While Jesus was giving the people a public lesson in the temple, the religious leaders of the day came to Him and asked where He got His authority to teach what He taught. He responded by asking, “…I also will ask you one thing, and answer Me: The baptism of John—was it from heaven or from men?” (Luke 20:3,4).
Even a visitor to Judea would know to whom John gave credit concerning the message he preached and the baptism he administered. Jesus’ interviewers knew the answer too; but because of this group’s stubborn pride and traditions they did not want to answer their own question by answering Jesus’ (just read vs. 5-7).
The baptism that Jesus and the rest of the people had submitted to received its authority from the same place that had given Jesus the authority to teach what He taught the people – Heaven.
There is nothing wrong in asking someone where they have “received their authority” to teach whatever is being taught spiritually. As a matter of fact there is everything right with it (1st John 4:1) as long as the person asking the questions is asking with the right attitude and intention (Luke 20:20).
Some people get offended by being asked that question while others can get offended by the answer they receive; but the possible offence must not take priority over the importance of having the proper authority in religious matters. Christians are exhorted to do what we do with the right authority to do it:
“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:17)
When it comes to salvation, to worship, to church relationships, to morality and to whatever facet of the faith that falls in-between, we should be willing to ask “by what authority” is this being done or taught, while at the same time being willing to accept the answer when the proper authority is given. If our answer is determined by the “authority” of a manmade council, a manmade creed, a manmade tradition, a manmade synod, a manmade catechism or a manmade head of the church, then our authority is coming from the wrong place (1st Peter 4:11). EA
“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” (Matthew 28:18)