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by Phillip Vanwinkle
JULY 31, 2015

The Bible Our Authority #1

Is the Bible our authority in this life? If so, so what? To answer these questions we must set out to do a few things:

  1. Determine why there is a need for authority.
  2. Answer: Why the Bible, as opposed to feelings or other ‘sources’ of Authority?
  3. Answer: If it is our authority, how is it to be understood?
  4. Answer: Will we be judged by our “interpretation” of this authority?

The Need for Authority

Have you ever watched a father and mother duck out on the lake with their ducklings? I used to sit and watch as the ducks would swim together in my grandmother’s lake. The father or mother duck would “quack” once, and they all would turn to the left. Then it would “quack” two times, and they would turn to the right. Then, a loud, high pitched “quack!” and they would all flap those tiny wings to try to take off flying out of that lake.

I learned some valuable lessons from watching those ducks. First, I learned that the father and mother ducks really cared for those ducklings. Second, I saw that in their loving care, the instructions they gave were for protection and the well-being of the ducklings. Their training was difficult but in order to survive as ducks, they needed to heed to their parents’ instructions.

Suppose, however, that one of those baby ducks decided, “You know, all these rules are constraining me… I think I’ll just hang out over here by this hollow log in the shade, and skip out on all these 'commands' they are quacking at us.”

Or suppose that one of them said: “What makes you ducklings think one 'quack' means 'turn left?' I interpret one quack to mean to 'turn right' instead of left."

Or suppose one of those ducklings said, “I don’t really understand all this quacking. They talk in ‘big duck’ talk, and we speak in ‘baby duck’ talk, so we simply cannot understand what they are talking about. We therefore are free to make our own rules and interpret our parents’ instructions any way we choose.”

Of course, we know that if any duckling had that attitude, he would not live long. A snake would come out of that hollow log and eat that duckling. Or, if he turned right instead of left, he might fall down a water gully and into a pit there to die alone. He might never learn to fly and survive as a duck if he misinterprets his parents’ instructions. And, by doing so, show that he has no love nor respect for his parents’ instructions.

Our Father in Heaven loves us; He gave us instructions to follow. He gave us brains to understand those instructions, and He did so in order to help us to be safe, and to grow into mature beings that were created to glorify Him.

But there are those who say that we can’t understand His instructions, or that we have no need to interpret the instructions alike. Or that we are free to decide as we wish what instructions to obey and which ones not to obey. Some say that there really is no authority for humanity today.

We will be discussing authority, who had it, who has it, and how we understand it. We will discuss briefly some main points and hopefully lay the groundwork for you to further study this subject in more depth.

The fact is, we need authority in our homes, our schools, jobs, and nations. Everything in this life runs upon the principle of Authority.

Money is determined by some kind of authority. Suppose I offer you ONE Dollar, to purchase your brand new BMW vehicle. Would you sell your new BMW to me for one dollar? No! Why not? Because you understand that the ‘authority’ principle behind money makes your car worth far more than my offer.

Am I free to say, “Well, you have your system of money, and I have mine. In my money system, I am offering you a good deal.” No, of course not, because we all understand that there is an authority principle behind our financial decisions.

Who decided that I cannot walk down the road, rob and steal things from every house I see? Who said I cannot go and kill everyone that I choose? The Authority says so. We all understand that in order for there to be any type of ‘order’ to our lives, there must be authority.

The same must also be true, religiously speaking. We must have authority for the things which we practice in our religious exercises. Who says we can give God anything we want to give him and he will just like it? I submit to you today that the only way to show your love for God is to give him what he says: the things he authorizes.

Suppose you have a wife whose eyes swell up when she eats chocolate, and she is deathly allergic to roses. But you find yourself in the middle of the gift store on Valentines’ Day. You turn to your fellow “man-at-arms,” and ask what you should buy. He tells you, “Buy her roses and chocolates; all women love those things.”

