Monthly Archives: February 2016

Worship Under Authority

Authority is a tough topic these days.  Although we find evidence of authority all around us (speed limit signs, workplace rules, church building use policies, etc.) we often find creative ways to get around authority, or at least justify why WE can bend the rules and not conform to the established authority.

The casual way this happens in our daily lives flows directly into the worship of the church.  Worship planners, pastors, lay people and congregations have discovered innumerable ways to avoid being under authority – and specifically under the authority of God’s word.

Now, I understand that most churches use the Bible in their services.  At least there is evidence of Bible verses in songs, or in the sermon, or somehow Scripture is represented in some aspect of the worship service.  But, I’m referring to something beyond the presence of Bible verses and suggesting that the church must holistically be under the authority of Scripture.  It must move, and live, and breathe as dependent on and directed by that authority.

But we resist.  We refuse to place our intellects under the authority of the Word by explaining away clear principles of Scripture as outdated or intolerant.  We refuse to place our reason under the authority of the Word by allowing cultural norms to shape our thinking rather than biblical norms.  We refuse to place our lifestyles under the authority of the Word by dismissing moral and ethical expectations as too stringent.

To stand outside the authority of God’s word is to effectively move away from what can rightly be called Christian.  The further we move away, the greater the negative impact on the life changing declaration of the gospel.  Only as we submit to the Word of God will His Spirit empower the church to do the work of God.

As Martin Luther stated:

God’s word cannot be without God’s people, and conversely, God’s people cannot be without God’s word.  Otherwise, who would preach or hear it preached, if there were no people of God?  And what could or would God’s people believe, if there were no word of God?

…It is enough for us to know how this chief holy possession purges, sustains, nourishes, strengthens, and protects the church, as St. Augustine also says, ‘The church is begotten, cared for, nourished, and strengthened by the word of God.’[1]


[1] Martin Luther, On the Councils and the Church, Part III.

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