What Do We Know About
What God Has Authorized?
All authority resides in Jesus Christ and all that we do religiously must be authorized by the Lord. The description of the true Christian is very short and simple. A true Christian is a person who walks by faith. Christians have both the obligation and the privilege to walk by faith. "For we walk by faith, not by sight." (2 Corinthians 5:7) We must seek to establish God's authority for what we are to believe and do in all religious matters. All things done by Christians must be done "in the name of Christ" or "by the Lord's authority." Paul wrote, "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him." (Colossians 3:17) The Bible is the standard of faith for the Christian. "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17) Christians must have a deep respect for Bible authority in all religious matters. Everything done in Christian service must be authorized by the New Testament.
Every person must live their life by faith if they are to please God. "Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith." (Habakkuk 2:4) Obedient faith is a condition of our justification. (Romans 5:1) Obedient faith results in everlasting life. (John 6:47) Our access to God is available through obedient faith. (Ephesians 3:12) Faith is the only way to please God. (Hebrews 11:6) We are sanctified by obedient faith. (Acts 26:18) Because God Himself is entirely faithful, He honors those who love Him enough to trust Him completely. "Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations." (Deuteronomy 7:9)The question before us in this study is of utmost importance, "What do we know about how God authorizes?" This is a crucial topic because people do not appreciate how precious and important it is to live by faith.
We know that God authorizes by direct statement: God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:16-17) Mark 16:15 is a direct command of God. "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." (Mark 16:15) Mark 16:16 authorizes both belief and baptism as conditions of salvation by a direct statement. "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned." (Mark 16:16) Colossians 3:1-2 authorizes seeking heavenly things by a direct statement. "If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth." Ephesians 5:19 authorizes singing from the heart without mechanical instruments of music by a direct statement. "Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." Many direct statements in the Bible make it possible for Christians to "walk by faith."
God authorizes by example: Christians are commanded to observe the Lord's Supper. "And when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me. In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." (I Corinthians 11:24-25) We follow their example. Both by precept and example Christians are instructed to observe the Lord's Supper every Sunday. (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2) We read in Acts 20:7 "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight." You may that the Lord's Supper was observed in an upper room, but that is optional, not binding, as one may observe by studying the several passages concerning communion. Christians are also commanded to give. (2 Corinthians 8 & 9) By example we are taught to give on the first day of the week. "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come." (1 Corinthians 16:1-2) Many examples in the Bible make it possible for Christians to "walk by faith."
God authorizes by inference: An example of inference is in the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. The Bible teaches that Saul was baptized. It says nothing of his repentance. But, all Bible students know he repented. God commands all who become Christians to repent. "Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent." (Acts 17:30) God commanded communion. Many times through the years we have heard the profound words of 1 Corinthians 11:23-30. "For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep." Involved in the command is the authority to purchase or provide the items necessary for communion and for serving communion. Let us go to the Bible, trust God and diligently seek Him. God said, "And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:13) Many inferences in the Bible make it possible for us to "walk by faith."
God authorizes by expediency: Every thing God commands involves expediency. God commanded singing. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." (Colossians 3:16.) The song book is expedient to that part of worship. God commanded worship. "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching." (Hebrews 10:25.) The place is an expedient. Understanding expediencies make it possible for us to "walk by faith." Christians can know God and have eternal life. "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." (John 17:3) Knowing and obeying truth is possible. "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:31-32) Thank God we can "know" how to go to heaven!
Will you accept God's wonderful good news that Jesus died for your sins? Will you be baptized into Christ to put on Christ so that your sins can be forgiven by His blood? "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (Galatians 3:26-27) Believers contact Christ's saving blood by being baptized into His death. Let us come to Jesus in faith (Hebrews 11:6), repentance (Luke 13:3), confession (Matthew 10:32) and baptism for forgiveness of sin. (Acts 2:38) If you are not yet a Christian, it is my earnest prayer that you may heed the call of our Lord while you still have life and opportunity. If you are a Christian but have not been faithful why not come back to God in repentance and prayer. "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." (James 5:16)
By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, P.O. Box 551, Greenville, Alabama 36037 USA