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The waning authority of Christ in the church

Christ’s Waning Authority in the Church
(A.W. Tozer – extracts)

Here is the burden of my heart; and while I claim for myself no special inspiration I yet feel that this is also the burden of the Spirit.

If I know my own heart, it is love alone that moves me to write this. What I write here is not the sour ferment of a mind agitated by contentions with my fellow Christians. There have been no such contentions. I have not been abused, mistreated or attacked by anyone. Nor have these observations grown out of any unpleasant experiences that I have had in my association with others. My relations with my own church as well as with Christians of other denominations have been friendly, courteous and pleasant. My grief is simply the result of a condition which I believe to be almost universally prevalent among the churches.

I think also that I should acknowledge that I am myself very much involved in the situation I here deplore. As Ezra in his mighty prayer of intercession included himself among the wrong-doers, so do I. “O my God, I am too ashamed and disgraced to lift up my face to you, my God, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens” (Ezra 9:6). Any hard word spoken here against others must in simple honesty return upon my own head. I too have been guilty. This is written with the hope that we all may turn unto the Lord our God and sin no more against Him.

…… “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” is the church’s national anthem and the cross is her official flag, but in the week-by week services of the church and the day-by-day conduct of her members someone else, not Christ, makes the decisions. Under proper circumstances Christ is allowed to say “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened” or “Do not let your hearts be troubled,” but when the speech is finished someone else takes over. Those in actual authority decide the moral standards of the church, as well as all objectives and all methods employed to achieve them.

Not only does Christ have little or no authority; His influence also is becoming less and less. I would not say that He has none, only that it is small and diminishing.

The Lordship of Jesus is not quite forgotten among Christians, but it has been relegated to the hymnal where all responsibility toward it may be comfortably discharged in a glow of pleasant religious emotion……… The idea that the Man Christ Jesus has absolute and final authority over the whole church and over all its members in every detail of their lives is simply not now accepted as true by the rank and file of evangelical Christians.

What we do is this: We accept the Christianity of our group as being identical with that of Christ and His apostles. The beliefs, the practices, the ethics, the activities of our group are equated with the Christianity of the New Testament. Whatever the group thinks or says or does is scriptural, no questions asked. It is assumed that all our Lord expects of us is that we busy ourselves with the activities of the group. In so doing we are keeping the commandments of Christ.

To avoid the hard necessity of either obeying or rejecting the plain instructions of our Lord in the New Testament we take refuge in a liberal interpretation of them…... We evangelicals also know how to avoid the sharp point of obedience by means of fine and intricate explanations. These are tailor-made for the flesh. They excuse disobedience, comfort carnality and make the words of Christ of none effect. And the essence of it all is that Christ simply could not have meant what He said. His teachings are accepted even theoretically only after they have been weakened by interpretation.

Yet Christ is consulted by increasing numbers of persons with “problems” and sought after by those who long for peace of mind. He is widely recommended as a kind of spiritual psychiatrist with remarkable powers to straighten people out. He is able to deliver them from their guilt complexes and to help them to avoid serious psychic traumas by making a smooth and easy adjustment to society and to their own ids. Of course this strange Christ has no relation whatever to the Christ of the New Testament. The true Christ is also Lord, but this accommodating Christ is little more than the servant of the people.

But I suppose I should offer some concrete proof to support my charge that Christ has little or no authority today among the churches. Well, let me put a few questions and let the answers be the evidence.

What church board consults our Lord’s words to decide matters under discussion? Let anyone reading this who has had experience on a church board try to recall the times or time when any board member read from the Scriptures to make a point, or when any chairman suggested that the brethren should see what instructions the Lord had for them on a particular question. Board meetings are habitually opened with a formal prayer or “a season of prayer”; after that the Head of the Church is respectfully silent while the real rulers take over. Let anyone who denies this bring forth evidence to refute it.

