Program Air Date - 12-24-00



Good morning to all. Let me welcome you to this program of God. It is always great to have you with us as we commit this time to our God. Thank you so much for joining us this Lord's Day, as we offer praise and honor to our Creator.

This morning we will again have the opportunity to study God's Precious Word and to sing praises to His glorious name. Please do your part in making this offering acceptable in His sight. Now, will you bow with me in prayer?

Isn't it wonderful to be a Christian? However, I think sometimes we forget or fail to realize the great sacrifices which have brought us to this great privilege. In fact, without the shedding of the precious blood of God's Son, Jesus Christ - we wouldn't even be here. This morning, we want to begin with a hymn which reminds us of the mighty power which is only found through the blood of Christ. Won't you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing the song, "There Is Power In The Blood."
(SONG # 1)


Sometimes we might wonder what Jesus desires of His followers. I think He summed it up pretty well in His words which are recorded in Matthew 16:24, there we read, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." In this verse we find out exactly what is required of one who desires to truly follow Jesus. So, let's look at what Christ had to say about this matter.

First He said, "let him deny self." Ouch, this is a really tough one. How can we deny ourselves anything when this world has so much to offer. Well, the fact is we must learn to deny ourselves, so that we can put Christ first. Let me ask you a question, how can we put God first if we are always thinking about or focusing on self. You see, it can't be done! The only way we will serve God as we should is when we learn to deny our own wants and desires in this life, in order that we may think of God first and do His Will.

The next thing which Jesus said was, "take up his cross." Here we have something else added to the point of deny self to put God first. We now learn we must take up our own cross. Are you ready to work? That's what it is all about! Determining what it is that God wants and doing it whether it seems burdensome or not. Don't you think that it was tough for Christ to literally bear His cross? But He still was willing to do it to set an example for each of us. Jesus didn't say that serving Him or doing His Will would be easy, but none-the-less it has to be done if we are to take up our cross!

Finally, we see that Jesus said, "follow me!" I like this one, because here Jesus adds to the ideas of denying self, and taking up our own cross, by saying - do it My Way! You see, just doing something is not enough. The Lord says we must follow Him and His Will. Isn't that why we must study the Bible so that we will know exactly what God wants? I like the way the Psalmist put it when He said, "Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path," Psalm 119:105. We must truly follow and step in the foot prints of Jesus.

So, what are you doing for Christ? Have you committed to deny self, take up your cross and follow Him? If not, then why not? Won't you choose today to serve God and to do it in His Way?

Today I will be speaking on the topic of, "By what authority," as we continue to consider the series entitled "The Lord's Response." So, please continue with us this morning, and after our next song together I will return with this study from God's Word. The name of the next selection is, "This Is My Father's World."
(SONG # 2)


Speaker: Ray Sullins

Thank you for continuing with us this morning. Let me first of all mention that I hope you have a wonderful holiday season. You know that this is the night that Santa is supposed to come. I know that my kids are excited and I hope he's good to all of us. But here around the holiday season, I know it's wonderful to have the opportunity to be with so many friends and families and holiday parties, and I hope everybody has had a good time and will continue to have a good time as well as a safe time during this special time of the year.

I would like to then look directly at our topic this morning so that we might clearly understand things that pertain to Christ and as you know we began last week looking at the questions of Jesus and really our series will continue to focus on the questions that Jesus asked or maybe questions that were asked of Him, and many times how He responded as we again look at the Lord's response.

This morning, we want to look at a question that was found there to Jesus and then given by Him there in the book of Matthew. If you'll turn in your Bibles to Matthew chapter 21 and we find there the concept and the question really that was asked, "By what authority?" And I want to go ahead and read our text here and discuss it and try to gain some information as far as improving our own lives in understanding exactly the point that was made here by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Matthew then chapter 21, we want to read verses 23 through 27. It says there, Now when He came into the temple, 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?" But Jesus answered and said to them, "I also will ask you one thing which if you will tell me, I will likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John. Where is it from? From heaven or from men?" And they reasoned among themselves saying, " If we say from heaven, He will say to us, 'Why then did you not believe him?' But if we say from men, we fear the multitude for all count John as a prophet. So they answered Jesus and said, "We do not know." And He said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things."

