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Sunday, June 30, 2013 am

WHAT IS YOUR SOURCE OF AUTHORITY?

 In studying the word of God with anyone it is important that certain foundational concepts are clearly understood.  If there is not agreement on these things, there very likely will be misunderstanding.  That is why it is important to ensure that these concepts are understood.  The first one is the existence of God and who He is.  Second is acknowledgment that the Bible is the inspired word of God.  The third is an understanding of authority.  This morning I want to discuss this third concept.  We frequently mention the need for Biblical authority in all that we do and from time to time we need to remind ourselves of what the Bible teaches about this first principle subject.

In Matthew 21:23-24, Jesus was asked, “By what authority are you doing these things?  And who gave you this authority?  The question was a legitimate question and one that we should frequently ask ourselves and others today.  And even though Jesus did not answer their question on that occasion, it was NOT because of the question but because of their attitudes.  The Jewish religious leaders were not interested in the truth.  Instead they were seeking to entrap Jesus with His answer.  So while attitude is certainly important as we examine the scripture, it is equally important that we have authority for what we do.

 I.                    What is authority?

a.        The idea is permission to do something.  WE appeal to this every day.  When you get in a car and drive it is because you have authority to do so.  Why?  Because you have a valid driver’s license and a licensed vehicle.  IF you drive WITHOUT a driver’s license you are breaking the law!  You DON’T have authority to drive without a license.
When a police officer pulls you over and impounds your car because you are driving without a license, he has authority (permission) to do so because he is a sworn officer (to enforce) the laws of the land.  We apply authority everywhere – in our jobs, our homes, our citizenship, etc.
BUT authority also comes with limitations – while you may have authority to drive a car, you still have to obey the speed limits, stop signs and other traffic laws.  These are the boundaries that limit our permission.

b.       IN religion, we need authority (permission) for everything we do as well.   If God tells us to do something in His word, we need to do it.  IF He forbids us from doing something, we need to do it.  If he gives us principles to apply in our conduct, we need to properly apply them.
Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
Matt. 7:21-23, Jesus said we must do the will of the father to enter the kingdom of heaven.
1 Cor. 4:6, “Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other.”

c.        As in the secular world (e.g. driving, you job) you must apply standards, so it is in serving God as well.   We need to properly apply His word and accept it as our true standard of authority.

 II.                  False sources of authority

a.        Your conscience – there are many today who believe that in religious matters you simply need to let your conscience guide you.   While you conscience IS important (see Rom. 14:22-23), it is only beneficial so far as you know the truth of God’s word!
Solomon wrote, “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 14:12)
When you consider the example of Paul you see that the conscience can be misleading – Acts 23:1, “Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day’.”  Yet later he would acknowledge that with that good conscience he persecuted Christians, “Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.” (Acts 26:9)

b.       The wisdom of men – far too many today place too much confidence in the teachings of men over the word of God.  Far too often today, men seek to explain AWAY the truth of God’s word – as a result churches are now accepting all sorts of ungodly behavior including unscriptural marriages, homosexuality, people living in fornication, social drinking, etc.  Some of the largest churches in our country today are those who cater to the whims of men and AVOID the offensive subjects of the Bible.  We cannot do that!
1 Cor. 2:4-5 says, “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”
Jeremiah 10:23 says, “O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.”
Friends, men can be wrong, and often are! That is why you need to study the Bible for yourselves and be as the Bereans of Acts 17:11, “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”   
I do NOT want you to accept anything I say at face value.  It is ONLY good, so far as it is in agreement with the truth of God’s word.

c.        Family and friends – sometimes people will resist obeying the gospel because it would disparage the belief of their families, both past and present.   So will say, “If it is good enough for my parents, it is good enough for me.”  But let me ask, WHAT if your parents were wrong?   If you discovered the truth would they want you to follow them down the path of error? 
Consider the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16.  Lazarus dies and goes to Abraham’s bosom, where he is comforted.  The rich man dies unsaved and awakens in torment.  When he realizes there is no relief, he requests that Abraham send back Lazarus to warn his brothers about this terrible place so they would avoid it.  Abraham said that was not possible and that his brothers had what they needed – the Law of God (in their case, Moses and the prophets).  (Lk. 16:27-31)  My point is that here you find a relative that awakes in torment and is lost.  He does NOT want his loved one to join him.
Ultimately, whether or not we make it heaven will be based upon OUR own decision to obey or reject God’s word.
Matt. 10:37, Jesus Himself said, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.”

