By What Authority?

by Jefferson David Tant

"When He entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to Him while He was teaching, and said, "By what authority are You doing these things, and who gave You this authority?" Jesus said to them, "I will also ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I will also tell you by what authority I do these things."The baptism of John was from what source, from heaven or from men?" And they began reasoning among themselves, saying, "If we say, 'From heaven,' He will say to us, 'Then why did you not believe him?' "But if we say, 'From men,' we fear the people; for they all regard John as a prophet." And answering Jesus, they said, "We do not know." He also said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things" (Matthew 21:23-27).

As the Jewish leaders felt threatened by Christ and his teaching, they decided to fight back and did so by questioning the authority by which he was teaching. Christ recognized it as a legitimate question. But he also knew their motives and turned the question back on them.

Their question is still applicable today. There seem to be many who don't like the rules. They want more grace, more freedom. They feel constrained when they have to justify their practices by the Word of God. After all, Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus: "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9)

There you have it. "Grace" is the word, coupled with "not as a result of works." Is it really true, then, that we don't have to be concerned with rules and regulations, that we are free to improvise and practice things with respect to the church that makes it more appealing to people?

Paul is making the point that there are not enough good things we can do to earn or merit our salvation. The prophet Isaiah tells us: "But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear" (Isaiah 59:2). Sin separates us from God. It all began with Adam and Eve when they committed one sin, which sin brought the death penalty. We know that only a pure sacrifice, without spot or blemish, can cleanse us from sin, and since we have sinned and cannot offer a pure sacrifice, all the good deeds we can do in a lifetime will not change our lost situation. That's the point Paul was making. It was only through God's loving grace that he gave the perfect sacrifice in our place—Jesus Christ. "knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ" (I Peter 1:18-19).

Having established that, let's go back and consider again Paul's statement in Ephesians, and focus on "saved through faith." Did you know that faith is a "work?"

Consider two men. Bob is an accountant, and Joe is an auto mechanic. We would all agree that Joe "works," because that's what a mechanic does in "working" with his hands. But would it be correct to say that Bob doesn't "work" because he uses his brain rather than his hands? "That's ridiculous," one would counter. "Obviously Bob works."

Now consider a conversation Christ had in John 6:27-29: "Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal." Therefore they said to Him, "What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?" Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent."

Jesus said "faith" is a "work." Thus if we are saved without any works, then we can be saved without faith. Who can believe it? How is faith a work? Faith is based on evidence, so when evidence is presented to me, I take into consideration what it said, then I weigh the evidence and decide whether to accept or reject it, and act accordingly. That is something that I do. That is a work. That is why "faith" is a "work of God," a work approved by God.

Jesus said "We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work" (John 9:4) The point is that saving faith is obedient faith. And obedience involves commands. And commands are related to authority.

I suppose the most memorized Bible verse is John 3:16: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." Many will camp on that verse and claim "salvation by faith only." Indeed, many denominational creed books state "Wherefore that we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine and very full of comfort," or similar words (emphasis mine—jdt). But if those holding to this doctrine would read a little further, they would see some more words of Jesus in John 3:36 of the same chapter: "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."  Those words do not contradict what Jesus said in John 3:16, but they identify the kind of faith God requires — an obedient faith, a faith that works, a faith that respects authority. And, as pointed out earlier, faith is itself a work. If we are saved without any kind of work, then we are saved without faith. Who can believe that? In John 3:36, Jesus clearly links faith and obedience, and obedience and authority are so linked that they cannot be separated.

James does the same when he defined what true faith is all about. "Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness," and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead." (James 2:21-26)

Some years ago I was having a discussion with a neighbor who was a young Baptist preacher. I asked if he believed that we are saved by "faith only." He said he did. Then I turned to James 2:24 and asked him to read it. "You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone." As I recall, he snapped the Bible shut, and said, "That's not the kind of God I serve." And that was the end of our discussion. He did admit that he did not know that verse was in the Bible, but that didn't matter. His mind was already set. Thus he was like the man my father described whose mind was like concrete—"all mixed up and permanently set." Closed mind! Closed Bible!

