Program Air Date - 10-20-02



Welcome to the Living Word Program on this wondrous Lord' Day morning. We thank God that you have chosen to be with us today, as we commit this time to our wondrous Creator. What a great privilege we have today to join in this opportunity to praise our God and glorify our Savior. May we each do our part to make this time acceptable in His sight and according to His Will. Now, let's approach our Father's throne in prayer.


What a wonderful privilege we have as Christians to lift up our voices in praise to God. Furthermore, what a sweet smelling savor the fruit of our lips is to our Creator. So, this morning won't you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing together our first hymn of the morning. The name of the song "Savior Teach Me!"

(SONG # 1)


Having a new baby boy ever reminds me of the great task we have as parents to bring our children up in the, "nurture and admonition of the Lord." If you're like me, this is one of the most challenging things I have ever faced in this life - that is learning how to raise my children. We all want to teach them as much as we can and give them the best opportunities in this life. However, we all know that our society says we must do it one way, but God shows us another. God's ways are always more perfect than man's!

What about your grandparents? Does the job of trying to make your grandchildren better people in this world ever end? Don't we all want what is best for the young people coming up in our families? So, where do we need to focus to keep them in the right direction? Our focus must be on God!

As we all would agree, one of the most important aspects of parenting is teaching children the things they need to know about God, because they will never get this from our society. There is a verse in the Old Testament that talks about the importance of not only God's people knowing His will, but also the importance of them teaching it to their children. Moses said, "Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren," Deuteronomy 4:9.

Think about the words of this great man of God as he reminds us that the things of God must be on our hearts, "all the days of our lives!" Now if it is important enough to be on my heart as long as I live, then I want the things of God on my child's heart also.

Let's never forget our duty as parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and so on, to do our part in helping those who look up to us know more about our God. Furthermore, let's teach them that our God is their God, and as long as they have Him all things are possible! Are you willing to make a difference in the lives of our young people?

Today we will continue our series of study concerning our "Authority in Religion." How important it is that we understand now only that there is a God, but that we also understand our authority from Him to serve Him as He has commanded! Our specific topic this morning again considers the question, "How Do We Establish Biblical Authority?" And in this lesson we will strive to apply the principles of what we have learned thus far. So please continue with us this morning and after our next song I will return with this lesson from God's Word. It's now time to join in our second hymn of the morning, the name of the song, "More Holiness Give Me."

(SONG # 2)


Speaker: Ray Sullins

Over the past month together, we've had a great study on the religious authority that is ours today. Obviously we've tried to start at the very beginning in our study as we looked at God, the Father in heaven and how that really He is the almighty authority. He is the one because He is the creator of all, the creator of everything in the heavens and on earth, that really we should turn to, to know what He would have us to do. He is the creator, the one that we follow and the one that we should know really according to what He desires rather than our own wants or own likes, or maybe what we find throughout the world today.

And after we really established early on that God, the Father is at the top of what we might say our religious authority, we saw that He sent His son, His own son, Jesus Christ, and that His son came and lived on the earth and as He was on the earth, He chose twelve apostles. But as Christ was on the earth, being the son of God as well as God Himself in the flesh, we see that "He had all authority. It was given to Him," Matthew 28:18. And furthermore as we continue on we see that He eventually as He chose the twelve apostles gave them the authority as He had promised them in John chapter 14, chapters 15 and 16, talking about the coming of the Holy Spirit, the comforter, the one that the Bible says "would teach them all things that they needed to know." He would tell them everything they needed. In other words, everything they needed to know and present to the world about Jesus Christ, about the Father in heaven would be provided by the Holy Spirit.

Then as we see coming down to us that the same Holy Spirit through many of these apostles themselves that were chosen by God, and other men who were holy were led to write the Bible, the scriptures today, the all-authoritative, the all-powerful, all-mighty Word that is given to us by God Himself, that is from God and that can be really able to guide us in every facet of life and to answer all questions that we need to have answers to, to give us all revelation that we need to know about, to guide us in every facet of the Christian life. The Bible, the Word of God.

