Who Has The Authority?
And who does not!

Authority, what is it? What does it mean? Its root is the word 'author', which means creator or originator. It is from the Latin "auctoritas", the creator's power to command or to make decisions. The dictionary defines it as, "the power to enforce laws, exact obedience, command, determine, or judge". It also means, "one who is invested with this power, especially a government".

So the word can apply to a form of government as well as to an individual. The Senate has the authority to make laws, the Supreme Court has the authority to interpret those laws, and the President has the authority to enforce those laws.

What do you suppose would happen if there was no authority? There would be anarchy, unrest, chaos, everyone 'doing his own thing'. Civilization as we know it would collapse in very short order. Look at Albania. Within days of the collapse of authority, there was anarchy, with thousands trying to flee for their lives. Scripture reminds us, "Where there is no governor, the people shall fall, but there is safety where there is much counsel,"
Prov 11:14,24:6.

Authority comes from the "Author of Life", Acts 3:15. All authority comes from GOD, "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment." Rom 13:1-2. Notice that GOD is selective as to just who He gives authority.

The Catholic Church has a form of government called a theocracy and operates as an "Hierarchy". Like any other form of government, it has to have "authority" to function.
The Church received its authority from its founder, Jesus Christ...

1. "You are Peter, and upon this Rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it", Mt 16:18. Jesus will build his Church on solid rock. He will be the 'cornerstone' Psa 118:22 and Eph 2:20-22, the 'foundation' (cornerstone) 1Cor 3:11, and the 'rock' 1Cor 10:4. The 'Gates of Hell shall not prevail against it', means, He will defend it from within and from without, against all adversaries for all time.

2. The Apostles are the foundation with Jesus Christ as the "Chief cornerstone", Eph 2:20.

3. Jesus Christ gave a higher authority for disputes between persons, even when there are two or more witnesses. He told them to appeal to the Church in Mt 18:17, "But if he refuses to hear even the Church let him be as a heathen and the publican (a tax collector for the Roman Empire)." Here, Christ gave full authority to His Church.

4. Paul admonishes those who refuse to accept the authority given to the Church and warns what will happen to them if they refuse in Rom 13:1-2, "Let everyone be subject to the higher authorities, for THERE EXISTS NO AUTHORITY EXCEPT FROM GOD, AND THOSE WHO EXIST HAVE BEEN APPOINTED BY GOD. Therefore HE WHO RESISTS THE AUTHORITY RESISTS THE ORDINANCE OF GOD; AND THEY THAT RESIST BRING ON THEMSELVES CONDEMNATION."

5. Jesus Christ Himself is the head of the Church He founded, the "Head of His Body", Eph 1:22. That is about as authoritative as can be attained.

6. Jesus Christ made sure that His Church was worthy of the authority which He gave to it. He made sure His Church was spotless, "In order that He might present to Himself to the Church in all her glory, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she might be holy and without blemish," Eph 5:27. He made sure His Church was worthy to be called the "House of GOD", and the "Pillar of Truth", "...how to conduct yourself in the House of GOD, which is the Church of the living GOD, the pillar and mainstay of the truth," 1Tim 3:15.

7. Jesus Christ loves the Church He founded, Eph 5:29. Do you?

8. GOD has said He will be with His Church forever, "I will never leave you, neither will I forsake you," Heb 13:5. In Mt 28:20, Jesus said, "I am with you all days, even until the end of the world." That means He will be with His Church every day in every century until the end of time. Which Church was His Church when these verses were uttered?

GOD has given authority to several people in the Bible. He signifies the passing of authority by changing the name of the person. Some examples are...

1. GOD renamed Abram to Abraham when He made him the 'Father of a Multitude of Nations' in Gen 17:5.

2. GOD renamed Sara to Sarah when He made her the 'Mother of Nations' in Gen 17:15-16.

3. GOD renamed Jacob to Israel, the name of the Jewish Nation, and he became the first Israeli in Gen 35:10.

4. GOD renamed Simon to Peter when He made him the head of His Church in Mt 16:18. Peter was given the authority by GOD, and GOD renamed him to emphasize it. In Mt 16:19, Jesus Christ gave Peter even more authority. He gave him, and none other, the 'keys to the kingdom of heaven', and told him, "Whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." A lot of authority was given in these two verses to Simon, now Peter, a mere creature of GOD.

5. There are more than 50 verses in the Bible that refer to the supremacy of Peter over all of the Apostles. The name of Peter appears more often than the name of any other Apostle in the New Testament. When the Apostles are named, Peter is named first in every case except Gal 2:9. In Mt 10:2, Peter is even called "first", "Now these are the names of the twelve Apostles: FIRST Simon, who is called Peter...". In Acts 15:7, Peter said, "Brethren, you know that in early days GOD made choice among us, that through 'MY MOUTH' the Gentiles should hear the word of the Gospel and believe." Peter recounted his supremacy, as GOD had given it to him in Mt 16:18-19. In Lk 22:31-31, Jesus said, "Simon, behold Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and do you when once you have turned again, strengthen your brethren." Here Jesus appointed Peter to strengthen the others, another clear sign of his supremacy. Finally, in Jn 21:15-17, it is Peter, and only Peter, to whom the Lord commands three times to feed his flock. Peter was the supreme Apostle. The present day supreme Bishop, the Bishop of Rome, is the Pope, Peter's direct successor in a long line of Popes.

