March 13, 2016

In this issue: How to Establish the Authority of Truth by Elmer Moore

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Authority of Truth Graphic

AUTHORITY is defined to mean, "The right to determine, adjudicate, or otherwise settle issues or disputes; the right to control, command, or determine." (The American College Encyclopedic Dictionary, page 84). The word adjudicate means, "To pronounce or decree by judicial sentence; settle judicially; pass judgment on; to determine an issue or dispute judicially" (ibid page 15). A careful student of the Bible is aware that truth settles issues (II Timothy 3:16-17); exercises control (II Peter 1:1-12); and determines right and wrong (Galatians 2:14). The title of our lesson rightly assumes that truth is authoritative. Hence, our task is to show that authority is established by proper understanding and application of that truth. Truth settles issues and exercises control. Truth also determines the right or wrong of any dispute.

How then can we determine when a matter has been authorized in the Scriptures? The Bible teaches us "explicitly", i.e., clearly developed with all its elements apparent," and also "implicitly", i.e., capable of being understood from something else though unexpressed." I do not believe the matter of implicit authority has received the recognition it deserves. Men do not seem to have difficulty in accepting the fact that the Bible teaches explicitly but ridicule the thought that it teaches implicitly or by implication. If the Bible does not teach us by implication then we are left without a shred of information as to how we are to serve God. Unless, of course, you read explicit instructions to you personally! Find your name on the Sacred pages! You must infer that certain matters apply to you. How do you know that anything God has said applies to you unless you infer it! The Bible does not infer for you. The Bible implies and man must infer. The idea has been suggested that we cannot bind, as matters of faith, anything that has to be determined by necessary inference. The reason is that we have to use "human reasoning" in inference. We also must use "human reason" in matters of precept. We must decide whether a passage is addressing us. To do this we must use "human reasoning."

When the Charismatics claim for themselves the promise of Acts 1:8, we show that the passage does not include them. When brethren argue that James 1:27 is assigning the church a benevolent responsibility, we show that the passage is not assigning the church anything to perform. To do this we have to use "human reasoning." The word simply means, "To indicate or suggest, as something naturally to be inferred, without express statement," (American Collegiate Dictionary page 607). The word infer means, "To derive by reasoning; conclude or judge from premises or evidence", (ibid, page 622). Friends there is no escape from reasoning from the evidence presented in the Scriptures. Comprehension of anything written requires the same common sense approach. The idea that we cannot establish truth by necessary inference is without any basis whatever. The apostle Paul urged, "Be ye not foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is," (Ephesians 5:17).

Truth is indicated in the Scriptures by plain statements, approved precedents and implications, and we must use human judgment in all three of these areas. One must determine who is being addressed in plain statements, and to do this involves human judgment. Certainly caution must be exercised when considering approved precedent or example. Surely we must use intelligence in concluding by necessary inference. Every rule of hermeneutics that applies to the study of the Bible as a whole, must certainly apply to the integral parts such as, "examples" and "necessary implications." When one considers that he is a part of the record where God directs man, he must realize that these rules must apply. The fundamental Laws of, (1) Harmony, (2) Uniformity, (3) Universal application, and (4) Materiality must be considered when one studies the Bible.

How then does one determine the truth of any proposition ? He does so by considering all of the facts in the case. One must look at the context which includes, the statement, that which precedes and follows the statement and all other related facts. These facts will be established Explicitly and Implicitly, and will be indicated either by Statements, Examples or Necessary Implications.

Another problem area in understanding and applying truth involves determining whether a practice is under "liberty" or "obligation." A practice is right because the Scriptures either require or allow us to do it. If the Bible requires that we do a certain thing, then we have no choice. However, if the Bible allows us to do a certain thing we do have a choice. This is just another way of saying that what the Lord binds we dare not loose and what He has loosed we dare not bind. We know that here is where problems exist. When men bind matters that the Lord did not bind they are "sitting in the temple of God" and thus "setting themselves forth as God." They have become legislators, a right that belongs only to God, (James 4:12). On the other hand when men loose matters that God did not loose they become lawless and as such are not approved of God, (Matthew 7:22-23).

We believe beyond a doubt that there is no substitute for truth. Man must come to a knowledge of it in order to be made free from sin, (John 8:31-32). He must love and believe it in order to escape perishing and be saved, (II Thessalonians 2:10-12). He must obey it in order to purify his soul, (II Peter 1:21-22). His worship must be according to truth, (John 4:24), and his conduct must be as truth directs, (III John 4). The admonition to Timothy is worthy of noting. He was told, "Give diligence to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth," (II Timothy 2:15). One cannot but wonder just how many there are who need to be ashamed'? If I do not "handle" the word of God properly, I should be! Diligent effort must be pursued in order to handle aright (hold a straight course in) the word of Truth. ~

By Elmer Moore in Gospel Truths, January 1990

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