Well, you have a choice: do what the man says, obey this guy’s desire, or do what you know your wife will love. Give her something she has “authorized.” It doesn’t matter what every other woman on the planet loves. If she might swell up and die at the offering of roses and chocolates, you had better not give her those things. You must offer her only what she has ‘authorized’ you to give her.

This is why Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). It simply follows naturally. If you love Him, you will do what He has authorized. James makes a challenge to those of his day: “...shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works” (James 2:18).

The challenge is… how are you going to show someone that you love God? Are you going to give God a big hug? What? Are you going to give him a peck on the cheek? No! The ONLY way you can show God that you love Him is to do what He has said - to dwell inside of the authority of Christ.

In Judges 21:25 we see that God’s people rejected His authority. They did what was right in their own eyes and they were punished because of it. It seems to me that in today’s religious world, many have taken the same road. There simply is no authority to what we do. Everyone just does whatever he wants. “You worship God your way and I will worship Him in mine and everything will just be fine.” That seems to be society’s voice. But is that a biblical concept?

It is strange to me that most “Christians” (in the secular sense of that word) claim that the Bible is the Word of God.  Yet, His Word teaches that we “all speak the same thing” (1Corinthians 1:10) and that we are to all walk by the same rule (Phil.3:16). But, the truth is, we cannot possibly do that if we don’t first understand what our Authority is.

God’s Authority

All authority belongs to God. There are two and only two sources for authority–God or Man. (Matthew. 21:23-27) Paul’s letter to the Romans demonstrates that very point.

“Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God”  (Romans 10:1-3).

The truth is, as God’s people we must speak only as the oracles of God (1 Peter 4:11). We live by faith.  “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). We understand that “faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). We then acknowledge that God is the Ultimate Source for any Authority.

Yet we also recognize that God has given all authority to his son, Jesus (Matthew 28:18). In Hebrews 1:1- 2, the Bible says: “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds.”

When Jesus was transfigured, the Father spoke from heaven saying: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him” (Matthew 17:5).  John 12:48, Jesus says: “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.

The simple fact is that the words of the Lord Jesus Christ are going to judge us all on the last day; no one is going to be exempted from His authority. God has all authority. He has given his authority to Jesus. What has Jesus done with the authority? He gave His Apostles delegated authority.

In John 17:18, the Lord speaking to his Father said, “As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.” This means that the apostles had delegated authority on earth to “bind” and “loose” what had been bound/loosed in Heaven. (Matthew 16:19; 18:18).

To help them in His work, Jesus said the Father would send the Holy Spirit to the apostles in His name, which means by His authority (John 14:26). The Lord went on to say, “He (the Holy Spirit) shall teach you (Apostles) all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” This was for the purpose of guiding the apostles into all truth (John 16:13, 14).

Jesus then says to his apostles in Matthew 10:40, “He that receiveth you receiveth Me, and he that receiveth Me receiveth Him that sent Me.”  This clearly shows that the apostles were the official representatives (ambassadors) of Christ on earth (2 Corinthians 5:20; Ephesians 6:20).

But, how did the Apostles authority come to us today?

As Jesus was preparing his Apostles for his departure, he went to God in prayer. The vast majority of the prayer is for the Apostles. Notice:

 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.  Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;  That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me (John 17:18-21).

He was praying for people who would believe on Christ through the words of the Apostles. Well, the natural question is, where are the words of the Apostles?

Jesus spoke to us in these last days (Hebrews 1:1-2) by sending the Holy Spirit to inspire the Apostles (John 16:13). The inspired Apostles spoke only as they were instructed by the Spirit, those words were written, and you and I have them as God’s Authority today.

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:  Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.  Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand (Revelation 1:1-3).

