By What Authority?

the-holy-bible1[1]Meditating on the Word

                                            “In His law he meditates day and night” Psalm 1:2


“Meditating on the Word,” edited by Wayne Burger, is a work of the church of Christ, which meets at 11873 Springs Rd. Unit #250, Conifer, CO 80433. E-mail: – Website:

Vol. 15                                                                             No. 9                                                                            March 1, 2015



By What Authority?


It is sad that so many people evidently believe that God has given no instructions. Therefore, they believe they can do whatever they wish and God accepts it. They believe that they can live as moral or immoral as they wish and God doesn’t care. They believe they can devise any plan by which to be saved from their sin and God will forgive them. They believe they can offer any kind of worship and God is overjoyed to receive it. Is that what the Bible teaches about God and authority? Does the Bible teach that man rather than God determines what is right and what is wrong? Even those who do believe that God has given the Bible have often interpreted it to justify what they want to do.


Two Ways to Interpret

There are two ways to interpret scripture. One approach is to say that one can do anything God has not specifically condemned. This opens the door for us to do anything and everything. If this were the approach to the Bible being our authority, God would have to continually add to the Bible to condemn every new idea that is suggested. The Bible would never be a completed book.


The other view of interpreting scripture is that one can do only what God has authorized him to do. Paul verified this approach to scripture when he wrote, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus” Colossians 3:17. The phrase, “In the name of” means, what one does, he must do by the authority of Jesus.


We use this phrase the same way in our secular world today. For example, when the police knock on someone’s door they will say, “Open the door, in the name of the police.” By this phrase they mean, “Open the door by the authority of the police.”


This approach to interpreting the Bible means that we must have authorization from Christ to do whatever we do. If there is no authorization, it is a sin to do it. In Leviticus 10:1-2 we have an example of this kind of sin. Nadab and Abihu offered fire which God had not authorized. The text says they, “offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them” Leviticus 10:1. Thus, God had not authorized the fire they used. (In the Bible the word “strange” is used when speaking of something God has not authorized). Sinning in this way brought their death. “And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed then, and they died before the Lord” Leviticus 10:2. Doing that which God has not authorized is serious!


He Didn’t Say “Not”

When many people interpret the Bible they say, “I can do this because God did not say, ‘not to do this.’” In essences, that is what Nadab and Abihu did. God did not say, “Don’t use this fire.” But, when God specified which fire He wanted them to use, He forbade them using any other fire. This hermeneutical principle is called, “The Law of Exclusion.” When God specifies something in a category, then everything else in that category is excluded.


We use this principle in our everyday lives; we just don’t think about calling it, “The Law of Exclusion.” For example, when you take your car to the mechanic and ask him to change the oil, that is all you have authorized him to do. You will not be pleased when you return and he says, “I also rotated your tires and the charge for that is “x” number of dollars.” You would say, “I did not authorize you to do that.” But, he could reply, “You didn’t say not to do that therefore I thought it would be okay to do it.” We do not accept that kind of authorization in the business world, why will we accept that sort of reasoning and authorization in the spiritual world?


God Accept Only What Is Authorized

God does not accept what we do unless He has authorized it to be done. Thus, engaging in those activities which God has not authorized is sin. For this reason when something is suggested that it be done in our worship services, someone should ask, “What book, chapter, and verse in the Bible gives authoriza-tion from God for us to do that?”


Think about religious activities in today’s world. Where is the authority for sprinkling babies? Where is the authority for serving communion everyday? Where is the authority to serve communion once every three months? Where is the authority to play musical instruments in worship? Does it matter? Ask Nadab and Abihu.


Submitting to authority is essential, both in the secular realm and religious realm. God has communi-cated His authority in the Bible. But, even then, one must properly interpret it in order to know what God has authorized. The Holy Spirit urges us to be a diligent workman who accurately handles the word of God (II Timothy 2:15). May we learn to ask “By What Authority?”


Wayne Burger


The Butterfly


For thousands of years people have been charmed by the beauty and elegance of the butterfly. Even more so, cultures have been inspired by its incredible metamorphosis. There are about 20,000 different species of butterfly in the world ranging in size and color. One of the most famous is the monarch butterfly. While most butterflies share many of the same abilities, the monarch stands above the rest. Here are some reasons why.


  1. Eggs & Location.As the monarch butterfly roams around, it is looking for a place to lay eggs.   To do so, it must find the milkweed plant. This plant is pretty much the only plant the monarch caterpillar will eat (National Geographic). To figure out if it is the right plant, the butterfly will taste it with its feet. It will land on a plant, stomp on it to raise some juices, taste the plan, and determine if it is milkweed or not. Once it finds the milkweed, it will lay eggs on the plant. The obvious danger is for the egg to fall off and die before it hatches. So, the butterfly produces an incredibly unique and super strong glue to keep it fixed to the plant. It’s nature’s superglue.


When the monarch egg finally hatches, it will eat it’s own shell and then the milkweed plant it was laid on. This seems fine, except for the fact that milkweed is poisonous and capable of killing large animals if they eat enough of it. Somehow the caterpillar feasts upon this plant without any problem at all. The poison has no effect. In fact, it will even use this poison to make itself very unappealing to predators. If a bird eats a monarch butterfly, it will not be so quick to eat another.


  1. Transformation.Once the caterpillar has grown and gone through a shedding like process a few times, it is ready to go under a leaf and form the chrysalis. Inside, the caterpillar will release enzymes to break down and liquefy much of itself. What are left are a few main parts, like organs, and a soupy substance. This liquid is exactly what it needs to transform and keep from starving. This fluid mess functions like a bunch of little Lego blocks (Young). Even though the body is broken down, certain groups of cells (e.g. muscles) will stick together to be reused. Other cells in this fluid will form into “imaginal discs,” which will soon grow into parts like wings and legs (ibid). All of these little pieces will build back together. After about 10 days and some incredibly complex growth spurts, the butterfly will finally emerge in its exquisitely transformed body.


  1. Migration.Like most butterflies, monarchs can’t fly in cold weather. It must get its body temperature up around 85 degrees to fly. The cold winter weather is a death trap, so monarch butterflies must migrate to warmer climates. The problem is, not a single butterfly of its generation has done this before. In fact, by the time the year winter migration happens, several generations will have already lived and died (National Geographic). The monarchs that make the trip are the previous year’s great grandchildren. Amazingly, every year these butterflies easily make the 3,000-mile migration to the exact same location, following the exact same route, and some even to the exact same tree as their great grandparents (ibid).


The monarch butterfly is an amazing insect! Like many creatures, its abilities pose many difficult questions for the supporters of evolution. Why is the butterfly able to go through such a dramatic transformation in just a few days when other animals supposedly must take millions of years to evolve? Why is it that only insects can undergo such a transformation and no other animals, which are supposedly higher up the evolutionary line, are able to do this today? How does the butterfly know exactly where to migrate to, even sometimes down to the same tree as its ancestors? How did it develop the taste receptors on its feet? How and when did it develop immunity to milkweed?


Such an incredible insect can only be the creation of the Almighty God. Without a doubt it was the Lord who made all the insects and creatures (Genesis 1:24-25). All other explanations fall short. Butterflies, especially the monarch, boldly proclaim God as the creator (Psalm 19:1). As Psalm 95:6 says, “Come, let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” The Lord is deserving!


Brett Petrillo


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