Pastor Larson’s Corner: By what authority?

Pastor Larsons Corner

I live far enough out of the city that my TV set will not receive much without a pretty substantial outdoor antenna. After considering cable and satellite options, I decided to have an outdoor antenna installed. The results were excellent, and I now receive 48 different broadcast channels. Approximately 12 of these channels feature around-the-clock religious broadcasting. Because of my interest in preaching, I do occasionally watch the preachers on these channels. One thing I’ve noticed is how they all speak with great authority and confidence. I don’t always agree with their theology, but I certainly have been impressed by their powerful delivery.

Jesus also spoke with great authority and power. This caused the religious leaders of his day to ask Him, “By what authority do you teach these things?” Today, we might well ask this same question of every preacher in every denomination of Christendom. Why should we listen to them? What gives them the authority to claim that they are preaching the word of God?

I believe that the litmus test for authority in preaching must always relate principally to the preacher’s life. People believed and followed Jesus because His preaching was reflected in His life. Jesus lived for others and gave Himself for others so completely that He was willing to die that others might live. Jesus then called His followers to do the same. He asked them to put the interests of others ahead of themselves.

When we are able to follow this example of Christ, our words take on an authority that they would otherwise never have. If our lives reflect what we teach and preach, then people will listen to us and accept what we say. On the other hand, when our lives do not reflect our words, our authority will be questioned if not lost all together.

Pastor Larson’s Corner is written by Jerry Larson and appears weekly in the Norwegian American Weekly.

Pastor Jerry Larson retired to his cabin in Zimmerman, Minn., after 39 years in parish ministry for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. In 2011 he published a book entitled “Speaking the Word Freely: Writing with purpose, preaching with power.” Contact him at

This article originally appeared in the Nov. 7, 2014, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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The Norwegian American

The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.