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               What Many Accept As Authority In Religion


1. In our previous study, I endeavored to show...
   a. That it is through the writing of the apostles, the "apostles' 
      doctrine", that the Lord speaks to and directs His Church
   b. That the "New Testament" is how Christ speaks to us today and 
      leads us to life everlasting
   c. That it is the "apostles' doctrine"...
      1) Which ought to be our standard of authority in matters of
      2) In which we must "continue steadfastly"! - cf. Ac 2:42
2. Many people say that they accept the "apostles' doctrine" as their
   authority in religion
   a. But when faced with an issue in which a cherished position or 
      view is being challenged...
   b. ...they often appeal to a source for their authority that is 
      quite different

3. This is easy to do, and perhaps the best way to avoid this is to be
   aware of other sources of authority in religion
   a. Some are "objective" standards of authority - sources outside of
      ourselves that we look to direct us
   b. Others are "subjective" standards of authority - where we look 
      within ourselves for the answers we want

[In this study we shall briefly touch upon various "standards" that 
people commonly turn to when faced with questions about what they 
believe and why they practice the things they do in religion.

Let's start with...]


      1. It is common for people to resort to the O. T. to provide 
         authority for some practice
         a. When they can't find authority for it in the teachings of
            Christ and/or His apostles
         b. For example, a clergy-laity system, burning of incense and
            use of instrumental music in worship, keeping the Sabbath,
      2. But the O.T. was designed to be temporary, to fulfill a 
         specific purpose and as a covenant has been replaced by the 
         New Covenant (i.e., the New Testament)
         a. It was given because of transgressions, till Christ should
            come - Ga 3:19
         b. For those under the Law (Israel), it was a tutor
            1) A tutor designed to lead them to Christ - Ga 3:24
            2) A tutor that has been taken away - Ga 3:25
         c. When those who were under the Law came to Christ...
            1) They became dead to the Law - Ro 7:4
            2) They were delivered from the Law - Ro 7:6
         d. As prophesied by Jeremiah, God has made a "new covenant" to
            replace the "first covenant" which is now obsolete - He 8:
      3. In their handling of the issue of circumcision, the apostles
         demonstrated that one cannot use the O.T. to teach something
         which the apostles themselves did not command
         a. Some sought to enforce circumcision and the Law upon 
            Gentile believers - Ac 15:1,6
         b. But the apostles, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit,
            were able to defuse the problem by simply stating they 
            themselves "gave no such commandment" - Ac 15:22-29
      4. This is not to say the O.T. is not of value to Christians...
         a. It was written for our learning, to provide patience,
            comfort, and hope - Ro 15:4
         b. It was written for our admonition, that we not make similar
            mistakes - 1 Co 10:6,11
         ...we just can't use it to enjoin religious practices upon 
         others which the apostles' themselves did not teach!

      1. Many people accept whatever the majority thinks about
      2. But consider the words of Jesus, in describing the end of the
         majority - Mt 7:13-14
      3. If you followed the majority...
         a. In Noah's day, you would have perished in the flood
         b. In Joshua's day, you would have perished in the wilderness
      4. Rather than simply follow the majority, let our attitude be
         like that of Joshua:  "as for me and my house, we will serve
         the Lord." - cf. Josh 24:14-15

   C. PARENTS...
      1. Some think "If it was good enough for Mom and Dad, it is good
         enough for me."
      2. Yet as much as we may love and respect our parents, Christ 
         must come first - Mt 10:37
      3. If every generation had simply followed their parents, then we
         who are Gentiles would likely still be idol-worshippers and 

      1. It is common for people to place their trust in their 
         "preacher," "priest," or "pastor"
      2. They reason in their hearts that surely these "men of God" 
         could not be wrong or lead them astray
         a. Yet Paul warned of how we can easily be misled - cf. 2 Co
         b. And Jesus warned about the "blind leading the blind" - Mt 
      3. Our attitude needs to be like that of the Bereans, who 
         carefully examined Paul's teachings in light of the Scriptures
         - Ac 17:11

      1. This is where the denominations really get most of their
      2. Indeed, adherence to the creeds of men is what produces
         a. Accept the Bible only, and you become a Christian only
         b. Accept the Bible along with some Creed, and you become 
            something else!
            1) Accept the Bible and the Book of Mormon, and you become
               a Mormon
            2) Accept the Bible and papal authority, and you become a
               Roman Catholic
            3) Accept the Bible and the Lutheran Catechism, and you 
               become a Lutheran
      3. Creeds are really not even necessary...
         a. If they say more than what the Bible says, they say too 
         b. If they say less than what the Bible says, they say too
         c. If they say exactly what the Bible says, then why not let
            the Bible be our creed book?
      4. The fact is, creeds are filled with the traditions and 
         commands of men, many of which conflict with and displace the
         commands of God! - cf. Mk 7:6-9
[Creeds of men, preachers, parents, majority rule, even the Old 
Testament itself, are some of the "objective" standards that people
turn to rather than the authority of the Lord's apostles.  But there 
are also...]
      1. "Let your conscience be your guide" is the motto of many
      2. But our conscience cannot always be reliable
         a. Paul had served God with a good conscience throughout his
            life - Ac 23:1
         b. Even at a time when he was persecuting Christians! - cf. Ac
      3. Our conscience is like a clock, which works properly only if
         set properly
      4. Once our conscience has been "set" by the "apostles' 
         doctrine", then it can be a good guide

      1. Many feel that through their own wisdom they can determine 
         right and wrong
      2. But God's thoughts and ways are not always our own - cf. Isa 
      3. In fact, God has chosen to save man in a manner specifically
         designed to confound those who depend solely upon human wisdom
         - cf. 1 Co 1:18-29
      4. For us to know God's will, it was necessary for Him to reveal
         it to us - 1 Co 2:9-12
         a. This He has done through His Spirit-inspired apostles
         b. Who in turn shared it with us through their writings - Ep 

      1. This is often the "standard of authority" for many people
         a. Who go by whatever "feels right"
         b. Who place stock in a religion "better felt than told"
      2. Yet the Bible declares the danger of trusting in "feelings"
         a. "There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is
            the way of death." - Pr 14:12
         b. "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool..." - Pr 28:26
         c. "O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not
            in man who walks to direct his own steps." - Jer 10:23


1. Because the way we should live is "not in man"...
   a. We need an "objective standard" for our authority in religion
   b. We can't depend upon "subjective standards" like conscience, 
      human wisdom, or feelings

2. But which "objective standard"?
   a. Not creeds of men, preachers, parents, majority rule, or even the
      Old Testament
   b. Only the "apostles' doctrine", i.e., the New Testament...
      1) For the apostles were personally selected to be Christ's 
      2) For the apostles were inspired by the Holy Spirit, to be 
         guided into all the truth
      3) And they were inspired to write all that Christ would have us
         to know and do

3. When we are content to abide in the "apostles' doctrine", then we 
   can be assured that we are "Following Jesus Without 

Are you following Jesus by "continuing steadfastly in the apostles' 
doctrine"?  Or do you follow some other standard of authority in 
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