Restoring The Authority For The Church

by Randy Baker As the Israelites were so inclined to do, they often departed from God's way or law. Again and again, they were brought to their knees and made to see their need for His forgiveness and blessings. When this happened, they sought to get right with God by returning to God's commandments and began a fresh to apply them to their lives (11 Kings 18:3-6; 22:1-13). The prophet Jeremiah advise the people of his day to "Stand ye in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths. where is the good way; and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for you souls: (Jeremiah 6:16).

In view of the fact that the New Testament spoke of a coming departure from God's way (Acts 20:29,30; 11 Thessalonians 2:3; 11 Timothy 4:3,4), it is obvious that there is an even constant need to follow the advice Jeremiah gave his people. There can be no doubt that the apostasy which was foretold became a reality during what is commonly referred to as the Dark Ages. the Reformation Movement was a great step in the right direction because it placed the Bible in the hands of the common man. That the Reformation leaders accepted the Bible as authoritative is obvious form the following quote from the Westminster Confession: "The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it aught to be believed and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man or church, but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof..." Unfortunately, Reformation leaders did not live to carry this principle to its ultimate objective.

In the Restoration Movement, there has been an insistence upon both the authority of the Bible and the restoration of its doctrines and practices. The Restoration principle of returning to the Bible as the voice of authority exactly parallels the Jews' return to God's commands when they desired to get right with Him.

In Acts 2:42, we read that the early converts continued in the apostle's doctrine, for they (the apostles) had been guided into all truth (John 16:13). It is only the 'truth' that can make men free (John 8:32) and God's Word is that 'truth' (John 17:17). Therefore, our authority in the area of religion must always be God's Word. Peter tells us that God "in His divine power hath granted unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness" (11 Peter 1:3). Paul concurs in the sufficiency of the Scriptures when he says, "Every Scripture inspired of God is also profitable for instruction in righteousness: that man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work" (11 Timothy 3:16,17).

Where God has spoken, man is not at liberty to legislate, for God's Word is the conclusion of the whole matter (Deuteronomy 4:2; Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:18,19). When God told the Israelites to use only priests from the tribe of Levi, this eliminated applicants from other tribes. So it is that when God speaks on a matter, that is the conclusion of it. God has spoken and we must accept His word as authority if we are to be successful on restoring the church to its New Testament state of purity. "Let God be found true and every man a liar" (Romans 3:4).