Notice: The ‘revelation of Jesus Christ’ was given by God, it was signified by his ‘angel’ (messenger) to his servant John. So, we see the progression. God/Jesus, the messenger, to John. What did John do? Notice this phrase:

Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy... John wrote it down. The only way we can read it, it if it is first written. So it went from God to John to a writing. We have the writing of the inspired men today in the Holy Bible. The Authority of God is in the pages of this book.

The Bible: Our only Source for Authority

Feelings:

Though much space and time could be included in this blog to explain why feelings are not reliable resources for authority, we will simply notice a couple of things about feelings.

First, feelings are subjective; Truth is not. One person might “feel” that his ‘god’ does not approve homosexuality, but will condone it. Another person might “feel” that his god is actually a homosexual, and that he relishes in and is pleased when his subjects practice homosexual love in their worship services. Still, another might “feel” that his god wants him to sacrifice animals and drink their blood in order to please him.

If feelings are the authority, then there really is no right or wrong. Any person can do anything he wishes or feels like to. Feelings are subjective, Truth is not.

Jesus says: But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24).

The only way that we can worship according to Truth is if Truth is objective and not subjective. Truth is not subjective.  

Second: Feelings change. I can recall in my life many times when I first felt one way about a certain thing, only now to feel completely different about it. I used to feel like waking up early in the morning and going for a jog. I loved it… it made me “feel” good. Today, some days it is all I can do to drag myself out of bed and manage to put in an exercise DVD for 10 minutes. My feelings have changed.

That is a simple illustration to show that our feelings change from time to time. What kind of god would you serve if he allowed your authority to be your emotions? Again, it would lead to the fact that each person would be his own god. And his god would change according to each individual’s ever-changing feelings.

The fact is, many times we cannot trust our feelings to guide us to live a healthy physical life, not to mention a spiritual life. If he left it up to my ‘feelings’, I would eat Pizza, Hamburgers, Fried Kwey Teow, and Pork Fried Rice for every meal. But since I know that would send me to an early grave, I choose not to do such. If we cannot trust our feelings in something as simple as ‘food’, how dare we think that they are a safe guide for our spiritual well-being?

If feelings are authoritative, then each man is his own god, and his god changes his character based upon emotion, feeling or desire.

“Authoritative books / Creed-books”

Without delving into every single creed-book or supposed ‘authoritative’ writing, I wish to simply categorize and paint with a rather wide brush the problem with accepting these ‘resources’ as our authority.

First, they were written by uninspired men. The Bible was not. I will not take the time to prove this today, though much proof exists to support this fact.

The Bible was not written merely by ‘good’ men, for they claimed inspiration. If they claimed inspiration but were not inspired, that makes them not ‘good.’ The Bible was not written by ‘evil’ men, for what evil man would write of all the great things of God, and condemn himself in the process? That only leaves us with inspired men. The Bible was written by the inspiration of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). As these creed-books were written by fallible and flawed men, they are not trustworthy as authoritative sources in spiritual matters.

Each of these books suffers from these flaws:

  1. Written by uninspired men.
  2. Riddled with errors (Scientific, Historical, Theological etc…)
  3. Teach the worship of false gods. (Including Denominational creed books).

Creed books are written by men, including those creed-books claiming to be “Christian.” The majority of denominational creed-books are Calvinistic. The problem with Calvinistic creed-books is that the god of the Calvinist is not the God of the Bible. They have been shown to be wrong time after time. None of their books stand up to the scrutiny of being tested by the Bible. God says to ‘test the spirits’, these man-made books have been tested over and over, and they fail every time. Why some men put their faith in unproven and incorrect books is beyond my knowledge.

As one brother properly put it, “If a creed book contains more than the words of the Bible, it contains too much (Revelation 22:18). If it contains less than the Bible it contains too little (Revelation 22:19) and if it contains the exact same thing as the Bible, then we do not need it, for we already have the Bible written by God” (2 Peter 1:3). 

There is simply no place in our lives for creed-books written by man. 

Please come back as we look at the second part of this important topic. 


Tags: Authority