WHAT IS OUR STANDARD OF AUTHORITY?
In every phase of human activity, we constantly see the need for recognizing a standard of authority. In time, weights, and measures, we accept certain standards. otherwise, there would be confusion. Our honesty and sincerity is not sufficient when it comes to determining the time of day or how much we should pay or receive for an undetermined amount of merchandise. We do not insist on our watches being the standard, but instead we set our watches by that which is recognized as the standard. When our watches show a variation in time, we do not argue that "one watch is as good as another". Neither do we insist that our watches are right because we are sincere. The difference in the time shown by our watches can easily be solved by each one of us accepting a common authoritative standard. This same principle, when applied, will certainly solve our differences in the realm of religious activity. If we are ever united religiously, it will be because we have accepted and obeyed the same rule or standard as being authoritative.
WHAT ABOUT THE LAW OF MOSES?
God gave a law to Israel by Moses. (Jno. 1:17; Deut. 5:1-15). It was provisional and temporary. (See Jer. 31:31; Heb. 8:6-13; Gal. 3:19). It was to serve as a school- master to bring the Israelites to Christ, (Gal. 3:24), but it was not intended to be the criterion for people in this last dispensation. Jesus came to fulfill the law. (Matt. 5:17, 18). The law was nailed to the cross and the Israelites thus became dead to the law by the body of Christ. (See, Col. 2:14-17; Rom. 7:4-7). God gave the sabbath command because Israel was a servant in the land of Egypt and was delivered by God's hand. (Deut. 5:15). We are not Israelites who were in Egyptian bondage. Therefore God never gave the law of Moses to us. I believe every word found in the Old Testament, but I do not accept it as being our standard to govern us today. We are to use it for learning and admonition, but not as law. (See Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10: 11).
WHAT ABOUT HUMAN WISDOM AND REASON?
Many people idolize human wisdom and reason. They accept nothing in spiritual matters unless to them it is rational. Thus in many instances, they set aside divine revelation. Each person becomes a standard within himself. Hence, no common standard or ground of agreement is possible. Isa. 55:8,9 says, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." The thoughts of these verses should make us afraid to enthrone human reason and wisdom. In 1 Cor. 1:18-21, the apostle Paul said, "For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but to us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe". We cannot accept human wisdom and divine revelation at the same time. Paul said, "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools". (Rom. 1:22). Solomon stated, "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death". (Prov. 14:12). Human wisdom cannot be accepted as a standard of authority if we truly desire eternal salvation.
WHAT ABOUT THE MAJORITY?
What the majority of people say in some matters should be accepted, but such is not the case in spiritual matters. Even under the law of Moses, God said, "Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil." (Exo. 23:2). In Matt. 7:13,14 Jesus said, "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the say, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." The idea that "since everybody is doing it, therefore it is right" is certainly foreign to the teach- ing of the New Testament. The majority is not the standard in spiritual matters.
WHAT ABOUT THE CONSCIENCE?
The conscience does not constitute an authoritative standard because a person may have a good conscience while engaging in sin. Paul said in Acts 23:1, "I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day". He further states in Acts 26:9 that he "verily thought" within himself that he "ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth". We learn from other passages that during the time that he had a good conscience, he was guilty of being exceedingly mad against Christians, and of being a blasphemer, and a persecutor and injurious. (See Acts 26:10,11; 1 Tim. 1:13). Let us not think that the conscience is the standard!
WHAT IS OUR STANDARD?
We learn from Heb. 1:1,2 that in these last days God hath spoken unto us by His Son. The words of Jesus Christ are spirit and life. (Jno. 6:63). His gospel is God's power to save us. (Rom. 1:16). He took away the first testament that He migh establish the second. (Heb. 10:9,10). Since Jesus Christ is the head of the church and has all authority but in heaven and earth, (Matt. 28;18), obviously, His Word must be accepted as the rule or standard. His teaching constitutes a "perfect law of liberty" (Jas. 1:25).
Are you willing to accept it? Do you believe what it says about how to be saved? (Consider Mk. 16:15,16; Acts 2;38; Gal. 3:26,27). Have you obeyed the Lord's Will? Do you believe what Christ's Testament says about the church? (Consider Acts 20: 18; 2:47; Eph. 5:23-27). Do you believe what it says about what name we are to wear? (See Acts 4:12; 11:26; 1 Pet. 4:16). Do you believe what it says about how to worship? (Jno. 4:24; Acts 2:42; 20:7; Eph. 5:19; 1 Cor. 16:2). Do you believe what it says about how to live? (Titus 2:11,12; Rom. 12:1,2). There can be unity if we all accept the same thing as our standard and follow it! Otherwise, there will be confusion and division!
Whether we accept Christ's Word as authoritative or not, it will judge us in the last day! (Jno. 12:48).
By Carrol R. Sutton, in The Instructor, Vol. 1, No. 2, Feb. 1964.
Return to the General Articles page
Home / Bible studies / Bible Survey / Special Studies / General Articles / Non-Bible Articles / Sermons / Sermon Outlines / Links / Questions and Answers / What Saith The Scriptures /Daily Devotional / Correspondence Courses / What is the Church of Christ / Book: Christian Growth / Website Policy / E-mail / About Me /