Matthew 21:23: “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?”
An assayer from the city came to our door and asked my wife if he could come in to check the addition to our house we had just built, and she obliged. After entering, he gently chastised my wife, saying she should have asked for identification before allowing him entrance. How did she know he really was the authorized person he claimed to be? It was very good advice, and my wife acknowledges that it certainly is her responsibility to check for authorization.
Likewise, it is the christian’s responsibility to check for authorization from those claiming spiritual authority.
1 Corinthians 12:1: brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant:
The way it is thrives on ignorance. But Jesus would have us know…. He’s like that. He wants us to understand authority.
Suppose you had a servant, and you told that servant to deliver instructions to the bank manager to disperse certain funds in a certain manner. You can see that you are the authority, not the servant. You can see that the servant has no authority to add to, alter or remove any of the directives. Send this servant to university, give him a degree, dress him in a suit, and he will still not have authority to change one word of your instructions. Now suppose you had a thousand servants. Would they collectively have the authority to make changes? You can see they would not.
God’s authority is His Word. No individual or group has the right to alter His Word.
Acts 15:1: certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”
These “certain men” were but a few of many who firmly believed that circumcision was necessary for salvation. Undoubtedly they spoke with an aura of authority, and even quoted Scripture. These “certain men” were christians, as the following verse reveals….
Acts 15:5 (NIV): Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses.”
This verse solidly confirms that which needs no confirmation…. christian leadership sometimes teach error. Did christians actually receive these false teachings and teachers?
Galatians 1:6: I marvel that you are turning away from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel,
Yes, many accepted this “different gospel” and its preachers. They made the same mistake as did my wife; they did not check for authorization.
It is easy to see that an individual does not have authority that extends beyond the Bible (to speak or impose another word), but numbers impress us. When many speak in unison we tend to let our defense down and fail to check for authorization. The immensity of a denomination causes an unhealthy confidence in its perspective. Could so many be wrong?
Psalm 91:14: Because he has set his love upon Me,
Love is something that can be “set” (placed, fixed, positioned), and so can trust. It is an act of the will. A believer can set his trust (confidence) in God and His Word, or he can set it on something or someone else. But not fully on both.
The Galatian christians at one time had set their confidence in “the grace of Christ”. It was an act of the will. They were then coerced to remove that trust from Jesus and “set” it upon the circumcisers. They exchanged the lordship of Christ for the lordship of man. Just how serious was this mistake (sin)?
Galatians 5:3,4: I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.
“Estranged from Christ… fallen from grace.” Yes, there are serious consequences for exchanging the lordship of Christ for the lordship of someone or something else. Christians can be led astray by other christians. It happens often, quite often. You must be alert to check for authorization. How do you do this?
Acts 17:11: and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.
If a teaching is not scriptural it is not authoritative; it does not have God behind it. Not only does God not require submission to such a teaching, He forbids it.
2 Timothy 2:15: Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
“Be diligent” to check it out. When you read a book, listen to a christian TV program, or hear a message by ‘Pastor’ Whoever, check to see if it is scriptural. To do this you will need the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
John 16:13: when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth;
We need the Holy Spirit. Only by the “Spirit of Christ” can we know if the preacher/teacher is “rightly dividing the word of truth”. He may be quoting Scripture but straying from truth nonetheless.
The christians who taught, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the Law of Moses” (Ac.15:5) undoubtedly quoted Scripture. Perhaps they cited Genesis 17:11: “You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you.” Often the Bible is quoted to give credibility to a false doctrine. We need the wisdom of God to discern, to rightly divide. How do we get this necessary wisdom?
James 1:5: If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
“Ask, and it will be given to you”, Jesus taught. Pray, every day, for wisdom and understanding, and progressively “it will be given to you”…. according to your faith in God.
Jeremiah 17:5: Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man
But how about many men? The same is true, “Cursed is the man who trusts in” men, no matter how numerous or esteemed those men may be.
Is it really possible that thousands of christians could be in error, that a denomination, even a large denomination, could be mistaken in a doctrine? Since large denominations disagree with each other (take opposing positions on matters of doctrine), the answer must be “yes”. I will give three examples where this is so.
John 10:28,29: I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.
From this very comforting Scripture (and others) comes the doctrine of “eternal security” which teaches “once saved, always saved.” When a man is born again of the Holy Spirit, the teaching goes, that man will not, even cannot, lose his salvation. I would estimate approximately seventy-five percent of evangelical churches teach this doctrine.
The other twenty-five percent teach a believer certainly can lose his salvation, quoting such Scriptures as….
Hebrews 6:4-6: “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.”
If the 75% of evangelical denominations are right, it necessitates that 25% teach a false doctrine. Conversely, if the 25% are correct, 75% of the denominations teach error. I will give a second example….
Mark 16:17: “And these signs will follow those who believe: In my name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;
“Tongues” have split evangelicalism in North America since the Azusa Revival in the early 1900’s. In those days you could expect to be immediately kicked out of your church if you admitted you spoke in tongues. And today there are Bible colleges that will not allow entrance if you speak, or ever have spoken, in tongues.
I would ‘guesstimate’ that only 35% percent believe in tongues, and that means that either 35% or 65% are in error, and pass on this error as gospel truth to their trusting congregations. Now, one more example….
Acts 1:4,5: And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; “for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
This prophecy of Christ to His apostles was soon fulfilled in “the upper room where they were staying” in Jerusalem, and their experience is referred to as the “baptism of the Holy Spirit”. Some denominations teach this experience is for any believer who will ask in faith. (Of this group, there is another division of thought, some insisting that the proof of receiving is praying in tongues as did the 120 in the upper room when they received; others teach, not necessarily so.)
