Enumerating Our Powers

Written by Drew on August 24th, 2007

The Enumerated Powers Act is a bill that Congressman John Shadegg has proposed to Congress in every session since the 104th. As of yet it has not been passed into law.

Here’s the purpose of the bill in Congressman Shadegg’s own words:

The Enumerated Powers Act, H.R. 2458, requires that all bills introduced in the U.S. Congress include a statement setting forth the specific constitutional authority under which the law is being enacted. This measure will force a continual re-examination of the role of the national government, and will fundamentally alter the ever-expanding reach of the federal government.

Basically, if passed into law, the Enumerated Powers Act would require Congress to cite constitutional authority for every law passed in either the House or the Senate. Some of the bill’s proposals have been adopted, but on the whole it seems our lawmakers are not comfortable limiting themselves to the restrictions placed on them by our Founding Fathers in the Constitution.

The church has an Enumerated Powers Act of its own: “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:17). Clearly the Lord intended for his people to seek authority for all of their actions.

Certainly this is true with respect to worship. But more and more Christians are becoming comfortable with expressions of praise that are not authorized in the New Testament.

Instrumental music is one example. Singing is the only music God authorized in the New Testament (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). But some preachers are insisting that God allows the playing of musical instruments too. Where did they learn that?

The word “authority” in the Greek language denotes power. In fact, it is translated “power” in numerous places. For example, the King James Version of Matthew 10:1 says Christ gave his apostles “power against unclean spirits, to cast them out.” The word here is the same word often translated “authority” (see ESV). Would we assume from reading this that these men had power to leap off of cliffs and land unharmed? That would have been a dangerous assumption for one of the apostles to have made. Jesus did not give them power to fly. If they had tried, I’m betting they would not have been pleased with the outcome.

What powers have been granted to us by the New Testament? In other words, what can we do in the name of the Lord Jesus? We can only practice what the New Testament has expressly or implicitly authorized. Let us cite a book, chapter, and verse for everything we do.

We should not be surprised that people don’t want to seek authority for their religion. They don’t want to look for it in politics either. The best policy is still to enumerate our powers. That is the surest way to an eternal reward (Mt. 7:21-23).


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