Biblical Authority - #2

By Mark J. Ward

In our first of this series - Biblical Authority - Introduction, we pointed out that all authority is delivered in one of, or a combination of, three ways. Direct statements, examples (accounts of action - whether good or bad) and unavoidable conclusions derived from such statements and examples are the only means of understanding what is authorized and what is forbidden. We also pointed to the fact that some things are generically authorized and other things have been specifically authorized. Since God has determined to reveal His Will for us in written format, by giving us His Holy Scriptures, then it is up to us to read, study, test, discern and formulate conclusions based on the framework of properly establishing what is right and wrong.

Our souls eternal destiny are at stake in this matter! Bible Interpretation and How To Establish Bible Authority are at the foundation of our faith. Let us continue this good study. In this article, I would like to look at two examples from the Bible and make some observations. I pray that this will be helpful to all.

 From the very beginning, we can see God exercising His loving authority in the days of Adam and Eve. The Godhead knows what is best for man and woman. In Genesis, God told Adam and Eve that they could freely eat of every tree in the Garden of Eden EXCEPT the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (See Genesis 2:16,17). God said that if they ate of it, they would die. This is illustrative of DIRECT STATEMENTS that were given in the form of commands. There is NO DOUBT that this is what God expected. God SPECIFIED the tree of knowledge of good and evil as something they could not eat. Is there anything too complicated in understanding this instruction? (No.) Was it "fair"? (Sure.) Did they obey God? (No.) The "not in the Devil's tale" (the Devil lied and said "Ye shall NOT surely die") was a falsehood! Adam and Eve disobeyed God when they partook in activity that God had forbidden (they ate of the forbidden fruit). This action is what we know as sin (transgressing God's Law - I John 3:4).

Notice later, in Genesis 6:14, that in the days of Noah that God commanded him to build an ark. God specified SOME THINGS concerning this construction and in other areas He did not specify. This is the distinction of generic and specific authority. God said make an ark of GOPHERwood. This is an example of specific authority found in a direct statement. By its very nature, the statement excludes all other types of wood. A substitution of another type of wood by Noah would be sin. God AUTHORIZED, via His direct statement, "gopherwood".

See how we have another example of specific authority here? But notice also that God was generic about tools. God did not mention tools that could or could not be used. How was Noah going to do what God said do? He was going to have to use some tools, wasn't He? Are "tools" authorized? Certainly. Generic authority is what is under consideration here. Consider that the tools were a help, an expedient, or an aid to get the job done that God authorized. The silence of the scriptures on this matter needs to be noticed. Where God is silent, man must be very careful in proceeding. But properly understanding specific and generic authority permits the use of aids. Additions, however, to what God said for Noah to do would NOT be permitted by "generic authority". We must carefully notice that we are ONLY doing what God AUTHORIZED in using lawful expedients (aids) to carry out the requirements of God. When we cease doing what God says do, we are involved in ADDITIONS, and sin.

Notice the following that we have learned from (1) Adam and Eve, and (2) Noah and the ark by looking at the chart (not exhaustive) below:

When God Said

He Specified

And This Excluded

1. Don't Eat from a tree in the garden

Don't Eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil

All other trees (for they COULD be eaten of)

2. Build an Ark

Of Gopherwood

The use of All OTHER types of wood


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