The Authority of the Bible
THE AUTHORITY OF THE BIBLE
PREACHER: NIGEL JUCKES
Read: Matthew 7:: 28, 29 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching because he taught them as one who had authority, not as their teachers of the law.
I was listening to a CD in the car the other day and the speaker was saying how his life call came on the day he was converted. He heard God say…… People often asked him: What did God sound like? And his response: Like he was the Boss!
That is authority.
What is clear is that all these subjects on the Bible that we are looking at on Sunday evenings are linked.
I have to build on what Andrew shared last week – which essentially was saying that the Bible is God’s word. If you weren’t here and want to dispute that then go on to the website and clear that hurdle first. I will work from the basis that the Bible is God’s word from Genesis 1: 1 to Revelation 22: 21.
A. CRUCIAL CONVICTION
All the confusion in the Church today centres on this conviction – that the Bible is God’s word and carries a consequent authority.
For many people – both Christian and unbelievers the Bible is very much a human document – parts of it are God’s word and parts are not. There was a blatant change in the Anglican Liturgy between the responses to scripture passages being read in Liturgy 75 and the 1989 Anglican Prayer book.
The reader used to say: This is the word of the Lord – to which we all responded Thanks be to God
Now the reader says: Hear the Word of the Lord – to which we still make the same response.
But it is actually saying: If any of the words were from God, we hope you heard them.
So if we do not believe this is God’s word – it no longer carries authority.
But if they are all God’s words – then they carry ultimate authority.
So as you see, I am simply building on last week and saying: Because they are God’s words they are authoritative; because God has spoken them, they define all reality and truth.
And for the Christian, this is the authority by which we live out our faith.
As someone has said: The church will never recover its morale or its mission until it first discovers its source of authority.
That is how fundamental this subject is.
B. ALL AUTHORITY COMES FROM GOD
Authority rests in God.
He is the one who has the ultimate say over all that is and all that ever will be.
As Paul puts it in Romans 13: 1 There is no authority except what God has established.
When Pilate at Jesus’ trial, tried to boast about the power he had over Jesus, Jesus’ response was: You would have no authority/power over me if it were not given to you from above. John 19: 11
Even Satan cannot touch us unless we or God (see Job) give him permission. We give him permission by removing ourselves from God’s protection through yielding to temptation or involvement in the occult. When we choose to serve Satan we are unprotected.
So our response to God’s word is actually a response to God himself.
We either submit to his authority – or we resist his authority and suffer the consequences.
So if we want authority in our lives, it will only come from God – and it will only come via the word which is the truth about him, and about his heart and his ways. That authority is captured for us in the Word he has given to us.
C. AUTHORITY IN THE WORD
The authority is implicit in the Bible because this is the place supremely of God’s revelation of himself.
Anyone who really wants to follow God and live for God will encounter the true God supremely in scripture. God is someone who has made himself known in Words.
Yes – he has made himself known in nature:
- Psalm 19 The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of his hands……
- Romans 1: 20 For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
Creation reflects the mark of its creator – it tells us about him to a degree.
But these things speak more generally about God. They certainly point to God and urge us to know him.
But he can only be known through the words he has spoken – and Jesus, God’s living word to us, has made God known as clearly as he could have.
But the crucial thing is that you cannot separate the Living Word away from the Written Word. Many people have tried to create theologies which they impose upon the person of Jesus by removing him from His context. They will say things like: Jesus operated only on the law of love.
If they deem something to be loving then it becomes permissible. You can virtually write your own theology on this basis.
The reality is: There is no love without truth – and there is no truth without love. Jesus came to us full of grace and truth (John 1). They are inseparable.
Jesus not only fulfilled scripture, he lived its reality and righteousness. He was an expression of the Word already revealed. The life of Jesus was lived totally within the confines of Old Testament truth. He saw scripture as authoritative. When he was tempted by devil he does not speak the word at the devil – the devil would see no reason to obey it anyway. He spoke it for himself – it was a declaration that this was the Word by which he was safe and by which he would live and die.
And when he was being challenged by the Jewish leaders, he used for his authority the scriptures:
What is written in the law? How do you read it?
Haven’t you read the scriptures….
The written word was authoritative in terms of how Jesus lived and how God wants us to live.
D. OBEDIENCE IS THE ISSUE
The reason people avoid the Bible is to avoid God.
Because if you want to yield to God and to serve him – then you have to trust his love for you.
And that love is expressed in his Word.
I have heard the Bible described as God’s love letter to us – he gave it to us as he gives us his Son, because he loves us.
Jesus tells us (John 14: 15, 23, 24): If you love me keep my commands. Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them and we will come and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words that you hear are not my own. They belong to the Father who sent me.
And so people who want to walk in disobedience, will start to dispute God’s word; they will begin to question things, saying: Where does it say in the Bible – No sex before marriage?
Well – it does not put it in the those words but it does say that those involved in fornication or adultery will not inherit theKingdomofGod.
And it is obvious. If we involve ourselves in something ungodly; if we deny God’s authority over our lives, our lives begin to get robbed. We lose the authority entrusted to us – in our homes, in our ministry, in our relationships – because we are no longer under God’s authority. We are robbed.
And most honest people recognise that God’s Word is true – and so if they want to avoid God they do not just leave his Word, they also leave him and get involved ultimately in some occult or pagan service. And because the demonic forces in these are immoral, they can do as they please.
What they have missed in the glory of God’s word and its authority:
D.1 THOSE WHO ACCEPT ITS AUTHORITY FIND LIFE AND BLESSING
The one text which Antonio set for this subject comes from Luke 11: 27, 28
As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd cried out: Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.
Jesus replied: Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.
Moses – the great law giver, says to theIsrael
Deut 30: 19
This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life…..
From the beginning (Genesis 3) it has been true – to choose our way, is to choose death. We have to accept that we cannot play God, we see only in part. God’s word to us is an invitation to us to find life by walking in His ways. And because we are made in his image, his ways are life and blessing and prosperity to us. We live as we were designed and intended to live – and our lives are protected from deceit, seduction, lusts and needs.
D.2 THOSE WHO ACCEPT ITS AUTHORITY FIND FREEDOM
The thing about sin that we often forget is its slavery.
It leads us into guilt and shame.
It puts us into a place of weakness where we loose the freedom to stand against what we know deep in our hearts is wrong.
Jesus said: You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.
Once we accept that God has the truth, and we choose to live by it – we find that we walk into a freedom which nothing else offers. We are kept from danger and hurt – and our lives feel as though space has opened up around us. We can choose. And we can stand. We are free.
God is saying to us: Where is your ultimate authority?
If you retain the authority yourself – you yield only to yourself, your ideas, your insight, your will, your desires, your appetites – there is a fruit. It is death.
But if you choose to call Jesus Lord – and yield to his Lordship – the way to live that yieldedness is under God’s Word. All of it – just as Jesus yielded himself only to his Father and submitted himself to the written word and lived his life within its bounds. Let scripture be your ultimate authority – test everything by it and you will find life, blessing and freedom.