God's Word and pastoral authority

“There is a kind of faith that comes from seeing miraculous signs, but true faith comes through the words of Scripture and the words of Jesus… ‘Now while He was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs He was doing and believed in His name. But Jesus would not entrust Himself to them, for He knew all men’ (Jn. 2:23-24). Jesus does not trust the kind of faith that comes from seeing miraculous signs. It is not difficult to imagine why. Such faith is likely to be fair-weather faith. It will believe when signs are performed, prayers are answered, things are going well. But it is not the sort of faith that will survive the loss of a child, a period of illness or some other trauma. Persevering faith comes through the word of God.

“In the church the risen Christ rules through His word. This is why the only skill required of church leaders is that they can teach, rightly handling and applying the word of God. Their authority is a mediated authority. They have no authority in and of themselves. Instead they exercise Christ’s authority on His behalf as they teach and apply the word. This defines the amazing extent of their authority: when they apply the word they are exercising the authority of God himself. But it also defines the limit of their authority: they have authority only as they teach God’s word. They should not exercise an authority that comes because of the position they hold or the force of their personality. It is through their teaching that leaders exercise the authority of Christ, the Head of the church.”

- Tim Chester and Steve Timmis from “Total Church”