The Source of Authority In Christianity

Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, {19} that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. {20} Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 (NKJV)

The purpose of this lesson is not to point out the source of authority in religion, nor in former dispensations of bible history, but in Christianity. There are many things by which authority is needed. We also are subject to authority in all things. There is authority in the home. In the schools. In the community. In the city. In the county. In the state. In the country. There is a system of right and wrong in each of these systems. In most cases right is rewarded and wrong is punished. Our study is with religious authority. We must determine what it is and where it comes from.

Everyone agrees that authority is right, but disagree on where it comes from. They rely on different standards to base their authority. In Christianity there is only one right standard.

We need to define two terms in this study; Christianity and authority.

What is Christianity?

Christianity is the system and life taught by Jesus Christ and the apostles. It is peculiar to Christ.

"how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him," Hebrews 2:3 (NKJV)

"looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2 (NKJV)

This system is presented in various formats and styles and in different aspects. Yet in each case, it centers around Him. Christianity is a system of teaching or doctrine with Christ as the teacher.

"This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him." John 3:2 (NKJV)

"Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Matthew 11:29 (NKJV)

"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." Matthew 28:20 (NKJV)

"And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers." Acts 2:42 (NKJV)

Christianity is a system of law with Christ as the law giver.

"For Moses truly said to the fathers, 'The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you." Acts 3:22 (NKJV)

"And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people." Acts 3:23 (NKJV)

"For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:2 (NKJV)

"Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law." Romans 13:8 (NKJV)

"Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." Romans 13:10 (NKJV)

"Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2 (NKJV)

Christianity is a system of government with Christ as the king.

"And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me," Luke 22:29 (NKJV)

"that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Luke 22:30 (NKJV)

"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed." John 8:36 (NKJV)

Christianity is a life style or system with Christ as our model, example, guide or blue-print.

"In Him was life, and the life was the light of men." John 1:4 (NKJV)

"When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory." Colossians 3:4 (NKJV)

"For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:" 1 Peter 2:21 (NKJV)

Christ is to christianity what the sun is to the solar system. How He is, determines the condition of the system. Without the sun, the whole system ceases to exist. We cannot exist without the sun. Neither, in the spiritual realm can we exist without the SON.

What is authority?

The new standard dictionary defines authority as: The right to command and to enforce obedience; the right to act by virtue of office, station, or relation; as the authority of the parent over the child.

Authority is of two kinds. Primary and Delegated.

1. Primary authority. This grows out of the relation of those who have the right to command and those whose duty it is to obey.

2. Delegated authority. That is, the right to command and to enforce obedience which can be given to another by the one holding primary authority.

What is primary authority?

Primary authority in christianity resides in God. (2 Cor. 5:18) He is our maker, preserver, and benefactor, and has , therefore, the absolute right to command, and it is our absolute duty to obey. In fact, the entire Godhead has ALL authority.

What is delegated authority?

The first delegation was from God to His Son.

"God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, {2} has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;" Hebrews 1:1-2 (NKJV)

"While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!" Matthew 17:5 (NKJV)

"He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me." John 14:24 (NKJV)

It is because Christ is nearest to God in character and form, that He was given this authority.

"For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell," Colossians 1:19 (NKJV)

"Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, 'Show us the Father'?" John 14:9 (NKJV)

Jesus delegated His authority to the apostles while on the earth. While here on earth, Jesus had this authority, but He had to go. As Jesus prayed in John 17: 1ff, He spoke of the glory that was his and the responsibilities of the apostles that was to further bring Him glory.

"Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: "Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You," John 17:1 (NKJV)

"And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth." Matthew 28:18 (NKJV)

As God gave authority to Jesus there was no danger of losing anything because Jesus was divine. In the case of the apostles, who were not divine, there was to be given them the tools necessary for this authority. This is know as divine inspiration. This was made possible by another part of Diety. The Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was to guard against mistakes in giving out the message from God, and revealing His laws.

"I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. {13} "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. {14} "He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you." John 16:12-14 (NKJV)

"But as it is written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him." {10} But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. {11} For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. {12} Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. {13} These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual." 1 Corinthians 2:9-13 (NKJV)

The apostles never delegated their authority to anyone, for when they completed the revelation of the will of God in Christ, it became the perfect law of liberty to which nothing could be rightfully added, and from which nothing could be rightfully taken away.

"Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Matthew 18:18 (NKJV)

"And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." 2 Timothy 2:2 (NKJV)

The apostles and their authority.

They are still exercising their authority. Jesus said that they would rule through the rest of time.

"So Jesus said to them, "Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Matthew 19:28 (NKJV)

The apostles are the Lord's ambassadors.

"Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God." 2 Corinthians 5:20 (NKJV)

"And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Matthew 16:19 (NKJV)

If one was to know God, he had to know Jesus. In the same way, if we are to know Jesus, we have to know His word spoken by the apostles and other Divinely inspired men.

"He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me." Luke 10:16 (NKJV)

Conclusion: If the things in this lesson are true, and they are, then Christianity is divine. Human authority has no place in the plan. No one has a right to preach anything different from what the Christ and the apostles taught men to do.

"But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed." Galatians 1:8-9 (NKJV)

God speaks to man through Christ and the Holy Spirit, through the apostles and their written word. Anything we do, we must have written authority in order to be correct and right. Without the proper written authority, our practice is wrong no matter how good it makes us feel.

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