The religious world in general does not understand what it means to have authority in religion. They understand it when it comes to their work or family matters and civic responsibilities but most religious people, even many within the Lord’s church it seems, just act on their emotions instead of on their reason or on biblical revelation. They have no real grasp of having a “thus saith the Lord” in religion.
Yet the Bible is clear on this issue. Paul wrote “Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17). To do something “in the name of” is to do something by the authority of that thing. The old expression, “Stop in the name of the law” simply means stop based on the authority of the law or the person acting in its behalf.
Very soon after the establishment of the church, the apostles, while in the temple, had occasion to heal a man born lame in his ankle and feet. When the man asked them for alms, Peter responded “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6). They healed this man in the name of Jesus.
After the apostles had healed a man born lame, the Jewish leadership confronted them and asked “by what power, or by what name, have ye done this” (Acts 4:7). Even the Pharisees understood that one should only act in religion on the basis of some recognized authority. The apostles responded that they acted in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 4:7-10).
Peter told the people who were wondering at the miracle performed that they should not think that the apostles had done this by their own power or holiness (Acts 3:12). Rather it was the name of Jesus and faith in that name that brought about his restoration of health (Acts 3:16). He further explained that Jesus was the Prince of Life and that Prophet of whom Moses spake who be heard and obeyed (Acts 3:22,23). The Lord had the authority and power to do these things.
After His resurrection and before He left this earth, the Lord announced to His apostles that He had been given all authority and power. “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18). God had raised Him and set Him at His own right hand and, having been given such power and authority, He became the head over all things to the church, His body (Eph. 1:22,23).
Furthermore, He delegated authority to His apostles to speak in His name (Matt. 28:19,20). The apostles were witnesses and ambassadors of His gospel, calling the world to repentance from sins and reconciliation to God (II Cor. 5:19,20). The apostles were empowered by the Holy Spirit, sent to them in His name, to speak for the Lord (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit would bring to their remembrance all things that the Lord had spoken and guide them into all truth (John 16:13).
The apostles and certain, select inspired men committed the things which they were inspired to speak to writing, producing inspired scriptures (II Tim. 3:16,17; cf. II Pet. 3:15). Today, God still speaks to us through His Son (Heb. 1:1-3). It is the Lord’s words that will judge us in the last day (John 12:48). It is the same truth that the Lord promised to give them through the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 16:13; Acts 2:38). Now those words are committed word for word into our New Testaments which is our standard of authority (Rom. 15:4; Heb. 9:15,16; II Cor. 5:10,11). Now if any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God (I Pet. 4:11).
So, if any man transgress and abides not in the doctrine of Christ that man has not God (II John 9-11). If any preach anything other than the gospel of Christ, he is accursed (Gal. 1:6-9). Whatever we do must be done in the name of, or by the authority of, the Lord Jesus Christ (Col. 3:17).
Eric L. Padgett