Religious Authority: Self or Christ? – Jerry C. Brewer

Jerry C. Brewer

When the pharmacist fills your prescription, you expect him to follow an exact standard. If the pharmacist says he “feels aspirin will do as well for your pneumonia as the antibiotic prescribed,” would you accept that? Of course not! But a lot of people are like that mixed-up pharmacist when it comes to religion. Asked how one knows he is saved, the answer is often, “Oh, I just feel I am saved.” But God says “the way of man is not in himself” (Jer. 10:23). Man’s feelings and “think-sos” are not the standard of salvation. God measures man by His standard—not by what man thinks.

Man will not be judged by what he thinks or feels, but by the word of God (John 12:48). People often reject God’s standard of authority, choosing to live by their “feelings” instead. But the Bible says what we do in religion must be authorized by the Christ. “Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks unto God and the Father by him” (Col. 3:17). To do a thing “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ” means He has authorized us to do that thing.

We cannot simply pick out a practice that suits us and say, “this is in the name of Christ.” Unless Christ has authorized in the Bible what we preach and practice we are not acting in his name. To do otherwise brings God’s wrath upon us. “But though we or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8).

Neither does God’s silence constitute religious authority. Many people believe anything is acceptable to God, so long as “He didn’t say not to do it.” The doctor may not have said not to substitute aspirin for antibiotics in your prescription, but that doesn’t authorize the pharmacist to substitute it instead. That could be deadly!

Two men in the Old Testament lost their lives because they did something which God hadn’t specifically forbidden. “Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not. And there went out a fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord” (Lev. 10:1-2).

They were authorized to offer incense in the tabernacle because they were the sons of Aaron. Their offering had to be done “in the name of God” or by His authority. But the scripture says they offered strange fire which “God commanded them not.” God had authorized fire to be taken from the altar of incense which stood before the veil in the tabernacle. He didn’t say not to use fire from another source, so they may have reasoned that the source was unimportant. The fire they used burned as well as fire from the altar, but they failed to obey God’s expressed command. They died because they acted by what God didn’t say instead of what He had authorized. They failed to act in His name.

One who uses his “feelings” (self) as his religious authority blasphemes the Word of God, counting the authority of Christ as nothing. If “feelings” are your religious authority, you are saying God was a fool to send Christ to die for sinful man, Christ was a fool to give Himself on the cross, and God wasted 1,500 years of inspiring men to write the Bible.

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Author: Editor

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