged? Is there not a single person who has been able to fall under the category of “I tell you the truth; anyone who has faith in me will do what I am doing”?  Has no one been able to get it right? Have all the hundreds of  millions of Christians been so deficient that not one has been able to walk in authority enough so that they could do those phenomenal miracles?

9. Is it the opinion of Bonnie that we Christian should be controlling the weather, raising people from the dead, healing whole hospitals, and that we should be able to appear and disappear on whim? If Jesus on one occasion fed the 20,000, would a greater miracle mean that I could go somewhere and feed 100,000 people at one time, and in fact that should be an every day occurrence if only I had the right authority? If Jesus could appear and disappear during the events of Emmaus, would a greater work that I can do mean that I am expected to appear at several places at once? Perhaps it means I can crisscross the country or the world.

10. Bonnie says “Until our very will, our very being is in submission to him, that means before we make a step, before we make a life altering decision, that means every day when we open our eyes or when we go to bed at night, that means as we walk along in relationship with one another, that if Christ is at the Lordship of those we are walking in authority.” Where is this definition of authority come from? Where in the Bible is this stated and conceived?

I realize that is a lot to critique, but there is a lot there. I’m not trying to kneecap anybody, but rather I welcome a thoughtful, biblical response. Because note: I have spent several hours listening to this sermon and researching it and have taken great pains that I do not misrepresent the position of Bonnie, but rather that I bring forth substantive concerns. If you take exception with anything I say here, I would love to talk about it in the combox and have robust dialogue concerning it.  But shallow, content-less argumentation that does not respond to what I have said, but rather consists of “you’re mean, stop judging” will be dismissed. I have not studied the issue of a believers authority very much at all, and I am desiring to learn and be corrected in this arena so that I might develop a meaningful, biblical understanding of it.

It seems that if I had all that put on me, the pressure of needing to do the miraculous, that I would get very depressed very easy. It would be so discouraging to be told that I can do these things, and that I should be doing these things, and then find myself in my private life struggling to be 100% committed and utterly, completely submitted. The fear is that If I’m not humbling myself enough and submitting my heart and mind to God enough,  then I won’t be able to walk in authority and won’t be doing what Jesus expects of me  and in fact commands me to be doing,  which is greater miracles and signs and wonders than he did.  Most importantly though is that I just don’t think the case can be made biblically for much of what she said here. There was no careful exegesis, no meaningful interaction with the text, just made up assertions that I’m pretty sure she can’t back up, and in fact that I know she can’t back up. That’s what concerns me. Its spiritual, but its not scriptural. For a more thoughtful, biblical response to her John 12 claims, I would point you here. which offers an alternate analysis of the idea of going greater works that Christ.

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