Vol.XVII No.I Pg.5
March 1980

Awesome, Demanding, And Irrevocable

Robert F. Turner

(continued from previous page) to a great extent unaware of what is at stake here. When protestants said, "the church must be judged by the Scriptures" they were declaring God's word superior to its product; that each individual was answerable directly to God, on the basis of His word, rather than through an institution with its clergy. Some called this "Bibliolatry" but such a charge discounts the divine nature of the Spirit-filled word. The choice is between "Church" (which must claim inspiration to even get in the race) and the "Bible" (whose inspiration has stood the test of time; and to which even the church must make appeal). Our "more sure word of prophecy" (2 Pet. 1:19) excels even eyewitnesses accounts of God's majesty (vs. 13-21). "Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." When man applies himself to God's word, he can understand (Eph. 3:2-6), God knows his heart, and a direct relationship is developed between God and man.

God has never abdicated His throne. When the Lord said, "Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth...." he did not give the Apostles a decision-making job. They were not to originate the truth bound. The Greek uses periphrastic future tense here (future perfect passive) saying literally "shall have been bound in heaven." That is, by the time you bind it on earth it will have originated and been bound in heaven. This fits perfectly with all of Christ's instructions: "Tarry... until you are endued with power from on high." The Apostles were to speak only as divine power inspired them to speak. (Matt. 16:19; 18:18) "There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and destroy: who art thou that judgest another?" Look at Jas. 4:12 closely, and you will see that legislative, executive, and judicial authority remain in ONE, the ultimate God authority.

Delegated Authority is restricted by stipulated purpose or intent. The Apostles were never anything more than inspired messengers "sent" to deliver a divine message. "They were simply to interpret and apply the terms of salvation and the ethical demands of the gospel but were not to intrude between God and man in such a way as to make decisions which God would be expected to ratify." (From a doctoral thesis by Wilber T. Dayton.)

We can do little more than suggest a few points in this space, but if you have thought these through, make application to some common problems.

(1) God's word must be approached objectively, looking outside ourselves to His stated will. Our wish, or our feelings, can never take the place of what God says about any given subject. Science, History, Research, etc., can never "prove God right." What He said is right because He said it. Miracles only proved the source of the message.

(2) Elders can not make decisions which become God's way. The "authority" they have to make decisions was given them by the congregation. God directs us to appoint them, but does not inspire their conclusions.

(3) There is no "great middle section" of the church that should be our guiding light. Each of us will be judged by our response to God's word, directly applied to our conscience.