Chapter 4 - Our Standard of Authority in Religion
To be able to agree in religion, we must have the same rules to follow. If we follow different rules, we will never be able to be united. We will first discuss what is not our standard of authority. It is not our opinions.
There is a way which seemeth right unto a man; But the end thereof are the ways of death. (Proverbs 14:12). If our opinions were the standard of authority in religion, there would be more than five billion standards of authority in this world.
What most people think is not our authority in religion (Mt. 7:13-14). Jesus tells us there are only two roads that we can travel. We will travel the broad way that leads to destruction, or the narrow way which leads to life. All roads do not lead to heaven! There is a right way and a wrong way. As the writer Jeremiah said,
O Jehovah, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps (Jeremiah 10:23). If we want to travel from New York to California, we do not travel northeast. We have to travel the right way to go to the right place. We have to follow the road map. We do not say, “Well, it feels all right to me.”
The traditions of our ancestors are not the authority in religion. Jesus said,
Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? ...And ye have made void the word of God because of your tradition. Ye hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, This people honoreth me with their lips; But their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, Teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men (Matthew 15:3, 6b-9). The apostle Peter added,
knowing that ye were redeemed, not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, from your vain manner of life handed down from your fathers; but with precious blood, as of a lamb without spot, even the blood of Christ: who was foreknown indeed before the foundation of the world, but was manifested at the end of times for your sake (1 Peter 1:18-20). Again, if traditions were our guide in religion, there would be thousands of standards of religion.
Zeal or sincerity is not our standard of authority. Paul wrote concerning the Jews,
Brethren, my heart’s desire and my supplication to God is for them, that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God (Romans 10:1-3). The apostle Paul was one of the most zealous and sincere individuals who ever lived, but his zeal and sincerity were not enough to save him. He still had to obey the commands of God.
The apostle Paul also helps us to know that our feelings and our conscience are not our guide in religion (Acts 26:9; 23:1; 24:16). This is one of the main reasons that people are divided into many different religions. They follow their feelings and their conscience instead of the word of God. Our conscience is only a safe guide when it is guided by the word of God.
Denominational creeds are not the standard of authority in religion. In fact, denominational creeds cause much of the religious division in the world. If a book has more in it than the Bible, it is too much. If a book has less in it than the Bible, it is too little. If it has exactly the same in it as the Bible, we do not need it because we already have the Bible. The Bible tells us we are not to add to, take away, or change the word of God (Deuteronomy 4:2; Revelation 22:18-19; Galatians 1:6-9).
Our Standard of Authority: The Word of God
ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:32). The truth is our standard of authority in religion. Jesus added,
Sanctify them in the truth: thy word is truth (John 17:17). Peter wrote,
Seeing ye have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth unto unfeigned love of the brethren, love one another from the heart fervently: having been begotten again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the word of God, which liveth and abideth...But the word of the Lord abideth for ever. And this is the word of good tidings which was preached unto you (1 Peter 1:22-23, 25). Paul wrote,
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works (2 Timothy 3:16-17 KJV). He added,
whereunto he called you through our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:14). Paul also said,
I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek (Romans 1:16).
It is the truth, the word of God, the gospel, the scriptures that is our standard of authority in religion. It is when we follow the scriptures and the scriptures alone that we please God and are able to receive his blessings.