Practically, this means that lesser courts of reason, tradition, and culture are under the highest court of truth, which is divinely inspired Scripture. During the Protestant Reformation, the slogans sola Scriptura and prima Scriptura they became popular to summarize this conviction; they mean Scripture alone is our highest authority. This should not be confused with solo Scriptura, which is the erroneous belief that truth is only to be found in Scripture and nowhere else. Scripture itself tells us that God reveals truth to us in such things as creation and our conscience, but that the beliefs we may subscribe to from such forms of lesser revelation are to be tested by Scripture.

Therefore, Jesus is our example of how we should both act when we are in authority and react when we are under authority. First Corinthians 11:3 is one of the key texts for what theologians call functional subordinationism. It is the biblical teaching that our Trinitarian God exists as a community of equals with different roles and deference for authority within the Trinity. For example, throughout his life we see Jesus constantly speaking of his submission to the authority of God the Father; Jesus continually states that the Father sent him to earth on his mission and that he was doing what the Father told him to do and saying what the Father told him to say. Other Scriptures also illustrate this principle, showing how Jesus Christ recognized the authority of God the Father while remaining equal to God the Father.18

While the authority of Jesus is always perfect, earthly authorities can at times be imperfect. If an authority is indeed acting sinfully and breaking the laws of a higher authority, rather than abandoning authority systems altogether, we should appeal to a higher authority for justice. For example, a husband is to both submit to the authority of God and his church leaders as Jesus submitted to authority, and also exercise authority over his family in a way that is loving and gracious like Jesus exercises his authority. However, if that man should become harsh with his wife or children, they should appeal to the higher authorities of church leadership and God's Word for justice. The answer to abusive authority is not an absence of authority but rather righteous authority that rules under the authority of Scripture and Jesus. The right response to abusive authority can be calling the church and even the police. Sadly, it is all too common that people in the church are guilty of the sin of Diotrephes, "who likes to put himself first, [and] does not acknowledge our authority."19

Anyway, getting back to our struggling little church of anarchy and dissent, it was at that time when I realized that I needed to install qualified leaders and empower them with the authority to help lead the church by disciplining some people, kicking others out, training the teachable, encouraging the broken, empowering other leaders, and reaching the lost before the lunatics completely overtook the asylum/church plant. We needed leaders so we could execute our mission of bringing the gospel of Jesus to our city in word and deed.

The obvious need for biblically based, formal, and qualified leadership led me on a lengthy study of how a church should be organized. I had never been a pastor in a church or even a formal member of any church in my life. So, I studied Scripture, read dozens of books on church government (which was as exciting as watching ice melt), read dozens more books on church history and Christian movements, and met with pastors of various churches to hear how they were organized.

In the end, I arrived at what I believed was a model of church government that was both biblically sound and practically effective. I taught our little church on these matters, and before long we had implemented the kind of church government that I was convicted was most faithful. Immediately, our church began to grow in both health and size.