Authority In Matters of Religion – Part 2

How Does God Authorize?

Ephesians 3:1-5


When we make reference to the Bible we are referring to “The Book” It is the only source to which we can go to learn satisfactorily about.... God – Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, man himself , sin, the scheme of redemption,  eternal judgment and heaven the home of the redeemed.


The  very words “The Holy Bible” imply that it is authoritative for it is the greatest  — Thoughts , concepts and principles to ever challenge the mind of man.  This is true because it is the mind of God, as presented to the mind of man...


There are many who tell us today, “we can not practice the same for we can’t all understand the Bible the same”.  The apostle Paul does not fall into the trap of many today who believe that we cannot know God's will.  


Our text, which is one of those amazing portions of scripture,  suggests to us that we can. Paul says “ It was revealed to me, and I wrote it down 4by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge”    Ephesians 3:3-4


The Bible is not some mysterious, dark journey into a state of confusion but is to be  read and understood. Jesus states John 8:31-32  31..... “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.  The Bible is truth, for its author is God Himself.  It was written that we may read it and understand what God would have us to in our daily lives and in our devotions to Him.


The question is then, how do we determine what our obligations are? How do we determine what the Bible authorizes with reference to what our obligations are?  How do we determine Bible authority with reference to “how do we execute our obligations?


The  great principle of Authority is easily set out in Colossians 3:16-17    hear it.....


  16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

In the name of the Lord, means by the authority of the Lord as He has authorized.  We are obligated to “walk by faith”  (2 Cor 5:7) Faith is the sacred standard by which a Christian is  governed.  We are informed  Romans 10:17 that


“faith comes by hearing the Word of God”


 If faith comes by hearing the word of God, then where there is No Word From  God, there can be no faith.  But without faith it is impossible to please Him”.(Hebrews 11:6). Thus it is imperative that we be concerned about  what is written, what the Bible authorizes and does not authorize.


Time after time we read that God will not accept or tolerate that which is not authorized.

The Bible often uses the word “strange” with regard to that unauthorized and unaccepted.  Nadab and Abihu offered, “strange fire before Jehovah, which he had not commanded them. 2And there came forth fire from before Jehovah, and devoured them, and they died before Jehovah. Leviticus 10:1-2


King Solomon married “strange women” — women whom God had not authorized for his people to marry  in those days.  And Sodom and Gomorrah had “gone after strange flesh”.  Jude 7

Notice the following admonition applicable for Christians today       Hebrews 13:8-9


8Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. 9Be not carried about with various and strange doctrines.


These doctrines were strange in that they were foreign to  the doctrine of Christ.. Notice verse 8 “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.  Since Christ remains the same.....  we are to hold to His unchanging doctrines. “Whosoever transgresses and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God.   2 John 9


I want to remind you of Paul’s statement to the elders at Ephesus  this point...       

« 32And now brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you the inheritance among all them that are sanctified”.


God’s word  is designed to guide and direct us in our journey to heaven.  It furnishes us “unto every good work”. 

2 Tim 3:16-17..  In a study on authority it is important to keep in mind that humans do not and cannot “Establish Biblical authority”.  Only God can do that.  God designates what we are to do, and it is my responsibility to do only that “which God had authorized”


 Have you ever considered , just how does God authorize man to do something that He wants us to do? By what methods are heaven’s instructions made known to men?  And I suggested last week that there are three ways by which God teaches us His will,    Hear the ways:


 First, God teaches by direct statements or by commands,   simply stating the thing He bids us do. Now that is one way.


 Well there is another, we might not have a direct “thus saith the Lord”  But if you can find an example which illustrates a command ¾ that example comes to us with all the power and force of Divine authority.


 And  then ¾  If there is a passage in the Bible from which something is absolutely implied or inferred and it can not be otherwise...  I am willing to accept that as authority.  So watch then, How does God teach man what He would have us do?


1ST- By direct statements. 2ND By examples illustrating a command, and finally by necessary inference  or implying a thing so.


 Suppose I were to raise the question: Does God teach men to repent of their sins?  What do you think about it? Why of course you say. Well how does He teach us repentance?  And here it is: He comes out openly and says so. Paul stood on Mars Hill  Acts 17:30      30And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commands all men to repent:


Now that settles it. God teaches men to repent, expecting that they will do so, for He openly commands men to do so.  In Luke 13:3 we find a most sobering thought from the lips of the Savior. “3I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish


Well, does God teach and admonish us concerning the  assemblies?  Heb. 10:25

25... forsake not the assembling of yourselves together as the manner of some is”  Does God teach that? Certainly He does, How? He plainly states it, thus commanding us to assembly, and must not be negligent in the assembling together as He commands.


Well, Another¾ Ought Christians contribute of their means, give to support the gospel and other good works ordained of God?  Surely!  Does the Bible teach it? Yes, How? 1 Cor.16:1-2

1Now concerning the collection of the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.2Upon the first day of week let every one of you lay him by in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.                                 


Here we have the what,( him by in store),  the who (let every one of you) the when, (2Upon the first day of week) and the how that this is to be done(, as God hath prospered him,).  Does the Bible teach that? Certainly it does, and it doesn’t leave room for us to have car washes, bingo games and pie sales, for the support of the gospel.


Well try another ¾ What about lying?   “Lie not one to another, Col. 3:9  speak the truth, do not bear false witness.” God plainly states all these things we have noticed.  This is what we mean by the Bible teaching a thing by  a direct statement, or positive command.


Well Let Us Go To Some Other Things. Of which we spoke last week. In part 1 of this series.

