The Golden Isles church of Christ
Volume 3, Number 2
January 12, 2003
False Standards of Authority - Part 2
by Mike Johnson
(cont from last week...)
Some people use the concept of the majority as a standard of right and wrong in religious matters. They feel that if a majority of the people are practicing a particular idea, then it cannot be wrong. They might say, "Why, there are millions in the religious group that I am a part of," or "there are many who believe as I believe." Does the fact that a majority believes a certain thing make it right? Is it correct to use the majority as our source of authority or to believe a certain way simply because so many others do?
It should be obvious that the majority is not to be our standard of authority because, if it is, truth would change as we change locations. The beliefs of the majority about a certain matter may be different in the South than they are in the North. Also, the views of the majority may vary from country to country. Some countries, for example, consist of populations of people who
do not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. If a person uses the majority as his standard, it would seem that he would need to change his belief every time that he changed locations when the majority of the people in the new location believed differently than the majority in his old location. Taking the entire world into consideration, most religious people does not profess "Christianity."
Consider a few Bible principles. Exodus 23:2 warns, "Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil...." Also, Matthew 7:13-14 shows the great mistake of this standard as it says, "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." In some situations, there is safety in numbers. However, this concept is not correct in spiritual matters. We must not use the majority as our source of authority.
Great and Wise Men
Denominational people often quote a religious leader or scholar to prove their point. They might then say, "Are you smarter than this person?" Sometimes innovations are brought into the church and are defended on the basis that some respected preacher from the past believed that the practice was Scriptural. There is nothing wrong in examining the teaching and reasoning of various scholars on some subject, and then comparing their logic to what the Scriptures say. We can learn from other people. Yet, we cannot use such people as our authority. God's Word is our authority, and we are to stand in the wisdom of God (I Cor. 2:5). Even Peter practiced error, stood condemned, and was opposed "to the face" by Paul (Gal. 2:11-21).
It is important to understand that teachers and scholars, although knowledgeable, can be wrong. Pick almost any issue and knowledgeable people can be found on both sides. We must not allow someone to lead us astray. God's Word, not a mere human being, is to be our authority.
What is to Be Our Authority?
What, then, is to be our authority? Our authority is to be God's Word. It is not to be these external and internal sources of human authority which are listed above. The Bible is to be our guide; it is to be our source of authority.
II Timothy 3:16-17 says, "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." II John 9 says that we must abide in the "doctrine of Christ."
We must accept the Bible, and the Bible only, as our source of authority. These human standards will lead us astray.
Do Individuals Have to Have
Bible Authority for All They do?
by Mark J. Ward
There are three logical possibilities regarding churches having to have biblical authority.
1C. Churches have to have biblical authority for ALL they do.
2C. Churches have to have biblical authority for SOME of what they do and don't for other things.
3C. Churches DON'T have to have biblical authority for anything they do.
There are three logical possibilities regarding individuals having to have biblical authority.
1I. Individuals have to have biblical authority for ALL they do.
2I. Individuals have to have biblical authority for SOME of what they do and
don't for other things.
3I. Individuals DON'T have to have biblical authority for anything they do.
I contend that #1 (in both cases "C" and "I") applies. In this short article, however, I would like to address the individual specifically.
I believe that Col. 3:17; I John 3:4 and 2 Peter 1:3 support the understanding of the necessity of biblical authority for all we do as individuals (spiritual and secular). Col. 3:17 teaches that whatever we do in word or deed we are to do "in the name" of the Lord. This indicates we should have authority from God to proceed in any action we desire to participate in. Also. I John 3:4 is clear about what "sin" is: a transgression, a trespass, of Gods applicable law. Since 2 Peter 1:3 affirms that we have ALL THINGS that pertain to LIFE and GODLINESS, dont we believe that Gods Word is able to provide sufficient authority for the man/woman of God unto every good work (as taught in 2 TIm. 3:16, 17)? Consider the other positions (taught at #2 and #3 above) in light of God's Word. If "2I", for example, were true, by what principle of biblical interpretation would we come to that conclusion in light of Col. 3:17; I John 3:4 and I Peter 1:3? Since "sin" is a transgression of God's law. Since we are under the "perfect law of liberty" (the "new covenant") today .individuals must have biblical authority for all we do! Thanks for reading! - mjw
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