WHAT IS AUTHORITY?
1. Not What Seems Best To Us. Every study must have some standard of authority. All questions must have some reliable source of answers. There must be a definite authority which all can depend upon to be right. Since our subject is a religious subject, we should turn to the source of all religious authority. But usually, when the question of authority arises, some will say that every man is left to choose what he may think is right and will get the job done easier and quicker. In other words, "Just do what seems best at the time." Thus, every person becomes his own standard. But man's opinion as to what will work well and will not work well, is not God's standard in religion. The Bible says that it is not in man that walketh to direct his own steps (Jer. 10:23). Man's way may seem right to himself, but the end thereof is the way of death (Prov. 14: 12). Jesus said that the commandments of men make worship vain (Mt. 15:9). Therefore, in any religious matter [not just church organization] man's opinion is no authority.
2. Not What Others Do. Another belief about religious authority is that what many people do must be the correct course to take. Those who believe this tell how many people follow that plan or how long their plan has been practiced. But this is another incorrect idea of authority in religion. [The Bible tells us not to follow a multitude to do evil]. The opinion of many men is no more reliable than the opinion of one man. Jesus said that many think they are right, but when it comes the time for examination, they are found to have been working unlawfully. (Mt. 7:22). Multitudes follow in false ways, but only a few follow the truth (Mt. 7:13,14). The Israelites wanted a king so as to be like the nations round about them. But by trying to be like otehrs, they rejected God's plan of rule over them (1 Sam. 8:5-7). The church must not look at the people round about it and try to be like them. [But, sorry to say, many congregations of the Lord's people are now becoming more and more like the denominations around them]. The church is a called out group (2 Cor. 6:17). They are to be different from the world (1 Pet. 2:9). Most of the corruptions that enter into the organization of the church coem in because weak members try to be like the denominations around them. They desire the plans and methods which many people follow. But remember, the things which others do is not God's standard of authority.
3. But What The New Testament Teaches. The only true standard of authority in religion is the New Testament. No catechism, book of common prayer, manual, creed, or religious periodical has any religious authority. Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth (Mt. 28:18). He sent the Holy Spirit to guide His apostles into all truth (Jno. 16:;13). Thus, what is written in Scripture is inspired of God and is sufficient to furnish unto every good work (2 Tim. 3:16,17). Men must not add to nor take from God's Book (Rev. 22:18,19). All must abide in the teachings of Christ and not go beyond them (2 Jno. 9). Men must not change or pervert the Gospel (Gal. 1:7-9). It must also be understood, that Christians are not under the law of Moses, the Old Testament, but are under law to Christ. The Old Testament was a schoolmaster to bring Jews to Christ, but now that Christ has come, they are no longer under the schoolmaster (Gal. 3:24,25). [Gentiles never have been under the law of Moses and no longer are the Jews under that law. But both Jew and Gentile are under law to Christ in this day and time] The old law was taken out of the way and nailed to the cross (Col. 2:14). Christians are under a new and better covenant, the New Testament of our Lord Jesus Christ (Heb. 8:6-13). Let us check every teaching by the Bible (Acts 17:11). Prove every teacher and teaching by the authority of God's Word (1 Jno. 4:1). Today, we do not find God's authority in men but in the Scriptures. Only what is approved of God's Book is approved of God. We must speak as the oracles of God (1 Pet. 4:11). God is not the author of confusion but of peace (1 Cor. 14:33). Those who respect God's authority will teach what the Bible teaches and refuse to teach anyting else. God's people must speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the bible is silent. They must do Bible things in Bible ways and call Bible things by Bible names. Study every scripture in your Bible concerning the organization of the church and be approved thereby (2 Tim. 2:15). If a thing cannot be found taught in the scriptures either by command, approved example, or necessary inference, then such is not lawful to use in the organization of the church. Prove all things hold fast to that which is good (1 Thes. 5:21).
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