Firm Foundation #15

    RELIGIOUS AUTHORITY

    In any religious consideration the most important subject is truth. People inherently appreciate and desire truth. Most people conscientiously and sincerely seek to know the truth. Its importance is emphasized by New Testament writers. Jesus said, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Americans, probably more than any other people in the world, understand and appreciate the importance of freedom. Liberty is the watchword of America. It has ever been true that the best men in our country are willing to give of themselves and if needed make the supreme sacrifice in order to preserve our liberties. Jesus, however, is talking about freedom in a higher and nobler sense – freedom from sin and liberty from satanic servitude. Christ tells us that this supreme freedom can be realized through the truth.

    Peter said, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently” (1 Peter 1:22). God is pure and cannot receive to himself that which is less than pure. If we would see the face of God in peace we must have our hearts purified. Peter tells us that this purification comes through the truth. Jesus said, “Sanctify them through thy truth.” Sanctification is being set apart to the service of God by reason of holiness. Only the saints will receive an inheritance in the mansions Christ prepares for the faithful. Sanctification is accomplished through the truth.

    The supreme question of this and every age is the question of salvation. Nothing is more important. This subject is worthy of our constant attention. James says, “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity and naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). God’s word is truth; therefore we are saved by the truth. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Man is separated from God when he sins. His chief problem is being reconciled to God or coming to the Father. The Lord tells us that this is done through the truth. Scripture could be multiplied to establish the point “truth is all-important.” It frees, purifies, sanctifies, saves, and brings us to God. We must have truth. “He is a man whom the truth makes free. All else are salves besides.”

    The only absolutely, concrete, certain, infallible truth known to man is the truth of God’s word. Jesus said, “Thy word is truth” (John 17:17). We must respect God’s word as the sole authority in religious matters and obey it in minute detail. There is nothing superfluous or unnecessary in the word of truth. There are no non-essentials in the New Testament. Indifferent to the commands of God’s word resulting in the eternal loss of one soul is too great a price to pay for negligence or false loyalty. Our attitude must be the attitude of the ancient prophet of the Old Testament who said, “Speak, Lord, thy servant hearest.” The importance of obeying the word was stressed by Jesus when he said: “Therefore whosoever hearth these sayings of Mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that hearest these sayings of Mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell; and great was the fall of it (Matthew 7:24-25).

    James warns us, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass; for be beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed” (James 1:22-25). One of the most impressive verses of scripture in the New Testament reads, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). To recognize the supreme importance of God’s word and to obey Christ is to behave in a way consistent with both the spirit and the letter of the law. To know the teaching of the New Testament but to fail to obey it is to dishonor Christ and insult God. Let us exalt the infallible record of the New Testament in our thinking and in our lives, casting down every excuse and every false reason that might seem to justify us in disobedience and sternly bring ourselves to do as Christ the Lord has commanded, knowing that “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).

    Because obeying the word of God is of such obvious importance, it is absolutely necessary for us to have the proper attitude toward that divine revelation, never permitting ourselves to fall into the delusion of thinking that God’s word is not perfectly clear or that it teaches more than one thing on any given subject. If we approach a study of this all-important document with the idea that we cannot understand what we read we are doomed to confusion and distress. We must recognize that the nature of God insists, that he would not give man a revelation, command man to read and study it, condemn man for failing to obey it, and then make the revelation so complex or vague that man could not understand it. The very fact that God has given us a Bible, commanded us to read it and follow it, is proof that we can understand it. The Bible is not a book of mysteries but is a plain revelation from him before whose eyes all things are laid bare.

    Truth in order to be truth must be consistent with itself. This is axiomatic. Two plus two is four; therefore, two plus two can never be seven. If we believe the New Testament to be true then we must believe that it agrees with itself. In the very nature of things truth cannot teach two conflicting ideas. When this fundamental and undeniable principle is recognized and accepted by all we will then all be the same thing religiously. We may misunderstand the New Testament and differ with each other endlessly, but when we understand the New Testament there will be no differences among us. Truth is not the private property of any man or group of men. None of us can claim to have a monopoly on truth. Truth is free and belongs to us wherever it is found. We ought, therefore, to keep our minds open and to be receptive to the truth. Prejudice is a based demon that has often made spiritual spoil out of otherwise savable human souls. Let us guard ourselves against prejudice in any form and set ourselves to the proposition of finding truth and benefiting by it.

    Truth in the form of the New Testament is the supreme authority in religious matters. Let us never deceive ourselves into believing that our feelings or that mortal thinking is an acceptable substitute for revelation. If how one feels is authority in religion, then we have as many authorities as we have people, since all people have feelings. If human thought is an acceptable authority in religion that we have as many authorities as we have people. Let us determine to have unadulterated truth. Let us insist on a “thus saith the Lord.” Let us demand a Bible reference for every belief and practice. Let us go back to the Bible to speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent. Let us call Bible things by Bible names and do all things in the Bible way. “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4:11).

    May a congenial spirit prevail and may we have a perfect organic unity, not on the basis of compromise or sacrifice of conviction but upon the basis of the Bible only. Let us strike hands across the Bible and stand secure on that firm, unchanging rock, knowing that God is still in his heaven above and that all will turn out aright for those who love him and walk according to the truth and his matchless word.

    Section 1-Fill in the Blanks

    Question 1
    We are to know the __________ and the __________ shall make us free.

    Question 2
    Our souls are purified by the __________

    Question 3
    The __________ __________ is able to save our souls.

    Question 4
    Man returns to the God from whom he has wandered through the __________.

    Question 5
    The only absolute truth man will ever know is the __________ __________.

    Question 6
    We must be __________ of the word and not __________ only, deceiving ourselves.

    Question 7
    Truth, in order to be truth, must be __________ with itself.

    Question 8
    Truth cannot teach __________ ideas.

    Question 9
    We should never deceive ourselves into thinking that our __________ or that __________ __________ is an acceptable substitute for revelation.

    Question 10
    __________ in the form of the New Testament is the __________ in religious matters.

    Section 2-Choose the Correct Answer

    Question 1
    In the New Testament there are:
    no non-essentialsmany non-essentialssome unnecessary commands.

    Question 2
    To hear the words of Christ and do them is to be like a:
    wise manfoolish mandead man

    Question 3
    The Bible is:
    a book of mysteriesperfectly clearimpossible to understand

    Question 4
    When we misunderstand the New Testament we:
    agreefussdiffer

    Question 5
    Since people differ in how they feel on a given subject, then our feelings are:
    a safe guidenot a safe guideunimportant

    Question 6
    In religious matters, we ought to follow:
    our feelingsour thinkingthe Bible only

    Question 7
    When we all follow the Bible and the Bible only, we will have:
    unrestdisharmonyperfect organic unity

    Question 8
    At the end of time Christ will come in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that:
    obey not the gospelobey the gospelare in the church.

    Question 9
    If any man speaks he should speak as:
    the writings of Godinstructed by synodsconferences and councilsthe people desire

    Section 3-Complete the Scriptures

    Question 1
    “Beloved, __________ not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of __________: because many __________ prophets are gone out into the __________” (1 John 4:1).

    Question 2
    “For the __________ was given by __________, but grace and __________ came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).

    Question 3
    “For the __________ was given by __________, but grace and __________ came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).

    Question 4
    “But unto them that are __________, and do not __________ the truth, but obey __________, indignation and wrath” (Romans 2:8).

    Please complete the form below.

    Your Name

    Your Email

    Your Comments / Questions (if any)

    Share This:

    Leave a Reply