The bottom line in religion is the issue of authority. According to the Bible, all final authority rests in Jesus. Then, from Him there is what we will call an imparted authority--an authority that, because it is fundamentally resting in Jesus as the Truth, is shared with all who proclaim the Truth.
Thus, once we move from Jesus, the next most fundamental authority is, obviously, His Word. Since His Word is a direct extension of His own expression of Truth, there is a direct, though dependent, authority in that Word.
After the Word, the next level of authority rests in those who proclaim the Word accurately. The key word here is accurately. Authority is Truth-based. Jesus is the Truth. The Bible is the written Word of Truth. But, when it comes to proclamation, there is no authority in the proclaimer except the authority of the Truth. Therefore, if the preacher is speaking Truth, he has absolute authority in his words, but if he errs in his speech, he has no authority. This is true whether the proclaimer is a single individual (preacher), or a collective body (a church). God never sides with an individual, or with a Church, against the Truth.
Now, what does this mean to us? On the positive side, it means that as long as we are actively walking with Jesus according to His Word, we have the authority of Truth to sustain us in life. This means three things directly: 1) that our first priority is honestly relating to Jesus as a real, living, Person; 2) that our next priority is honestly relating to the Bible as His Word so that we might have a non-subjective basis to check what we are calling a personal relationship with Jesus (anyone can feel religious, but Jesus relates to people who respond to truth, not to those who feel religious); and 3) that our next priority will be relating to those who accurately teach us the truth of the Word of Jesus.
But, on the negative side, it means that we are in great danger of serious deception. Every cult that has ever come into existence has exalted both itself and some human representative of Christ as the inspired depository of Truth. This is an exaltation of an organization/individual above the Bible and, thus, above Christ. Every individual or organization that does this has laid the foundations for becoming a cult. When this happens the followers are always told that they cannot understand the Bible without the organization's/individual leader's particular interpretive input. This keeps people in blind submission and the organization or individual has ceased to be Christian.
There are few portions of the Scriptures that were not written to ordinary people. Most of the writings were written in the language of the people to whom they were committed, and the vast majority of those people were only moderately educated. Yet they could read and understand the Bible.
My call to you is to accept real authority: Jesus and the Bible. Pick it up. Read it. Call upon Him. Build your life upon true authority. If you do not, you will perish.