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On Who’s Authority?

September 19, 2012

I want to take a few minutes this morning to offer a quick follow-up to my last post. To summarize, I heard a preacher, in the midst of his own sermon, complain about another preacher who did not directly reference specific scripture during a sermon. It seemed ironic to me that the complaint came during a sermon full of proof-texting, scripture out of context, and passages mis-applied. So I asked the question: Which is worse? Assuming the sermon with a lack of scripture accurately reflected the truth of the gospel, which scenario is more appropriate?

Just like many, if not most, things in life, context is king. In any other context than preaching in the local church, there may be a place for a gospel message without direct scriptural reference. In fact, some contexts may prohibit the direct use of scripture.

In the local church, our authority is the Word of God. The preacher who does not proclaim his message as flowing directly from the scripture preaches without authority. It is, or at least can be perceived as, simply man’s logic. If we are going to proclaim Truth with authority, we must claim that authority from its source, the inspired Word of God.

The preacher who takes scripture out of context and mis-applies it is at least equally guilty. When we abuse scripture in this way we abuse our authority as messengers of the gospel. If we really believe the Word of God is authoritative and the power of God to save (Romans 1:16), why do we often feel the need to manipulate that gospel, our listeners, or both? Manipulation is NEVER appropriate!

If you are a pastor, preacher, teacher, or evangelist, will you make this commitment along with me?

I commit to:

  • Make the Word of God, the Bible, my sole authority and primary resource in my preaching and teaching.

  • Preach and teach from the Word of God in its context, not preach and teach my context into the scripture.

  • Apply the word of God to my context, not apply my context to the Word of God.

  • Not abuse nor manipulate the scripture nor my listeners.

What would you add to or take away from this commitment? Let me know if you agree or disagree. Please share your thoughts below.

  1. I would add that we should interpret the Old Testament the way Jesus, Paul, and the other NT writers did. AKA, they are not by and large ONLY moral lessons that we should follow, but references to Christ and His gospel. This is one of the biggest problems in preaching among FWBs. We believe the gospel, but we don’t believe the gospel is important for Christians, and we think we know how to interpret the Bible better than Paul and Jesus did.

  2. Jacob,
    That is a great word! This is a major flaw in most preaching I hear. We draw really good life application from the narratives from the OT, but rarely preach it for what it is. It is the story of Jesus! It is the gospel! In fact, I propose that what we usually call the gospel doesn’t really make sense without the Old Testament. I believe we have defined the gospel down to the salvation story. But the gospel is much bigger than that. I posted earlier some about this here:

    One of the best treatments of this I have read lately is “The King Jesus Gospel” by Scot McKnight. I highly recommend it. My review of that book is here:

    Thanks for the comment. Come back anytime!

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