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The Authority of Christ’s Words
Who is Your Daddy? Mark 1:21-22—part 1
Who is your daddy? Answer: God is. It’s easy to forget God is in complete control. Our God is Lord, and He is the ultimate authority. We tend to go through life forgetting our God orders every event. We forget He controls every relationship.
God is not unclear. He knows when the sparrow hops. He knows how many hairs are on your head. He knows if the apostle fishes he will catch the one fish with a gold coin in its mouth in order to pay the taxes. He brings about every trial, and is the source of every blessing.
Yeah, but people can still sin and be mean and God does nothing. No–God allowed Joseph’s brothers to throw him in the pit and sell him as a slave. God allowed evil men to crucify Jesus on the cross. God is working through your unfair boss, evil teacher and difficult spouse and impossible children. God is in charge, and He either allows or causes everything, oversees every event and every person in your life.
Romans 8:28 says, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” God’s in charge. He’s working all the variables to accomplish His plan. So what God says is the final authority. Not to rip on a bumper sticker, but, when God says it, that settles it, whether you believe it or not.
God inspired His Word–the Bible is God-breathed, so the Scripture is always true and God cannot lie. Therefore it is authoritative–it is His Word, the final word. “Thus says the Lord” means obey. In fact, often God warns you not to be one who deludes yourself by merely hearing the Word, you must do the Word—obey it. You are to hear and to heed–to listen and follow. And being living and active, you are to follow God’s Word as if Christ Himself were physically present and telling you what to do.
Do you believe that God’s Word is authoritative? That the Bible is the final word on what you should say, do, and think? Because it’s God’s Word, it must be followed, obeyed, heeded, embraced, defended, owned, taught and treasured above all? Do you believe His Word supersedes all thinking, all knowledge, all science, all opinions and all feelings on all matters? Do you believe the Bible is the authority?
When Jesus taught the Word, He taught with authority, and He taught the Bible as the final authority. He taught it as absolute, final, black and white, clear, alive, and the best thing to hunger after, long for, think about, pursue and live. And that is how Mark tells us Jesus taught in Mark 1:21-22. Turn there and follow along with your outline. You retain more when you take notes–drink in His Word today.
As Mark continues his fast paced go gospel intro of Jesus, he has told us Christ’s coming was planned before the foundation of the world, announced by the forerunner, affirmed by the Father, empowered by the Spirit and victorious over sin and evil, defeating the devil in the wilderness. Mark reminds us that more than anything, Jesus taught the Gospel and called men as followers to preach the Gospel with Him.
Now Mark tells us how Jesus taught in verses 21 to 22—feel the heat as we read these verses aloud together. “They went into Capernaum; and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and began to teach. 22 They were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” You say, “Chris, this doesn’t sound like the Bible teaching I hear today. My reaction to the Bible is a lot different than this reaction.”
Why is that? Turn to 2 Timothy 4. Because pastors don’t speak God’s Word correctly, and because people don’t hear God’s Word correctly. Listen to the warning of 2 Timothy 4:1 to 4, “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.”
Taught correctly, the Word of God doesn’t tickle ears, it burns them. When we gather on Sunday, at RMG’s, equipping classes, or you study the Bible at home, or teach it to your kids, you are not supposed to merely hear or learn facts, but obey. And as we preach or teach, we are not to sell the Word like a salesman, or make you feel good with it like a massage, or change it so it sounds less offensive, like an editor, but to preach the Word as it is, with authority. The Bible actually commands preachers to tell their people not what they want to hear, but what they don’t want to hear–then tell them they are bound by God to obey it.
And a preacher’s goal is to get out of the way so people hear God’s Word alone. It is God’s heart that you would look beyond the communicator, look beyond the speaker and respond to God’s truth with obedience as His authoritative will for your life. A preacher is a waiter trying to get the food from God’s kitchen to the table of your soul without messing it up so you can be spiritually fed. The preacher is a doctor trying to administer the medicine of God’s pharmacy so you can get healthy. The preacher is a nutritionist attempting to get you to eat God’s food and take God’s vitamins so you can get spiritually strong.
As long as a teacher is faithful to God’s Word, they have the awesome privilege of ministering with God-given authority. But he has spiritual authority only to the extent that what he says aligns with God’s Word. Think about it, if our Lord spoke with authority by speaking only God’s Word, then how much more should our authority only come from the Bible as well. But why do people struggle so much with authority today? Because of the misuse and abuse of authority. What are some of the wrong uses of God’s Word?
