Posted by: tucsonjefe | August 5, 2009

The Source of Authority

I was talking to a lady the other day who is a member of another local church. She said they were having trouble because so many were leaving the church to begin their own work. This is not an uncommon phenomenon. It is really the rule rather than the exception in our culture. I see it in the countries where I travel as well. Someone disagrees with leadership about a bible issue, or even an issue of philosophy or direction.  They get more and more worked up about it until they believe the Lord is calling them to go start something themselves.  In the early church we see some record of this, but the big explosion came when the bible became commonly available and the authority of the church was questioned.  Where lies authority: scripture or church leaders? As the Protestant era progressed, the bible itself began to be questioned. In the 19th and 20th centuries debate raged over the trustworthiness of Scripture. In the midst of that, around the turn of the 20th century, came the Pentecostal movement. People were being filled with the Spirit and beginning to prophesy, claiming divine communication on a direct basis.  The result is a secular world and a Church without absolutes; there are no objective standards. Living in an age where there is no final authority for anything presents interesting issues in trying to lead a post-modern church:

  1. People outside the church don’t recognize the Scripture as real. Therefore, you can’t simply tell them, “Well, the Bible says…”  It won’t hold water.  We have to live lives that demonstrate that Jesus is real.
  2. For many in our congregations, subjective feelings are more important than objective authority.  Commitments last only as long as emotional attachment.  When the entertainment value wanes, so does the commitment.
  3. Church discipline as it was understood in the bible is well nigh impossible. If a pastor tries to correct a congregant, the next church down the road welcomes them with open arms.
  4. In order to help people become disciples we have to teach them about authority, commitment, and accountability.  They won’t get it anywhere else.

Authority for the Christian flows from the throne of God to a hearing heart. The Lord is pretty clear that He esteems His appointed authorities and His written Word. That means that every subjective impression should be measured against two standards:  “What does the Scripture say” and “What does my Pastor or his appointed leadership say?”  Thank God for the internal leading of the Spirit and for His gifts and manifestations, but Christianity is not every man for himself.  It is exactly the opposite: Myself for every man.

Scripture Reading:   Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven.   (Psalms 119:89 NKJV)

 Somebody Said: When we ask for advice, we are usually looking for an accomplice.
            — Marquis de la Grange

In a world quite apparently run amok, I am grateful for the anchor of God’s ‘Word and the godly people He has placed in my life.  I pity those who are left entirely to their own devices, their own ideas, and their own emotions. It must be terrifying.




  1. Yes indeed.

    • You really hit the nail on the head when you talk about Church Authority. Without mentioning the name of the denomination, the talk about authority seems to be political at times. Authority and the Holy Spirit. Praise God. When leaders really do seek God and pray, really pray before their services, Jesus does show up.
      Thank you

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