The Most Trustworthy Authority

By: Mike Gendron; ©2002
Possibly the most important decision we make in this life is choosing which authority to trust for our eternal destiny. In this article Mike Gendron presents a compelling case for choosing the Bible as our supreme authority.

 

The Most Trustworthy Authority

Possibly, the most important decision we all make in this life is choosing which authority to trust for our eternal destiny. We can be wrong about a lot of things in this life and still survive, but if we are wrong about that decision we will pay for it throughout eternity. The decision requires diligent study since every religion has an authority—a person, a book, an experience or a combination of all three. But there is a supreme authority that has no equal.

The Bible has no equal because it is the most authoritative, perfect, influential and powerful book ever written. God chose forty men to pen His word “as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). His word is the standard by which we discern truth from error because it is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18; 1 John 4:6). God has exalted His Word above all things, even equal to His holy name (Psalm 138:2). The Lord Jesus used the power and authority of the Scriptures to rebuke Satan (Matthew 4). The Bible does not refer to any other rule of faith because everything that one must know, understand and believe to become a Christian is found in the Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:14-16; 1 Cor. 15:1-4). Therefore, after considering each source of authority we must ask, “But what does the Scripture say?” (Galatians 4:30).

The Bible’s supreme authority is established by its divine origin. The Bible is the only book that can claim all of the following characteristics:

Prophecy—It foretells the future with great precision and detail.
Influence—Abundant evidence of radically changed lives throughout human history.
Unity—It describes one complex drama from eternity to eternity.
Indestructibility—It has withstood continuous attacks and intense scrutiny.
God Inspired—The only religious book that gives solid proof of its divine inspiration.
Freedom—The only book that has power to set people free from bondage.
Popularity—It is the most circulated and translated book in history (1800 languages).
Character—40 authors from all walks of life, spanning 1500 years and 3 continents.
Reliability—Its historical, geographical and cultural references agree with external evidence.

The Bible is the most unique book ever written. No other religious book dares to predict the future. When the Bible was written, over 30% of the Scriptures foretold future prophetic events. There are extensive prophecies dealing with nations and cities, all of which have been literally fulfilled. Over half of these prophecies have been fulfilled in the precise time and manner as predicted. Jesus Christ fulfilled three hundred prophecies at His first com­ing, and many more will be fulfilled at His Second Coming. Only a book inspired by God, Who alone knows the end from the beginning, could foretell the future with 100% accuracy. We see seven characteristics of the Bible from the following verses:

All your words are true (Psalm 119:160).
…from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,… (2 Tim. 3:15-16).
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).
We have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:19-21).

The Apostle Paul commended the Berean Church for using Scriptures to verify the truthfulness of his teaching. Since an apostle, who penned over half the New Testament came under the scrutiny of the Scriptures, we must hold all religious teachers to the same accountability.

Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true (Acts 17:11).

The Catholic Church recognizes the Bible as a sacred book, but not as the sole and final authority for truth. Its tradition and teaching authority are said to be equal in authority. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) states, “The task of giving an authentic interpreta­tion of the Word of God has been entrusted to the living teaching office (the Magisterium) of the Church alone” (para. 85). All Catholics are required to comply with all the teachings of their Magisterium (para. 88). Thus Catholics are commanded to trust a group of fallible men to interpret the Word of God for them. Were the Scriptures given to a select group of men (Magisterium) to interpret or to every man?

Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God (2 Cor. 4:2).

The Catholic Church teaches that Peter was the rock upon which Jesus would build His church. They base this doctrine on a misinterpretation of Matthew 16:18 where Jesus said, “You are Peter (petros—stone) and on this rock (petra—mass of rock) I will build my church.”

However, the Greek word “petra” is feminine and therefore is not normal to use it in reference to the masculine Peter. Jesus did not say, “Upon thee I will build my church.” Peter knew, without a doubt, that Jesus was not referring to him as “the rock” because in one of his epistles he proclaimed Jesus as “the rock” (1 Peter 2:6-8). “Petra” probably refers to Peter’s confession of faith after Jesus asked him, “Who do you say I am.” Furthermore, it was James, not Peter, who presided over the first Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:13, 19). And it was the apostles who sent Peter to preach, rather than Peter sending them to proclaim Christ (Acts 8:14). The apostle Paul also referred to Jesus as the rock: “they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ” (1 Cor. 10:4).

The Catholic Church teaches that Jesus gave Peter and his successors supreme au­thority over the church when He offered them the keys to the kingdom (Matt. 16:19). How­ever, all born-again Christians are his successors and possess the keys. The Gospel is clearly the only key that has the power to open the gates of heaven. Peter first opened heaven by proclaiming the Gospel to the Jews (Acts 2:14), then the Gentiles (Acts 15:7, 14). It is only by believing the Gospel that people are loosed from their sins. Anyone who rejects the gospel remains bound in sin.

I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile (Rom. 1:16).

The Catholic Church declares its popes are infallible when speaking “ex cathedra” in matters of faith and morals, but are they really? There have been numerous accounts of popes contradicting each other’s proclamations. When we look at the life of Peter, whom Catholics believe was their first pope, we see clearly that he was not infallible.

When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong.… The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the Gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?” (Gal. 2:11-14).

Jesus never established the papacy or a hierarchy of authority that we see within the Roman Catholic Church. In fact he instructed the apostles to avoid ruling the church this way.

Jesus said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant” (Matt. 20:25-26).

The Sacred Scriptures give numerous warnings against trusting men rather than God and His word.

This is what the Lord says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord. He will be like a bush in the wastelands…But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him” (Jeremiah 17:5-7).
It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man (Psalm 118:8).
Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save (Ps. 146:3-5).

The Roman Church teaches Scripture and tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion, reverence and authority (CCC, para. 82 and 95). Yet God’s word clearly warns against trusting the traditions of men.

Jesus, said, “They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men. You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that” (Mark 7:7-8,13)
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ (Col. 2:8).

Most Roman Catholic traditions have developed and evolved over the last 1600 years such as Mary’s Immaculate Conception and Assumption into heaven, papal infallibility, purgatory, and indulgences. Since none of these were apostolic traditions taught in the first century, they are to be rejected. Any tradition that opposes God’s word must be rejected. The only traditions Christians are to hold onto are those which were once delivered to the saints in the first century.

So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us (2 Thes. 2:15).
Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints (Jude 3).

In conclusion, there is no greater authority than God and His Word. His word is pure, perfect, inerrant, infallible, living, sure, truth, light, holy, eternal, forever settled in heaven, and will exist even when heaven and earth pass away. It illuminates, cleanses, saves, frees, guides, converts, heals, quickens, judges, and sanctifies. It also brings conviction, gives knowledge, gives wisdom, produces faith, refutes error, searches the heart, equips for every good work, and is used as a weapon. God’s word reigns supreme!

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