By What Power?

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

Text: Acts 4:1-12


I.         There is a appeal to being your own boss, to do your own thing, and not answer to anyone

            A.        You can see it during the times of the Judges - Judges 21:25

                        1.         Yet, it is a period marked by the Israelites’ behavior going from bad to worse to wretched

            B.        It remains popular with young adults who gain the ability to make decisions and so rebel against the idea that there are limits to what they can decide.

II.        However, those in power have different ideas

            A.        People with power tend to want to hold onto their power

            B.        As the teachings of Christ spread, the Jewish rulers demanded to know how the apostles had the right to teach their doctrine and do miracles - Acts 4:7

            C.        What were they asking?

                        1.         Power: dunamei - force, strength, power

                                    a.         The power being demonstrated could not have originated in men.

                                    b.         Jesus demonstrated power that could only originated with God - Acts 2:22

                                    c.         It meant that God was backing Jesus and his message - John 3:2

                                    d.         Jesus had promised his disciples power - Acts 1:8

                                    e.         They preached with power - I Corinthians 2:4-5

                                    f.         Thus, the Jewish leaders were asking who is the authority behind the miracles they were doing.

                        2.         Name:

                                    a.         The authority backing their teaching

                                    b.         Jesus stated that he came with the given authority of his Father - John 5:43

                                                (1)       Notice that some claim no greater authority than themselves

                                    c.         Jesus promised the disciples that they would be able act with his delegated authority - Mark 16:17

                                                (1)       They had but to appeal to his authority - John 14:13-14

                                    d.         Thus, the Jewish leaders were asking who gave them the right to teach as they were teaching

            D.        The answer to both questions was Jesus - Acts 4:10

                        1.         They were not promoting their own agenda but acting as Jesus had authorized.

            E.        Simon saw Peter and John giving the power of the Holy Spirit to new Christians and he desired that authority - Acts 8:17-19

                        1.         Authority: exousia - authority, right, power

                        2.         But authority is not bought. It is granted by the one in power - Acts 8:20-23

III.       The Need for Authority

            A.        Suppose you stop at a rest area and enter the building. You see two doors, one is marked “Restrooms” and the other “Authorized Personnel.”

                        1.         You immediately know that you are not permitted to enter the door marked “Authorized Personnel” because you have not been given the authority to enter.

                        2.         Notice also that the sign doesn’t explicitly state who may not enter. It only specifies who may enter and that is sufficient.

                        3.         When you enter the “Restrooms” door, you again see signs with an icon of a man pointing in one direction and a women pointing in another.

                                    a.         Once again, even though the word “only” doesn’t appear and it may not even say “man” or “woman,” yet, we know which direction we are allowed to go.

            B.        But when it comes Christianity, recognition of the principles of authority are replaced with emotional, irrational desires to do as one wants to do.

            C.        Salvation can only gain though the one authorized to give it - Acts 4:12

                        1.         There is no other authority but Jesus

                        2.         He has inherited a more excellent authority - Hebrews 1:4

                        3.         He has the highest authority - Philippians 2:9-10

            D.        Colossians 3:17 - What God teaches is the need for authority every aspect of our lives

                        1.         Jesus was given all authority - Matthew 28:19

                        2.         Jesus’ authority is above all others - Ephesians 1:20-23

                        3.         All our conduct must conform to the directives of Jesus. We must have prior approval for our actions.

IV.      Examples of Recognizing Authority

            A.        Moses spoke to Pharaoh in God’s name - Exodus 5:23

                        1.         He spoke God’s words to Pharaoh. He said only what God wanted said.

            B.        Nadab and Abihu offer incense in an unauthorized way - Leviticus 10:1-2

                        1.         They acted in a way God had not commanded

                        2.         As a result their actions did not honor God - Leviticus 10:3

            C.        Uzzah was struck dead for trying to steady the ark - II Samuel 6:6

                        1.         He was struck down for his irreverence - II Samuel 6:7

                        2.         They had not followed God’s orders - I Chronicles 15:13

                                    a.         They had not carried the ark as God’s law stated. Thus, they did not act in the name of the Lord.

                                    b.         By doing it their own way, they showed no respect for God

            D.        A centurion’s comment on the need for authority - Matthew 8:9

            E.        The Jewish leaders questioned Jesus’ authority - Matthew 21:23

                        1.         In other words, who gave you the right to act as you chose to do?

                        2.         The answer wasn’t: “Who needs authority? As long as I’m not in direct violation of a command and sincere, I can do as I want.”

                        3.         Jesus instead answer that the authority could have come from men or God and asked the leaders to chose (which they refused)

V.        Since everything we do must come from the one in power, we are limited in what we may do and say.

            A.        When we speak, speak as the oracles of God - I Peter 4:11

                        1.         What we advocate must be found in the sayings of God

            B.        We are not to think beyond what is written - I Corinthians 4:6

            C.        We are to examine everything carefully - I Thessalonians 5:21-22

            D.        All around us are churches who have introduced all sorts of practices not found in the Scriptures

                        1.         Excuses:

                                    a.         “It meets our needs”

                                    b.         “It gets more people involved”

                                    c.         “It brings in a lot of people”

                                    d.         “It generates enthusiasm”

                                    e.         “It allows us to get things done”

                                    f.         “We really like it”

                                    g.         “It keeps our young people’s interest”

                                    h.         “It creates a warm, accepting environment”

                        2.         Not that these are necessarily bad, but what is lacking is the anchor of authority which must come first

                                    a.         Without authority from God we will drift away from the truth

            E.        We must do what is right - Acts 10:35

            F.        We cannot cross the boundary of what is allowed - II John 9

            G.        There is only one way - John 14:6

            H.        There is no other authority - Acts 4:12

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