Nov 07

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The point of these three articles on “Luther’s Shoes,” a figurative expression representing the view of Luther on biblical authority, is to call attention to the fact that history repeats itself, if we fail to learn from it. About every other generation “Luther’s Shoes” are pulled out of the closet, dusted off, shined up, and put forth as truth rediscovered.
As one who grew up in two denominations and attended a third, both having teachings that differed in a number of major points, I had to come face to face with the truth, believe it, and then, obey it. In other words, I had to change! This is exactly what we expect those we teach to do. However, it is not what we expect to happen to our brethren, but it does! Generally speaking, the change deals with the subject of biblical authority and how you ascertain it. If I may, though it is not a point of fellowship, but when it comes to authority, God has established it and we from God’s established authority ascertain what we are commanded, authorized and allowed to do. The point here, some use the expression, how do we establish biblical authority, while I use the phrase, how do we ascertain biblical authority from God’s established authority.
This gives us the opportunity to look at these three words: 1) command, which means: to give (someone) an order; to tell (someone) to do something; to direct authoritatively; 2) authorized, which means: given or endowed with authority; to give authority, to give authority for; and formally sanction; and 3) allow, which means: to permit, which means to allow the doing of (something); consent to. In God’s established authority we have all three of these. Just here, allow me to point out, these three words do not fit into “Luther’s Shoes: “What is not against Scripture is for Scripture, and Scripture for it.” It is my humble opinion that elders should have a file for everything the church does under their oversight, and with each file, the first page should list the Bible authority which authorizes it. With book, chapter, and verse, clearly stated so every member can understand it. If the church under the oversight of the apostles of Christ did not do it, then, there is no command, it is not authorized, and it is not allowed for the church of the 21st century to do it! No, we are not talking about method(s) by which something is done where there is authority for it, but things for which there is no command, things not authorized, and things not allowed.
The scripture which comes to mind just here: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Calling attention once more to the words “thoroughly furnished,” (exartizo) which Barnes in his notes on the Bible says: “to bring to an end; to make complete. The idea is, that whatever good work the man of God desires to perform (This would include worship, frw), or however perfect he aims to be, he will find no deficiency in the Scriptures, but will find there the most ample instructions that he needs. He can never advance so far, as to become forsaken of his guide.” Everything commanded, authorized, and allowed in God’s established authority is given in the inspired scripture!
“Luther’s Shoes” pulled out of the closet, dusted off and shined with the newest shoe polish, has no power to add one thing to God’s “thoroughly furnished” inspired scripture! Some of the saddest words one may hear are these: “I have changed,” when they come from one who has been taught to “rightly divide word of the truth;” when they come from one who has been taught how to ascertain authority from God’s established authority. One who even knows that Paul’s statement: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; … (Col. 3:16) is not a suggestion, but is in the Greek, the present active imperative, which means: “The imperative mood is a command or instruction given to the hearer, charging the hearer to carry out or perform a certain action.” The command here is: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom.” The “word of Christ,” the authoritative word, must have a home in the Christian! God’s authority is found in: 1) explicit commands, or statements; 2) implications contained within these commands or statements; and 3) approved account of actions – examples – done by the church under the watchful eyes of the apostles of Christ.
Brethren, “Luther’s Shoes” must be left in the closet! If the church under the watchful eyes of the “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Cor. 5:20) did not do it; there is no authority for it! What man living today has more wisdom, than did the apostles who were guided into all truth by the Holy Spirit? (John 16:13).

— Frank R. Williams

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