6. Jesus Christ gave full authority to the Apostles when in Lk 10:16, He said, "He who hears you, hears Me; and he who rejects you, rejects Me; and he who rejects Me, rejects Him who sent Me." We hear His words through His Church. Therefore these words have to apply to His Church as well, 'he who rejects My Church rejects Me'. That verse also prevents the Pope from teaching heresy, so when the Pope speaks in matters of faith and morals, he is speaking as Christ would and with His authority. Paul acknowledged the authority given to the Apostles in 2Cor 10:8, "For even if I boast somewhat more about our authority, which the Lord has given for your upbuilding, and not for your destruction, I shall not be put to shame."

7. Jesus gave authority to 72 other disciples in Lk 10:1-12, and told them He sends them forth as 'lambs in the midst of wolves'. He told them to shake the dust off their feet from the towns that do not receive them.

8. We are commanded to obey our superiors (priests, Bishops, and the Pope) and to be subject to them, as they keep watch as having to render an account of our souls, Heb 13:17.

9. GOD placed others in His Church as well, "And GOD indeed has placed some in the Church, first Apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers; after that miracles, then gifts of healing, services of help, power of administration, and the speaking of various tongues," 1Cor 12:28. Does your Church have all these?

Knowing of course, that the Apostles would not live forever, and that His Church would continue until the 'end of time'
(Mt 28:20), Jesus Christ made provision to pass on the authority from generation to generation...

1. "I laid the foundation, and another builds thereon. But let everyone take care how he builds thereon, for other foundations no one can lay, but that which has been laid, which is Jesus Christ." 1Cor 3:10-11. So there will be followers who will build upon the foundation.

2. "You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and have appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain...," Jn 15:16.

3. "...that you should set right anything that is defective and should appoint presbyters (priests) in every city as I myself directed you to do," Titus 1:5. Paul commands them to make new priests.

4. "Take heed to yourselves and to the whole flock in which the Holy Spirit has placed you as Bishops to rule the Church of GOD," Acts 20:28. Here the Bishops are given the authority by the Holy Spirit to rule the Church that Jesus Christ founded. Does your Church have Bishops?

5. "And now I commend you to GOD and to the word of His grace, who is able to build up and to give the inheritance among all the sanctified," Acts 20:32. Pass on the authority to your heirs.

6. The Pope and the Bishops are the lawful successors to the Apostles. If we reject their authority, then we reject Christ.

It is the Holy Spirit who guides and guards the Church that Jesus Christ founded. He is the ultimate and final authority...

1. "I will ask the Father and He will give you another Advocate to dwell with you forever, the Spirit of Truth whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you shall know Him, because He will dwell with you, and be in you," Jn 14:16-17,26, Jn 15:26,16:13. The Holy Spirit will dwell in the Church that Jesus Christ founded and He will be with that Church forever.

Not all will be revealed to the Church at once because we could not bear it. It will all be revealed over time. This is the authorization for the Church to reveal doctrines such as the Immaculate Conception.

1. "Many things yet I have to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when the Spirit of Truth has come, he will teach you all the truth, ...and the things that are to come he will declare to you," Jn 16:12-15

2. "I fed you with milk, not with solid food, for you were not yet ready for it...I have planted...but GOD has given the growth," 1Cor 3:1-15.

3. Eph 4:11-16, "...in order to perfect the saints for a work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the deep knowledge of the Son of GOD, to perfect manhood to the mature measure of the fullness of Christ...that we may be now no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine devised in the wickedness of men, in craftiness, according to the wiles of error.

4. Phil 1:5-11, "...he who has begun a good work in you will bring it to perfection until the day of Christ...I pray that your charity may more and more abound in knowledge and all discernment." Clearly GOD is telling us that knowledge will increase with time.

Now to answer the all important question, "Who has the authority?" In order to have only one truth, it is necessary to have only one authority. The Church that Jesus Christ founded, was given that authority as shown in this letter. Does your Church meet all the scriptural requirements given in this text? Can you trace your Church all the way back to Christ? If you can't, then your Church does not have the authority. If your church does not have the authority, then why are you there? The main difference between the Catholic Church and all other churches, is that the Catholic Church, and only the Catholic Church, has the authority...

I would suggest that everyone read Numbers 16. It is about the rebellion to the authority of Moses by Korah and his followers. Moses did everything he could to try and convince Korah, pleading with him that he was wrong in doing this, and yet Korah and his followers rejected his pleas. Read the final outcome of Korah's rebellion in Numbers 16:30-35. It isn't pretty, but then Korah would not listen to Moses, who was the man on earth of whom GOD had chosen to lead His people. Now read about Martin Luther and his rebellion against the authority of the Catholic Church, and you will see that the story of Numbers 16 has repeated itself. Now read Numbers 16 again, but this time substitute the name of the founder of your church for Korah, and for Moses, the name of the Pope. Those who fail to profit from history are doomed to repeat its mistakes.
"Nothing under the sun is new, neither is any man able to say: Behold this is new; for it has already gone before in the ages that were before us." Ecclesiastes 1:10

Have you ever read Psalms 127:1?
"Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it."

Now show me the verse(s) in the Bible which gives the authority to any human creature to found another church other than the ONE CHURCH which Jesus Christ founded?
Show me the verse(s) which authorizes anyone to simply hold up a Bible and proclaim, "This is my authority".

Written by Bob Stanley, August 1997
Updated April 15, 2005
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