Consider what Jesus said about his own situation with respect to authority. "Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works." (John 14:10) "Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner." (John 5:19)

Think about what Christ told his disciples in John 15:10: "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love." Could it be any clearer? Abiding in Christ's love is connected to keeping his commandments.

So, what are the foregoing passages telling us? That Christ was under authority while he was on the earth. Now if the Son of God had to live under authority, what about the rest of us? The implications are very clear.

Why was it that Christ could not be a priest while on the earth? We are told why in Hebrews 7:12-14: "For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also. For the one concerning whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no one has officiated at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests."

We know that the tribe of Levi was chosen to be the tribe of priests. Christ was from the tribe of Judah. But we can search in vain to find an Old Testament verse that says a priest cannot come from the tribe of Judah. The Scriptures are silent concerning this as the writer of Hebrews notes. If Hebrews 7:14 is not telling us that respecting the silence of the Scriptures is something to be observed, then I confess I do not understand plain language. Silence does not give authority.

There are many passages that illustrate the argument that "silence" is prohibitive rather than permissive. For example, God told Noah to build the ark of gopher wood. I believe most would agree that if Noah chose to use oak instead, the ark never would have floated. God nowhere prohibited other kinds of wood. He just said, "gopher" (Genesis 6:14). If every time God gave a positive command and then had to state all the negatives, we would need a wheelbarrow to carry the Bible around. "Noah, make an ark of gopher wood. Do not use ash, birch, cedar, dogwood, elm, fir…etc, etc., etc." That would be nonsense. Or, my wife sends our daughter to the store. "I want you to buy some onions for the supper I am cooking. Now, do not buy apples, apricots, asparagus, apple sauce, butter, beans, bread, cauliflower…" Well, you get the point.

Consider the situation with Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10:1-3: "Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. And fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. Then Moses said to Aaron, "It is what the LORD spoke, saying, 'By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, And before all the people I will be honored.'" So Aaron, therefore, kept silent."

Notice what happened. These priests offered "strange fire…which He had not commanded them." God had told them what he wanted, but they chose what might have been more convenient, and they were put to death. Where is the record of what God told them not to do? It is not there! Their sin was in not respecting the silence of God. They did that for which they had no authority, and in doing so did not treat the Lord as holy.

Then there is the time when King David brought back the Ark of the Covenant that the Philistines had captured sometime earlier. The story is told in II Samuel 6. As they had some distance to travel in bringing the Ark back, David had a new cart built to carry the ark.

They placed the ark of God on a new cart that they might bring it from the house of Abinadab which was on the hill; and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were leading the new cart.

"So they brought it with the ark of God from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill; and Ahio was walking ahead of the ark. Meanwhile, David and all the house of Israel were celebrating before the LORD with all kinds of instruments made of fir wood, and with lyres, harps, tambourines, castanets and cymbals. But when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out toward the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen nearly upset it. And the anger of the LORD burned against Uzzah, and God struck him down there for his irreverence; and he died there by the ark of God." (II Sam. 6:4-7)

So what was the problem? When we go back to Numbers 4, we read of God's instructions concerning moving the Ark. "When Aaron and his sons have finished covering the holy objects and all the furnishings of the sanctuary, when the camp is to set out, after that the sons of Kohath shall come to carry them, so that they will not touch the holy objects and die. These are the things in the tent of meeting which the sons of Kohath are to carry" (Numbers 4:15). We see that God had specified how the Ark was to be moved. God had specified that poles were to be inserted into rings at the base of the Ark, and it was to be carried on the shoulders of the sons of Kohath.

Now we read from I Chronicles 15 where David has called for the priestly tribe to assemble and deal with the problem. "Then David called for Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and for the Levites, for Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel and Amminadab, and said to them, 'You are the heads of the fathers' households of the Levites; consecrate yourselves both you and your relatives, that you may bring up the ark of the LORD God of Israel to the place that I have prepared for it. Because you did not carry it at the first, the LORD our God made an outburst on us, for we did not seek Him according to the ordinance.' So the priests and the Levites consecrated themselves to bring up the ark of the LORD God of Israel. The sons of the Levites carried the ark of God on their shoulders with the poles thereon, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the LORD" (I Chronicles 15:11-15).