We see here that this group of people who actually were followers of His Father, His God in heaven, we see here that they were actually questioning Jesus. In fact, the wording that is used here that they were confronting Him and in some way trying to maybe trick Him or cause Him to fall or to mess up so that they might be able to discredit Him before the people or those who were present or those who would hear about the situation. And as we see that He was there and standing with them there in this place, it says the temple, they asked Him this question: How are you doing these things? By what authority? Who is it that gives you such power? Now, they obviously knew the answer. They knew exactly what Christ felt on this issue. They knew that He claimed to be not only from God but the son of God, and because of that He had the power to do these things that again that we read about here and that we read about throughout the New Testament. What did Jesus do? Well, He turns around and asks them a question also. He says if you'll give me an answer to this, then I will also give you the answer that you require. So He asked them about the baptism of John and said, well what is it? Was it something that was from heaven or men? And it is very interesting where the discussion goes from there because we see that really they began to reason in their own minds. They began to wonder. Well, if we say it was from heaven, then there will be questions as to why we didn't follow it, and if we say it is from men, then there will be the multitude to consider as to why we have now rejected these things that they accepted so well from the Father. Again, John being the prophet. So they refused to answer Him and said, "We do not know." And He in turn did not answer them according to this trickery that they were using in relationship to these things that were asked of Him.

Now if you think about all of these ideas, they are very, very important because the concept here, the consideration at hand was an authority issue. Now today, probably all of us have talked to someone about Christ or maybe have discussed the Bible at times or maybe even discussed it with those who are of other faiths or maybe those who don't know God at all and when we do this the very first thing that we must establish is authority. Who is authoritative? Who has the authority? Does someone even accept that Jesus is the son of God? Does someone even accept that there is a God in heaven? Does someone even believe in the Bible that it is from God Himself? Now we have to again establish these things, because if we can't establish authority, if we can't agree that Jesus is the authority, if we can't agree that there is a father, that there is a Bible that comes directly from God, if we can't establish those things, then how can we go any further in discussing things about God? Because these are very pertinent in understanding and dealing with this question of authority.

I want to begin now in our lesson as we look into these pages of the word of God to answer this question of the authority. Who's authority is over us? Who has authority in these different religious matters? I think this is very important, fundamental and then after we've considered this for a moment, then we'll go back again to our story and consider some things that can be found or drawn from it to again learn how we might better deal with these situations as Jesus did.

If you will, then first of all then turn with me just a few chapters over to Matthew chapter 28 and we want to look here and begin here and reading again the words of Christ as He really Himself established who had authority on this earth. If you'll notice with me then in Matthew 28 and 18 it says, All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. It was Jesus speaking here, the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In fact, many of our Bibles have this in red because it is again a quote from the Savior, Jesus Christ. As we consider it, He says, "All authority." The exact thing that we're talking about. Some verses say, "Power." The power, the authority in religious matters always goes back to Christ.

Now how can we further confirm this? Not only did Jesus say this. But many of us respect so much the apostle Paul and some other Bible characters that we study about and they again confirm the very same ideas.

If you'll turn with me to the book of Ephesians chapter 5, notice with me what it said in Ephesians 5 and 23. For the husband is head of the wife, also as Christ is head of the church and He is the Savior of the body. Now here we see again the very same idea. Christ is head of the church. We know that the church is the kingdom in Matthew chapter 16, verses 16 through 18, we see there where Christ said I will build My church. Then He said He would confirm this as the kingdom that had come that had been sent from the Father. And here again we see that He is the one who is the head of that, that body, that church, that kingdom, and as He is the head, we then again understand that as the head of the kingdom, that He is the one who has given all authority just as He Himself confirmed.

Turn over a few books with me to the book of Colossians in chapter 1 and verse 18, we have a very, very clear statement here where it says again, the apostle Paul, And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

Now here we have an added thing. Not only is He the head, not only is he over the church, not only is He over the kingdom as is also mentioned here in this section, back up in verse 13, but here it says, He is given all preeminence. All authority. You see again, these very clearly help us to understand not only who this Jesus is but the great power and the great authority that He has before us.

Over in the book of Revelation, you might turn with me there to chapter 1 of the book of Revelation, and look here at what John had to say about this Christ beginning at verse 5, And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth, to Him who loved us and washed us from the sins with His own blood and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father. To Him be the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, He is coming with clouds and every eye will see Him and even those who pierced Him and all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him, even so. Amen. I am the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end, says the Lord, who is and who was and who is to come the Almighty.