And some (most?) denominations believe this was a one-time experience, believing instead the entire church received the Holy Spirit when the 120 were baptized; a convert receives the baptism of the Holy Spirit the instant he is born again.
In both camps there are thousands of ‘Reverends’ and even some ‘Doctors’. One might think a thousand ‘Reverends’ could not be wrong, but it is so obvious they can be.
What is the lesson to be learned?
John 16:13: He will guide you into all truth;
The Holy Spirit is more reliable than all the ‘Reverends’ and all the ‘Doctors’ of all denominations. The degree of truth you receive from the Holy Spirit is relative to your commitment to Christ. “Set” your love and your confidence on Jesus. It is an act of the will. It is an issue of lordship.
John 8:15: “You judge according to the flesh;
What did Jesus mean?
Judging “according to the flesh” is opposite to judging by the Holy Spirit. One is coming to a conclusion through reason and logic and by what one sees; the other is spiritual discernment.
When a speaker is introduced, his credentials and experience are often itemized for the purpose of gaining the acceptance of the audience. You are asked to accept the man (or at least be impressed) by evidence “according to the flesh”. Accepting (trusting, seeking advice from, following after) a pastor because of a denominational credential is judging “according to the flesh”.
1 Corinthians 2:15: he who is spiritual judges all things,
Someone is preaching and “he who is spiritual” is making a judgement. Is there a witness of the Holy Spirit? Do I feel at peace? “Lord Jesus, my precious and only Teacher, is this true?”
1 Corinthians 2:13: comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
Rightly dividing. Comparing this verse with that one. Correct perspective, not majoring on minors or minoring on majors.
To the spiritual man, denominational credentials mean nothing. He is not himself a denominational person (though he may attend a denominational church). He is convinced of his sonship, and does not require endorsement.
1 Corinthians 3:4: when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?
When one says I am of this church or of that denomination, is he “not carnal?” When one says, “My pastor is ‘Pastor’ Whoever,” is he “not carnal?”
John 10:25: The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me.
“Works” (signs, fruit) authenticate. The works a christian does in Christ’s name are his credentials.
1 Corinthians 2:4,5: my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
The graduate of his denominational Bible college had been taught to preach “with persuasive words”, but Paul ‘preached’ by “demonstration of the Spirit and of power”. The pitiful graduate of most seminaries cannot preach by “demonstration”, nor can his teachers. What’s missing? In a word, Jesus. Where Jesus reigns, the Spirit reigns. Where Jesus reigns there is a “demonstration of the Spirit”, “signs and wonders”, healings.
Even though manifestations of the Holy Spirit are scarce in most denominations, denominations are, nonetheless, considered as possessing authority from God. That’s just the way it is!
I was attending another mass, one of many thousands. But this time it was different….
In catholicism there is a veil between the ‘clergy’ and the ‘laity’. From outside looking in the ‘laymen’ see respectability, integrity, authority. They see God.
Like everyone, they are impressed by impressions, of which there are many – the sacraments, the priests’ cloaks, burning candles, statues and pictures, stained windows, rituals, liturgical prayers, etc.
This particular day the Lord rolled back the veil and let me see into the other side (the clerical side) of catholicism. I didn’t see anything with my physical eyes; it was a spiritual awareness.
I saw vacancy, a spiritual nothingness. There was nothing behind all the activity and rituals performed by the four priests that day. God was not behind the veil.
The priests were androids, spiritually heartless, fulfilling a religious obligation. The people were most respectful, having been taught that God is in all these rituals, that this was all done at His beckoning and for His pleasure, and He was present in, even lord of, the ceremony.
But He wasn’t. God wasn’t there. Not only was He not in that mass that day, He wasn’t in any of the catholic rituals. It was men doing their thing, honouring the way it is. He did not author these rituals, and He certainly was not participating.
During the mass there were a few readings from the Bible, one from the epistles, one from the gospels. Was God in that? Yes, God is in His Word. That is the only place He can be found. He is the author. He backs up His Word. He is the keeper of Bible promises.
God is omnipresent, but in a sense He can only be in one place at once. He can’t be in His Word and in some other word. He cannot participate in that which He has not brought forth. He cannot support two opposing realms.
Were the priests “born again” of the Holy Spirit? (Did they at one time have a conversion experience to the Lord Jesus Christ?) Whether none or one or all were actually in the family of God is of no substance. If they were all God’s legitimate sons God would still not be behind this veil of religion. Actually, the veil is an offence to Him.
In evangelicalism there is also a veil, one separating the ‘ministerial’ (supposed special christians) from the ‘laity’ (supposed common christians). Evangelical ‘laity’, impressed by various impressions, see respectability and integrity and authority. They see God.
If this spiritual veil could be lifted, if we could somehow see with spiritual eyesight into the world of the ‘ministerial’, would we see God? Would He be sitting in a recliner, perhaps at denominational headquarters, smiling a benevolent smile, giving directives, ruling the evangelical assemblies, blessing the multitudes on the other side of the veil through evangelical ‘clergy’?
Certainly God blesses through the individual lives of those in the ‘ministerial’, just as He does through any christian. But is God in the organization itself…. the denominational hierarchy, the ways and means of That’s Just The Way It Is!? Is this His invention? And if not, does He bow to the whims of man nonetheless? Is He thinking, “No, it is not My way…. it is not in agreement with My Word…. but it’s better than nothing!”?
Is God behind the ‘ministry’ veil?
If you really want to know ask Him.
————————————————–A TRIBUTE TO JESUS CHRIST
“i determined not to know any thing
… except jesus christ and him crucified.” (1Cor.2:2)
to know him
the good shepherd
he sacrificed self
for the sheep
to know him
not pastor joe
to know him
not the elder
to know him
the good shepherd
who laid down his life
for the sheep
to know him