First The wrong practice of personal authority
Turn in your Bibles to Acts 19:13. There are false teachers who say they have a power like the apostles to command Satan, cast out demons, or even claim God will do whatever they ask. All are exercising a personal authority not from God, like the Sons of Sceva in Acts 19. These boys thought they could have power just by using the name of Jesus or Paul–look at verses 13 to 18.
Acts 19:13 to 18, “Some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, ‘I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.’ 14 And seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 And the evil spirit answered and said to them, ‘I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?’ 16 And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 And this became known to all, both Jews and Greeks, who lived in Ephesus; and fear fell upon them all and the name of the Lord Jesus was being magnified. 18 Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices.”
There is no personal authority outside the Word of God. The Spirit of God uses the Word of God to display the power of God, not as a formula, but according to His sovereign will. Another bad use of authority is:
Second The wrong practice of church authority
There are churches that tell people what to do outside the teaching of Scripture. Instead of remaining under the authority of the Word, some churches stand above the Bible by appealing to their doctrinal statement, bylaws, church counsels or historical traditions. Some churches say their leaders speak with divine authority and all their decisions are true and everyone else is false. But the only true authority is our sovereign God, and His authority is only found in His words.
Anyone or any group who adds to the Word, takes away from it, or challenges its authority will have the plagues of Revelation upon them, as Revelation 22:18 warns. “I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book.” Handling the Bible accurately is an awesome responsibility. Yet we are also facing:
Third The wrong practice of rational authority
Today, it is fashionable to elevate human wisdom over the Word of God. Wrongly, we hear or see . . .
• our programs work/people feel good, so who needs the Word of God?
• psychology will answer our greatest needs apart from the Holy Spirit and the Bible
• political protest will change the moral fiber of our nation apart from the spiritual transformation of souls through the Gospel
• science proves Genesis 1 is wrong
• homosexuality is just an alternative lifestyle, not sin
• alcoholism is a disease, not the sin of drunkenness
• Paul was wrong to say women have a different role than men
All those positions raise human thinking above the authority of the biblical text. It is a rational authority, which, when you think about it, is crazy. Even at our best, the human mind is fallen, sinful, selfish, and our wisdom will never transform a life. Jesus blasted the Pharisees for listening to human theories and practices over the authority of the Word. Mark 7:8 says, “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” True authority is found in God and His Word alone. Finally, we are also battling with:
Fourth The wrong practice of experiential authority
Turn to 2 Peter 1:16–this is the person that says, “I know what the Bible says, but I experienced this.” Whenever our experience dictates what is true–when someone says, “I had a vision, a dream, an out-of-body experience, an angel, see in advance,” or when our experience is valued higher than or equal to the Word, then we’re submitting to an ungodly authority.
Do you realize the apostle Peter told us clearly the Word of God was more important and more certain than his own true real experience of witnessing the transfiguration of Christ? He was there, he is an apostle, but he calls the Word of God more sure than his own experience. Second Peter 1:16, “For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased’– 18 and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. 19 And so we have the prophetic word made more sure [certain/unalterable], to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. 20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”
Men and women, the Bible is the real preacher–Jesus modeled it, and the Bible demands it. Then, you may ask, why is there so little true authoritative preaching today? Why is it rare when men speak of biblical authority today? Well, commanding is not what people want to hear–people like sharing, entertaining, laughter and ego-building. People today want to feel good, to have their pride massaged not painfully cut from their soul. People want their ears tickled, not their ears burned off.
Biblical authority is rare, because when Christians do hear real teaching in a commanding tone, they think it is unkind, harsh or insensitive. Then preachers get intimidated because people leave or complain, or preachers get so busy in ministry they don’t take the necessary time to study in order to explain God’s Word simply, clearly and with confident authority. The result is, pulpits are filled with men who invent their theology as they speak. They tell stories, read a few verses, then end with an emotional appeal that grabs hearts but fails to transform lives over the long haul. Seldom do churches ever teach through a book of the Bible, or let the entire Bible speak for itself (honoring every word). So many worship services have become so traditional, where the standing, sitting, kneeling routine becomes so strong there is no time to adequately teach the Word. And there are many other reasons why true spiritual authority is rare . . .
