Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 21 Number 10 October 2019
Page 11

The Church and Authority

Terry Wheeler

The church has no intrinsic authority. No creed is law; no ordination is valid. It has no separatist clergy class fitting, no religious title and no church tradition. The church does not authorize. In fact, it cannot properly authorize anything. Only the Lord Jesus Christ authorizes through His New Testament (James 4:12). The church is what is authorized. Failure to understand this is the basic error of both Catholic and Protestant religion. The purity of the religion of the New Testament, with apostolic doctrine and tradition contained therein, reveals the true church of Christ, now and forever. When the New Testament as law is no longer considered sufficient by us, then true Christianity quickly gets lost to us. Then, Christ is hidden from us and our worship becomes invalid (Matthew 28:18-20; 15:7-9; Acts 2:42; Colossians 2:20-23; 1 Corinthians 9:21; Galatians 6:2; 2 Corinthians 13:5; 2 Thessalonians 2:15).

Play Dough and the Potter’s Clay

Ernest S. Underwood

Ernest S. UnderwoodAbout two years ago, my wife and I had an interesting and pleasant overnight visit with a niece. It happened that while we were there, she was babysitting her little granddaughter for the night. This little grandniece had a container of play dough of one brand or another. She brought it to me and asked me to “make something.” After trying to make a frog, a turtle and a bear, but not doing such a good job of it, I finally tried my skill at making a worm. Making worms is not difficult, especially if you are not concerned about which end is which. I even taught her how to do it. She would make a worm then “smush” (her word) it and make another one. Like I have said, it was a pleasant evening.

This incident brought to mind some Scriptures about a potter and clay. The prophet Isaiah wrote, “Surely you have things turned around! Shall the potter be esteemed as the clay; For shall the thing made say of him who made it, ‘He did not make me’? Or shall the thing formed say of him who formed it, ‘He has no understanding’?”  (Isaiah 29:16). He also penned, “But now, O LORD, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand” (Isaiah 4:8). Jeremiah also wrote of the potter and the clay. He inscribed, “And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make” (Jeremiah 18:4). In verse 6 of this same chapter, he continued, “‘O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?’ says the LORD. ‘Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel!’” The apostle Paul wrote, “Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?” (Romans 9:21). Even a casual observer cannot help but notice that the “potter” in these passages is God and the “clay” is mankind. It is God Who does the molding, and it is man He molds. Man can either lovingly submit to His molding, or he can in stubbornness and rebellion refuse Him who is the Master Potter.

There are some important observations that need to be made. First, it is through His Word that God today molds and shapes those who will yield to His power. Some claim that He molds and saves by something they call “faith only.” How can that be? Did not James write, “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (James 2:24)? Others claim to have been saved by doing what they refer to as “saying the sinner’s prayer.” I do not doubt the sincerity of those who make this claim; however, they have absolutely no Scripture to uphold their sincere feelings. Friend, the Word of God does not tell or authorize a lost person to “say” such a prayer and expect to be pleasing to God who gave His Son for our salvation. The apostle Paul by inspiration revealed exactly how we are saved. In Romans 6:17-18 he penned, “But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” Will the person who believes that salvation comes by “saying the sinner’s prayer” please tell us what he or she does with this passage? Also, go back to the first part of Romans 6 and explain how the apostle told one gets “into Christ.” Again, where is anything like this saying used in his instructions?

Friend, let God mold your life and soul by His Holy Word, rather than letting it be molded by the deceits, opinions and outright false doctrines of men. Only by doing so can one expect to be ushered into that eternal inheritance that awaits those who have been cleansed from their sins by being washed in the blood of the sacrifice so lovingly given by Him who can and will mold us into vessels of honor. The song copyrighted by George C. Stebbins tell us as we sing it, “Have Thine Own Way, Lord! Have Thine own way! Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.” Will you let God mold you?

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