Tuesday, January 12, 2010

First Shambles and Authority

Before departing this topic, it is worth looking at where the authority really lay.

  1. The Judean Christians had no authority over the Christians in Antioch. One group of Christians cannot tell another group do things. A prophetic Christian can tell another group of Christians what they believe the Lord is saying, but they are free to ignore the word, if they believe it is not correct. Experienced Christians can explain the truth to other, but they cannot make their listeners do things.

  2. The elders in Antioch, like Paul and Barnabas, had authority over the Christians in Antioch, because these new Christians had submitted to them. This was voluntary authority. The Antioch Christians were free to withdraw that authority, if the elders lost the plot.

  3. The apostles in Jerusalem did not have authority over the believers in Antioch. Jesus did not give them authority over Christians everywhere in the world. The only apostles who would have authority in Antioch, would be apostles who had established the church there. The new Christians in Antioch would have submitted to them as elders.

  4. By submitted their problem to the elders and apostles in Jerusalem, Paul and Barnabas gave them temporary authority in Antioch. The elders and apostles had authority with respect to the issue that had been submitted to them. Once their decision had be made and submitted to the people, this temporary authority came to an end.

  5. God did not give a group of apostle the authority over the entire church. He did not use meetings of Christians the power to decide theological issues by making democratic decisions. The Holy Spirit is the guardian of true theology. Jesus said that he would lead us into all truth (John 16:12). We do not need a church council to determine the truth.

  6. Judas and Silas were given authority to speak on behalf of the Elders and Apostles in Jerusalem (Acts 15:27). This authority was very limited in scope to the issue at hand.

  7. Once the Christians in Antioch, realised that Judas and Silas were men of God with a clear prophetic voice, they submitted to their authority while they were with them in Antioch. When they returned to Jerusalem, this authority came to an end.

The shambles that is described in Acts 15 is what happens when the best people are not sent out into the battlefield. The Jerusalem apostles tried to deal with a problem by councils and government. This does not work. The best people should be out at the cutting edge, where they can deal with problems as they arise.

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