Sunday, March 12, 2017 am                                                    NT Church 2017 Index


Authority – 2
What is Our Standard?

 As we continue our study of the New Testament church, we have begun addressing the subject of authority.   Last week we discussed why we need this study- because of the direction so many churches have taken AWAY from the standard of God’s word to justify their organization and practices.    We need authority: 1) Because of who God is – sovereign; 2) To prevent chaos and confusion; 3) To prevent division; 4) To make us accountable – something within man calls for this; 5) Because we are going to be judged one day by the standard of God’s word.

We also addressed what authority is – in summary, it is PERMISSION.  Authority in religion means the right, which is established by accurately handling God’s word, to determine what He would have us to do and how to do it.  Colossians 3:17, etc.   Finally, we briefly addressed our need for a standard.

Today, we want to continue this study by discussing our standard of authority in more detail.  We want to talk about the proper standard and notice some false standards of authority.  In each of these, we will notice how they affect one’s view of the church.

 I.                     Our STANDARD of authority

A.      God’s word is our STANDARD – associated with the subject of authority is the word standard. 

B.      We need a standard to help us establish authority.   Consider that If there is no standard of authority there is no right or wrong.  We cannot know how to please God.  If no standard how can we test the spirits? 1 John 4:6 – by this we know the spirit of truth or error. 
Where there is no law, there is no transgression – Romans 4:15
Why do we know God’s will for us?  Because He has revealed it to us – 1 Corinthians 2:9-13 declares this plainly.

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.  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.
Matthew 21:23-27 – where does our authority come from?  Heaven or from man?

 In our study of authority, we will be appealing to the standard of God’s word.

C.      How do we approach His word?  Do we see it objectively or subjectively?  In determining a proper standard, it is important that we learn to distinguish between the two. 
Subjective – 3a. characteristic of or belonging to reality as perceived rather than as independent of mind.[1] It is a judgment based upon one’s feelings, opinions, attitudes or perception as opposed to verifiable evidence independent of one’s mind.  It comes from within and is subject to interpretation and one’s environment.   A simple example – choosing the color for carpeting.  Deciding where to go on vacation.  Art is subjective.  Consider Judges 21:25.

Objective1b. of, relating to, or being an object, phenomenon, or condition in the realm of sensible experience independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers… 3a. expressing or dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations[2]   It an impartial judgment based upon established information and rules from an external source (independent facts).  It is not influenced by feelings, opinions or interpretation.  It is an absolute.  For example – 1+1 = 2. 
A stop sign is objective.  When the Bible and the law says, “You shall not steal” that is an objective command or conclusion.
When a court appoints an arbiter the goal is an independent and objective decision between the two parties.  All the facts are gathered together and a decision is determined “without prejudice”.

We MUST approach God’s word from an objective viewpoint.   While there may be some subjective details that God has left to our discretion, we always need to start objectively.  The point is, we approach His word with faith – we BELIEVE that He has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), and that with His word we can be complete (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

 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.      The conscience
The conscience is a gift from God that helps us distinguish right from wrong.  It is a MONITOR of the way we live, but it does NOT establish God’s approval.   But it is important and it can lead us in the right direction.  (see Rom. 14:22-23).  However, it is only beneficial so far as it is directed by the STANDARD of truth in God’s word!  Psalm 119:104, “Through Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.”  Solomon wrote, “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 14:12)
Today there are many who believe that in religious matters you simply need to let your conscience guide you.  Many churches today follow what they THINK God will accept.  They feel good about what they are doing, but it is SUBJECTIVE.  And often this is based upon emotional appeals.  They will redefine the mission of the church or how they do something based upon what they THINK is pleasing to God.   That is why we have churches that are focused on entertainment (thinking that this will bring in more and perhaps teach some) or engaging in the social gospel (i.e. the purpose of the church is to relieve social needs) or changing its organizational structure.
For many this has become the standard rather than truth.  However, just because something feels right doesn’t necessarily make it right before God.  
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)
When David thought it right to transport the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem on an ox cart, he was not pleasing to God.  It cost Uzzah his life when the oxen stumbled (2 Samuel 6:3, 6-7).

C.      NOT in the wisdom of men
Along with the conscience and emotionalism, the very idea of so many churches is the product of what men think.   Some churches have created focus groups and surveys to see what men want.  And then adapt accordingly.  Far too many today place too much confidence in the teachings and philosophies of men over the word of God. 
Also, many men and churches seek to explain AWAY the truth of God’s word – as a result we have the liberal mindsets that are appealing to what THEY want rather than what God demands. 
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!
Romans 10:1-4 – Paul spoke of his brethren having a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.  They sought to establish their own (system of) righteousness.
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 in what your family and friends believe – sometimes people will resist obeying the gospel or stay with a church because that is the way they have always done it, even when they have been shown that it is wrong.  Perhaps they were raised that way and that is what they are comfortable with.    Some 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?   Have they taught you to follow them or to be honest and follow the truth? (I realize some refuse to make this distinction) 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.  When the rich man 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) 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)
We just addressed churches following the wisdom of men.  Far too many today follow that path because it is popular and accepted (or tolerated) by the majority.  Many churches are thriving because of this.  But 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! But when you are interested in being popular and accepted, it is only a matter of time before you “reinterpret” God’s standard to accept whatever the problem is. 

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.  Tradition within itself is not wrong (1 Corinthians 11:2, 2 Thessalonians 2:15, 3:6 which call for us to hold fast the tradition of the apostles).  We must follow God’s standard and make it a tradition to do so. 
But many, follow traditions that are manmade and 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).

Colossians 2:8 warns, Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.
The traditions of men can lead you in the wrong direction. 

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.

 And thus, we can see the importance of authority.  God has given us a standard that we need to follow to the absolute best of our ability.  Notice that most of the false standards are SUBJECTIVE in their nature (with the possible exception of the Old Law).  

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.”

[1] "Subjective." Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 11 Mar. 2017.

[2] Objective, ibid