Peter talks about that. Paul talks about that, continuing to help us to know that it completely furnishes us, that it thoroughly gives us everything that we need, that it gives all things pertaining to life and godliness. So yes, we have that Word today. Through the providence of God, He has through the chain of authority brought us today what we need to know in order that we might be able to follow His Will.

Several weeks ago, we looked at the concepts about how that as we look at the Will of God, the Bible, being such a large book, we need to understand how to rightly divide it, how to understand what was written maybe to different peoples at different times and we were able, I believe, clearly through scripture to present that there were a different periods. Periods such as the Patriarchal Age before the giving of the Law of Moses at Mt. Sinai when we find that Adam and Eve and that their sons and as well as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, they all worshipped God in a certain way. There was a law in effect.

But then at the foot of Mt. Sinai, there was a new law that was given as we often refer to today as the Old Testament, the Old Covenant, the Law of Moses. That law was for the people of God to follow from that point all the way up to the cross. In fact, when Christ came to the earth, you might remember that even He was under still the Old Covenant, the Old Law, that had many things such as a priesthood and such as a sacrificing of animals on an altar and such as a tabernacle and temples that were built. Many, many things were specified. A very regimented type law there of God that people had to follow.

But today, we also saw the pattern there in the New Testament, the New Covenant, about a new people called Christians. In the same vain, the same respect as we see the Hebrew nation being called "The children of God." We today, are called the same. We are the children of God, but yet, a new generation, a better generation. Why? Because we're based on a better promise, that is the promise of Jesus Christ dying and giving His blood.

So after we understood there the visions, basically the Old and the New Testaments, today really the New Law is for ours, our learning and our abilities and for all those who will follow God. After understanding that and understanding that the "Old Testament was the school master bringing us to the New Law," there in Galatians chapter 3.

Then again, we are able to answer now questions that pertain to the authority that then comes to us. What is it through the scripture that we are to do? What is it that we are to understand and that's why last week we began to look at this concept of establishing this authority by knowing some principles to consider, some things that really will help us to know really whether we should or should not do something, whether it really is a command or not, whether it really is a binding example or it is really something that is inferred in scripture.

But before we jump into this part of our lesson and begin to make some application in some new areas and try to understand really those important parts of those rules of interpretation. We want to first mention a few illustrations. I read in a book just the other day about the many puzzles that we have. My children enjoy puzzles. In fact, you can find a lot of the real easy ones for kids or babies that they do in even just a few seconds. But then you can find some 50, 100, 500, even 1000, even more than that, pieces to a puzzle. What I find interesting about a puzzle as I read in this illustration is the fact that it has so many pieces. Consider if you will a 1000 piece puzzle. One thousand pieces. Every piece has a certain place that it must fall in order to make up the whole, the completed picture that was intended by the original artist. In fact, if you might continue to consider the point. It doesn't just matter that a piece go in a certain place, but that that piece be in a certain way. It must be turned identically in a certain way. In fact, if you were to altar or cut any of those pieces, would you still get the finished product, the completed picture of the puzzle? Certainly not. If you push a piece in that really doesn't go somewhere, are you going to be able to finish? Certainly not. Every piece must be in it's place. Every piece must be turned in the right direction to complete the structure or the picture that really is intended at the end.

Well, isn't that very similar to what we do in relationship to God's Will? He has provided for us the picture, the puzzle, if you will. He has given us the pattern and every part, every piece is just as important. It must be turned just the right way, the way that God has intended. To do what? To present the picture that He wanted. Not my picture, or what I might want to altar it to make, but the picture that He wanted according to His Will. We see again I think a beautiful illustration helping us to understand the importance of doing things God's way. He has the authority. Not I and not you.