Who remembers when a conference chairman brought his Bible to the table with him for the purpose of using it? Minutes, regulations, rules of order, yet. The sacred commandments of the Lord, no. An absolute dichotomy exists between the devotional period and the business session. The first has no relation to the second……

In the conduct of our public worship where is the authority of Christ to be found? The truth is that today the Lord rarely controls a service, and the influence He exerts is very small. We sing of Him and preach about Him, but He must not interfere; we worship our way, and it must be right because we have always done it that way, as have the other churches in our group.

What Christian when faced with a moral problem goes straight to the Sermon on the Mount or other New Testament Scripture for the authoritative answer? Who lets the words of Christ be final on giving, birth control, the bringing up of a family, personal habits, tithing, entertainment, buying, selling and other such important matters?

… The causes back of the decline in our Lord’s authority are many. I name only two.

One is the power of custom, precedent and tradition within the older religious groups. These like gravitation affect every particle of religious practice within the group, exerting a steady and constant pressure in one direction. Of course that direction is toward conformity to the status quo. Not Christ but custom is lord in this situation….

The second cause is the revival of intellectualism among the evangelicals. This, if I sense the situation correctly, is not so much a thirst for learning as a desire for a reputation of being learned…….

Our evangelical faith (which I believe to be the true faith of Christ and His apostles) is being attacked these days from many different directions. In the Western world the enemy has forsworn violence. He comes against us no more with sword and fagot; he now comes smiling, bearing gifts. He raises his eyes to heaven and swears that he too believes in the faith of our fathers, but his real purpose is to destroy that faith, or at least to modify it to such an extent that it is no longer the supernatural thing it once was. He comes in the name of philosophy or psychology or anthropology, and with sweet reasonableness urges us to rethink our historic position, to be less rigid, more tolerant, more broadly understanding.

He speaks in the sacred jargon of the schools, and many of our half-educated evangelicals run to fawn on him. He tosses academic degrees to the scrambling sons of the prophets…. The evangelicals who, with some justification, have been accused of lacking true scholarship, now grab for these status symbols with shining eyes, and when they get them they are scarcely able to believe their eyes. They walk about in a kind of ecstatic unbelief, much as the soloist of the neighbourhood church choir might were she to be invited to sing at La Scala!

For the true Christian the one supreme test for the present soundness and ultimate worth of everything religious must be the place our Lord occupies in it. Is He Lord or symbol? Is He in charge of the project or merely one of the crew? Does He decide things or only help to carry out the plans of others?

All religious activities, from the simplest act of an individual Christian to the ponderous and expensive operations of a whole denomination, may be proved by the answer to the question, Is Jesus Christ Lord in this act? Whether our works prove to be wood, hay and stubble or gold and silver and precious stones in that great day will depend upon the right answer to that question.

What, then, are we to do? Each one of us must decide, and there are at least three possible choices. One is to rise up in shocked indignation and accuse me of irresponsible reporting. Another is to nod general agreement with what is written here but take comfort in the fact that there are exceptions and we are among the exceptions. The other is to go down in meek humility and confess that we have grieved the Spirit and dishonoured our Lord in failing to give Him the place His Father has given Him as Head and Lord of the Church.
Staff Member
Thanks for sharing brother. I'd like to point out a few things here. I read the whole article of the author who wrote it and its interesting and in a sense true but I hope all readers do not assume nor apply this true to all churchs "universally". Let us not forget that there are indeed great churches out there with Jesus Christ as central point, complete authority. Do not forget also that unfortunately in our sinful world no "church" is perfect or on par 100%. It is up to each individual between them and GOD to do what is GOD's will or not. GOD gave each one of us freedom to choose right or wrong.

When a church's congregation gets together and leaves out any bit of Jesus from their actions, motives, views, teachings, etc they are in for some serious trouble and the same who blindly follow. If you are entering a new church, learn about their statement of faith. Compare it to the Word of GOD. Better yet, PRAY for GOD's guidance. PRAY for your church and ALL churches. Do not just sit here all opinionated about each church and their wrongdoings. It is good to guide the lost in the right direction even when a particular church body is not in the right direction. But let us not forget to pray for ALL whether we agree or disagree with their ways.

Forget man's opinions, remember the Lord's commandments. Let the Holy Spirit guide you in all Truth in Jesus Christ - not any thing else whatsoever.

