Christ, the Source of Divine Authority
In Matthew 21:25, Jesus asked the elders of the Jews the question, "The baptism of John; where was it from? From heaven or from men?" The question put the elders in a difficult position. If they said it was from "heaven" (divinely authorized), then Jesus could admonish them for disobedience. "Why then did you not believe him?" (vs. 25). If they said it was from men to excuse their disobedience, they would run afoul of the people who counted John a prophet.
In this simple exchange a fundamental truth regarding the nature of authority is revealed. If a practice is authorized by man, it is in fact not authoritative at all. If however it is authorized by "heaven", men must heed it.
When Jesus came to earth, he claimed all authority for himself, "And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth'" (Matthew 28:18). Jesus is King, and has sole discretion in the making of law. We are to listen and obey him, and him alone.
Other New Testament passages teach this principle very clearly. Note the following:
"God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds" (Hebrews 1:1-2).
"For 'He (God) has put all things under His (Christ's) feet.' But when He says 'all things are put under Him,' it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted" (1 Corinthians 15:27).
"Which He (Christ) will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords" (1 Timothy 6:15).
All of these passages clearly reveal the exalted position of Jesus Christ. He is God's messenger to man in our time. He has all authority, and all things are in subject to Him. He is the "King of kings and Lord of Lords."
Paul clearly stated in Colossians 3:17, "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." The phrase, "in the name of the Lord Jesus" does not indicate a formula which must be said before engaging in a practice. Our religious practices must not only be done for the pleasure of Christ, but they must also be authorized by him.
The New Testament does not stop with the simple affirmation of the authority of Christ. It also condemns any who would usurp that authority through self-will. Those who believe they can practice what they wish religiously have no defense in scripture. Note the following passages:
"Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds" (2 John 9-11).
"And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men" (Matthew 15:9).
"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'" (Matthew 7:21-23).
Simply put, direction for the Christian in his life must ultimately have as its source the Christ. Those who foist upon us their own opinions and directives practice lawlessness, and stand condemned. Do you want to enter the kingdom of heaven? Then follow Christ, not man.
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