In fact, you might also consider the concept of sports. What about the game of baseball? You think about all of those games that go on throughout the year, and those who play baseball. Maybe the professionals all the way down to the Little Leagues. You know there are always certain common rules in baseball. There is a rule book that tells you what you must do and there's a standard that you follow in that rule book. And when you look at the rules you see that three strikes mean what? Out! Well, that's true no matter what game of baseball or softball you play. Those are the rules. Well, the Bible gives us the rules. We have been provided the rule book that is able to lay out exactly the measurements that we should follow. Just as a carpenter builds a house and he takes his tape and makes sure that every board is in it's proper place and turned properly and that the distance from the bottom of the floor to the top of the roof is exact. He is able to use a ruler to establish that what he has done really measures up properly. Well, as Christians we can do the same thing. We look to God's perfect rule book and we can make sure that three strikes does mean out. We can make sure the concept of that finished product, the house, according to the rule book, the statutes, the ruler that is laid down by God is what He wants and what He expects in His blueprints, not my altered blueprints or yours or some church's altered blueprints, but what God said in His blueprint, the Bible.

You see, it does make a difference what we believe. It does make a difference who we consider as our final authority because God has chosen the picture for the puzzle. He has chosen the pieces, the way the pieces are to fit and if we'll simply read His Will, we can not only know what He wants but we can understand it alike. Some people today say, "But Ray, how can we understand it alike? Is it really possible that we can do that?" Well certainly. Why would God have given us something that we couldn't understand. That wouldn't even make sense. Why would He providentially bring us something that we couldn't even understand.

Think about what is said by Paul in 1 Corinthians and verse 10. He talks there about the same concept of being one. Notice what he says there. He says, "Now I plead with you..." he urged them, "...brethren, by the name of the Lord Jesus Christ that you all speak the same thing, that there be no divisions among you, that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." Now why is Paul here the inspired writer through the Holy Spirit according to the Will of the Father. Why would He say, "Speak the same thing. Have the same mind. Have the same judgment," if it were not possible. Well the fact is it is possible if we use the same puzzle, if we use the same parts of the puzzle and we fit the pieces as they are to go. If we use the same ruler, the standard. If we use God's plan and we simply follow it without letting anything else entering into it. Can we? Certainly. Should we? Yes. Do most men? No. That's why we've been discussing Bible authority. That's why we've been looking at the concept that we should follow God because so many religions don't. So many who claim to be Christians are not following Biblical authority, a precedent that is set out by what God says and not what man thinks. God's ways are always higher than man's ways.

And as we looked at again specifically last week, we saw that in the Bible there are those things that are specifically commanded, those things that we should do. "Go to all the world." Things that we've been asked as disciples, followers to accomplish. Pray to God. So on and so forth. There are things that through example the New Testament church did this on the first day of the week. Thus, we on the first day of the week assemble. Inferences, things that we see in scripture that were inferred because someone did this and was found pleasing to God. Again, they proved to us again an inference or an example that this is something that God would be pleased if I do it also. Again, these things are clear. They help us to begin interpreting to what God wants us to do. Also, considering the text itself, the Bible as a whole, not just picking one little verse out here and obeying it alone but the Bible as a whole and taking verses in their context and considering different aspects as the author, and who were the people receiving the book, and was it really written to Christians. We must consider all the aspects of each passage in its context to really understand is this something for me? Something about me? Something about the New Testament church? Something about New Testament Christianity? Or really is it something that doesn't pertain to me at all?

What I would like to do now is by using some examples in scripture to really help us to understand even further on top of what we've already seen, command, example and inference. There's some things that we must keep in mind as we look at each passage. Sometimes we get caught up in whether an issue is really from the Old or New Testaments. Well, we've discussed that. Those things of the Old Law were for a different people of a different time, just as Moses was told by the Lord, "This is for Israel." We are not Israelites. We are under the New Covenant. Look to the New Covenant for what we need to follow our God.

