QUESTION: Who or what should be the final authority regarding the most important issues of life?
ANSWER: This is an excellent question. To answer it one must first seek to identify the important issues of life. The Bible gives us a knowledge of the existence of God, creation, Jesus Christ, salvation, heaven and hell. It gives us a knowledge of God's will for us (Eph. 5:17). The Word of God frees us from sin and all its evil consequences which reach out to grab and destroy us. It frees us from the power of sin (Col. 1:13-14). It frees us from the pollution of sin, that is, guilt and fear (2 Tim. 1:7). It frees us from the pleasure of sin (Heb. 10:25). It frees us from the old man of sin (Rom. 6:3-4). It offers us heaven where we will be free from the presence of all sin. The Bible tells man of his origin, his purpose of existence, and his destiny (Gen. 1:1; Eccl. 12:13-14; 2 Cor. 5:10). The Bible is the only book that deals sufficiently with the subject of death (Gen. 2:17; Gen. 3:1-6, 19; Rom. 5:12; 6:23).
The same book which answers these significant questions also teaches that God pleased when men seek authority only from Him in His word with reference to salvation, Christianity and religion. This is the case since, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim. 3:16-17). God is displeased when men either add to or subtract from His word (see Deut. 4:2; Prov. 30:5-6 & Rev. 22:18-19). Men must not tamper with God's written revelation from Heaven. In every age since the beginning of the world, God has required men to recognize His authority. To those who lived under the Law of Moses, it is written, "The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law" (Deut. 29:29). In the New Testament Age in which we now live, God's inspired word commands, "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" (Col. 3:17). Therefore, men today must have a book, chapter and verse from the New Testament of Christ for whatever they teach or practice with regard to salvation. We are to abide in the doctrine of Christ if we expect to have a saving relationship with God the Father (2 John 9). In view of this fact, someone who respected Bible authority once stated, "Let us speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent." Another correctly stated, "In the Bible there are facts to be believed, commands to be obeyed, and promises to be enjoyed." These statements are in harmony with the teaching of Colossians 3:17.
Accepting God's standard of truth by which we live and seek eternity with God, we must reject the false standards which men seek to impose upon us today. Some of these faulty, unauthorized standards are: feelings, human wisdom, conscience only, dreams, personal experiences, false traditions, and false "gospels." In place of giving priority to feelings, study (2 Tim. 2:15); in place of human wisdom, get God's wisdom (I Cor. 1:18-25); in place of the conscience only, educate your conscience by the word of God (Acts 9:1-2; 23:1; John 8:31-32); in place of so-called modern-day miraculous dreams, accept only the meaning of the recorded miraculous dreams of certain ones in the first century (Acts 2:17; I Cor. 13:8-10); in place of personal experiences, let us appreciate the testimony of the Lord (Rev. 1:9; 6:9); in place of false gospels, let us accept the one and only gospel of Christ (Gal. 1:6-9).
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God said, "He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day" (John 12:48). May we let Christ be the authority in our lives today by hearing, believing and obeying His teaching. In so doing, we may expect Him to receive us at the last day, taking us into heaven where we shall live eternally in joy and peace (read John 14:1-3).
- Gary L. Grizzell, Cookeville, TN; via the Belvedere Beacon, the weekly bulletin of the Belvedere church of Christ, Belvedere, SC. Ken Chumbley preaches for this congregation, and he may be contacted at their website: http://www.belvederechurchofchrist.org