The Authority of the Church
Matthew 16:16-18, “Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.”
Jesus establishes with Peter, that his revelation of who He is didn't come from a human perspective, and He Is the Christ, the Messiah, the son of the living God, part of the Trinity. And based on that revelation of who He is, this fact establishes His church on that principal.
There is so much being said about the church, in the church, and the function and purpose of the church. So many people have taken an attitude or position that the church belongs to them and they can do whatever they want to do. I'm here to add commentary, insight, and understanding, as to whom the church belongs and what authority it holds. We cannot simply do what we want to do without order, discipline, or accountability. Matthew 16:24, “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.’”
The first thing that must be established here is whether you believe that the Bible is inspired by God and the only infallible, authoritative word of God. In John 1:1-5, the Scripture tells us that in the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God. It goes on to say, He was in the beginning, meaning Jesus was there from the beginning and created everything. In Jesus was life, this life is the light of man that shines in darkness. So, we see here that Jesus is the Word, the Creator, the originator and the end of our faith. He established His church based on the Word, that He is the head of the church. 2 Timothy 3:15-16 says that from childhood we should have known the Holy Scriptures which are able to give us salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Also, all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable, beneficial, for doctrine, reproof, and correction.
We are raising up a generation that doesn't know God; therefore, they're basing everything on their opinions and have not learned scripture. Also, the Bible says in 2 Peter 1:20-21, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. Prophecy of the scripture never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
We must understand the difference between theology and theocracy. Theology is man's theory or opinion of what God said, and we all are entitled to our opinion. However, theocracy is a systematic and governmental rule in the name of God. In other words, God is in control. Do you remember in the Old Testament when the people of God wanted a king, and no longer be ruled by judges and priest, neither by the word of God? God says to Samuel, give the people what they want, they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me (1Samuel 8:6-10).
We are hearing so much about what we think is appropriate or not appropriate. There's nothing wrong with this or that, but most people are going on opinion and not the Word of God. We have assumed that we can do what we want to do in the church of the living God without checking his Word for guidance. I am reminded of recent events that happened in the church, regarding who we should turn our worship services over to.
Many people quoted Acts 5:38-39, “now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God you cannot overthrow it, Lest you even be found to fight against God.” This scripture is used out of context, if we don't understand what is happening prior to and after. These apostles were arrested, freed by supernatural intervention, and were found in the temple preaching through the obedience of the Holy Spirit. They were threatened not to preach, and then in Acts 5:29-32, Peter says, “We ought to obey God rather than man. We are His witnesses, and also the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.”
Notice that Peter says we are to obey God, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We also must be willing to suffer the consequences of our obedience. In verses 40-41, the council agreed with the statement and commanded that they should be beaten and let go. If we are standing for God and preaching on His behalf, we must be willing to suffer as well. Verses 41-42, “and they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name, and daily they continued in the temple and houses teaching and preaching.” We must ask ourselves what our motives and purpose are in what we are doing in the name of the Lord. What are we trying to accomplish? Is it to win people to Christ, or is it just for show? If you stand for Jesus, you will suffer persecution, and when it comes, rejoice. We need to be reminded that in Acts 4:13, it was said of Peter and John, when they saw their boldness, and perceived that they were uneducated and unlearned men, they marveled, and realized that they had been with Jesus.
The church belongs to Jesus Christ, He is the head and has established it based on His Word. He has placed authority and order in the church. He adds to the church those that are being saved. Ephesians 1:22-23, “And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” Those were called and lead by the Holy Spirit to shepherd the Lord people, needs to do so with care and concern. Acts 20:28, "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” The Lord after His resurrection set ministry gifts and leadership in the church. He gave some to be in leadership. Not everyone and anybody is in position to lead. His objection was to bring us into the unity of the faith and the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and into a mature state of being, to do the work of the ministry.
Ephesians 4:11-14, “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,” God has appointed in the church certain positions that please Him, and allows all of us to participate in our rightful place. 1 Corinthians 12:27-29 says that we are the body of Christ and members individually, and God has appointed these in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that He describes miracles and gifts of healings, which is the evangelist, and helps, which is inclusive of everybody else that serves in the ministry in some capacity. Ushering, music, greeting, deacons, all fall under Helps. Everyone that's not one of the five ministry gifts mentioned earlier.
The ministry gifts and leaders that God has placed in the church will be held accountable as to what we allow, what we teach, and mainly what we live. We are responsible to warn the righteous and the wicked. Ezekiel 3:20-21, "Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you did not give him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man that the righteous should not sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; also you will have delivered your soul."
Malachi 3:18, “Then you shall again discern Between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.”