The Good Old Days

It’s a common practice for people to remember the past in way that makes it seem like there were no (or at least far fewer) problems in the past. Frequently this is in reference to our society and culture and how it impacts our ability to serve God. In connection with this thought, Christians sometimes grumble about how hard it is to serve God in our current society and culture. We are often heard to long for “the good old days” when serving the Lord was easier.
For a few moments, let’s consider some of the environments and cultures where people had to remain faithful to God and see if we still think ours is so bad.

Would we rather serve the Lord…

• In the days of Noah, when only eight people (1 Peter 3:10) in the whole world could be convinced to follow God?

• In society of Sodom and Gomorrah, where not even ten righteous people (Genesis 18:23-26…32…19:24-25) could be found to save the city?

• In Israel, during the time of judges, when “everyone did what was right in his own eyes?” (Judges 17:6, 21:25)

• In the first century, when people were persecuted and killed for their faith in Christ? (Acts 7:57-60, 9:1-2; 22:3-5)

• In the first century when there was no readily available printed Bibles to study and know the whole revelation of God?

• In the first century when visiting other churches and could mean days of walking just to get to the nearest congregation?

• In our recent past, before telephones and computers connected brethren to be able to communicate with one another and encourage one another, even from thousands of miles away?

• In our recent past where many brethren, even in this country met without air conditioning or had to travel to church in vehicles without air conditioning? Or, in countries today, where the same is true?

• In countries today (and in times past in this country) where people don’t have readily available transportation and must walk for miles to worship with God’s people?

• In the recent past when Bibles and bible study tools were not readily available at your fingertips on your computer or your phone?

• Today, in other countries, where Christians must worship in secret for fear of being thrown into prison or killed for their faith?

So, the real question is not whether we have it worse than others. Yes, our society is evil and getting worse. But, Read Romans 1-2 and ask yourself if you think our society is any worse than theirs. Theirs was a society where immorality was not only present, but in many cases part of their idolatrous worship.

The real question is whether we are taking advantage of the opportunities God has given us in this day age and in this society. In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25: 14-30) the one-talent servant was condemned because he failed to use the opportunity he had to serve the master and be productive. He wasn’t condemned for his results, but for his lack of effort. Will or excuses of an evil society be any more well received than his excuse that he knew the master was a hard man?

Today is the day that we have. This is the society we live in where have the opportunity to bring glory to God by our service. Will we waste it wishing for days that were not better, just different?

Dan Fontenot

(Note: Verse references are clickable links that will open the verses in context in


A Personal Reading Journey

This post will vary from my normal format of trying to spend as much time in the text of God’s word as possible. I simply wanted to share a few observations from a recent experience. Rest assured, future posts will return to my normal content.

I have loved to read for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, we lived near a library. In the summer I would make many trips and read many books. I could read for hours at a time.

At the beginning of this year I decided I wanted to return to taking some time for reading. So, I went to the nearby library and checked out some books. But, before I got started a thought dawned on me. I had never read the Bible. Now, obviously I have read parts of it and probably at one point or another have read all of it. But, I had never sat down with the goal in mind of reading through the Bible like I read through a novel. When I get into a novel, I read it every chance I get. I may not put it down for hours. I may read late into the night. But, I had never attempted to read through the Bible with that kind of passion and intensity.

So, I decided to set aside the books I had checked out of the library and read only my Bible. I then decided to take all but one of the games off my phone. I was trying to remove as many distractions as possible. I also determined that all those times that I would normally just surf the net or play games I would turn into opportunities to read the Bible.

I surprised myself with what I accomplished. I finished reading the New Testament in 19 days. Then, I completed the Old Testament in the next 70 days. So, all total, I completed reading the entire Bible in about 90 days. This was an amazing experience for me. I want to share a few personal observations.