• this world is intolerant of absolutes
• many Godly men have fallen into sin, discrediting the Word
• the media constantly undermines all authority
• personal rights are elevated above God’s will
• Christians often check their doctrine at the door in order to come together so we can all get along
So God’s authority in the Word is ignored, and God’s Word is belittled. So what do we do? Do we capitulate? Do we give up? No, we don’t–we learn from Christ and His example, but it will not be easy. Now turn back to Mark 1. Remember trying to change gears on your bike and the gear changer slipped? Ouch–not only did it stop your forward motion, but you often hurt yourself, damaged your bike, and got really embarrassed. That is what a Christian is like when you forget that the Bible is God’s authoritative leadership in our lives. Forget that and you will grind to a halt, get hurt, make a lot of noise, but make no spiritual progress.
So let’s embrace God’s authority by listening to what Mark says in verses 21 to 22. Jesus taught with authority because Jesus is the authority. Mark 1:21, “They went into Capernaum; and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and began to teach. 22 They were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”
#1 The circumstances of Christ’s teaching
All of us teach our Christian brothers and sisters as we share God’s Word. Some of us teach in our homes discipling our children, a few teach in ministry, RMG’s and in classes, and a few preach. But Jesus did it all–discipling His men, preaching to crowds and teaching in the synagogues.
Verse 21, “They went into Capernaum; and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and began to teach.” The disciples were with Christ–the “they” in verse 21 are the men He just called to be fishers of men in verses 16 to 20. They move from the seashore, to the city of Capernaum. I love this place and you would too. This was Jesus’s adopted hometown, his strategic headquarters (Matthew 4:13), a city located on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. Its name means “city of Nahum,” but whether it was named for the Old Testament prophet Nahum is not known.
Capernaum was a significant enough city to have a Roman centurion and a detachment of soldiers stationed there (Matthew 8:5). Capernaum was a hub of travel and commerce, and the centurion being there long enough to have built a synagogue for the Jewish inhabitants (Luke 7:5) suggests he was permanently assigned there. A royal official (most likely in the service of Herod Antipas) also lived in Capernaum (John 4:46). And several of the apostles were associated with Capernaum, including Peter and Andrew (Mark 1:21, 29) who moved there from Bethsaida (John 1:44), and Matthew, whose tax collector’s booth was in or near the city (Matthew 9:1, 9).
So now at his headquarters, his main city, Mark says in verse 21, “Immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue.” There was but one temple in Jerusalem, but many synagogues throughout the land. Synagogue means a bringing together or an assembly. These “gathering places” were found throughout Israel and the Mediterranean world. They were used for 1) worship services, 2) a schoolhouse during the week, and 3) a courtroom to try minor cases.
When they had services, they included 1) prayers, 2) reading of the Old Testament, and 3) teaching.
The reading of the Scriptures and teaching were open to qualified individuals selected by the synagogue leaders. The synagogue was a lay institution, and did not require a priest or a rabbi. Though customarily, a visiting rabbi was usually invited to address the audience. And the democratic character of the services made the synagogue readily available to Jesus.
So Mark tells us in verse 21, “Jesus began to teach.” Does that not strike you? Christ established His ministry as a teacher. Our Lord and Savior did not institute His ministry on miracles, grand events, or a new radical program. He established His ministry on the Word of God by teaching. He didn’t start by parting the Galilean Sea. He didn’t begin by doing a disappearing act. He enters the synagogue on the Sabbath and “began to teach.”
Travel ahead with me in Mark to . . .
1:37 to 38–“‘Everyone is looking for You.’ He said to them, ‘Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.’”
1:39–“And He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out the demons.”
2:2—“Many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, not even near the door; and He was speaking the Word to them.”
2:13–“And He went out again by the seashore; and all the people were coming to Him, and He was teaching them.”
4:1 to 2–“He began to teach again by the sea. And such a very large crowd gathered to Him that He got into a boat in the sea and sat down; . . . and He was teaching them many things in parables, and was saying to them in His teaching . . .”
6:1 to 2–“. . . when the Sabbath came, He began to teach . . . ; and the many listeners were astonished, saying, ‘Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to him, . . .”
6:6–“He was going around the villages teaching.”
6:34–“Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; He began to teach them many things.”
8:31–“And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things . . .”
10:1–“crowds gathered around Him again, and, according to His custom, He once more began to teach them.”
