For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.
1 Thessalonians 2:13
The person who has truly “accepted” Jesus as Lord, will carefully obey His will, as revealed in His word. The teaching of the apostles, contained for us in the New Testament documents, is nothing less than the Lord’s word. (Galatians 1:11-12)
In determining what our own faith and practice will be, it is of utmost importance that we respect the authority of the Scriptures.
HOW THE LORD’S AUTHORITATIVE WILL IS COMMUNICATED TO US
There are three basic avenues through which we may learn what the Lord wants us to do:
Direct command. For example, we partake of the Lord’s Supper because there is a direct command to that effect. (Luke 22:19-20)
Approved apostolic example. We partake of the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week because we see New Testament congregations doing that under apostolic direction. (Acts 20:7)
Necessary inference. We partake of the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week because that such is implied by the passages involved. (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 11:20-29; 16:1-2) Compare the implication of every Sabbath in Exodus 20:8-11.
The Bible is our authority for the Lord’s will, and it is our only authority. (John 12:48; Colossians 3:17) It is a very serious thing to add to, take away from, or change God’s word in any way. (Deuteronomy 4:1-2; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 John 9. Compare Revelation 22:18-19)
TWO BASIC ATTITUDES TOWARD SCRIPTURAL AUTHORITY
God’s silence is PERMISSIVE. Many people follow this approach. It says that if God did not specifically forbid a thing, then it must be acceptable. This is behind the thinking of those who justify a practice by saying, “Where does it say not to?”
God’s silence is PROHIBITIVE. Following this approach, we assume that if God did not authorize a thing, then it must not be done. The crucial question is not “Where does it say not to?” but “Where is the scriptural authority for it?” (Hebrews 7:14) This approach takes seriously God’s right to stipulate what He wants mankind to do and does not presume to offer God what He has not asked for. (Hebrews 11:4) The question of whether to use mechanical instruments of music in worship is a good “test case” to show the difference between these two approaches. (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16-17)
Bible examples that illustrate the prohibitive nature of God’s silence: NOAH. (Genesis 6:14-16) Anything wrong with building the ark out of some other kind of wood? NADAB & ABIHU. (Leviticus 10:1-3) How did these men fail to glorify God and treat Him as holy? JEROBOAM. (1 Kings 12:32-33) Anything wrong with what he had “devised in his own heart”? NAAMAN. (2 Kings 5:10-14) Anything wrong with dipping in some river other than the Jordan? UZZIAH. (2 Chronicles 26:16-19) Why did God punish Uzziah so dramatically for his pride? The Bible clearly warns against presumptuous sin. (Psalms 19:13; 2 Peter 2:10; etc.)
THE DANGER OF SUBSTITUTING MAN’S WAY FOR GOD’S WAY
Some dangerous substitutions:
(1) Human wisdom substituted for divine wisdom.
(2) We need to guard against what the KJV renders as “will worship”. (Colossians 2:23)
(3) Our own preference substituted for what God prefers.
(4) What “others” are doing substituted for what God has commanded.
(5) Things that are “successful” substituted for things that are faithful. The end does not justify the means! Uzza learned this lesson the hard way. (1 Chronicles 13:7-10; 15:1-2, 12-15, 25-26)
Unlike some, we must be content to follow “sound doctrine”. (2 Timothy 4:2-4) We must strive to worship God not only in “spirit”, but also in “truth”. (John 4:23-24)
It’s an old saying, but it’s still true:
“We need to speak where the Bible speaks, and be silent where the Bible is silent.”
To “receive” Jesus is to “walk” in Him We must obey Christ! (Colossians 2:6) We allow Christ to rule in our lives when we respect and obey His word. (Colossians 3:16-17)
Are you willing to submit to Christ’s rule by obeying the Scriptures in becoming a Christian? In living faithfully as a Christian?
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