Romans 9:1
I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit

Ephesians 1:12-14
In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory
"Under proper circumstances Christ is allowed to say “Come to me..."

"When a church's congregation gets together and leaves out any bit of Jesus from their actions, motives, views, teachings, etc they are in for some serious trouble and the same who blindly follow."

These are powerful statements, and heartbreakingly true! It should grieve the heart of any child of God, when our Lord is not given the honor He is so worthy of in any place His name is named. My soul faints at the thought of hearing my beloved Saviour say ..."Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee..." Revelations chapter 2 should cause us all to examine our lives, our churches, and what or who we are serving, and move us to a place of unwavering devotion to Christ alone!

Thank you both for your messages!

Rev 2:29 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Forget man's opinions, remember the Lord's commandments. Let the Holy Spirit guide you in all Truth in Jesus Christ - not any thing else whatsoever.

Amen to this Chad!

Matthew 15:1-9
1*Some Pharisees and teachers of religious law now arrived from Jerusalem to interview Jesus. 2*“Why do your disciples disobey our age-old traditions?” they demanded. “They ignore our tradition of ceremonial hand washing before they eat.”
3*Jesus replied, “And why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God? 4 For instance, God says, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and ‘Anyone who speaks evil of father or mother must be put to death.’* 5 But you say, ‘You don’t need to honor your parents by caring for their needs if you give the money to God instead.’ 6*And so, by your own tradition, you nullify the direct commandment of God. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was prophesying about you when he said,
8* ‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far away.
9* Their worship is a farce,
for they replace God’s commands with their own man-made teachings.’* ”
Thought I would add this message ...

Do you know what someone close to you hates? Do you know what they consider detestable? What is it that they would hate for you to practice? As we consider these questions let us look at them and apply them to our Father God. Have you ever thought about that? in this message we are going to do just that, we pray it will change your life, and give you a new perspective.

I would like to give you a list of some things that God hates. This list is by no means exhaustive or in anyway limits God as to the things He hates. You may want to jot these down and look up the references later.

FALSE GODS OR IDOLS - Ex. 20:5; Deut. 5:9; 12:31; 16:22

THE PROUD - Prov. 6:17

LIARS - Prov. 6:17

MURDERS - Prov. 6:17; Ps. 11:5


THOSE THAT LIVE IN WICKEDNESS - Prov. 6:18; Jere. 44:4; Hosea 9:15; Ps. 5:5, 45:7; 11:5

A FALSE WITNESS - Prov. 6:19; Zech. 8:17


ROBBERY - Isaiah 61:8


. DIVORCE - Malachi 2:16


The word hate, Hebrew, sane, hate, hatred, hated, etc. means just that to hate like an enemy or to be opposed to. It is the opposite of like, or liking something. If you will notice this hatred that God has is not directed at anyone, which keeps in accord with John 3:16, but at the works and deeds of individuals.

Look at number twelve in the list. This is what we'll be focusing on in the rest of this message. In the New Testament the word hate is used about 16 times. In Rev. 2:6 and 2:15 we're told of this thing Jesus hates. The word hate, Greek, miseo means to pursue with hatred, detest, or despise. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. Do you know what this means? What is the Deeds of the Nicolaitans? (Pronounced nic-oh-LAY-ih-tayns) do you know? Do you think you should know? Do you think that if it's something Jesus hates, and does not want us to do we should know what it is? The answers to those questions should be yes!

The teaching of the deeds of the Nicolaitans is something that is not taught in most churches; when was the last time your pastor taught it to you? If you don't know what it is how do you know if you are not practicing it?

But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate (Rev. 2:6).

So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate (Rev. 2:15),

In Revelation 2:6 Jesus commends the Church of the Ephesians for their hatred of the deeds of the Nicolaitans. In Revelation 2:15 He condemns the Church of Pergamos (pronounced PUR-guh-mahs) for their acceptance of it. I would like you to notice, from both verses 6 and 15, two things. First, what deeds and doctrine are. Second, what and who were the Nicolaitans, and what was it they taught?

