“The baptism of John, where was it from? From heaven or from men?” (Matt. 21:25).
The chief priests and elders questioned Jesus concerning the authority for His work, saying, “By what authority are You doing these things? and who gave You this authority?” Jesus did not dispute the need for authority. In fact, he asked them a question about authority concerning the baptism of John, promising to answer their question if they answered His question.
Jesus’ question tackled the foremost issue in any study of authority – its source. Jesus identified two, and only two, sources of authority – heaven and men. “Heaven” has reference to divine authority, that which is provided by God. Such authority is found in God’s revelation to man. God’s word to man today is the word of Christ in the New Testament (Hebrews 1:1-2; Ephesians 3:3-5; Jude 3; Colossians 1:5; 2 Timothy 1;13). When we do what God has revealed in the divine pattern of His word, we are acting by heaven’s authority!
On the other hand, man’s authority is just that, human authority – that which stands in contrast to divine authority. This human authority can be manifested in several ways:
- Preachers and scholars – following what men say.
- Creeds of men – religious doctrines of men.
- Majority opinion – what most people believe.
- Personal opinion – what I think is right.
- Emotions – what I feel is right.
- Sincerity – what I really believe is true.
- Results – the end justifies the means.
Each person must decide which authority he will ultimately and completely follow or submit to – man or God. God’s word is truth (John 17:17). If most folks choose to follow man, division and confusion will continue in our world. Choose to follow Jesus and His divine authority. He is the only true way.
— By Marc W. Gibson, The Central Voice, March, 2014