  • The Bible is an amazing and powerful story to read

This may seem like a simple observation, but reading the Bible in such  a short period of time was a totally unique experience for me. Reading the four gospels one right after another helped to unify the stories told in several of the gospels. Hearing the teachings of Jesus over and over through the gospels reinforced the messages Jesus taught to his disciples and others of His day. These are messages and life lessons that we still need to learn and apply today. Picturing the events of Him as He was betrayed and crucified in each of the four gospels was powerful. To think that God in human form submitted Himself to die for our sins is an amazing story.  Then to read the book Acts and see the faith of the apostles after the events of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and ascension put an interesting perspective on the events of the early church. Reading the letters to churches immediately after hearing the stories of the early church made it easier to think about the new faith of the Christians to whom the letters were written. The images of Paul’s persecution in his preaching journeys was fresh in mind as I listened to the letters he wrote to these Christians whose faith was being challenged both from within and without.

The story of the Old Testament and God’s people prior to the time of Christ was also quite interesting. People often describe God as a God of wrath and vengeance in the Old Testament. But when I read through the whole story what stood out to me is that God has always been a patient and gracious God. He has always wanted people to have time, opportunity, and the will to change. Only when He had exhausted every attempt to change their hearts did He finally bring devastating judgement on those who simply refused to serve and honor Him.

  • Our prayers should be better

I was impressed with frequency with which prayers are recorded in the Bible When we think about prayers in the Bible we often think primarily about the book of Psalms, but there are prayers recorded in many books of the Bible: prayers of kings, prayers of prophets, prayers of priests, prayers of ordinary people, prayers of men, prayers of women.

I was also impressed with the nature of the prayers. So many times our prayers are treated more like an interference in our lives and we just want to rush through them and get back to our lives. The prayers in the Bible are expressive of praise, honor, and glory to God. Many of the prayers are lengthy. Jesus was said to have spent all night in prayer. Many of the them do nothing but praise God. Often prayers are prayers of repentance, but not merely generic (“forgive me if I sinned”) prayers of forgiveness, but expressions of specific guilt and deep regret. And the prayers of thanksgiving are often lengthy and descriptive in thanking God for the riches of his grace.

  • Reading is not studying

While we certainly need to read, there were many places where I want to go back and dig deeper. The Bible is so full of information that one simple read through will not begin to scratch the surface of the rich treasures of knowledge stored in its pages. This experience has rekindled my desire to get back into God’s Book, study further, and have a better understanding of what He is trying to tell us. There is a reason He recorded and preserved these messages.

  • Just reading caused me to think about some behaviors

As I read the story of God’s people and His desire for them to be righteous, I could not help but think about some of my own actions that might not be in line with that. How can I read God’s word and then turn around and watch and support TV and movies that clearly undermine the principles of God’s word and His righteousness? How can I try to fill my mind with the messages of His Word and then listen to music that glorifies lifestyles and attitudes that are so contrary to what He is telling me through these stories?

  • I could read more and do better

While I am thrilled about having the opportunity to read God’s word in such a short period of time, I also know I fell short at times and didn’t always use time wisely during this stretch. I pray that this experience will only spur me to read more, study more, and learn more because there is no more important task in our lives than to understand and apply God’s word in every aspect of our life.

Dan Fontenot

Desire The Pure Milk Of The Word

“Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, [1 Peter 2:1-2 NKJV]”

Most people who profess to be Christians talk about wanting to grow in spiritual and moral conduct and thought. Many excuses are given for why we can’t change our habits and seem to be trapped in the same bad habits year after year. Yet, Peter provides the formula for “laying aside” the bad habits from the world: Desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.”

If person wants to lose weight or improve their health, one of the first things they need to do is change their eating habits. If a person says they want to lose weight, but can’t understand why they don’t, you might ask what they are eating. If they respond with, “My normal menu is three slices of bacon, four eggs, biscuits and gravy for breakfast; double cheeseburger with bacon, large fries, and extra large non-diet soda for lunch; and steak, loaded baked potato, and a large slice of apple pie a la mode for dessert for dinner; and a bowl of ice cream with chocolate sauce for before bed for a snack.” Any logical thinking person would say, “You can’t lose weight eating like that!”

So, if we can understand that our bodies need a certain nutrition to change our weight or health, why can’t we understand that our mind and spirit need a special kind of nutrition to become what God wants us to be.

