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It Is A Question Of Authority—Who Has The Right To Represent Jesus Christ?

We live in a day of great confusion. We live in a day of great accommodation. We live in a day when no one is wrong, but everyone is right. And if not everyone is right, at least everyone has the right to represent God no matter how they choose to do it. Yes, we disagree with them, but we never question their claim that they have God’s authority to represent Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world. Yet this authority question is the crux of the matter of most of the New Testament epistles! Who has it? Who has God’s authority to represent Jesus Christ?

Would you say that everyone and anyone has this authority? I doubt you would!

Would you say that everyone in "Christendom" has this authority? I still doubt you would!

Would you say that all Protestant denominations have this authority? I doubt you would say that!

Would you say that all Baptists have this authority? Some might say that, but you probably know better!

Would you say that everyone in the universal, invisible, mythical, non-existent, "Body of Christ" has this authority? Lots of you would say that!

Would you say that any "local" church that claims to hold to the teachings of the New Testament has this authority? Many more of you would agree with that!

Then my question is, "Show me this authority from the Word of God and from history." Easy—show me! Justify, from the pages of holy writ, your or your favorite ministry's authority to represent Jesus Christ! Email me! You say you don’t have to justify your ministry to me?? I KNEW YOU COULDN’T PROVE IT!! But read on, if for no other reason than to make a fool of me......

The history of God’s New Testament churches is not defined by a name, or a personality, but by the question of, "To whom did God delegate the authority to represent His Son down through the ages?" In order to understand this truth we must understand, accept, and acknowledge that God has never allowed man to determine how He would be approached, worshipped, served, and/or represented! God’s jealousy extends from His Person (Ex. 34:14) to His Son and to His Son’s earthly representatives (2 Cor. 11:2). We must understand and accept the truth of God’s authority, and to whom that authority was granted if we are ever to understand the doctrine of the church and of the present Kingdom of Heaven.

God’s Authority In The Old Testament

Let’s consider this truth of God’s authority as applied to the Old Testament Nation of Israel. Remember that God formed the Nation of Israel out of Abraham’s seed, which is pictured in Ez. 16:1-14. Israel was God’s sovereign (Deut. 7:6) choice among all the nations of the earth. But how was God to protect His truth while still providing for the spiritual needs of His people?

The plan was designed by God. "But unto the place which the Lord your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put His Name there, even unto his habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come: Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes. But in the place which the Lord shall choose in one of thy tribes, there thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, and there thou shalt do all that I command thee" (Deut. 12:5,8,14). (Matt. 16:18; 1 Cor. 3:11; 1 Pet. 2:5)

The Person was delivered by God. "The sceptre [authority] shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh ("Son/sent One") come; and unto Him shall the gathering of the people be" (Gen. 49:10). (Matt. 16:18) This was a place (Shiloh) that pointed to a Person (Christ).

The place was determined by God. "And the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh ("Son/sent One"), and set up the tabernacle of the congregation there. And the land was subdued before them." (Josh. 18:1). (Acts 2:47; Rev. 1:20)

The Presence was decided by God. "For they provoked Him to anger with their high places, and moved Him to jealousy with their graven images. When God heard this, He was wroth, and greatly abhorred Israel: So that He forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh ("Son/sent One"), the tent which He placed among men; And delivered His strength into captivity, and His glory into the enemy's hand" (Psalm 78:58-61). (Rev. 2:5)

God’s purpose in determining the plan, the Person, the place, and His Presence was and is to protect His truth. "God is not a man, that He should lie..." (Num. 23:19) "...yea, let God be true, but every man a liar..." (Rom. 3:4). "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life..." (Jn. 14:6). "Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth" (Jn. 17:17). "...the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Tim. 3:15).

God will not accept man’s deviation from the truth, even if it is done in sincerity, since sincerity is not God’s standard! Either God determines how man approaches Him, or every man is free to do what is right in his/her own eyes! There is no middle ground with God’s truth or standard!

Though God determined the plan (tabernacle & temple), the place (Shiloh & Jerusalem), the Person (Christ as revealed in the sacrificial system), and the Presence (God’s glory filling tabernacle & temple), by the time we get to Malachi, we see that the Nation of Israel is continuing the ritual, but has corrupted the purpose and changed the "picture" (typology) of God’s truth. They were doing what was right in their own eyes! So God rightfully says, "Enough is enough"; He sets aside Israel, and for 400 years the Nation does not hear from God!