Brethren does the Bible teach us to observe the Lord’s supper on the 1st day of  week?  You answer  "yes"!   Now have you ever stopped to think just how that is done, and how the Bible teaches it?  Christ told the disciples, “take and eat  Matthew 26:27-27 .  And thus we are commanded by direct statement to partake of the Lord’s Supper,  To eat and drink of the bread and fruit of the vine..                   


Well all right, now I would just like to ask some of you  more thoughtful Christians, “where did Christ ever say eat the Lord’s supper on the first day of the week, or on Sunday?  Have you ever stopped, brethren to about a thing like that? Where is the command to partake of it on the first day of the week?  Do you know that there is no such statement in the Bible, and I trust that none of us will get upset over that announcement!    Yet the Bible teaches – now mark it -  The observance of the Lord's Supper on the first day of the week. But how does it teach it?  Now here is the way, by giving us an approved example of the church at Troas meeting on the 1st day to break bread Acts 20:7  We are not given an example of it being done on any other day of the week.


Here then is an approved example illustrating a command to do a thing.  Therefore that apostolic example under the direction of the Holy Spirit comes with all the authority of a direct command to do it. And if I would meet with God’s approval, I likewise will partake of the Lord’s supper on the 1st day of the week.  Ron Cope, what is your authority?  Simply this.. a heavenly -  <<Holy Spirit  inspired example, illustrating a command to do the act of partaking of the Lord's Supper by the Lord Jesus Himself.


 But I have had people have asked me this!  Brother Cope why don’t you folks wash feet?   Don’t you know that both examples were given at the same occasion, and to the same group of people?  And didn’t He say “5For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.   Brethren, that is a legitimate question, and I can appreciate any man’s asking a question of this nature. What is the answer?  Well here it is.  Both of those examples were given before the church was established. Now then after the church came into being I find where brethren met together to break bread. When someone can show me where the church ever came together to wash feet, I’ll be glad to admit that I am wrong and began that practice.

But no  man  may s show such an example in the New Testament.  Therefore I am on  positively safe and consistent grounds, when I eat the Lord’s supper and reject the washing of feet as an observance for the church.  But so much for that.


Now, There Are Some Things That I Think The Bible Teaches, And yet if you should ask me just where it is commanded, I could not read it in so many words.  If you were to ask me to give you a direct example for it, I could not do it,  Yet I would say the Bible teaches it. Not by direct statement, not by direct example.   Well How?  By what the Bible implies  by what it a absolutely infers. I grant that one need be careful in studying matters of  this kind. Inferences are of two kinds. logical  or reasonable, and necessary.


Now allow me to illustrate what is meant by “necessary inference” or implied by scripture. In Gen. 12 we have the story of a famine in the land of Palestine, so much so that  Abraham and Sarah his wife went down to the land of Egypt.  And after certain happenings, Gen. 13:1 states: And Abraham went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all he had. and Lot went with him into the south.   Now what is the statement?  And Abraham went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all he had. and Lot went with him into the south . Now question:  Did Lot go down to Egypt?  Brethren, the Bible is as silent as the twinkling stars. There is not a word about it.


Someone says: Brother Cope, “what do you think about it?’ Well I think that he did.  What makes you think it?  Because the Bible says “Lot came up out of Egypt with Abraham”. Hence I am forced to the conclusion,  that he must have gone down into that land, else he could not have come up out of there. I infer therefore, and rightly teach by Bible authority that Lot went down to Egypt.


But notice this familiar illustration: it is said in Matt. 3:16 “that Jesus when he was baptized went up straight-way out of the water.”  Did you know beloved, that the Bible never did say  that Christ went down into the water? And yet,  you will argue and correctly so  that he did. But if you were called upon to produce the scripture, you could not do it.  That is not in the Bible.   But because the Bible states  that Jesus came up out of the water,  and it is physically impossible to come out of something we are not in,  the Bible therefore teaches by implication that Jesus went down into the water was baptized and then came up out of the water.  That is an example of something being  inferred by the scriptures, it could not have happened otherwise.


We necessarily infer that infants are not the subjects of baptism since Christ taught   "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved"  Mark 16:16 —  An infant cannot meet the condition to believe.


Well using the things we have learned let's put to test one item. We could use this on may things, but let us notice worship and the use of mechanical instruments.  I don’t do this to be unkind. But what is the authority for using it?  And  I raise the point.

"Is there a direct statement in the New Testament,  where men are commanded to use the instrument"? Search the  New Testament from cover to cover, and not a syllable. Again "is there any approved example where an apostolic church had mechanical instruments in the service".  Not one.


But we are not through yet..... "Is there any thing said in all the New Testament where one would be forced to conclude that an instrument  must have been used"? Not a single passage.


Therefore the conclusion is  that the use of mechanical instruments in worship is without God’s authority, and only exists by the authority of men. There's the acid test, may I do a thing with Heaven’s approval. Does God authorize it use, by command, approved example or by implication?


Now the Bible does teach, that all people everywhere should repent.  We’ve noticed that God comes right out clearly and demands and commands us to repent of our sins.  . Jesus says:   Luke 13:3   — “3“I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.


Well does the Bible teach that baptism is for the remission of sins?   It does... Well how does the Bible teach such? This must be a tough one for there clearly is so much confusion among religious bodies on this point.   Does the Bible teach that baptism is for remission of  sins?  It does...


Well how does it teach it? It just comes right out and says so, clearly and precisely. In  Acts 2:37-288  there is a clear answer from the inspired apostle Peter upon their question: “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” 38Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.   There is no inference, that baptism is for the remissions of sins,  no example to look in on just a clear simple statement of fact.


If you would like to know more about Bible authority,


Ron Cope Minister churches of Christ


phone:  (678)617-9658