Authority and Power

 •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 10
If ever there was a moment in the history of the professing church in which it behooved people to have divine authority for their path and divine power to pursue it, this is the moment. There are so many conflicting opinions, so many jarring voices, so many opposing schools, so many contending parties, that we are in danger at all points of losing our balance and being carried we know not whither. We find the very best of men ranged on opposite sides of the same question; men who, as far as we can judge, seem to have a single eye to the glory of Christ, and to take the Word of God as their sole authority in all things.
What then is a simple soul to do? How is one to get on in the face of all this? Is there no peaceful haven in the which to anchor one's tiny vessel away from the wild tossing of the stormy ocean of human opinion? Yes, blessed be God, there is; and the reader may know the deep blessedness of casting anchor there this very moment. It is the sweet privilege of the very simplest child of God, the merest babe in Christ, to have divine authority for his path and divine power to pursue it-authority for his position, and power to occupy it-authority for his work, and power to do it.
What is it? Where is it? The authority is found in the divine Word; the power is found in the divine presence. Thus it is, blessed be God, and each and all may know it-ought to know it, for the stability of their path and the joy of their heart.
In contemplating the present condition of professing Christians generally, one is struck with this very painful fact, that so few, so very few, are prepared to face Scripture on all points and on all matters, personal, domestic, commercial, and ecclesiastical. If the question of the soul's salvation be settled-and oh, how rarely it is settled- then, verily, people consider themselves at liberty to break away from the sacred domain of Scripture, and launch forth upon the wild, watery waste of human opinion and human will, where each one may think for himself, and choose for himself, and act for himself.
Now nothing is more certain than this, that where it is merely a question of human opinion, human will, or human judgment, there is not a shadow of authority-not a particle of power. No human opinion has any authority over the conscience, nor can it impart any power to the soul. It may go for what it is worth, but it has neither authority nor power for me. I must have God's Word and God's presence, else I cannot get on. If anything, no matter what, comes between my conscience and the Word of God, I know not where I am, what to do, or whither to turn. And if anything, no matter what, comes in between my heart and the presence of God, I am perfectly powerless. The word of the Lord is my only directory; His dwelling in me and with me, my only power. "Have I not commanded thee?" "Lo, I am with you."
But, it may be the reader feels disposed to inquire, Is it really true that the Word of God contains ample guidance for all the details of life? Does it direct me in my personal path, in my domestic relationships, in my commercial position, in my religious associations and opinions?
Most assuredly it does. The Word of God furnishes you thoroughly to all good works; and any work for which it does not furnish you is not good, but bad. Let us bow down to its holy authority in all things. Let us humbly and reverently yield ourselves to its heavenly guidance. Let us give up every habit, every practice, every association, be it what it may, or be it sanctioned by whom it may, for which we have not the direct authority of God's Word, and in which we cannot enjoy the sense of His presence-the life of His appreciating countenance.
This is a point of the very gravest moment. Indeed it would be impossible for human language to set forth with due force or in adequate terms, the vast importance of absolute and complete submission to the authority of Scripture in all things-yes, we would say, and with all emphasis -all things.
One of our greatest practical difficulties in dealing with souls arises from the fact that they do not seem to have any idea of submitting in all things to Scripture. They will not face the Word of God, nor consent to be taught exclusively from its sacred pages. Creeds and confessions, religious forms, the commandments, the doctrines, and the traditions of men-these things will be heard and yielded to. Our own will, our own judgment, our own views of things will be allowed to bear sway. Expediency, position, reputation, personal influence, the opinion of friends, the thoughts and example of good and great men, the fear of grieving or giving offense to those we love and esteem and with whom we may have been long associated in our religious life and service, the dread of being thought presumptuous, intense shrinking from the appearance of judging or condemning many at whose feet we would willingly sit-all these things operate and exert a most pernicious influence upon the soul, and hinder full surrender of ourselves to the paramount authority of God's Word.
May the Lord graciously stir up our hearts in reference to this weighty subject! May He lead us, by His Holy Spirit, to see the true place and the real value and power of His Word. May that. Word
be set up in our souls as the one all-sufficient rule, so that everything-no matter what-may be unhesitatingly and utterly rejected that is not based upon its authority. Then we may expect to make progress. Then shall our path be as the path of the just, like a shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. May we never rest satisfied until, in reference to all our habits, all our ways, all our associations, our religious position and service, all we do and all we do not do; where we go and where we do not go, we can truly say we have the sanction of God's Word and the light of His presence. Here, and here alone, lies the deep and precious secret of AUTHORITY and POWER.