By What Authority Do You Do These Things?
Text: Matthew 21:23-27
I. The Book of Judges discusses the ups and downs of the children of Israel in following God.
A. It quickly becomes apparent that there are more downs than ups.
B. Most telling though is how the book ends - Judges 21:25
C. Here was a society that didn’t follow any standard set of rules
1. Not civil – for they had no king
2. Not religious – for each followed their own desires
II. Imagine a football season where each team had its own rule book; Where each official decides for himself what rules are applicable in a game. It would be mass chaos.
A. Yet in our world, we have many claiming to play “Christianity,” but each group or individual says it can play by its own rules and Christ would find it acceptable.
B. The Catholic church claims that it is the source of authority. As it moved through the world, it adapted its teachings to local groups so they would find it acceptable. As it ages, it adapts its teachings to the world’s trends. It can do so, because the Catholic Church believes it has authority to make its own rules.
C. The Protestant religions each have their own set of beliefs documented in confessions, catechisms, creeds, and rule books. They make passing references to the Scriptures, but when pushed we see that their own beliefs are more important to them than the Bible, as the Methodists recently demonstrated.
D. Yet somehow we are supposed to believe that God likes it this way. It is as if all are acceptable, so long as they called themselves Christian. One could get the impression that they believe God designed it this way – I Corinthians 14:33
III. The chief priests and elders once asked Jesus a question – Matthew 21:23-27. It was better than they realized – the answer was obvious, but they didn’t wish to admit it.
A. We should ask the same question of all who claim the name of Christ. I think we will find the answer to be all too obvious as well.
B. So many others do it this way, it must be right.
1. It is not wise to compare ourselves with others - II Corinthians 10:12
2. The majority will end up in Hell, so it is dangerous to follow the majority - Matthew 7:13-14
3. Rather than following the crowd, we need to work out our own salvation - Philippians 2:12
C. It has always been done this way, so it must be right.
1. Traditions can be good, if they are the ones established by God.
a. II Thessalonians 2:13-15
b. We need to hold on to and contend for the faith that was delivered once, long ago - Jude 3
2. Too often, people don’t bother checking.
a. They will set aside the commandments of God to follow the traditions of men - Mark 7:7-9
b. Men’s traditions will hold us captive - Colossians 2:8
3. Often it happens because we forget why we do the things we do. If I can’t justify the things I’m doing, then what is wrong with adding something else that I can’t justify either?
D. It is what my parents taught me, so it must be right.
1. Our salvation did not come from the futile ways of life we inherit from our parents - I Peter 1:18
2. If our parents come before our Lord, then we have no business following Christ. We are not worthy of him - Matthew 10:37
E. It is a good work.
1. Some ways look good, but lead to death - Proverbs 14:12
2. Of course, we must ask, “good” by whose standard? - Isaiah 55:8-9
3. If we trust our own heart, then we are fools - Proverbs 28:26
F. People like it and if we can attract them, then we can teach them.
1. Proverbs 30:11-14 - Some people are righteous in their own sight.
2. Proverbs 21:2 - Everyone thinks they are righteous in their own eyes
3. Some people only have a form of godliness - II Timothy 3:5
4. What men like, God abhors - Luke 16:15
G. The religious scholars say it is true, so it must be so.
1. God ruins the wisdom of this world - I Corinthians 1:18-21
2. The “Jesus Seminar” illustrates this
a. Nineteen, self-appointed scholars, voted what things actually happened during Jesus’s life.
b. They decided that he was born when stated to Mary and Joseph. That’s it! Everything else, they claim, is made up.
c. As if men on a committee 2000 years later, can settle by vote what happened in history.
3. Why would people want to trust men when they have God’s very own words written by men who witnessed his power?
4. I Corinthians 3:19-21
H. It is what my church teaches, so it must be right.
1. The church is the bride of Christ. It is not the head, but the follower - Ephesians 5:23
2. The early church never created their own rules, but simply taught what they learned from their Savior. - I John 1:1-4
3. To change want Jesus taught is to be accursed - Galatians 1:9
IV. Jesus Christ is our only source of authority
A. God speaks to us today through Christ - Hebrews 1:1-3
B. All authority is given to Christ - Matthew 28:18
1. It is not just religious authority. It is all authority.
2. Dr. Spock and James Dobson are not the authority on child-rearing - Christ is the authority.
3. Governments do not have the final say, Christ does.
C. Man cannot direct their own steps - Jerermiah 10:23
D. And yet people will make up their own rules and regulations and think that God must accept them.
V. Let us live as our Lord directs