Consider some additional passages:

  • “The law of the LORD [is] perfect, converting the soul; [Psalms 19:7 NKJV]” – To “convert” is to “turn back or restore.” If we want to return our soul to what God desires, we need to spend some time with the law of the Lord.
  • “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. [Psalms 119:9 NKJV]” – Young people constantly find service to the Lord challenging. What can help them overcome these challenges and temptations? Spending time in the word of God.
  • “For the commandment [is] a lamp, And the law a light; Reproofs of instruction [are] the way of life, To keep you from the evil woman, From the flattering tongue of a seductress. [Proverbs 6:23-24 NKJV]” – How many sexual sins could be avoided if people would spend time in the counsel of God’s word?
  • “You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; For they [are] ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, For Your testimonies [are] my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, Because I keep Your precepts. [Psalms 119:98-100 NKJV]” – Where do we get the wisdom to change who we are and how we live? From the commandments, testimonies, and precepts of God.

So, which are we filling are minds with? The commandments and word of God or movies, TV shows, books, etc. that…

  • Mock God and serving Him.
  • That undermine the principles of His word by teaching that immorality is OK and promote conduct that God would condemn.
  • That are filled with language we should be ashamed of and that God would certainly not approve.

There are only so many hours in a day. If we spending all of our time filling our minds with the things that make us spiritually fat and lazy, how can we find the time to nurture our mind and spirit with the God’s word to help us become the person God wants us to become.

Which spiritual diet will you choose?

Dan Fontenot
(Note: Verse references are clickable links that will open the verses in context in

Blessed Is He Who Reads

“Blessed [is] he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time [is] near. [Revelation 1:3 NKJV]”

The admonition in this passage refers specifically to the book of Revelation and those to whom the letter was written. However, throughout the Bible we see an emphasis on reading God’s word and the impact of reading God’s word in the lives of those who take the time to read it.

  • One of the first things Moses did after coming down from the mountain was read God’s covenant to the Israelites. – “Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said, ‘All that the LORD has said we will do, and be obedient.’ [Exodus 24:7 NKJV]”
  • Moses emphasized to the people that once they had a king, the king should always keep a copy of the law handy and read it. – “When you come to the land which the LORD your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations that [are] around me,’ … Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from [the one] before the priests, the Levites. And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment [to] the right hand or [to] the left, and that he may prolong [his] days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel. [Deuteronomy 17:14, 18-20 NKJV]”
  • They were commanded to read the law publicly every seven years at the feat of Tabernacles. – “And Moses commanded them, saying: ‘At the end of [every] seven years, at the appointed time in the year of release, at the Feast of Tabernacles, when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing.’ [Deuteronomy 31:10-11 NKJV]”
  • Joshua made a point to read the law to the people once they entered Canaan. – “And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and the cursings, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law. There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, with the women, the little ones, and the strangers who were living among them. [Joshua 8:34-35 NKJV]”
  • The reading of the Law during King Josiah’s reign led to the observance of the Passover as it had not been observed since the days of the judges. – “Then Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the scribe, ‘I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD.’ And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it. … Then Shaphan the scribe showed the king, saying, ‘Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.’ And Shaphan read it before the king. Now it happened, when the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, that he tore his clothes. [2 Kings 22:8, 10-11 NKJV] … The king went up to the house of the LORD with all the men of Judah, and with him all the inhabitants of Jerusalem–the priests and the prophets and all the people, both small and great. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant which had been found in the house of the LORD. … Then the king commanded all the people, saying, ‘Keep the Passover to the LORD your God, as [it is] written in this Book of the Covenant.’ Such a Passover surely had never been held since the days of the judges who judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah. [2 Kings 23:2, 21-22 NKJV]”
  • After returning to the land after 70 years of captivity, Ezra read the Law to the people. – “Now all the people gathered together as one man in the open square that [was] in front of the Water Gate; and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded Israel. So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who [could] hear with understanding on the first day of the seventh month. Then he read from it in the open square that [was] in front of the Water Gate from morning until midday, before the men and women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people [were attentive] to the Book of the Law. [Nehemiah 8:1-3 NKJV]”

But what about in the New Testament? Is there any emphasis on reading there?

