Lesson 2 : Authority in Christianity
We must have standards and authorities in all the affairs of life. If we do not, then we have much confusion. Every nation has a government which exercises authority over it. The headmaster and teachers exercise authority in the school. Parents exercise authority in the home.
In Christianity we see much division and confusion. Why? Because we fail to be guided by the true standard of authority! The result is hundreds of churches with many different teachings. Before this confusion can be cleared, we must all agree on an authority in Christianity. What will it be?
The Bible Is The Inspired Word Of God
The Bible is the authority in Christianity because it is the inspired Word of God. The apostle Paul, in writing to Timothy, said:
"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 complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16,17).
Peter said, "...holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:21). Peter is talking about the men who wrote the Bible. They were men who were told what to write. The Holy Spirit is the one who told them. If we listen to what the Bible says, we are listening to God. God is perfect. What He says is right. Man is not perfect. He makes mistakes. We must not listen to man because he is sometimes wrong. Since God cannot be wrong, we must listen to Him. Then we know we are right.
"...Your word is truth" (John 17:17). The Bible is the Word of God. The words of God are truth. Therefore, the Bible contains all truth.
Man Cannot Direct His Own Way
The Bible is the authority in Christianity because man cannot direct his own way. "O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps" (Jeremiah 10:23). Many people think that they can decide by themselves what is right in Christianity. When man tries to direct his own way, he finds much trouble. When he listens to God, he does much better. If man were able to direct his own way, God would not have given us the Bible. In order to find the way of life that is pleasing to God, we must let the Bible be our guide.
We Will Be Judged By The Bible
The Bible is the authority in Christianity because we will be judged by it at the second coming of Christ. "...it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).
No one can escape death. The whole world agrees with that. Neither can a person escape the judgment. Since we cannot escape the judgment, we must prepare for it. But how can we prepare for it? By listening to Jesus. God gave Jesus authority to speak. It will be the words of Christ that will judge us. Listen to what Jesus has to say:
"He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day" (John 12:48).
Every man will be judged by his own life. "...then He will reward each according to his works" (Matthew 16:27). "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad" (2 Corinthians 5:10).
The Bible Tells Us What To Do To Be Saved
The Bible is the authority in Christianity because it tells us what to do to be saved. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek" (Romans 1:16). "And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him" (Hebrews 5:9).
No one but Jesus can tell us what to do to be saved. What does Jesus say we must do in order to be saved? Jesus said, ""He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:16).
Again we read in the book of Acts: "Then 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’" (Acts 2:38).
In order to be saved, we must believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died so that we can have forgiveness of sins. We must repent [make up our minds to turn away from practicing sin and turn back to doing things God’s way] of our sins. Then we must be baptized [briefly buried in water] for the forgiveness of our sins.
If we do not accept the Bible as the authority in Christianity, then we are not listening to God. God does not like this. God condemns those who do not listen to Him. Here is what the Bible has to say about it:
"But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:8). If we listen to the teaching of man, we do not have God in our lives.
"Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father (God) and the Son" (2 John 9).
Do you listen to the teachings of Christ or to the teachings of man?