by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Text: Matthew 21:23-27
I. Common sense ought to tell you that someone has to be in charge
A. Imagine a society where there were no laws and no government.
1. What would we have? Chaos!
2. We even have a term for it – anarchy
3. The book of Judges documents the decay of Israel going from bad to worse. Why? - Judges 21:25
4. Yet this society technically had laws, but few were following them
B. In every aspect of our life we have rules and someone in charge to enforce those rules, whether it is in school, work, or at home.
1. What happens when you go to a store and get poor service?
a. “Whose in charge here?”
b. “May I talk to a manager?”
2. We appeal to a higher authority when there are disagreements
II. Authority starts with God
A. When God gave Israel His laws, notice how he starts - Exodus 20:2
B. God self-exists - Isaiah 42:8
C. He is God of both Jews and Gentiles - Romans 3:29
D. All belong to Him - Ezekiel 18:4
E. That authority is given to Jesus - Matthew 28:18
1. He spoke as being in authority - Matthew 7:29
2. When asked where he got his authority, Jesus hinted that it was from heaven - Matthew 21:23-27
3. Jesus will enforce his authority - Matthew 7:21-23
F. To call Jesus “Lord” is to accept his authority, at least in word - Luke 6:46
G. There can be no other authority
1. It cannot be men
a. What happens when someone dies? They can’t enforce their will, so there is no authority.
b. Who puts one man over another?
2. It cannot be self because we lapse into anarchy
H. We cannot reject God’s authority - Romans 9:20-21
III. What if God didn’t say?
A. Suppose I make the claim that an author of a book made a certain stance. When asked where did the author say this, I reply “Nowhere.” You would rightly conclude that I have misrepresented the author.
B. Silence tells us nothing. By itself it gives neither approval or disapproval. We can make no assumptions - Deuteronomy 29:29
1. Note that there are secret things, but they belong exclusively to God
C. Yet, people will often give a logical fallacy - the appeal to ignorance
1. The appeal to ignorance “consists in arguing that an idea must be true because we do not know that it is not. It is a fallacy because ignorance can never be a premise or reason. Premises express knowledge – claims. Nothing logically follows from nothing, i.e. from no knowledge” [Kreeft, Socratic Logic, p. 86].
2. The claim that the world was going to end on a certain date. When I pointed out that it had to be false because Jesus said no one knows when the world will end (Matthew 24:36), the response was “how do you know he might be right.” From there they decided to act as if it was right. They decided a “truth” based on ignorance.
D. The argument that the Bible doesn’t forbid it is an appeal to ignorance. It doesn’t give justification to anything. It only says the person knows nothing on the subject from what God said.
E. There is no approval in silence
1. Hebrews 1:5 - the proof that angels were not in the position of God’s son was the lack of evidence. You can’t take a position without authority from the one above.
2. Hebrews 7:14 - the proof that Judah could not produce priests was the silence – the lack of authorization. No one can claim authority from what is not said.
3. Acts 15:24 - The Judaizing teachers were condemned because they taught something from silence – from a lack of authority
F. If we left it there, perhaps we could say, “Well, there is no disapproval either.”
1. Perhaps, but God doesn’t allow acting without approval - Colossians 3:17
2. The church continued in the apostle’s doctrine - Acts 2:42
3. Christians obey that form or pattern of teaching - Romans 6:17-18
4. If some taught contrary they were to be withdrawn from - Romans 16:17
5. Christians are not to go beyond what is written - I Corinthians 4:6
6. We are not to teach anything different - Galatians 1:6-10
G. God claims to have given us a complete guide - II Peter 1:2-4; II Timothy 3:16-17
1. If there is more to be done or approved that God did not tell us, then the Bible is not complete
H. What we are left with is that since silence cannot give approval, it cannot authorize what is not mentioned. A lack of authority is a disapproval
IV. Why men cannot make laws
A. Paul mentioned that following a different gospel is an attempt to please men instead of God. It is the only reason for altering what God had said - Galatians 1:10
B. When the Jews tried to bind their laws, Jesus pointed out that they had no authority - Matthew 15:1-9
C. When people try to fill in perceived gaps with their own ideas, they are adding to God’s laws, but based on their own authority - Proverbs 30:5-6
1. You just can’t add to perfection and get something better
D. One word for “sin” is “iniquity.” It literally means acting without law or acting without authority - Psalms 32:5
V. God is in charge, and our duty to is follow Him - Ecclesiastes 12:13-14