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                        "THE CHURCH JESUS BUILT"

                       How To Establish Authority


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
   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
      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
   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...]


      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

      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
         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
         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

[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


      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 - Ac
               14:23; 20:28; Php 1:1
            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:
         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

      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
         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
         a. E.g., the command to sing specifically authorizes acapella
         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

      1. Expedient means "appropriate to a purpose" (American Heritage
      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
         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


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...
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