11:17 to 18–“And He began to teach and say to them, ‘Is it not written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations”? But you have made it a robbers’ den.’ The chief priests and the scribes heard this, and began seeking how to destroy Him; for they were afraid of Him, for the whole crowd was astonished at His teaching.”
Even after His resurrection Jesus preached a final sermon to His disciples (Luke 24:27). Jesus taught; Jesus preached, again and again and again—all the time, teaching and preaching. He dialogued with people in two ways—teaching, and He proclaimed God’s Word in one way, preaching.
Do not make the modern mistake of the Church of our day, that programs are what the Church is all about, that the more options you have for people, the better the church—childcare, concerts, media, special events, being family-friendly, having activities for teens is what the church is to be about. No, if we are to be like Christ, we will be teaching the Word of God. The Church and every single one of its members is to be passionately committed to teaching God’s Word God’s way. The word for “teaching” occurs 35 times in Mark in various forms. In all but one reference, Jesus is the subject–get the point! Christ was a teacher/preacher proclaiming the Gospel of God and His coming kingdom. How did people react?
#2 The reaction to Christ’s teaching
The response to His authoritative Word is found in verse 22. “They were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” “Amazed” means to strike with panic or shock. Barclay says, “They were thunderstruck! They were in awe. They were lost in wonder. They were dumfounded!” Amazed is a strong word, actually describing Jesus’s teaching as hitting people like with a fist in the face, knocking them out of their normal state of mind. Like a bucket of cold water poured over your head when you’re sleeping, amazed describes shock, amazement, or astonishment.
I had been in the church for four years before I was saved, but I remember the first time I heard exposition after I was born again. I was blown away at what the Bible said. I was shocked at how rich, deep, profound and practical it was. I started to travel to other churches every chance I could get to hear sound expositional preaching, cause I wasn’t getting it at my church. I knew any other approach was weak sauce fluff. I couldn’t get enough of the Word of God, and to this day I still can’t get enough. Do you hunger and thirst and long for God’s Word?
The crowd in the synagogue was shocked by the power of Jesus’s teaching, and His absolute authority. His teaching was powerful, true, delivered with great clarity, and produced tremendous conviction. Why?
#3 The manner of Christ’s teaching
Verse 22 says, “They were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority.” The Father told us in Mark 1:11 He was well pleased with His Son, Christ. Then on the Mount of Transfiguration the Father commands the disciples to listen to Christ. Christ’s authority came from God the Father.
Jesus said in John 14:24b, “The word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.” Jesus says, “I don’t speak for myself, I speak God’s Word.” That was His authority. In John 8:28b, Jesus said, “I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.” In John 12:50b Jesus reminds us, “The things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.”
Jesus is the Living Word of God, speaking the Word of God. He knew His message was from God. And Christ alone speaks the truth about life, death, and eternity. Only Christ will tell you the truth and what is best. Did you know the crowds hearing the greatest sermon ever preached had the same reaction as the Capernaum synagogue? After hearing the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 7:28 to 29 says, “When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; 29 for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.”
Verse 22 says, “Jesus was teaching them as one having authority.” The word “authority” refers to something being in its proper order or place. The word came to be used figuratively of an official command, directive or injunction. The verb form for authority is used of Jesus’s power over both the supernatural forces of demons and the natural forces of the winds and water.
The reason Jesus had authority was because He spoke the Word of God. And to speak the Word of God is to command. “Thus saith the Lord, this is true,” no compromise–say it like it is,
God’s Word is not optional, not a suggestion, not an idea to help. It’s the only word, the only way, and it is meant to be obeyed.
Every pastor, every elder, every spiritual leader–everyone is to teach God’s Word accurately and authoritatively. Pastor/teachers are to equip you in the Word, and all elders are to, Titus 1:9, “holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.” Sound doctrine is healthy doctrine. It is teaching that makes you like Christ–it is teaching which speaks God’s Word in context. “Thus saith the Lord”—and we are not to teach as the scribes taught.
See verse 22, “They were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” Unlike the teachers they were used to hearing, Jesus did not quote other rabbis, but declared the Word of God. During the life of Christ, the scribes would teach by quoting ancient rabbis and scripts–you know, they’d teach, “As Rabbi Yabacav would say, “The balding man has less hair on his head” . . . ooohhh! Jesus didn’t quote the rabbis or scribes, He didn’t focus on what the experts said, only what God said.
