The Authority of God's Word
Pastor Mike Bullmore tells the tale of a man who traveled to the Louvre in Paris to see famous pieces of art firsthand. As he stood in front of the Mona Lisa, which is always under guard, he played the part of an art critic. He took his time looking at the piece from several different angles before declaring, “I don’t like it”, to which the guard replied, “sir, these paintings are no longer being judged, the viewers are.”
In other words, the Mona Lisa is so definitively regarded as a masterpiece that it is no longer subject to scrutiny, but the painting does reveal something about those who view it based on how they respond. Similarly, the bible is definitively the authoritative word of God and is not subject to human scrutiny. But the Word reveals and exposes things about people based on how they respond to it.
The question, therefore, is how do you respond to the word of God?
When Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica, he expressed a deep sense of gratitude for the believers in that city. The Christians in Thessalonica encouraged the apostle by the way they responded to the word of God. Paul wrote,
And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.
Paul was grateful for the way the Thessalonians received the word of God because they received it as the authoritative word of God. Paul contrasted the word of God with the word of men as the word of men simply does not carry the same weight as the word of God. When we hear the word of men, we have to consider many things including whether or not it is good or bad, right or wrong, wise or unwise, important or unimportant, and relevant or irrelevant. However, when we hear the word of God, we do not need to render these judgments. Rather, when we rightly receive God’s word, we know that it is good, right, wise, important and relevant. In other words, we treat God’s word as authoritative. We do so with the confidence that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothty 3:16-17)
In his Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem writes, “The authority of Scripture means that all the words in Scripture are God’s words in such a way that to disbelieve of disobey any word of Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God.”
At Restoration Road Church we confess this in our statement of faith, which reads, “The Bible is to be believed, as God’s instruction, in all that it teaches; obeyed, as God’s command, in all that it requires; and trusted, as God’s pledge, in all that it promises. As God’s people hear, believe, and do the Word, they are equipped as disciples of Christ and witnesses to the gospel.”
So, why is this doctrine important and why is it important for your growth in Christ? The doctrine is vitally important as it provides the foundation for how we know and relate to God. First of all, we are able to have confidence in our knowledge of God and his character and nature as we learn about him in the bible. We are also able to have confidence that God loves us and cares for us. We are able to approach him knowing that he delights to forgive ALL of our sins in Jesus Christ. We rest assured that he is working all things according to the counsel of his will and he is working all things for our good. We have certainty regarding these wonderful truths and many more because God has revealed them authoritatively in His word.
Moreover, this doctrine leads us into a right relationship with the Lord. As followers of Jesus, we do not sit in the seat of judgment regarding God’s word. Instead, we sit under God’s word in a seat of humble submission. When we joyfully and humbly submit to God’s word we demonstrate that God is in charge of our lives and we are not. We don’t have the freedom to pick and choose what applies to us. We also demonstrate that God is trustworthy as we entrust ourselves to his ways rather than our own preferences and choices.
We have particularly powerful opportunities to demonstrate this when the Bible contradicts our own desires. For example, it is much more difficult to obey 1 Timothy 2:2, which commands us to pray for those in authority when the ones in authority include people we did not vote for and with whom we strongly disagree. But we demonstrate the Word’s authoritative role in our lives by genuinely praying for the leaders with whom we disagree as the Lord commands us.
When we joyfully submit ourselves to the Lord by walking in obedience to his word, we enjoy the blessing of living in a right relationship with Him. Enjoying a right relationship with the Lord is better than anything this world has to offer.
Not only do we seek to submit to the authority of God’s word individually, we also do so collectively as a church family. The elders of RRC understand that we are men under authority and therefore we work to submit all of our decisions to the will of the Lord as revealed in his word. We do not lead based on what is right in our own eyes rather everything we do is examined in the light of God’s word.
Thus, affirming the authority of God’s word is vital to our faithfulness as followers of Jesus and vital to the health of our church.
Brothers and sisters, as we seek the Lord in his word let us wholeheartedly submit to him demonstrating the authority that his word has over our lives. As we do so, we will enjoy his blessing and display his goodness.