Notice some keywords in what David said: "for we did not seek Him according to the ordinance." In other words, David did not have the authority to do what he did.

Why did David use the cart? There was a distance to be covered, and it would be so much easier and more convenient to transport the Ark on a cart rather than to be carried by men on their shoulders. It seemed like a good idea. Now, I challenge anyone to find one verse in the Bible where God told them not to carry the Ark on a cart. It's not there! The problem was that they did that for which they had no authority.

Where was Noah told not to use Oak? Where was Moses told not to use a lame animal for a sacrifice? Where were Nadab and Abihu told not to use the fire they did for the sacrifice? Where are we told not to use potato chips and Coke for the Lord's Supper? Where are we told not to use instruments of music in our worship? Where are we told not to partake of the Lord's Supper on Tuesday? Where are we told not to sell tickets to a play in order to raise money for the church? Why is it that we can agree on the matter of Noah not using knotty pine, but on the same principle cannot agree on worshipping God in song, without adding that for which we have no authority?

Yes, Israel used instruments of music in their worship. Why? Because God authorized it"He then stationed the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, with harps and with lyres, according to the command of David and of Gad the king's seer, and of Nathan the prophet; for the command was from the LORD through His prophets" (II Chronicles 29:25).

There are those who "find authority" for instruments in such passages as in II Chronicles. But this presents a serious problem. For one thing, Paul wrote to the churches of Galatia and dealt with the problem of Jewish Christians trying to bind parts of the Old Testament law on Gentile converts — specifically the law of circumcision. "And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace" (Galatians 5:3-4).

Now, if we want to justify instruments of music in worship because God commanded it in the Old Testament, we must consider what the apostle Paul wrote about those who want to justify binding circumcision because God commanded it in the Old Testament. Paul says we are then "under obligation to keep the whole Law." That would include animal sacrifices, Saturday observances, tithing, etc. And let's not forget dancing. "Praise Him with trumpet sound; Praise Him with harp and lyre. Praise Him with timbrel and dancing; Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe. Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with resounding cymbals" (Psalms 150:3-5). If instruments are justified by the Old Testament, by what reasoning do we exclude dancing?

The reason we are not to observe these things is that we live under a new law. The law of the Old Testament has been taken away. "When He said, 'A new covenant,' He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear" (Hebrews 8:13, see also Colossians 2:13-16).

With respect to instruments of music in worship, if a similar command can be found in the New Testament, there will be no objection on my part to move the piano in. But until the question, "by what authority" is answered, I'll stay with the practice of the early church, upon which all scholars agree, which was "a cappella." In fact, the meaning of that Italian word is as follows: "adverb, adjective, Music.

  1. Without instrumental accompaniment.
  2. In the style of church or chapel music."

The early church thus practiced what the inspired apostles taught.

When people say the Old Testament was laws and rules, but the New Testament is grace and freedom, they are overlooking or ignoring, some plain New Testament teaching. "Now even the first covenant had regulations of divine worship and the earthly sanctuary." (Hebrews 9:1) Let me illustrate the point being made. I tell my 16-year-old daughter, "Look, even your 10-year-old sister knows how to make up her bed and keep her room clean." What is implied? At age 16, she should do even a better job in keeping her room .in good condition.

So, if "even the first covenant has regulations…" the obvious implication is that the second covenant also has regulations or rules. If not, why not?

Let me state clearly that this does not mean that we can earn our salvation by our good works. The Bible clearly teaches that we cannot do enough good work to overcome even one sin. Allow me to illustrate the matter. Suppose a young man comes to my door, and he is paying his way through college. He offers to mow my lawn for $25. Because he seems like a good young man who is working his way through college, I offer him $500 to mow my lawn. (In truth, my lawn is so sparse that it probably isn't worth even the $25.)

So the young man says, "Wow, that's really kind of you, sir. I have faith that you are a man of your word." Upon that, he sits down on the front porch and waits for the $500. He'll wait a long time! But suppose he goes ahead and mows the lawn and I give him the $500. Has he "earned" the money? Not by a long shot. My grace responded to his obedient faith.