Here again, we have very well confirmed for us by John that the dominion, the power, the glory that has been given through the Father comes again with Jesus Christ. It is this greatest blessing, the son of God, God Himself. In fact, if you'll notice here in verse 8 with me as we read there in again Revelation chapter 1, He mentions here, the Lord Himself, I am the alpha, the omega, the beginning, the last. Here all of these ideas again prove to us that He is everything in relationship to religious things. Why again? Because He has all authority from the Father to conduct the church, the kingdom and those things that pertain to godliness. Notice here also the important words at the end of verse 8 where it says, Who is, who was and who is to come. Here we see the idea about the deity of Christ, and about how He was not only from the Father, the son of God, but He is everlasting. He is divinity. As we see here, He is, He was, He is today and He will always be as He comes again.

Now how can we further confirm the concept of who this Christ is and the power that He has been given. Why is it necessary that we understand that He has been given these things. Why should He have been chosen? Again, for what we've just read. Because He is. He is the son of God. If you'll notice with me in the book of John, the gospel according to John, chapter 1. Notice with me a few of the verses there as we begin in verse 1. In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God. He was in the beginning with God. In the beginning when everything took place, who was there? The word. Down in verse 14, we see the word became flesh. The word here is referring to Jesus Christ. Now, another thing I want you to notice that Jesus was there. He is deity. He was with God and He was God, as this verse here says. It's found in verse 3. All things were made through Him and without Him nothing was made that was made. Now, who did the creating? It says here that Jesus did, the son of God did. He did the creating according to the will of the Father. Why? Because He was in the beginning, before the creation, before the beginning of the world. So here again, I think we begin to see unfolding exactly the question that came to Jesus. By what authority? Well, certainly He had the authority to do what He had done, to say what He had said, to accomplish the things that He was striving to accomplish according to the will of the Father because He was not only God, but He was God's son and He was sent to do the will of the Father. He was given all authority over the church, the kingdom, the work that He had been sent to do by Father God.

So again, great encouragement here. Things that we find to be very, very important to us. And that's why in John chapter 8 and verse 32, we see there that it talks about the truth that brings us freedom in Jesus Christ. Then we say, "Well what is truth?" Then we look in John 17:17 and it says, Thy word is truth. The word of God, Jesus Christ that which we have been given here, the Bible. That's where we find this authority. That's where Jesus found His authority from the Father according to the plan that had been set up even before the very creation, before the beginning of the world.

Now, as we also look at what is said here in relationship to Jesus, in relationship to this story that we have read, these different ideas, these different concepts, we find some who often criticize the Lord by saying, "Well, you know, maybe He was trying to dodge the question here. Maybe He was trying to get away with something instead of really asking it." Well, the first thing is that if you come to me and you ask me a question, it doesn't necessarily mean that I have to answer that question. I have the right to either answer it or not to answer it. So in the fact that He chose to answer it with another question really was up to Him. I'm not in anyway really obligated and nor was He do this especially under the circumstances, Him knowing what these elders and priests were striving to do, trying to trick Him or somehow discredit Him. Then we again see very clearly that Jesus Christ, the Lord, did very well according to what He really intended to do. We also here that in relationship to this as if we really consider the conduct of those that were involved, that simply He was responding to them in the way that they responded to Him. Notice that they first asked of Him a question, and then what did Christ do? He turned around and asked them a question and the reason and the only reason He asked such was again so that He could maybe expose their trickery. He knew exactly what the answer was. They knew exactly what the answer was again. And because of this, we see that Christ responded with an answer.

What I find very, very interesting again about the things that are said here is the reaction of these priests to His answer. Because they had rejected John as being from the Father, but now they reckoned with themselves and they were confused and upset because they knew if they somehow said that the baptism of John was from God, then they would all condemn themselves, because we know in the book of Luke that it tells us very well that the priest and those who are of the Father had rejected completely the things of God. They had rejected the authority that came from the father through John and then again through Jesus Christ. Then they turned around and said, "But if we say that we don't believe in John then the people will hate us. They will again reject us." So actually what took place was that these individuals in the temple harmed themselves more than really harming Jesus because everyone knew who the Christ was. He had performed miracles. He had proven Himself. He had truly shown that the authority that allowed Him to do the things that He was doing was only from the one that is there in heaven, again that one being His Father, His Father, Father God.

Now again, in John 3:16, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son. That son, that son of God, that deity Himself, the one who was willing to do all things to show us truly the authority that we must follow every day of our lives if we are to be pleasing in His sight.
(SONG # 3 - "Walking Alone At Eve!")


Again, let me thank you for choosing to be with us this morning. I hope we all have been encouraged through our time spent together. Please remember, you are invited to join us every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this service of God.

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May we all further grow in God to realize where our true authority lies in Religion, that it is not in any man, but only in the head of all things, Jesus Christ.
(Program closing)