Sunday, March 5, 2017 am                                                Church 2017 Index


Authority – 1
Why we need authority

     The past few weeks we have introduced what the church is.  We have identified it, described it and noted its beginning.  With that background, we can begin to examine the various aspects of the New Testament church – its organization, work, worship and teachings.  A part of establishing these things begins with a study of authority – or as 2 Timothy 2:15 says, “rightly dividing the word of truth.”  So today we want to begin a brief study of authority. 

We have examined authority in times past.  In this series, we are going to examine this subject in light of the church. 

 I.                     Why this study?

A.      Consider the direction so many churches are going, if we are to stop the advance of liberalism at ALL levels spiritually, we need to establish a standard.
It is no secret that we are far more progressive as a society than even a few decades ago.  The level of demanded “tolerance” in all matters (except tolerating who don’t agree with your demands for tolerance) has greatly increased.  Progressive thinking has become the norm and politically correct way to think.  As a result, more and more see no need for an absolute standard – especially in moral and religious matters. 
And this is true across the board – INCLUDING within religion. There are more liberal minded conventions and denominations than before.  The mantra of the day is to avoid doctrinally controversial issues.  This has given birth to the community church movement which focuses on social reform over doctrinal truth. 
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!
As a result of this,
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. 

B.      And its not just in the denominational world.  Even among formerly conservative churches we are seeing a progressive mindset.  In churches of Christ you are now seeing a greater role of women including a church in Nashville accepting a female into the pulpit.  More and more churches of Christ are seeing issues such as instrumental music, moral strict standards of morality in behavior, tolerating divorce or any or many causes, etc. being relegated to matters of preference rather than doctrine.   Friends, this is why, IF we are to be the church we read of in the Bible, we need to begin with a study of authority. 
MAKE NO MISTAKE – a progressive mindset MEANS rejection of God’s word as an absolute standard!  BUT, just because the world is headed that way, doesn’t mean it’s right and pleasing to God. Nor does it excuse us from appealing to His word for what we do.

C.      Because we need to understand what authority is if we want to please God.  Consider: Why do we need authority?

                                                   i.      Because God is sovereign – He demands to be followed and that He has all authority – Romans 9:20-21 – the clay cannot say to the potter, why have you made me like this?

                                                 ii.      Because no authority leads to confusion and chaos – if there is no standard there is going to be confusion.  WE understand this in every other area of life.  What if everyone could use their own weights and measures? What if a gas station could make up its own gallon of gas.  We would have chaos. 
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.
And we are told in His word, “God is not the author of confusion” 1 Corinthians 14:33
Friends, when we water down the gospel or ignore its teachings, apostasy is just a matter of time!

                                                iii.      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.

                                                iv.      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)
AND, whether man wants to admit this or not, we realize we need to answer to someone greater than us.  God WIRED us that way! 

                                                  v.      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.                   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 NOT 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. 
God has the right to tell us what to do by virtue of His being our Creator – Acts 17:24 – as Paul noted in Athens, God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.
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.       The STANDARD of God’s word – associated with the subject of authority is the word standard.  One of the definitions of a standard is something set up and established by authority as a rule for measuring.  For example: A ruler (12 inches) is a standard.  A pound is a standard.  A gallon is a standard.  So is a mile.  Standards are necessary for us to have consistency and order.  AGAIN, we understand that in our society and we expect standards to be established, followed and enforced.
But what about God’s standard?  He has given us a standard – His word. 
2 Timothy 3:16-17 – with His word we are complete.  2 Peter 1:3 – we have all things that pertain to life and godliness.
Jesus in Matthew  7:21-23 warned we must do the will of the Father.  But what is that will?  His word.  Jesus taught that in that day we will be judged by His word – John 12:48.
Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:6 warns us not to think beyond what is written.
In our study of authority, we will be appealing  to the standard of God’s word. 

May all we do be "in the name of the Lord!  (To Be continued)