But besides that, we find those times of maybe confusion about faith and opinion and whether this issue is really a matter of faith or whether it is something that is something that is an opinion. I am reminded there in Acts when Paul and Barnabus, good friends, good brethren, were in a conflict, an argument if you will, about whether they should take John Mark because he had forsaken them on the first journey. Opinion. They disagreed and God still used both to go on their own journeys. Barnabus with John Mark and Paul with Silas. They went on their own journeys and accomplished great things for God. God was not upset because they disagreed or because they had differences of opinion, but their faith was clear. They still stood in the same mind, the same judgment. They spoke the same things in reference to the commands of God.

The same idea would be seen in maybe Jesus rising Lazarus from the dead. The matter of faith was yes, He rose him from the dead as the Bible says. How did He do it? What's your opinion? How did He actually do it? Well, I can't answer that question. So we might have different opinions sometimes in scripture, but we must believe first and foremost that what God says did happen and is according to His doctrine, His pattern.

Another idea that we might want to consider that some things might be temporary or permanent in nature. A good example here would be the concept of miraculous gifts. We see that in Mark chapter 16 and verse 20, it says there that "they were given accompanying signs and wonders to confirm the Word." But then we find over in 1 Corinthians 13 where Paul said that" when that which is perfect has come, those things in part will be done away." Prophecies and knowledge and tongues will all be done away when that which is perfect, the scripture.

James said, "The perfect law of liberty is the Word of God," James 1:25.

So at some point they pass away. These things were meant to pass. They were temporary in nature for a certain purpose until scripture came.

Well let's look at another idea. What about substantial or maybe conditional type concepts? We might again think of Paul, Paul and Silas on their journey in Acts 16. There in the jail, we might remember that they were singing and praying although they were in shackles. Well the circumstances that were taking place were clear. They were in prison. They were suffering in prison physically. But now as Paul preached to the jailer, the Phillippian in his household, he told them what they needed to do to be saved. Now those were conditions to salvation. He said, "If you want to be saved, here is what you do." And what did they do? They were baptized. But we see the conditions and the circumstances are really two different things. The circumstances were the situation that really were not affecting what the believer should do in the future, whereas the concept of really what was taking place as far as teachings were important to follow.

Another idea might be those things that are incidental. Those things incidental or essential. In Acts 16 again and verse 10, we see that Paul was given the Macedonian call. Now it was essential doctrinally that he obey the Will of God to go to Macedonia and to preach the gospel to them. But incidentally how would he go? Was God so much caught up in "Paul, don't go this way or that way..." No, He said, "Go to Macedonia and preach." That was what was essential. The way he got there was more in the area of inference, those things that might really be expedient in nature, something that we might be able to determine through our own logic and understanding of what is available in that day.

Customs and law. Another issue. In 1 Corinthians chapter 11, we see the issue discussed there about the custom of women covering their head or wearing a veil. But then in the very same chapter that that is a custom, it goes on later in verse 15 to clarify that a woman's hair is given as that covering. In fact, Paul says, "There is no such custom in the church." We need to understand the difference in customs and law.

All of these things again, as we've looked at: the command, the examples, the inferences. We looked at every part of the puzzle that we began to piece together to understand "is this what God wants me to do? Was it for someone else? How does it pertain to me?" All of these things are very detailed in nature. They must be considered to know whether something is really for me as a New Testament Christian or is really just something for my learning. Is it something that will encourage me or cause me to grow? Or something that I am required doctrinally to do according to what God would have me to do?

I encourage all of us to begin and continue studying God's Word to find out what His authority has presented to us through the Word and to obey it because when we obey God's Will, there's no way we can go wrong, but if we follow man's, we might very well lose our soul in the end day.

(SONG # 3 - "All The Way My Savior Leads Me!")


Let me thank you again for choosing to be with us today for the Living Word program. I hope and trust, that together we have all benefited from this service to our Lord. Let me also invite you to join us every Lord's Day morning at 7:30 as we give this time to our Creator.

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I hope we are all learning more about our true authority in religion. May we always turn to God to know His Will, so that we may do all that is well pleasing in His sight!

(Program closing)