But was there no grace in the Old Testament? Time and again the Scriptures refer to God's grace being given. "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord" (Genesis 6:8). Lot was saved by grace (Genesis 19:19). Moses found grace in the sight of God (Exodus 33:12). We could go on, but the point is made. How was grace extended to people in the Old Testament? Through an obedient faith!

Now, back to the matter of authority. Consider what Paul wrote in Colossians 3:17: "Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father." The phrase "in the name of" is a reference to authority. If a policeman knocks at my door and says, "Open, in the name of the law," he is declaring that he is representing authority. If he is in plain clothes, he will show me his badge or some other form of ID. Thus Paul is declaring that what we do "in word —our teaching," or "in deed—our actions," are to be done in keeping with the authority or law of "the Lord Jesus."

Now let's make an application.

Some churches do not partake of the Lord's Supper, including the Christian Science Mother Church. One of their members may ask me: "By what authority do you take the Lord's Supper in the church of Christ?" Among the passages I would refer to would be Luke 22:19: "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me."

Then I would ask my questioner, "By what authority do you omit to observe the Lord's Supper?" If he has the knowledge, he would cite the following: "Article XVIII. COMMUNION. No more Communion. Section I. The Mother Church of Christ, Scientist, shall observe no more Communion Seasons" [Church Manual, p. 61].

Now, which "authority" should you choose? Christ gives some information to help us make wise decisions. He rebuked the Jewish leaders in Matthew 15:7-9: "You hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, This people honors me with their lips; But their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, Teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men."

Would the quote from the Church Manual be a doctrine by God's authority or a doctrine by men's authority? The distinction cannot be made any clearer.

Consider the matter of how baptism is to be administered. All historians and Greek scholars are in agreement that the New Testament practice was immersion in water. When Christ charged the apostles to spread the gospel, he said: "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20)

Consider what Jesus said. He said he had "all authority," and then charged the disciples to "baptize" (from the Greek baptizo — to immerse) "in the name of" (by the authority of) "the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit…"

There really is no controversy here. Thus, when people ask why we baptize by immersion, I have several Bible passages to cite. One would be the case of Philip baptizing the Ethiopian eunuch.  As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, "Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?" And Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away, and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing. (Acts 8:36-39).

Then I may ask someone, "Why does your church practice baptism by sprinkling water on the head?" If the one I am talking with doesn't really know a definitive answer, perhaps I can help by pointing to the following quotation.

"A little known (yet documented) fact of history is that the Church of England (1534), the Presbyterian (c.1540), and the Congregational (soon after) churches all practiced immersion for about 100 years, or until the Westminster assembly in 1643. At that time, a number of bishops, seeing how much more convenient sprinkling was, came before Parliament insisting that "the devil of immersion ought to be legislated out of the realm it is so troublesome."

"The Westminster assembly convened July 1, 1643. Very naturally the question was brought before this august body of divines, 'Shall we continue the practice of immersion or shall we adopt sprinkling instead?' When it came to a vote, twenty-four voted to continue the ancient and apostolic practice, and twenty-four voted in favor of sprinkling.  Dr. Lightfoot was chairman, and it was his duty to give the deciding vote. He cast his vote in favor of sprinkling."  [Edinburgh Encyclopaedia, Vol. 3, p 236]. In 1644, Parliament acted upon this, repealing the laws enjoining immersion, enacting in their place laws enjoining sprinkling. Those who were not sprinkled were to be treated as outlaws.

Thus, the question is, "By whose authority" do I wish to proceed — by the authority of Christ, or by the authority of Parliament which was following a majority vote?

Since many denominations now have women pastors, my question would be: "By what authority do you have women preaching to the congregation?" No one has to this date given me a Bible verse that gives God's approval to this. I can refer to a verse that prohibits this practice but has not seen one that authorizes it. "But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve" (I Timothy 2:12-13). This does not forbid a woman to have a part in teaching a man in private, for we have an example of that, but it does not give authority to a woman to preach to men publicly.

If someone were to ask why we use unleavened bread and fruit of the vine in partaking of the Lord's Supper, we can refer to several passages that give details of what was used in the Jewish Passover feast. It was during the observance of this feast that Christ used the Passover ingredients to inaugurate what we know as the Lord's Supper. See Matthew 26:18-29; Mark 14; Luke 22; John 13 and I Corinthians 11.

