The ultimate source of all religious authority is God Almighty. As Creator of the universe, God has inherent authority (Gen. 1:1). Since God is the potter and we are the clay, he has the right to mold and make us after his will (Isa. 64:8).
God has delegated authority unto the Son (Matt. 28:18-19 ff; Jn. 5:19-23; Heb. 1:1-2). He now sits at the Father’s right hand, as King of kings and Lord of lords. Because of his exalted position, it is imperative that we respect the authority of Christ (Acts 3:22-23 f; Col. 3:17).
Christ delegated authority to his apostles (Matt. 18:18 f; Jn. 13:20). Before his crucifixion, Jesus promised that they would be given the Holy Spirit. In this way, they would be given a perfect remembrance of his teaching and would be guided into all the truth (Jn. 14:25-26; 16:12-14). The apostles and prophets did not claim originality for the things that they wrote. Instead, they received their message by revelation (Gal. 1:11-12 f; Eph. 3:1-5).
Today God speaks to us through the New Testament (1 Thess. 2:13). The Scriptures are “inspired,” which literally means “God-breathed” (2 Tim. 3:16-17 f; 2 Pet. 1:20-21). To guard against any possible mistake, God was active throughout the whole process of revelation (2 Sam. 23:1-2 f; 1 Cor. 2:1-13). As originally delivered, the gospel message is infallible and inerrant. Furthermore, through divine providence man continues to have access to the inspired word of God.
Some have argued that the Bible cannot be understood. Yet, salvation is contingent upon knowing and obeying the truth (Jn. 8:31-32). If men cannot understand the Bible, God didn’t clearly reveal his mind unto mankind. If this is so, the final judgment will not be fair because man will be judged by God’s word (Jn. 12:48). In reality, the Bible is clear and understandable (Psa. 119:105 f; Eph. 3:3-5). God’s revelation is perfect (Jam. 1:25), complete (2 Pet. 1:3), and final (Jude 1:3).
Thus, it is clear that authority comes directly from God the Father. Jesus’ doctrine was not his but God’s (Jn 7:16,17). The apostle’s doctrine was not theirs but Christ’s (Gal 1:11,12). Our doctrine today is not ours but rather the apostle’s (Acts 2:42). Anytime we follow any other doctrine which does not originate from God the Father we are following the wrong doctrine (Eph 4:14). Because of its divine origin, we must accept and obey Bible truth (Matt. 7:21 f; 2 Thess. 1:7-9). God’s word will judge us in the last day and unless we follow the order of authority we will be lost. Thus we must recognize the sinfulness of adding to or taking away from the word of God (1 Cor 4:6 ff; Gal. 1:8-9; 2 Jn. 1:9).