d.       The majority (popularity) – Far too many today follow the path of the majority.  In religious matters, usually the majority are wrong.  We see that in the immorality that our society not only tolerates, but even accepts today (i.e. same-sex marriage).  Just because something is the majority opinion does NOT make it right!
How many were saved in the ark? 8 souls (1 Peter 3:20)
What were the righteous of Israel called? The remnant (Isa. 1:9, 10:20, Jer. 31:7,etc.)
Conversely, how many spies refused to enter Canaan the first time? 10 of the 12 (Num. 13-14)
Matthew 7:13-14 says, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

e.       Tradition – there are others whose belief system is based upon the way we have always done things.  While we MUST respect God’s pattern and do things the way He has commanded us, the truth is that many follow after man-made traditions that are without authority in the Bible.
Paul himself said, “For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.”
Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and scribes for binding traditions that were not a part of God’s word.  Matt 15:3, “He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?”    Then He said, “Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” (Matthew 15:6–9)
We do not use instrumental music in our worship because it is not authorized in scripture and can be shown to be a tradition of men (not having been introduced until about the 10th century AD).

a.        The Old Law – there are many today who appeal to the Old Law as a standard of authority.
While we can certainly learn from the Old Law (Rom. 15:4, 1 Cor. 10:11, etc.), it is NOT the law we are under today.  It is not the source we appeal to, to justify our actions.
Gal. 3:19 tells us that the law was never intended to be permanent.  What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator.”
Colossians 2:14 says of the Old Law, “having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
That is why we do not keep the Sabbath today, offer animal sacrifices, burn incense, or do other things that were a part of the Law of Moses.
IF we don’t keep, those parts of the Law of Moses, we should NOT appeal to it as a source of authority for anything we do.

 III.                The true source of authority

a.       Christ has all authority

                                                   i.      Matthew 28:18-20, That is what He said. 

                                                  ii.      Matt. 17: 5, finds Jesus on the mount of Transfiguration, where the disciples hear the voice of God say,  This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” Present with Jesus on that occasion were Moses (giver of the Law) and Elijah (the prophet).

                                                iii.      Heb. 1:1-2, “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 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;”

b.       The Bible is His standard of authority

                                                   i.      One might say that what we have recorded in the Bible is NOT the writings of Jesus, but His apostles (and other inspired men).  Do you ever hear someone say, “IF it is not in red, I will not follow it”?   The truth is, that what the inspired writers of scripture revealed was NOT simply their words, but the teachings of Jesus Himself.  
As He was about to die, Jesus told His apostles,
These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” (John 14:25–26)  John 16:13 said, “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.”
As He prayed to the Father that evening (the night of His betrayal) He said, “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You.” (John 17:6–7) THEN He prayed,
I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” (John 17:14) And THEN, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.” (John 17:17–18)
What the apostles taught WAS the message of God’s word.  See 2 Pet.  1:20-21, “knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”   This comes after Peter declares that he did not follow cunningly devised fables but was an eyewitness of Jesus (vs. 16-18)
Even Paul, the apostle out of due season, had been with the Lord and only taught what the Lord said, “But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:11–12)
1 Cor. 14:37, “If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.”
And thus what we have in the New Testament is NOT just men’s commentaries on the life of Jesus, it is HIS teachings!

                                                  ii.      It is complete – 2 Tim. 3:16-17, Jude 3, 2 Pet. 1:3.  WE have in the New Testament everything that we need.  That is why when someone comes along with a new revelation and introduces his own creed book, we must flatly reject it (cf. Gal. 1:6-9).
And with this completeness comes boundaries as well.

                                                iii.      It must be strictly followed 

1.       God means what He says and says what He means!  WE best be careful when we begin to question His word because we don’t agree with it or like it. 
Under the Old Law they were told, “You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” (Deuteronomy 4:2)
We are warned under the NEW Law, “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.”

2.       Examples of God’s strictness – (cf. Rom. 15:4)
Adam and Eve (Gen. 2:16-17, ch. 3)
Nadab and Abihu – Lev. 10:1-2
Moses stricking the rock – Num. 20:7-12
Uzzah touching the ark – 2 Sam. 6:6-7

                                                iv.      It can be understood

1.       Many today think the Bible cannot be understood.  They rationalize that such is the reason there is so much religious division.  But the truth is, the reason there is so much religious division is ignorance.  Very few take the time to study for themselves and honestly weigh the teachings of God’s word.  As I often say, we are not divided over what the Bible says, but what it does NOT say!

2.       Eph. 3:3-4 – Paul wrote so that they could understand his knowledge about “the mystery of Christ”.

3.       Eph. 5:17, “Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

4.       BUT understanding requires effort – 2 Tim. 2:15 calls for us to rightly divide the word of truth.  The NASU says, “accurately handling the word of truth.”

5.       This doesn’t mean everything is easy to understand, but with effort we can learn everything we need to be pleasing to God.

 

And thus we can see that the Bible is to be our standard of authority today.  We CAN understand it and follow it if we will.  When we stand before God we are told that we will be judged by the gospel (Jn. 12:48, Rom. 2:16). 

To all in this audience, I am fully convinced that you believe in Jesus as the son of God.  If so, will you obey His every command?  Will you obey the gospel?

 

 

Silence is NOT a standard of authority – 1 Cor. 4:6, Heb. 8, 2 John 9,  Rev. 22:18-19