And some ask why we, in the churches of Christ, observe the Lord's Supper every Sunday. I would cite Acts 20:7, where the disciples met for this purpose. Early church writings all agree that this was a weekly observance, and thus it was a practice taught by the inspired apostles.

Then I might ask those in various denominations why they partake once a month, or once a quarter, or once a year, or every day? Where in the Word of God is this authorized? They can point to their various denominational creed books that authorize this, but not to the Bible.

Some time ago I had a study with a young woman from the Methodist Church. She told me they were using potato chips and Coke for the Lord's Supper. Why? I guess that appealed to people in this modern age. Maybe it was "hip." Question: Where is the authority for that? The only authority would be from the doctrines of men, which Jesus said was worship "in vain."

Consider this: All denominational creed books employ the authority of men. It matters not whether it is the Catholic Catechism, the Baptist Manual, the Methodist Discipline, the Episcopalian Book of Common Prayer, etc., etc., etc. God did not write these books. The Bible says that "God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints" (I Corinthians 14:33). But with 40,000 denominations all teaching and practicing different things, what would you call that but confusion?

Consider Christ's prayer for his disciples in John 17:20-21: "I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me."

Are the "Christian" denominations the answer to Christ's prayer? Obviously not, for they represent division rather than unity and oneness. Christ prayed that all who believed in him might be one —not divided. Consider the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, are they united—one? Could we think the Father might be of the Jehovah's Witness group, the Son be of the Salvation Army group, and the Holy Spirit of the Pentecostal Holiness group? If the answer is negative, then we must conclude that what we have on the earth is not from God.

Can one become a Methodist by following the teaching of the Baptist Manual? Can one become a Jehovah's Witness by following the Catholic Catechism? Can one become an Episcopalian by following the Book of Mormon? "That's nonsense," someone would say. And that's right.

Can one become a Christian by following just the Bible? The answer is obvious. Since that was sufficient in the 1st Century, it just makes sense that if God's wisdom could provide all that was necessary in the 1st Century, it surely should be sufficient for the 21st Century. If not, why not?

Then the question is, "Why all the confusion? Why all the division?" The obvious answer is—Satan. So how does he accomplish his mission of division and confusion? He has his ministers and prophets whose mission is to deceive.

Consider Paul's response to some who were causing trouble at Corinth. "For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds" (II Corinthians 11:13-15).

If I got in the pulpit on Sunday dressed in a red suit, with horns sticking out of my head, with a tail-wagging around, and holding a pitchfork in my hand, I'm not sure people would believe what I was saying. (You've seen the caricatures of Satan, haven't you?) But if I appear dressed in nice pastoral garments and preach a good-sounding message, I am more likely to be believed.

It is these latter men that Paul warned about. And John also gives a caution. "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (I John 4:1)

What's the solution? Luke gives a clue when he commended certain people when they heard the apostle Paul preaching. "Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11). These people in Berea searched for themselves to check out Paul's preaching, and they were commended for doing so.

I am afraid in the majority of denominations today, the people in the pews just accept what comes from the pulpit and do not search the Scriptures for themselves. I find that so many do not even know the books of the Bible, which indicates they certainly do not study it.

So the question is: "By what authority…?" If the teaching and practice of any church cannot be found in the Scriptures, then it is by the authority of men, which in reality is by the authority of Satan. And Satan is a liar, and the father of lies (John 8:44).

Many were claiming they were doing great things, but note what he said about them. "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter."Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS' (Matthew 7:21-23).

What was the problem? They were doing things for which there was no law/no authority. Notice that they were doing "good things" (things which seemed good to them), but they were not according to "the will" of God. So, where do we go to find "the will" of God? I think we would agree that we would go to the Bible. Therefore, if we can't find our practice in the Bible, then it is not authorized, and therefore not acceptable to God, no matter how pleasing it may be to us.

Don't be deceived by smooth-talking preachers. They may be Satan's ministers. Paul warned Timothy: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths" (II Timothy 4:3-4). In conclusion, I would urge all who read this to prayerfully consider the question, "By what authority?" Our hope of heaven depends on the answer we give.

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