God’s Authority is Expressed in the Scriptures
Many in the religious world think that God’s will is revealed in many ways other than through His written word, the Scriptures. Some people rely on what they feel God is telling them, or supposed visions from God. Others contend the Holy Spirit is still revealing God’s will in miraculous or mysterious ways, even telling them to teach and practice things contrary to what the Holy Spirit has revealed in the Scriptures. There is clear evidence that God has expressed His will in written form, in the Scriptures.
God, the Father, is the Origin of All Authority
“Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power…But when He (the Father) says ‘all things are put under Him (Jesus),’ it is evident that He (the Father) who put all things under Him (Jesus) is excepted” (1 Corinthians 15:24,27). Paul affirms that even though Jesus has presently been given “all authority…in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18), God the Father reigns supreme over all.
In Old Testament days God the Father expressed His will, His authority, directly to the patriarchs (the heads of the households: Noah, Abraham, etc.) and later through Moses and the prophets. The Hebrew writer begins his letter: “God (the Father)…at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets…” (Hebrews 1:1). After stating that God spoke in this manner in the past, the writer says God the Father “has in these last days spoken to us by His Son” (1:2).
Divine Authority is Expressed through Jesus Christ
While Jesus was on this earth, “people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority” (Matthew 7:28-29). After His resurrection from the dead and before His ascension into heaven, Jesus said “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18). Jesus made it clear that His authority was “from heaven” when “the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, ‘By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?’” (Matthew 21:23-25). We have record of what Jesus taught by the authority of God the Father; His teachings and practices are expressed in the Gospels. But Jesus had more teaching that needed to be done after He left this earth and the Father “seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion…and put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church…” (Ephesians 5:20-22).
Divine Authority is Expressed through the Holy Spirit
Jesus promised His apostles that He would send the Holy Spirit to them to guide them into all truth. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you… I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you” (John 14:26; 16:12-15). Note the order: “all things that the Father has” (i.e. His teaching and authority), the Son also has, and this authority would be given to the Holy Spirit (“for He will not speak on His own authority”). And “all things that the Father has” (Jesus also) would be declared, by the Holy Spirit, to the apostles.
The Holy Spirit Revealed God’s Authority through the Apostles
Note that the promise of sending the Holy Spirit was not made to all of Jesus’ disciples, but only to His chosen and appointed apostles who were present with Him at the time: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you…You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you…But when the Helper comes, whom I send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning” (John 14:26; 15:16,26-27).
One apostle not present with Jesus “from the beginning” was Paul; but as “one born out of due time” (1 Corinthians 15:8), he could state: “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches by which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Corinthians 2:12-13).
What the apostles spoke by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, revealing the authoritative words of God, they also recorded in the New Testament Scriptures. Paul said, “If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 14:37). “The Lord” is our Master, Jesus Christ, who has “all authority…in heaven and on earth” to command all of mankind.
The Scriptures Record the Authoritative Words of God
The apostle Peter referred to Paul’s epistles as Scripture: “…Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things had to understand, which those who are untaught and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures” (2 Peter 3:15-16). “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Since the Scriptures are inspired of God, they have the authority of God behind them; the Scriptures reveal everything God has authorized man to do (equipping us “for every good work”), and the Scriptures are fully sufficient to make us “complete” before God.
There is no evidence that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are speaking to anyone separate and apart from the recorded words of the Scriptures. The will of Christ, who has been given “all authority…in heaven and on earth,” is set forth in the New Testament Scriptures. Therefore, everything we teach and practice in religion must the authorized by the New Testament or it cannot be done by the authority of Christ.