A scribe was an expert in the written law. They also considered themselves guardians of the “oral law”. According to rabbinical theory, God gave to Moses the written Word and the oral word. The written Law was the Old Testament. Scripture, the “oral law”, was what the rabbis preserved in their teaching and traditions. It had a life all its own. It was an ever-growing body of beliefs which included a record of rabbinical decisions on questions of ritual (Halacoth), a legal code arising from those decisions (Mishna), a collection of Hebrew sacred legends (Gemara), commentaries on the Old Testament (Midrashim), and reasonings on this ever-expanding body of traditional teaching (Hagada).
A mystical offshoot of these was Kabbala, (which Madonna and Guy Richie made popular a while back, which specialized in highly imaginative and allegorical speculations of a mystical and semi-magical nature. Jesus taught as one having authority, not as the scribes.
- scribes based everything on second-hand authority
- they often quoted rabbis and the traditions
- they were generally dull, pedantic and very boring
- they followed Levitical regulations to the letter and more
- and they were bound by petty legalism
The bottom line, the scribes were in bondage to quotation marks. Jesus cuts right through the religious red tape and says, “You have heard that it was said, but I say to you.” Jesus says, “God’s Word is your authority–it is to be trusted over your experience, thinking, and feelings–it is to be followed like a soldier obeys his commanding officer. It is the words of God and has the power of God to save souls, transform lives, change your direction, deliver you from bondage take away your fear, worry, lusts, anger, discouragement and doubt.
It is so powerful it always causes a reaction. And it was true on that day, for as Jesus was teaching, verse 23 says a demon-possessed man shouted out a challenge to Christ. What happened? To find out, you’ll have to come back next week. For today, consider these truths.
First Authoritative teaching is not optional
Today, the dominate attitude in the Church is Bible lite–50% less conviction, with lots more stories. Today we have sermonettes for Christian-ettes–teaching that never cuts to the heart or demands obedience. But every church is commanded by God to teach you the comforting parts and the confrontational parts–the easy doctrines and the difficult ones.
We teach the way we do at FBC, not because we like it, or it fits us, or we prefer it, or we think we should cause some do. We teach the way we do because God commands us to, and we are under His authority. Thus saith the Lord, and every church should or they are disobeying God.
Second Christians who desire to follow God’s Word must grow to be discerning and teachable
Second Peter 3:17 warns us, “Be on your guard lest, being carried away by the error of unprincipled men.” And Hebrews 5:14 encourages us with, “Solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” Mature Christians must learn to be discerning. Even good Bible teachers make mistakes, or at times take authority God didn’t intend to give them.
Often when believers are ministered to by a faithful Bible teacher, they’ll give that teacher an authority beyond the Scripture—don’t. Be careful about teachers who give you big notebooks for every problem you face or every parenting issue. We’re to live by faith, with hearts that dependently pursue the Lord–not a list. No manual should hold more authority than the Word of God. Be careful when a teacher says, “God led me to tell you to do this,” when it is not found in the Bible. That’s a mistaken authority if you submit.
Be careful not to embrace any theological system, or any school or any philosophy, any family movement over the Scripture. It is the Word of God that is God’s will alone. Follow the Word, correctly interpreted, and you will not go wrong. It is time for Christians to become discerning.
• to be able to look at good movements, and instead of unconditionally embracing them, be able to also discern the error and potential danger
• to be able to learn from a good Bible teacher, but also discover when they drift from the scriptural text
• to be able to discern what is best, from what is merely good, but not become critical
• to be angry over the abuses of God’s Word, yet still maintain a tender heart to its truths
Third The starting place to experience God’s authority in your life is to be submissive
Christian, the starting place to enjoy the grace, joy and love of the Lord is to have a tender heart toward Christ, and a submissive will toward His Word. If He brings anything up in your life out of sync with His Word, you will break under His authority and say, “Yes Lord, I want to be all you want me to be. I will yield to your Spirit, I will submit to you as my Lord, because your ways are the best ways, walking with You is the safest place I could be, following your Word is the wisest decision I could make.” Where are you not following God’s Word today?
For those of you who don’t yet know Jesus Christ, the starting place for you is to repent. That means you stop following your will, your desires, your plans, your words, and you start submitting to God’s will, which is God’s Word. You stop trying to save yourself and turn to Jesus Christ alone, believing He died for your sins, rose from the dead, and lives today to forgive you, guide you, love you and bring you home to heaven. Let’s pray.