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The Authority of the Church

(Matthew 16:18,19; 2 Corinthians 10:8; 13:10; Acts 20:28; 1 Thessalonians 5:12; Acts 15:2,6,28,29; 16:4,5; Titus 1:5; 2:15; Hebrews 13:7)

Lesson 4 -- fourth quarter 1999
September 26, 1999

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 1999, Christian Light Publications

"Whoa! Just hang on...and make it more than a minute! You say these are necessary things. That's all fine and dandy (and I'm glad you kept it to a tidy little minimum), but where was I when the vote was taken? I think I smell a rat here. Didn't you fellows ever hear of the democratic process? I'll not be part of any patriarchy or dictatorship! I say the congregation needs to vote on stuff like this."

Too much for the imagination, right? Well, put in its Biblical context, the answer is definitely yes. However, in our current world context, the answer is a resounding no. The scenario in the first paragraph is not at all difficult to imagine. No doubt there are readers who have even experienced something much like it.

The issue of the authority of the church is hot enough to dangerously singe anyone who handles it unwittingly. So let everyone beware!

Woe to that church leader who sees in his ordination the granting of personal power and authority over the lives of church members! God calls leaders and ordains them to lead and to feed with a shepherd's heart of service.

Woe to that church member who sees in his personal access to the Father the right to pattern his life primarily after his own understanding! Our direct access to God does absolutely nothing to absolve us of brotherhood accountability and brotherly submission one to another.

Woe to that congregation that so takes upon it the "keys of the kingdom" and the "these necessary things" passages that it assumes the privilege of adding to or taking from the unalterable Word of God! As any congregation develops and then exercises its own local guidelines and discipline, let it do so with both eyes fixed squarely on truth and on the True One.

Please consider another aspect of this church authority issue. As the world we live in becomes less inclined to live by and enforce the rules, be certain your heart is always bowed in submission and loyalty to the Power behind all authority. I'm not certain which is the greater travesty: churches with no rules, or members who flaunt the rules with no consequence. Beware of being a member of the former; beware of being one of the latter.

What about the following scenario? Part of the congregation's written discipline stipulates unequivocally that such-and-so must be thus-and-so, but two or three members openly violate that...with no consequence. Is this an acceptable situation? Most assuredly not. Should this situation encourage others to flaunt the rules? Of course not. Should the rule be re-examined? Perhaps. Should the noncompliant members be dealt with? Yes.

Deliberate disobedience is a major affront to the King and His Kingdom! So is looking the other way.

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