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Where does ultimate authority lie for every Christian believer, both privately and publicly?
Some say it lies in the church structure through its pastoral clergy, or in its human head as seen in the papacy on behalf of Christ.
Church? or Bible?
Others have said that it lies in the text of the Bible alone, as defined in the established doctrines of the church.
Protestant movement has generally followed the second idea of the Bible alone, but this has led in Christian history to greater divergence of doctrine, which seemed to justify those who believed that ultimately it is church-structure which confers authority.
So, to try and counter this, the idea developed in some circles of testing every belief or 'inspired' idea "so that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established".
Matthew 18:16.

  Unfortunately, this quote is a serious twisting of Holy Scripture in contradiction of its context. See:
'Christian Fallacies
In its
own context, this scripture refers to a disciplinary process between believers to restore relationships. It has absolutely nothing at all to do with authority.
the authority of Christ was bequeathed to the Christian Church with its pastors –
BECAUSE the Holy Spirit was given.
the written Word of God is a final authoritybecause the Holy Spirit is always consistent and HIs principles given therefore do not change in any age (regardless of any human definitions of doctrine).
What He says today does not contradict what He has said elsewhere if it is understood within its own context.
Thus the
only ultimate authority in human experience is and always was the Holy Spirit of God – and no other!
The very first chapter of the first book of Holy Scripture shows us that it is the Spirit of God who implements the authority of God's commands.
Genesis 1:2.
Scripture is holy scripture simply and only because
 "no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." 
2 Peter 1:21
Yes, this applied to the Lord Jesus as much as it applied to any Old Testament prophet.
But –
the anointing of the Holy Spirit given to Jesus was unlike that of any prophet before Him. To Christ, the Holy Spirit's anointing was given without limit (Jn.1:32), that is – unrelated to any specifics of ministry.
This was the new beginning in human history, portrayed in the symbol of the 'dove' (just as it was the sign of the new beginning to Noah after the Flood).
is this same level/relationship of Spirit anointing which Jesus gave at Pentecost to all those who come to Him with faith in Him beyond themselves –
"Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'"
Now this He said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive,
for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified."
John 7:38-39.
is promising in these words that those who become His disciples will continue His ministry as it was in Him. It would flow out of them as it had flowed out of Him for them to come to Him and drink, as He had announced publicly in Jerusalem's temple.
is the newness of the New Covenant which was so beautifully prophesied as a promise of God by Jeremiah –
"For this is the Covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD:
I will put My law within them, and I will write it on their hearts.
And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,'
for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD.
For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more'."
Jeremiah 31:34-35.
of this new relationship to the Spirit in the New Covenant, Jesus later explained to His apostles at the Last Supper –
"Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in Me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do,
because I am going to the Father."
John 14:12
"Whoever hates Me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they [Israel] would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both Me and My Father.
But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: 'They hated me without a cause.'
But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you
[all believers, as quoted twice above]
from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness about Me."
John 15:23-26.
phrase "from the Father" refers to the authority with which He comes to "whoever believes", as the Lord Jesus Himself had also come. It does not refer to a spatial transfer as might apply to finite beings, that is from one place to another. This is the infinite omnipresent Spirit of God who 'comes; only in the sense of beginning a new relationship.
The Holy Spirit was given to all believers at Pentecost to occupy the leading role that the Lord Jesus had occupied in relation to the disciples. For this reason it was only after Christ had ascended to the Father that the Holy Spirit came from the Father.
The Holy Spirit was not given only to the foundation apostles; therefore ultimate authority does not belong the Church's clergy. Therefore the Church is neither a democracy nor an autocracy. If it is true to its intrinsic nature, the Church of Jesus Christ is a Spirit-ocracy.
Neither episcopal;
nor presbyterian;
nor congregational.
The Holy Spirit did not come to fill a supporting-role as some have misunderstood through confusion over the New Testament term translated Helper/Comforter (παράκλητος/paraklētos). Jesus had been their 'Helper' up to then. But now . . .
"And I [Jesus] will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him.
You know Him, for He dwells with you
[through Jesus] and will be in you [directly]."
John 14:16-17.
Jesus had done concerning them, so the Spirit of God would lead and instruct the disciples in the future, with no less authority for He comes 'from the Father' – from the Throne.
This is why the Apostle Paul so strongly makes the point that he did not get the detail of his gospel (which so fills our New Testament) from any human source.
"in order that I might preach Him among the Gentiles,
I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me,"
Instead, he went to be alone with God in the desert of Arabia. Three years later, rich in understanding by the Spirit, he comes back to Jerusalem.
Galatians 1:16-17.
It is
of this authoritative relationship of the Holy Spirit to and through all believers that the Apostle John wrote for us to understand –
   "the Anointing that you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you [authoritatively].
But as His Anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie – just as it has taught you, abide in Him."
1 John 2:27
then how does one know if something is not true or not of God when it may sound so right?
By one's personal relationship to the same Holy Spirit. To not know or be uncertain is a symptom of a lack in one's personal relationship to the Spirit of God given to all believers.
addition, as Jesus warned concerning the spiritual leaders of His own time, who were leading people astray – "the tree is known by its fruit", the character of its consequence. He dared to publicly describe these important religious leaders of His day as a "brood of vipers". Do we have the same boldness by the same Spirit? We will if we are attuned to His presence, for He does not change.
Matthew 12:33-34.
The Spirit
of God does not speak to those who are not to be trusted with His revelation and with its application. God knows us very well! But He meets with all who seek Him! This daily devotion was the secret of Christ's personal preparedness to be the vehicle of God's Spirit in His ministry (Isaiah 50:4-5, read it).
"The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary.
Morning by morning He awakens; He awakens My ear to hear as those who are taught."
Isaiah 50:4.
This daily meeting with God was the secret from which the whole ministry of the Lord Jesus flowed, and in this He is our example to follow!
"If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.
Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water'
[as it did from Jesus]."
John 7:37-38 (Isa.59:19).
Following the example of Christ's daily devotion, the attitude and character of the believer needs to be hereby attuned to the attitude and character of God,
so that His Spirit may speak without uncertainty, but authoritatively, among His people.

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