Looking In All The Wrong Places!
All must be done “in the name of the Lord” (Col. 3:17). The Jews asked, “Who gave [Jesus] this authority?” (Matt. 21:23-27) We want to study the “Who” in this question. The source of authority in religion is of Supreme importance!
Religious Authority Today Is Not In The Doctrine Of Practices Of The Old Testament
Many fail to realize this and appeal to the OT as authority. They fail to realize that the OT was only a shadow (Heb. 10:1). The OT law was removed when Christ died (Col. 2:14-17; Eph. 2:14-16). Various practices today are based on OT (e.g. observing the Sabbath Day, keeping holy festivals, worshipping with instruments, etc.). These are no longer acceptable to God.
Preachers Are Not The Source Of Authority.
Many regard preachers’ words as authority. Perhaps because many believe preachers have a “special calling.” Preachers preach the Word (2Tim. 4:1-2), but not all so limit themselves (Acts 20:30). We recall one instance related to us in which a group of ladies were discussing the relationship between Christianity and dancing. When one woman was asked what she believed, she answered, “I’m not really sure. The pastor at our church hasn’t ever preached on it. I’ll have to ask him what we believe.” Let’s not root our beliefs in the uninspired words of uninspired men!
Human Creeds Are Not Proper Authority Either.
Practically every denomination has its manual, catechism, discipline, prayer book, or book that contains its doctrines and procedures. These are incomplete and formulaic and although they may seem harmless, they destroy the all-sufficiency of the Bible. It is impossible to please God by accepting the creeds of men (Matt. 15:9; 1Cor. 4:6; Col. 2:21-22).
Authority Is Not Determined By The Desire Of The Congregation.
Some religious organizations take pride in the fact that they are democratic and that the majority determines their policies. At one point they may believe one thing and at another they may believe something completely different. Do you see a problem with that?! The wishes of the congregation may not be (and are usually not) right at all!
Israel wanted gods to go before them and Aaron made a golden calf to please them (Ex. 32). They were ignorant of God’s law and acted on the basis of their own desires (Rom. 10:3).
Later, Israel wanted a king like everybody else (1Sam. 8). Later, King Saul sought to excuse his disobedience by saying he was doing what the people wanted (1Sam. 15).
A modern example is seen in numerous ordination of confessed homosexuals as pastors of a protestant denomination by a majority vote. God CONDEMNS the activity these individuals confess! (1Cor. 6:9)
We should never do anything in religion merely because the majority wishes!
Elders in a Local Church Are Not the Authority.
Elders have a vital work in the local church as they tend the flock and exercise oversight (1Pet. 5:2; Acts 20:28). As shepherds they function under the authority of the Chief Shepherd, Jesus the Christ.
Many members have the idea they must do whatever the elders say, but the elders have no legislative power in matters of faith. Elders are to oversee, but not as “lords”. They lead by the authority of their example, not by passing laws and rules. This type of hierarchical system in which authority is derived from elders, or bishops, is what led to the one of the largest denominations in the world today!
Authority is Not Determined by the Results Accomplished.
Many assume that if a thing is “good” in their eyes, or if it accomplishes big results, that is sufficient authority. They believe in spiritual utilitarianism and efficacy. But this fails to qualify a thing as a safe practice in religion. David was getting results with the cart that bore the ark of the covenant, but it was not the way God wanted the ark moved and Uzzah died for irreverence (2Sam. 6:7). The end accomplished did not justify the means (cf. 1Chron. 15:13). The fire Nadab and Abihu used burned the incense, but it wasn’t right! (Lev. 10:1-2)
God has not left us to decide what is a good work. God has already determined the good works in which we are to walk (Eph. 2:10). The only way we can know what God thinks is good is in His Word. God must authorize a thing for it to be good (2Chron. 26:18; 2Tim. 3:16-17).
Regardless of how much a thing may accomplish in our eyes, if we are unable to give Bible authority for it, we should stop it!
People everywhere are blinded by the ruler of this world and have enslaved themselves to the decrees of men rather than free themselves with the ordinances of God. They have sought for the Lord in all the wrong places. They have made men the source of their religious authroity and that mistake is a fatal one if un-remedied. We need authority for our religious practices and that authority must come from God; the only other source is man. For everything we do we must give book, chapter, and verse from God's holy Word. Only than can we be fixed!