  • In the book of Matthew alone, we have at least six times where Jesus asked the scribes and Pharisees and those who questioned him, “Have you not read?” (Mat. 12:3, 5; 19:4; 21:16, 42; 22:31) He expected them to have read the word and have a working knowledge of it. And this was in a day and time where the written word was not readily available as it is today.
  • In Acts 8, the Ethiopian Eunuch was reading and it led to his salvation: “The place in the Scripture which he read was this: ‘He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He opened not His mouth.’ [Acts 8:32 NKJV]”
  • In Acts 15, the Apostles expressed that they expected to Jews to be familiar with the Law because it was supposed to be read in the synagogues on the Sabbath: “For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath. [Acts 15:21 NKJV]”
  • Paul wrote his epistles with the expectation that they would be read:
    • “…by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ, [Ephesians 3:4 NKJV]”
    • “Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you likewise read the [epistle] from Laodicea. [Colossians 4:16 NKJV]”
    • “I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read to all the holy brethren. [1 Thessalonians 5:27 NKJV]”

God has always delivered His word with the expectation that it be read, heard, and obeyed.

  • Shouldn’t we be reading and listening to what God has to say?
  • Shouldn’t we be ashamed when we don’t read it instead of bragging when we do?
  • Shouldn’t reading God’s word be our norm instead of the unusual thing we do occasionally when it’s convenient?

A final thought: How do we know what impact God’s word can have in our lives if we never open it and read it?

Dan Fontenot

(Note: Verse references are clickable links that will open the verses in context in

How Much Better To Get Wisdom Than Gold!

Proverbs 16:16 states: “How much better to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.” (NKJV)

Over the last few days, I have been thinking about this very concept so it was interesting that it came up in my Bible study today. I have been examining the value placed on different things in our life based on the amount of time spent in each activity. With this on my mind it has been interesting to begin reading and studying Proverbs for some upcoming classes I am scheduled to teach. This is not the only reference to this concept in the book. Consider another:

“My son, if you receive my words, And treasure my commands within you, So that you incline your ear to wisdom, [And] apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if you cry out for discernment, [And] lift up your voice for understanding, If you seek her as silver, And search for her as [for] hidden treasures; Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, And find the knowledge of God.” [Proverbs 2:1-5 NKJV]

People say they “treasure” the word of God, but consider…

  • Receive my words…Incline your ear to wisdom”: How can we receive the words of God’s wisdom if we rarely, if ever, open our Bibles to hear what God has to say. Inclining suggests putting forth effort to hear, not just hearing when it might be convenient or easy.
  • Apply your heart to understanding”: How many times have we heard someone say about a person, “Oh what they could be if they would just apply themselves?” Are we really working to understand God’s word and try to know what He wants us to know? Or are we satisfied just skimming by?
  • Cry out for discernment…lift up your voice for understanding”: Are we so eager to know the wisdom of God that we will cry out for help and lift up our voice to ask for guidance and counsel? Proverbs is filled with admonitions to heed the wisdom of the wise, but do we ask for help gaining that wisdom and knowledge?
  • Seek her as silversearch for her as for hidden treasures“: People go to seminars all the time or buy books to find out how to become wealthy or great leaders or successful in business. They will spend hours reading and listening because of the perceived value of the knowledge being imparted. How much do we value the wisdom of God. How much effort and time are we willing to put forth to gain God’s wisdom that he freely imparts!
  • Note that only when these attitudes are applied will wisdom come: “Then you will understand … and find …”. Sadly, some think that time alone will make them wise. But, it won’t. Only a diligent, determined effort to come to know the will of God will lead us to this wisdom.
  • Also, it is not just any wisdom we should seek: “…understand the fear of the Lord … find the knowledge of God”. Reading secular books and gaining secular wisdom is OK, but it is not the wisdom that provides eternal life and rewards.

But, what do we really treasure? Where is our time spent that shows our real desire?

  • I recently applied this concept to my own spare time. I found that when I had few spare minutes I would immediately turn to social media or the internet or to games on my phone. But, how often did I turn to the word of God? How often did I use that precious time to seek more understanding of God’s will?
  • Our society has unprecedented access to God’s word through the internet, mobile devices, etc. But, are we using that to seek God’s wisdom?
  • There is nothing inherently sinful about social media, games, or the internet. But, what are we seeking, crying out for?