The word Deeds in Greek is ergon--to work or perform acts. For example this word is used, in a good sense, in the book of Ephesians.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them (Eph. 2:10).

Therefore we understand that the deeds of the Nicolaitans are something that was visible; it was an act that was practiced.

Next we have doctrine. Most all of us should know what this is it's teaching, that which is taught, the act of teaching, instruction. We understand here that the Church at Pergamos allowed the Nicolaitans to teach and instruct what they held to! Please understand no matter how good anything sounds or how learned one might appear to be; it is not grounds for Truth. We must always check it out in God's Word.

Next, what and who are the Nicolaitans? and what were they teaching? After consulting numerous sources it is commonly held that the Nicolaitans were a sect or party which arose in the Apostolic period of the Church. There is very little information on exactly who these individuals were. Exactly who they were, at this point, is not relevant. What is relevant is "what they taught" again after consulting numerous sources it is agreed that the voice of antiquity accuses them of holding to the "lawfulness" of idolatry, sexual promiscuity, and Gnosticism.

For those that may not be familiar with Gnosticism ( which comes from the Gk. Gnosis meaning knowledge) without boring us with a lot of complicated information; it's in its simplest definition "the central doctrine that emancipation (making free, salvation ) comes through knowledge, and that once attained, one was freed from the clutch of matter, i.e. the body was evil and it did not matter what one did with it." Also it was common by most Gnostics to deny the Deity of Jesus Christ.

The sects, like the Nicolaitans, crept into the Church and influenced her to mix Paganism with Christianity. Roman Catholicism is guilty of this. Many may be saying "ok, what does all this have to do with me; my Church does not teach or condone any of those things"? Great! Praise God, however; some may be thinking "hum? I heard so and so say something similar to what this is saying." This message is a warning to be very careful of what you receive as teaching.

" For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ." (Jude 4)

The idea that we can do whatever we want, and not have to worry about incurring a rebuke from Jesus, is in line with the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. Let me give you the next verse from the passage about the Nicolaitans its in Revelation 2:16.

" Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth."

There are Churches that believe they are Christian but fall down, worship, pray to, and kiss idols.

" Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry." (1 Corin.10:14)

" Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are [these]; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies." (Gal.5:19,20)

" Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry." (Col. 3:5 )

" Little children, keep yourselves from idols, Amen." (1 Jn.5:21)

There are Churches today that believe they can be Christians and have unbridled sex. One pastor is quoted as saying "Don't worry to much about sin" and another that had "a log book of his sexual liaisons of the women in his church" that pastor, at last word, was dying of cancer.

" But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and [from] fornication, and [from] things strangled, and [from] blood." (Acts 15:20)

" It is reported commonly [that there is] fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife." (1 Corin.5:1)

" Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body." (1 Corin.6:18)

" Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand." (1 Corin.10:8)

" For this is the will of God, [even] your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication." (1 Thess.4:3)

There are many Churches today that say they are Christian but deny Jesus Christ! There are many Churches that have liberal pastors; teaching that Jesus was not God!

" But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven." (Mt.10:33)

" If we suffer, we shall also reign with [him]: if we deny [him], he also will deny us." ( 2 Tim. 2:12)

" They profess that they know God; but in works they deny [him], being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate." (Tit.1:16)

" Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son." (1 Jn.2:20)

" And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that [spirit] of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world." (1 Jn.4:3)

" But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction." (2 Pet.2:1)

In closing there may be some of you that can still say "none of this pertains to me" to that I say Praise God! but:

" Pride [goeth] before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall." (Prov.16:18)

" Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." (1 Corin.10:12)

If some of you have felt the Word speaking to you about an area in your life then; beloved, obey the Scriptures and ask Christ to remove the Sin.

" If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 Jn.1:9)

Please remember if the Doctrine of the Nicolaitans does not pertain directly to you or your Church then truly thank God for His Grace! And be warned that it is out there and you should be on guard.


The idea that we can do whatever we want, and not have to worry about incurring a rebuke from Jesus, is in line with the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. Let me give you the next verse from the passage about the Nicolaitans its in Revelation 2:16.

" Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth."
Amen Coconut Amen!