"THE CHURCH JESUS BUILT" How To Establish Authority INTRODUCTION 1. In the past two lessons in this series, I have stressed that
for us to be "The Church Jesus Built" we must have the proper
standard of authority... a. That standard is the Will of Christ... 1) As revealed in the apostles' doctrine, that is, the
teaching of Christ's apostles 2) As inspired by the Holy Spirit, and preserved for us in
the pages of the New Testament b. Other standards are not suitable guides to lead us in the way of salvation 1) Not the Old Testament, majority rule, parents, preachers, creeds and traditions of men 2) Nor our conscience, human wisdom, or feelings 2. Before we leave the subject of authority, there are questions worthy of our consideration... a. What is our obligation regarding authority? b. Exactly how does one use the New Testament to establish authority? c. Are there limitations placed upon how far we may go in matters of religion? d. Will having the same standard of authority guarantee unity among followers of Christ? [In this lesson and the next, I wish to share some thoughts along these lines, beginning with...] I. OUR OBLIGATION REGARDING AUTHORITY A. EVERYONE HAS AN OBLIGATION... 1. Jesus did not speak without having authority - Jn 12:49-50 2. Even the Spirit did not speak on His own authority - Jn 16:13 3. Those who despise authority are ill-spoken of in the Scriptures - 2 Pe 2:10; Jude 1:8 B. WHAT IS OUR OBLIGATION... 1. To do all things in the name (by the authority) of Jesus Christ - Col 3:17 a. To provide authority for all that we believe and do in religion b. A duty enjoyed upon all who presume to speak for God - cf. 1Pe 4:10 2. Note well: the burden of proof is on the affirmative, not the negative a. We do not have to prove some practice is wrong (e.g., instrumental music) b. Those who affirm some practice scriptural have the burden to provide authority for it 3. Our duty then would be to examine the evidence to see if it supports what is affirmed a. Does the evidence adequately not support what is affirmed? b. If not, the practice is without authority and thereby unscriptural! [The burden to provide authority is upon any and all who wish to engage in some religious practice or preach some religious doctrine. How does one provide such authority? Here are some basic principles to remember...] II. HOW AUTHORITY IS ESTABLISHED A. AUTHORITY CAN BE ESTABLISHED IN THREE WAYS... 1. Direct command or precept - a direct statement of something that can or cannot be done a. E.g., "repent and be baptized" - Ac 2:38 b. E.g., "love one another" - Jn 13:34 c. E.g., "abstain from sexual immorality" - 1Th 4:3 2. Approved example - an illustration that shows a practice was done with the approval of the Lord's apostles a. As an apostle, Paul taught by both precept and example 1) He encouraged others to imitate him, and sent Timothy to remind people of "his ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church" - 1Co 4:16-17 2) The God of peace will be with those who do the sort of things both heard (precept) and seen (example) in an apostle like Paul - cf. Php 4:9 b. So when we have an example that meets with apostolic approval, we know there is authority for the practice 1) E.g., having a plurality of elders in one church
2) E.g., meeting on the first day of the week for the purpose of breaking bread (i.e., the Lord's supper, cf. 1Co 10:16-17) - Ac 20:7 3. Necessary implication, or 'forced conclusion' - something neither expressly stated nor specifically exemplified, yet it is necessarily implied by the clear import and meaning of the language used so that one can only draw a particular conclusion a. Jesus appealed to necessary implication when He reasoned that there must be a resurrection of the dead based upon the implication of God's statement to Moses - cf. Mt 22:29-33 b. Peter and the brethren in Judea understood the necessary implication of the Gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit, that it meant Gentiles were permitted to be baptized and enjoy the repentance that leads to life - cf. Ac 10:44-48; 11:15-18 c. Therefore, if the evidence of the Scriptures warrant it, we may draw certain conclusions through necessary implication 1) E.g., the issue of baptizing infants a) The prerequisites for baptism include faith and repentance
- Mk 16:16; Ac 2:38; 8:37 b) Infants are incapable of faith and repentance c) The necessary implication (or forced conclusion) is that baptism is not required of infants 2) E.g., the matter of using unleavened bread in partaking the Lord's Supper a) There is nothing expressly stated nor specifically exemplified in reference to using unleavened bread as we observe the Lord's Supper b) But when Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper at the Last Passover, we know He was using unleavened bread - cf. Lk 22:7-19 c) The necessary implication is that we should use unleavened bread as we keep His command to observe the Lord's Supper B. THERE IS BOTH GENERAL AND SPECIFIC AUTHORITY... 1. Using a direct command as an example, sometimes it is general in its authority a. That is, "not limited in scope, area, or application" (American Heritage Dictionary) b. The command 'go' in Mt 28:19 is generic and authorizes all methods of transportation 2. Sometimes a direct command is specific in its authority a. That is, "explicitly set forth; definite" (American Heritage Dictionary) b. When God commanded Noah to build the ark with gopher wood (Gen 6:14), the specific nature of the command ruled out using any other kind of wood 3. A specific command may itself have a degree of general authority a. E.g., the command to sing specifically authorizes acapella music b. It is not generic enough to authorize instrumental music, a totally different class (or kind) of music c. But it is generic enough to authorize different aids or expedients (see below), such as song books, to carry out the command to sing C. EXPEDIENTS MAY BE USED TO CARRY OUT AUTHORIZED PRACTICES... 1. Expedient means "appropriate to a purpose" (American Heritage Dictionary) 2. Thus an "expedient" is an aid that is suitable for carrying out that which is authorized 3. Sample expedients based upon what is authorized in the Scriptures... a. Assembling is authorized, so the meeting house is an expedient to carry out the command to assemble b. Teaching is authorized, so arrangement in classes is an expedient to carry out the command to instruct c. Giving is authorized, so baskets are an expedient for gathering the contribution d. Baptism is authorized, so the baptistery is an expedient to provide a place for immersion e. Singing is authorized, so hymn books are expedient to helping us sing CONCLUSION 1. These principles on how to establish authority from the Scriptures may seem prosaic, but they are very useful in applying the apostles' doctrine (i.e., the Word of God) 2. When understood properly and applied correctly, they can be useful to maintain the unity and peace of a local congregation Our next study will examine what limitations are placed upon how far we may go in matters of religion, and whether having the same standard of authority guarantees unity among followers of Christ...