Other verses in Proverbs challenge us to think about the value of wisdom over the things of this world:

  • “Happy [is] the man [who] finds wisdom, And the man [who] gains understanding; For her proceeds [are] better than the profits of silver, And her gain than fine gold. She [is] more precious than rubies, And all the things you may desire cannot compare with her. Length of days [is] in her right hand, In her left hand riches and honor. Her ways [are] ways of pleasantness, And all her paths [are] peace. She [is] a tree of life to those who take hold of her, And happy [are all] who retain her.” [Proverbs 3:13-18 NKJV]
  • “Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you; Love her, and she will keep you. Wisdom [is] the principal thing; [Therefore] get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding. Exalt her, and she will promote you; She will bring you honor, when you embrace her. She will place on your head an ornament of grace; A crown of glory she will deliver to you. Hear, my son, and receive my sayings, And the years of your life will be many. I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in right paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hindered, And when you run, you will not stumble. Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; Keep her, for she [is] your life.” [Proverbs 4:5-13 NKJV]
  • “Receive my instruction, and not silver, And knowledge rather than choice gold; For wisdom [is] better than rubies, And all the things one may desire cannot be compared with her. … My fruit [is] better than gold, yes, than fine gold, And my revenue than choice silver.” [Proverbs 8:10-11, 19 NKJV]

So, ask yourself, do spend hours everyday in the things of the world only to “squeeze in” a few minutes for God’s word each day (if at all)? What does that suggest that we really treasure?

Dan Fontenot

(Note: Verse references are clickable links that will open the verses in context in

That You May Believe

In previous posts we examined:

  • That only worship and service that is authorized by God is acceptable to Him. (“By What Authority?“)
  • God has revealed this authority through the scriptures. (“These Are Written“)

Some, however, have argued that Bible is too hard to understand. Or, that everybody that reads it will understand it in their own way and therefore it can mean anything.

What does the Bible reveal about this?

  • 1 Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed. [Luke 1:1-4 NKJV]
    • Was Luke correct that by reading his account the reader could have confidence in their knowledge of Jesus’ life and teachings?
  • 30 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. [John 20:30-31 NKJV]
    • Did John, in fact, write his gospel in such a way that someone reading can come to believe in Jesus?
  • 1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles– 2 if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, 3 how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, 4 by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), 5 which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: [Ephesians 3:1-5 NKJV] –
    • Did Paul write a book that when it was read would give the reader the same insights Paul had or not?
  • 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden [wisdom] which God ordained before the ages for our glory, 8 which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 10 But God has revealed [them] to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. [1 Corinthians 2:7-13 NKJV]
    • Paul says his words reveal the word of God as revealed word for word by the Holy Spirit. Will we say that the Holy Spirit does not know how to reveal things in a way that man can understand them?

All of these passages show that the Bible was written in a way to be understood. In fact, God considered them clear enough that He Himself said the scriptures are all that a man of God needs to fulfill His work: “16 All Scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. [2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV]”

This does not mean that all scripture is easy to understand:

15 and consider [that] the longsuffering of our Lord [is] salvation–as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable [people] twist to their own destruction, as [they do] also the rest of the Scriptures. [2 Peter 3:15-16 NKJV]

But, notice that Peter’s answer to this is neither to throw our hands up in despair nor to simply turn to the “scholars” for the answers. He puts the responsibility on the reader to be aware of this danger and grow in knowledge to avoid the pitfalls:

17 You therefore, beloved, since you know [this] beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him [be] the glory both now and forever. Amen. [2 Peter 3:17-18 NKJV]

As a closing thought, think about the whole concept that God would not reveal His word in a way that men can understand it. What would that say about God’s power and ability? What would we think of a man who could not write a book that other men could understand? Would we blame the reader or the author? Thus, claiming that God’s revealed word is not understandable is an accusation against God and His ability to reveal His word.

Which God do you believe in? The one with the knowledge and wisdom to reveal His word to man in a way that can be understood or the God who can’t?