God’s Line Of Authority In The New Testament

After 400 years God broke His silence by announcing the birth of John the Baptist (Lk. 1:11-17). It was John’s purpose to "turn many of Israel to the Lord," and "to prepare a people for the Lord" in fulfillment of Mal. 4:5-6. This he did under the direct authority of God, and as God’s only authorized representative.

John the Baptist’s authority:
"There was a man sent from God, whose name was John" (Jn. 1:6).

John the Baptist’s testimony:
"The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through Him might believe" (Jn. 1:7)

John the Baptist’s method:
Preaching to conviction. "Repent ye: for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand" (Matt. 3:2)
Baptizing to identification. "And were baptized (immersed) of him in Jordan, confessing their sins" (Matt. 3:6)

God’s Representative Confirmed by Christ

"Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him" (Matt 3:13)

Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, went to the only one with the God-given authority to be baptized (to be identified with God’s proper authority, to fulfill all righteousness, to sanctify the outward act of baptism, and to receive the mantle of God’s earthly authority).

"Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon Him, and a Voice came from heaven, which said, ‘Thou art My beloved Son; in Thee I am well pleased’" (Lk. 3:21-22)
"Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; And looking upon Jesus as He walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus" (Jn. 1:35-37)

Jesus continued the line of authority set by God. Jesus was baptized by John, and preached the message of John. Those baptized by John, baptized others, under the authority of Jesus.
"(Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)" (Jn. 4:2)

You see, it is a matter of authority! It has always been a matter of authority! Certainly the religious rulers of Jesus’ day understood this.
"The chief priests and the elders of the people came unto Jesus as He was teaching, and said, By what authority doest Thou these things? and who gave Thee this authority?" "And Jesus answered and said unto them,...The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men?" (Matt. 21:23-25). To whom has God given the authority to represent Him?

From God

To John The Baptist

To Jesus Christ

To The First Church

In Matt. 10:2-4 Jesus appointed the first apostles from John the Baptist’s disciples. This appointment was a direct result of His vision and compassion for the multitudes standing before Him, and yet to be born (Matt. 10:36). His purpose in appointing apostles, who made up the first church, was not to spread the gospel quicker (Matt. 10:23), but for the perpetuation of the gospel message down through the centuries (Matt. 9:38).
"And God hath set some in the church, first apostles..." (1 Cor. 12:28).

God’s Line Of Authority—The First Church

In Matt. 16:18-19, Jesus Christ perpetuates God’s line of authority, and protects God’s truth by declaring His intention to build His church (assembly).

The disciples knew that the Nation of Israel had been God’s representative until the time of Malachi. They also knew that John the Baptist had called them to repentance over the matter of the Nation’s apostasy. They knew that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. So the building of an assembly, a place with the presence of God, would have been a natural progression to the disciples. Certainly they did not have a complete understanding of all that Jesus meant when He said, "I will build My church," but they understood the basic concept of an assembly centered on God.

In this passage Jesus begins to build 1) the first church of Jerusalem, and 2) the kind of churches that will carry God’s authority down through the ages.

God’s line of authority (Jesus is God) is revealed in:

Only this type of church is authorized by Jesus’ words ("I say") (Matt. 16:18)

Only this type of church is founded upon the declaration of Jesus Christ as the Son of God, as revealed from Heaven (Matt. 16:17)

Only this type of church is built by Jesus Christ ("I will build") (Matt. 16:18)

Only this type of church is the unique property of Jesus ("My church") (Matt. 16:18)

Only this type of church shall prevail against the ‘gates of Hell,’ which is a perpetual promise (Matt. 16:18)

Only this type of church will be given the keys (authority over/entrance into) the kingdom of Heaven (Matt. 16:19)

Only this type of church will bind and/or loose on earth with results duplicated in heaven (Matt. 16:19)

There is only one true church, the one begun by Jesus Christ. There is only one kind of church that has the God-given authority to represent Jesus Christ to the world. The rest are imitators, usurpers, and impostors. They are the result of men's rejection of God’s Word, either in part or in whole, and/or the work of Satan as an antichrist (imitator). Just like in every area of life, not everyone can be right. And when men ignore the truth of God and do what is right in their own eyes, they should not be granted the gospel privilege of acceptance by the true churches! It should be our purpose to be right before God concerning His church. Every man will give an account for his church membership, and every preacher will give account for "his" church.

Which church(es) have the God-given authority to represent Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world, based on their adherence to New Testament doctrine and historic continuity?—the independent Baptist movement— that’s who!!

From God

To John The Baptist

To Jesus Christ

To The Disciples (First Church at Jerusalem)

To the Church at Antioch

To the Anabaptist Churches

To the Baptist Churches

To the Scriptural, New Testament, independent Baptist Churches of Our Day

 

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