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Sunday, May 4, 2014 am                Basics Index

Back to Basics – 2014
Authority – 1
Why we need authority

 Today we resume our study of back to the basics, our theme for 2014.  We have laid some groundwork by discussing God, the Godhead and the Bible.  Now we want to begin examining some subjects based upon God’s word that affect what we do and how we do it  The rest of this year (and into the next) we will be examining the Bible to learn what God would have us to do .

We are still dealing with fundamentals that we need to understand.  Today we begin studying the subject of authority.  This month we are going to address what authority is and why we need it.  We are going to examine the abuse of authority in religion today.  Then we are going to discuss how authority is established and make some application.

 I.                    What is Authority?

A.      Roy E. Cogdill in his book, Waling by Faith defined authority as “the right to command or direct and enforce obedience or administer punishment.”  This concurs with dictionary definitions of the word.

B.      In more simple terms, the word means permission.
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.

C.      By authority in religion we mean that right which is established by accurately handling God’s word to determine what He would have us to do and how to do it.
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.”

D.      Establishing authority for what we do is the only safe course to ensure that we are pleasing God.  We understand the need for authority in the world, whether it be obeying and enforcing laws or doing our job.  Yet many who understand the importance of authority in the world readily dismiss it when it comes to religion.  They freely act knowing that they cannot justify their conduct by God’s word.  HOW CAN YOU KNOW God is pleased if you do not have HIS authority to do what you do?

E.       Why do we need authority?

                                                  i.      To prevent confusion and chaos – if there is no standard there is going to be confusion.  Judges 21:25 concludes the book saying, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

                                                  ii.      To prevent division – appealing to the same standard of authority is the only way to prevent divisions.  John 17:20-21 finds Jesus praying for unity. 
1 Corinthians 1:10 says, “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

                                                iii.      To bring accountability – people can’t just blame someone else for what they do or do not do.  One purpose of law is to hold accountable those who break the law.  Paul told Timothy that the law good, but it is also made for the lawless (1 Tim. 1:8-11) the point being they will be punished (cf. 1 Pet. 2:13-14)

                                                iv.      Because one day we will be judged by a standard – God’s word will judge us (Rev. 20:12-15).  Jesus Himself said, “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.” (John 12:48)

 II.                  False sources of authority

A.      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.”  According to this “the name of the Lord” is our ONLY source of authority.   That being true means that our authority is:

B.      NOT in the name of 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)

C.      NOT in the wisdom of men – far too many today place too much confidence in the teachings of men over the word of God.  Often 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.  In addition to this, they are filled with innovations in their worship and work that are simply not authorized in scripture. 
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 yourself 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.

D.      NOT is what your family and friends believe – 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.”

E.       NOT in 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.”
Understand, God doesn’t stand with the majority, He stands with His TRUTH! 

F.       NOT in the name of 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.” (Gal. 1:13-14)

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).

G.      NOT in 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 and need to (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, use instrumental music 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.
WE will address this in more detail in an auxiliary lesson to this study.

 III.                  When We Reject God’s Pattern

A.      We are saying God’s way is not sufficient.

                                                   i.      Can anyone deny that God’s way is best?  Would anyone DARE to challenge God’s ways?

                                                  ii.       Jeremiah realized, “O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23)

                                                iii.      Solomon realized, “There is a way that seems right to man, But its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 16:25).

B.      We are saying His ways are flawed

                                                   i.      When man sets out to change the purpose of the church he is in essence finding fault with God’s purpose.  He is saying he knows better than God himself what is best

                                                  ii.      In finding fault with the church you always find man applies human wisdom – Isaiah 55:8-9, God says His thoughts and ways are not the same as ours.  AND His ways are higher than ours.

                                                iii.      Paul noted in 1 Corinthians 1: 25 that the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of man.

                                                iv.      I would like to think that God knows what He is talking about as He set His pattern for the church.  Ephesians 3:10 tells us that the manifold wisdom of God is made known by the church – that is, it manifests His wisdom

C.      We reject His divine instructions

                                                   i.      The big problem today in too many instances is that man simply rejects the inspired word of God as their final source of authority.  They simply don’t care what God’s word says.

                                                  ii.      In Mark 7:6-9 – Notice esp. vs. 9, “All too well you reject the commandment of God.”

D.       We are saying we don’t need Jesus as our head

                                                   i.      Many churches proudly claim some founder other than Jesus.  And while they give lip service to Him, they actually put more weight on the doctrines of men.

                                                  ii.      The problem with this is summed up in Acts 4:12 – “Nor is there salvation in any other name…”

E.       We are putting the desires of man above the desires of God

                                                   i.      In every innovation that has been introduced since (and even during) the first century, it has always been to please men and not God.  Therein lies the problem.  
Paul in Romans 1:21-22 speaks of men who became futile in their own thoughts who changed the glory of God into an image made like corruptible man.   In other words, rather than man being made in the image of God, they made God into what they wanted Him to be (consider the gods and worship of paganism).

                                                  ii.      Paul even warned Timothy to preach the word because this would happen – 2 Timothy 4:2-4.

 

And thus we can see the importance of authority.  With this background in mind, the next few lessons we are going to discuss how authority is to be established in the Bible.  We are going to look at examples, both in application and doctrine.  May all that we do be “in the name of the Lord.”