Dan Fontenot

(Note: Verse references are clickable links that will open the verses in context in

By What Authority?

Authority is  concept that most people understand many situations.

  • Not everyone has the authority to make laws. If we did, chaos would reign because every individual would make laws that benefit themselves. Thus, we have a system of government that is designed to make laws and those who are elected are given the authority by the people to pass laws to govern our society. That authority comes primarily from the constitution of the nation or state as set forth by our founders.
  • Not everyone in a company has the same level of authority. Some have authority to purchase items for the company. Some have authority to make rules of behavior for employees of the company. Some have authority to grant time off for employees of the company. This authority ultimately is granted by those highest up in the company, whether it is the owners themselves in a private corporation or those appointed by the stockholders of a publicly held company.
  • In social organizations such as clubs or charities, there is a chain of authority that is generally established by a charter of some type. Those who lead in these organizations are bound to follow the charter or other guidelines set forth when the organization was created.

In each of the cases mentioned above, those who fail to recognize the ultimate authority in each situation can find themselves facing severe consequences for violating that authority. Most people understand and recognize this. It is part of why we have jails to house criminals and courts to settle civil disputes.

But, this concept of authority is neither new nor unique to the non-religious world. The Jews of Jesus’ day understood the idea of authority. Even more, they understood the concept of Divine authority. We have record of an occasion where they questioned Jesus about this very concept:

23 Now when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?” [Matthew 21:23 NKJV]

As Jesus so often did, rather than give a simple, straight answer, He took advantage of the teaching opportunity and turned the question back on those questioned Him:

24 But Jesus answered and said to them, “I also will ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things: 25 “The baptism of John–where was it from? From heaven or from men?” [Matthew 21:24-25 NKJV]

Jesus’ response is interesting because it only gave them two choices for John’s source of authority: heaven or men. This is the crux of what we need to understand. When we claim we are serving or worshiping God, we must determine by what authority we are engaging in the activity we claim honors His name. Is what we are doing authorized by heaven (God) or men? Note in there reaction that they clearly understood the consequences of each choice:

25 … And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26 “But if we say, ‘From men,’ we fear the multitude, for all count John as a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus and said, “We do not know.” And He said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things. [Matthew 21:25-27 NKJV]

They knew that whatever is authorized by heaven cannot be rejected. However, they had not followed John’s teaching and this would put them in an awkward position. By contrast, if they could justify themselves by saying it was from men. This would make their rejection of John’s teachings acceptable because the authority of men is not binding in spiritual matters. The problem for them was the multitudes. They believed John was a prophet and teaching was from heaven. So they dodged the question and said, “we don’t know.”

Many religious people today dodge the question in various ways:

  • The Bible is too hard to understand, we just can’t know what the truth really is.
  • My church says this is the right the thing to do.
  • This just feels right and I can’t believe God would be displeased with something that makes me feel so good.
  • If certain things in the Bible are true, that means a lot of people are going to be lost.
  • And the list goes on…

Because of the intent to keep these articles relatively short, we are not going to address each of these in this article, but we will in subsequent articles. But think about this as we close and you think about whether or not having authority matters…

  • Could a new hire at a company walk up and fire his boss because he doesn’t like something about her? Why not?
  • Can an employee use company funds for any purpose they desire? Why not?
  • Can a member of a charitable organization with a charter for raising funds for cancer research on their own decide to use the funds for hurricane relief? Why not?
  • Can lawmakers make just any law they want without any regard for the structure of our government? (I know that’s a loaded question when it comes to real life, but in principle?)

Why, if we can understand in every other phase of life, the importance of authority for what we do, is it so hard to understand that we must have authority for what we do to honor and glorify God? Clearly Jesus expected that men could know the difference.

In subsequent articles we will look at…

  • God has clearly revealed His will to mankind and expects man to understand and follow it.
  • The ability to communicate His will to man and expect man to honor it is one of the things that sets God apart from the idols of men.
  • Failure to recognize the authority of God and His revealed will carries significant penalties.

Dan Fontenot

(Note: Verse references are clickable links that will open the verses in context in