From Heaven Or Of Men?
The chief priests, scribes, and elders asked Jesus, "By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things?" (Mark 11:28) These men recognized the need for authority in religion. Jesus, with his reply, also recognized that there must be authority in religion. Jesus asked them, "The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer me." (Mark 11:30)
With this answer, Jesus identified the only two sources of authority in religion: Heaven (God) or men. Only one of these has the right to grant such authority, as identified by the Apostle Peter in Acts 5:29, "We ought to obey God rather than men." Though Jesus declined to answer those men who sought to cause him difficulty, he did later answer the question that they asked him. In Luke 10:22 Jesus made the statement, "All things are delivered to me of my Father." In Matthew 28:18 (ASV) Jesus said, "All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth." We see, then, that Jesus had authority from God to rule over both heaven and earth.
We are told in Hebrews 1:1-2 that, "God hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son." These last days would refer to the time when we are under Christ's covenant. God has chosen to reveal His word through Jesus, to Whom all authority has been given.
Jesus also spoke of another that He would send after He left the earth to return to Heaven. In John 16:13-14, Jesus told His disciples, "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you." We find here that Jesus has promised that He would send the Spirit to "guide you into all truth." Remember, it was His disciples that Jesus was speaking to. Jesus had also warned these disciples that they would stand before governors and kings for Him. He told them, "But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak." (Matthew 10:19). These men would be inspired and would speak by the authority that Jesus gave them. In fact, Jesus told Peter, "whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Matthew 16:19) Those things taught by inspired men are, therefore, just as binding on us as those taught by Jesus.
Finally, the things that Jesus and His disciples taught, by God's authority, were written down for us. (I Cor. 14:36-38, I Tim. 3:16-17) We are told that this written word "was once delivered unto the saints." (Jude 3) This statement means "once for all time," not to be added to or changed. Paul said, "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." (Galatians 1:8) Let us, then, study the Word by which we have authority revealed from God.
---Mance J. Davis, Jr.
Within our congregation some of the men meet ever so often to plan out our future gospel meetings for the congregation. During these meeting we discuss the most appropriate topics to have and the correct speaker to fit each subject matter. We've had a good amount of discussion lately over why people do not attend services as well as the lack of interest in any work of the church. In trying to find the best topics to fight this on going problem we have come to the conclusion that people find little or no value in God. They do not see the importance in worshipping him. We have come to this conclusion by comparing our efforts to outside examples. People put a tremendous amount of time and effort into the things that are important to them. These activities vary from person to person but they all show the same signs of value in their lives.
Take for instance any sport. Those that are involved in or enjoy sports, tend to put forth a large amount of effort to making them the best they can. They want the field to be in the best shape possible with the grass cut, the bleachers clean, trash removed from the parking lot and grounds. They want the participants to be dressed appropriately and they want them to act respectfully as well as the players being fully prepared for what they must do. Most fans come thinking they will have a good enriching time because the players have put forth a lot of effort to be at their best and ready to give it their all. None of these individuals do these things or expect this quality because they don't care about sports, but instead they find value in having a sport and a place to have a game as well as putting the amount of time in to make it the best it can be. There is not a sport that can be executed without a tremendous amount of effort and care from all who are involved. Another example could include any hobby, school function, play or production, even something as simple as a birthday party. People care about these things and they put themselves wholly to the task of making them the best they can.
The problem us men were having with our discussion was that we saw little of this enthusiasm when it came to worshipping the Lord. People would come dressed inappropriately; more often individuals would dress better if they were going to a ball game than they would to come to services. Men would come unprepared to lead singing or to bring a short talk, even though their names had been posted for a month or longer. Ladies would not bring the things they need to take care of the Lord's Supper or they would come so late they would be an interruption to Bible class while bringing it out. The building is never as clean as any lady would demand their own home to be, let alone the house of God. The yard and the appearance of the building never stayed to the quality it should be. We all know that usually these task fall on the shoulders of a very few to keep things as they should be, and becomes hard for those individuals to watch when these things are not done properly when delegated out.
As men of the congregation we wondered why some of these same people would never miss a game or how they could put so much effort into something at school. We have even gone to some of their homes for a party or get together and you could see they had spent days maybe even weeks preparing for an event that would last only hours, but three hours a week serving God seemed to be such drudgery to them.
Our conclusion had to be that people found little or no value in God. If they did, their attitude would be closer to that of David's when he said, "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD" (Psalms 122:1).
I know this sounds overly harsh but there is a difference between caring enough to be somewhere and putting forth the amount of effort and energy to make something the best it can be. Rev 3:15-16 makes the same point that I am making. These people are lukewarm. They can not be classified as cold, because they care enough to be at services. They can not however be classified as hot because they do not put forth the effort to be called as such, so they fall into the lukewarm category. We all know by this passage that God said He would spew these individuals out.
So we, as the men of the congregation, were worried and decided that a lack of value was the problem and that we needed lessons to show why God should be valuable in our sight. Some points that we thought to be profitable were these: He has provided Salvation. He is a loving Father who listens and provides for us. He has created us a family that spreads the globe. He provides for us daily. He answers our prayers.
There are so many more than these and only through a study of God's word will we truly see His value. The more I study the more I am in awe at what He has done for us. By studying the Old Testament I have come to appreciate His need to punish, as well. It is hard to take being wrong or rebuked but I find value when His word does that to me as well. God does so much for each of us for us to, in turn, show Him that we value Him so little. When we don't put forth our best efforts into serving Him, we not only show Him that He means so little to us but we show others also. People of the world take notice when we put so little value in serving God. We will never be able to teach them the importance of God and being obedient to Him if they see His lack of value in us. God, His word, and the work that He has given us to do should be held as the most valuable parts of each of our lives