(Where Does It Come From?)
When I was growing up, I believed what I was told by my parents and other leaders. In regard to religion, I believed what my pastors taught me. Among the many things they taught me was that the Bible was the authority for what they taught. And so I believed.
When I got to college, I began to think things out for myself. I still believed the Bible to be true, but was that just because that's what I had been taught? What if I had been born in India? or China?
A speaker in my church told an assembled group of mostly college students that we should find out for ourselves, by asking God. First, if he existed, and then if the Bible was true. He used the example of Gideon and his fleece. I set up a similar request of God, and He answered it miraculously. He lives! I also sought an answer to the truth of the Bible, and I was assured by Him that it is true.
Having ascertained that the Bible is true, and the word of God, I began to discover little by little, in studying the Bible, that some of the things I had been taught, were not taught in the Bible. I had planned to become a Baptist pastor, but I could not teach things that I believed the Bible did not teach.
I still had only the Bible as the authority on which to determine the truth about God, and what He expects of us -- that, and the answers I got to my prayers.
I "settled" for a while for a church that only required me to believe things I already believed the Bible taught, and I grew comfortable there in the Salvation Army. While overseas in the U.S. Army, I encountered a Pentecostal church that taught things about the Holy Ghost, that I had not known, but they did not contradict the teachings of the church I was then a member of.
When I returned from overseas, I went back to my church in the States, a bit disappointed because I hadn't learned what I needed to about the Holy Ghost.
When Jehovah's Witnesses pointed out that the Trinity doctrine was not in the Bible, I had to agree. I went to my Corps Officer to see if he could explain to me why there was such a doctrine, when it was not in the Bible, but he could not.
I didn't spend much time with the Jehovah's Witnesses either, as they didn't believe that Jesus was resurrected with a physical body, which is plainly contrary to the Bible, no matter what translation you use.
I checked into a number of other churches, coming away with the feeling that there were none, that I could find, anyway, that had the whole truth. I believed that there is only one truth, one true perspective. I even discussed with friends the possibility of starting a church on my own to teach what I found in the Bible.
Then someone asked me what I thought of the Book of Mormon. When I told him I thought Joseph Smith had been deceived (what I had been taught growing up), he said I needed to read it and pray about it and ask God if it is true. Since that's what I had had to do with the Bible, I couldn't disagree. I read the Book of Mormon and prayed about it. When I got the answer, it was glorious. It is true!
What I have discovered, is that the authority doesn't come from a book, or books; it comes from God. He has provided His Priesthood to convey His authority to men He has chosen and authorized. A man cannot take authority to speak for God of his own accord, or because other men who have earned degrees in religion have given him what they themselves cannot possess.
When Jesus was brought before Pilate, Pilate asked him, "Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?" Jesus answered, "Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above:"
His powerlessness is shown in the fact that though he found no fault in Jesus, he allowed him to be crucified to pacify the mob.
- David Sawyer, October 1, 2003