One of the problems that plague us in this period of history is the problem of an authoritative source. Many people today have been so conditioned by the electronic and printed media that they think there is no absolute truth. Consequently, if there is no absolute truth one cannot ever know anything for sure. This kind of reasoning in our society today has created a difficult situation for Christians that want to teach the sinner the pure gospel. You see, the sinner does not believe there is any absolute truth (i.e., a source of authority that is wholly the truth).
AUTHORITY IN SPIRITUAL MATTERS: God has informed man that it is not within his ability to lead an orderly, acceptable, and constructive life: Jer 10:23, “O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” (KJV) Man, is therefore dependent upon God to lead an acceptable life. If man insists that there is no absolute truth (i.e., no authoritative source) that man may turn to in order to be correct, then man will not acquire the truth. This philosophy cannot be true for the simple reason that man is here and there must be some answer to his origin and continued existence. The only two alternatives are: 1st Man is here simply by chance as the evolutionist, Charles Darwin has observed or 2nd Man is here as a result of God’s creation activity recorded in the Scriptures and this fact, if accepted necessitates acceptance of the Bible (i.e. the 66 Books of the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures). Once one has accepted a standard (i.e., and authoritative source), either evolution or the Biblical account of origins, one may then pursue the lifestyle that is acceptable based upon his conception of what is true.
MAN, A FREE MORAL AGENT: Each person is a free moral agent. The definition of “free moral agent” is, the individual has a built in ability to choose between good and evil. Examples of this ability:
Josh 24:15-16: “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods;”
NOTE: In the case of Joshua it is clear, he indicates that the choice between Baal and Jehovah was in the hands of the people (individually and collectively), to make. They could choose Baal or Jehovah. We find in the next verse that they understood this and made the choice to serve Jehovah.
Matt 7:21-27: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.”
NOTE: In this instruction by our Lord it is evident that the power to be right with God is predicated upon individual response, to do as God instructs or to disobey that which God instructs.
In this reading wisdom is equated as the ability to choose to follow God’s instruction (i.e., the builder on the rock) verses the foolish builder (i.e., the builder on sand). The underlying truth here is the different choices the two builders made; the wise built his lifestyle on the instructions of God the foolish built his lifestyle on other foundations. The wise choose to serve God and the foolish do not!
Phil 2:12: “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”
NOTE: Here, obedience is a choice — one may of his own free will choose to obey God or disobey God. The text indicates that the ability is personal and individual in nature.
James 1:25: “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” (KJV)
NOTE: This passage shows that one who is a Christian may or may not continue in an acceptable condition. The individual that is acceptable to God is the person that continues to choose to serve God correctly (i.e., according to Divine instruction). Man may determine of the two choices above to choose either one. If man chooses to accept evolution and its attendant philosophies he may do so. On the other hand if man chooses to accept the Bible’s account of origins he ought to choose to comply (i.e., live) as the Bible instructs him. You see, there are only two choices about authority that one may make, only one of them is acceptable to God.
THE TRUTH: Yes, there is an authoritative source for religious information, “the Bible”. The Bible (i.e., God’s instruction) teaches that the “Truth will make one free” from sin — cf., John 8:32. That objective truth (i.e., the truth from God revealed) can make one free from sin if man chooses to comply with its conditions of salvation from sin and will continue to live a lifestyle consistent with its teaching. We can know that God considers His Written Word as authoritative for salvation from sin and proper living by an appeal to it. Consider the following:
John 8:32: “and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (ASV)
The truth is capable of making one free from sin if one will choose it. If one does not choose it he cannot be saved.
John 17:17, “Sanctify them in the truth: thy word is truth.” (ASV)
The Word of God either spoken [i.e., of ancient times to Adam, Abraham, Moses, etc.], or the written is under consideration in this text. God’s Word is therefore absolutely the truth and will be suitable for whatever man needs in his spiritual relationship with God if he chooses to abide within its boundaries. If he does not choose to abide within the boundaries of God’s Word his good relationship with God will not exist or continue, as one can understand from examination of the following text found in:
John 12:48-50: “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my sayings, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I spake, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I spake not from myself; but the Father that sent me, he hath given me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life eternal: the things therefore which I speak, even as the Father hath said unto me, so I speak.” (ASV)
AUTHORITY FOR EVERY ONE: The Bible is an authoritative document from God to all mankind. The contents of the Bible will lead the honorable inquirer to a good relationship with God through grace, faith, and obedience. This good relationship will not happen unless one exercises personal responsibility and comes to God on God’s terms. Coming to God on God’s terms is a simplified way of saying that one must:
1st Hear the gospel, Romans 10:17
2nd Believe the gospel, Mark 16:15, 16
3rd Repent of sins, Acts 2:38
4th Confess Christ, Romans 10:9, 10
5th Be baptized (immersed), Acts 2:38; Rom 6:3, 4
For remission of sin, Acts 2:38.
After one has complied with the conditions contained in the Divine pattern one is then added to the church (cf. Acts 2:47)