Biblical Authority

Biblical Authority

Questions About Biblical Authority

1.I can’t believe God is a picky as you make Him out to be. If we love Him and are sincere it doesn’t matter if we do everything exactly the way the Bible says.

In John 14:15 Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” Again in I John 2:3-4 John said, “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” And in Hebrews 5:9 we are told that Jesus is “the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.” The bottom line is that God has never counted His people as “sincere” if they willfully refuse to obey Him. In Leviticus 10:1-3 Nadab and Abihu were killed by fire from God because they offered a different kind of fire than God had commanded. How picky is that? In II Samuel 6:1-7 Uzzah was killed when he took hold of the ark of the covenant as he was trying to keep it from falling when the oxen pulling the cart stumbled. Uzzah’s sincerity and good intentions did not save him from being killed when he touched the ark.

Consider also that Jesus warned the apostles in John 16:2, “…the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service.”Sincerity certainly did not excuse a person who was murdering one of the apostles. Paul stated in Acts 23:1 “I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” Though Paul had lived in all good conscience, he still counted himself as “the chief of sinners”(I Timothy 1:15) and a “blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man” (I Timothy 1:13). Sincerity and love for God simply does not excuse a person’s disobedience.

By the way, when Jesus condemned the Jews in Matthew 23:23 for tithing mint, anise and cummin, but neglecting the weightier matters of the law, He stated at the end of this verse, “These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.” Jesus, therefore, did not tell them to stop tithing these small herbs. In fact, He told them to continue with the tithe, while not neglecting the weightier matters of the law. Therefore, Jesus was not condemning strict adherence to the law, but warning that we not neglect the true meaning and spirit behind the Lord’s commands.

2. “I realize that God was strict in the Old Testament and even struck people dead, but now through Christ, God is far more lenient.”

This statement suggests that God’s character actually changed once Christ came offering grace through His blood. But Hebrews 13:8 states that Jesus Christ is “the same yesterday, today, and forever.” God’s character has not changed and neither has His offer of mercy to those who obey Him. Even under the Law, at the giving of the ten commandments God offered mercy to those who kept His commandments (Exodus 20:5-6). How was Abraham saved? According to Romans 4, he was saved by grace. How was David saved? According to Romans 4, though under the Law he was saved by grace. Of course, the grace that God offered in Old Testament times was dependent upon the offering of Christ even as His offer of grace in the New Testament. In Romans 11:22, after Paul cited the example of God cutting off Israel because of their disobedience, he said, “Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God…” Both the goodness of God in the Old Testament times as well as the severity of God in the Old Testament times, needs to be considered in New Testament times.

Further, Hebrews 2:1-3 as well as Hebrews 10:26-31 and Hebrews 12:25-29, all tell us that the greater privileges and greater salvation of the New Testament, means that we also have a greater responsibility to righteousness and obedience. The principle is, if they did not escape who had God’s word given through angels and Moses, we certainly will not escape who have the Word given through the Son of God.

3. Do not talk to me about “commandments” and “law.” We are no longer under law, but under grace (Romans 6:14), and therefore we now have freedom in Christ (Galatians 5:1).

The person who makes this statement is taking Romans 6:14 completely out of its context. Chapter six of Romans is actually teaching that grace demands that we cease sin! (Romans 6:1-2). Since grace has freed us from sin, we must no longer live in it. Romans 6:17-18 states that since we are no longer slaves to sin, we have now become slaves to righteousness.

In Paul’s discussion of law and grace in Romans 3, he states in verse 31, “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.”It is foolish to say that once we are under grace we are no longer under any law. If we were no longer under a law we would not need grace, because where there is no law there is no sin (Romans 4:15). When Paul in Romans 6:14 states that we are not under law, he is referring to a system of law as opposed to a system of grace or faith. Under a system of law one would have to live perfectly in order to be saved (Romans 3:20; 4:1-4). Under such a system sin would have dominion over us because we would have no means of escaping it once we sinned. But sin does not have dominion over us under a system of faith/grace because our salvation is based on forgiveness not perfection. When we sin, we can turn to God in confession and faith and thus always be able to escape sin’s power. However, such “good news” in no way gives us a license to sin. In fact, it is that very doctrine that Jude condemned in Jude 4 when he said that ungodly men “turn the grace of our God into licentiousness.” Grace demands us to cease from sin.

4. You speak of having to obey God on the basis of “commands, examples, and necessary inferences.” Where did you come up with that idea?

Acts 15:6-21 shows clearly the means by which the apostles and early church sought authority for their teaching and practice when sufficient revelation had already been made. In this passage a dispute had arisen over whether the Gentiles were to be circumcised and to follow the law of Moses in order to be saved. It is interesting that the apostles do not turn to the Holy Spirit for direct revelation, instead relying on the revelation that had already been provided. So how did they go about determining the truth? Peter 15:6-11 argued the point on the basis of necessary inference. Peter first presented the pertinent facts:

  1. He was sent by God to preach to the Gentiles,
  2. God acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit even as He did to us (the apostles),
  3. He made no distinction between us (Jews) and them (Gentiles), purifying their hearts by faith.

With these three facts before the audience, Peter then drew the necessary conclusion: “Therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples…But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we (Jews) shall be saved in the same manner as they (Gentiles).”(verse 10-11). Though God had not specifically said that the Gentiles did not have to be circumcised or keep the law of Moses, Peter was able to necessarily infer that they were not under such a requirement because of the facts of how God went about saving Cornelius and his household. Of course, we might add that Peter also uses an approved example as the basis for his necessary inference.

Paul and Barnabas (15:12) take up the argument on the basis of approved examples. They refer to their preaching tour among the Gentiles and how that God performed miracles and wonders through their hands as they preached the gospel without requiring circumcision or the law of Moses. The miracles and wonders God gave them as they preached placed God’s approval on this method of saving Gentile people.

Finally, James 15:13-21 refers to a direct precept in scripture where God plainly approved the acceptance of the Gentiles when the tabernacle of David was rebuilt. That day had come, therefore the Gentiles were to be accepted.
Jesus used the method of approved example to teach in Matthew 12:1-5. He also used necessary inference in Matthew 22:41-45 when He tried to teach the people that He was both the Son of God as well as the Son of Man.

5. I may not being doing what the Bible says, but you are not suppose to judge me. I know the Bible condemns that!

Any time we get a response such as this, we need to first examine our own motives and make sure we have not come across in our teaching with a self-righteous attitude. II Timothy 2:24-25 warns us to be gentle and patient when we teach, “in humility correcting those who are in opposition.”

However, there are also occasions when a person offers this response to a legitimate scriptural warning of disobedience before God. The Lord warned against judging one another when it is a measuring of someone by our own standards (Matthew 7:1-2). Further, we are warned against prejudicial judgment, judgment made when we do not have all the facts (John 7:24). But in this same text we are also told to “judge righteous judgment.” In Philippians 1:9-10 we are told increase in “knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent.” Again, in I John 4:1 we are told to “test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” John continues in verse 6 telling us the standard by which we are to test: “He who knows God hears us (the apostles); he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”

We are not violating the Lord’s prohibition against judging when we are simply teaching what God has said about what is right and wrong, moral and immoral, and discerning between a false teacher and one who speaks the truth.