CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN NETWORK
Continuing the work of Jesus : Peacefully ~ Simply ~ Together
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Written by Rev. David L. Miller ~ Published August 29, 2003 ~ Last Updated, December, 2007 ©
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For quite some time now in our society the subject of authority has been a hot topic. Many people in our society want to cast off the restraints of any authority, especially the authority of the God of the Bible. This questioning of authority is not restricted to the world. The Church has also been wrestling with the issue of authority. It may be that the questioning of authority in the social and cultural level has it?s birth in issues with which the Church has been struggling. The most vital issue facing the Church today is Scriptural authority.
Any question of doubt regarding the authority of Scripture is in fact a questioning the authority of Jehovah our God. It could even be argued that we are questioning the very existence of our Creator God. If there is a supreme being who in His infinite wisdom created us (and there is!), surely we are accountable for how we live our lives in keeping with that same being. To imagine that the created would even think of denying the existence of the Creator, is preposterous! This is however, precisely what we are doing when we refuse to accept the authority of God?s Holy Word, the Bible.
There is no outside source capable of solving this issue. The issue cannot be proved by evidence presented by any individual or group of individuals. It remains an historical truism, the Word of God has never been proven false in any way. This question must be answered from within the Bible, Written Word of the Living God. Is the Word of God, the Bible, acceptable as the final authority on all issues pertaining to our spiritual lives? This is a question that has plagued the human race since the creation of man and woman. That is, it is, if one accepts the book of Genesis as the true historical account of creation. The question the serpent asked became the foundation of every objectionable question on Scriptural authority since that time.
When we speak of all issues pertaining to our spiritual lives, we cover every aspect of our lives. We cannot separate our physical activities from our spiritual lives. Everything we do in one realm has an impact on the other realm. While certain activities in which we may choose to participate will have a greater impact on our spiritual lives and our relationship with God (I Corinthians. 3:16-17 & 6:18-19), all activities we choose have an impact on our spiritual lives and on our relationship with our Creator.
Lately we have heard that original question echoed by groups focusing on the emotional aspect of worship. In trying to justify a position that was not Scriptural the statement was often echoed ? ?I know you know the Bible better than I do. All I know is what I feel.? This was an attack on the authority of the Scripture that oddly enough does not get a heavy challenge. Yet it is an echo of the serpent, ?Indeed, has God said, ...? I point out this particular challenge to the Scripture to highlight the fact that we have had many challenges to the authority of God?s Word, and they have not always come from what we refer to as ?the liberal side.? Every disregard for the authority of the Scripture, no matter how light we may consider it to be, is an attack on the foundation of our faith. We must make a choice. Either we are going to accept the whole Bible as the Word of God, or we must reject the whole Bible as having any divine inspiration.
Jesus made the claim that he was the Son of God.
We are faced with the choice of either accepting all of the Scripture and subjecting ourselves to the authority of God?s Word or rejecting the entire Bible as God?s Word. If we refuse to acknowledge the truth of the divine authorship of the Bible, we are guilty of a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. We are not given the option of choosing what is God?s Word and what is not God?s Word. For Scripture itself acknowledges God the Holy Spirit as the author of the whole Bible.
This principle of divine authorship of the Bible is the key to our understanding of God the Father, especially as He reveals Himself to us through the person of Jesus Christ. The Bible came from God through the men who wrote it under the Spirit?s divine guidance. The phrase ?the Lord spoke? occurs one hundred and thirty-three times in the Old Testament (NASB). God the Spirit used the personalities and talents of different men to record, without error, God?s message to mankind. These men, ?men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.? This is a word picture of one being carried along by a wave of the sea. This inspiration does not imply a mechanical dictation, but the accurate recording of God's words under the supervision of God?s Holy Spirit. The person is still an individual, but the intensity of the Holy Spirit is the inspiring influence. Christ testified that the inspiration extends to the very words.
This principle of divine authorship of the Scripture rules out any other options for salvation. We must label those who teach that there are many paths to God as false prophets, or we must reject the Bible as being of divine authorship. Jesus was very precise in his teaching on salvation. Jesus said,
The Holy Spirit is very plain in His declaration of salvation,
If these statements are not true, the Bible as a whole must be rejected; and in rejecting the Holy Scripture, we reject our salvation. The whole theme of the Word of God is based on the fact that the atoning death of Jesus Christ is the only way to find acceptance with Jehovah our God. The Word of God is very explicit in the declaration of this fact. If we are unwilling to accept this fact, we are calling God a liar.
Throughout the Bible the declaration is that there is only one God. This God is Jehovah (Psalm 83:18 KJV). Once this fact is established, we have no choice but to accept the authority of the One who created us.
We have those in the church in the United States who are in the position of arguing for the acceptability of sin because we have refused to acknowledge Jehovah God as the only true God. If it were not for the divine authorship of the Bible setting a divine standard of morality, the acceptable rule of society would be: ?if it feels good, do it.? If it were not for divine authority in morality anything would be acceptable, including stealing and murder. Why is murder wrong? It may be unacceptable to us, but the murderer is doing what he thinks is necessary. Why should he not rid the world of some undesirable person? Apart from divine moral absolutes any kind of behavior or activity can be justified in the demented and twisted mind of mankind.
Many have refused to acknowledge Jesus Christ as God the Son and as the only means of reconciliation with God. It is not surprising to find these same people caught up in depravity, either in the practice of it or the acceptance and promotion of it. It is one more fulfillment of Biblical prophecy, which is itself another proof of the authenticity and validity of the Holy Scriptures. Look at the following excerpts from Romans chapter one.
The consequence of refusing to acknowledge the Bible as our final authority is indeed a dark picture. We will not only lose our ability to distinguish between good and evil, but we will have to face God with the fact that we willfully rejected the atonement of His Son?s death for our sin. There is no other payment for our rebellion acceptable with God. The consequence of this rebellion is what we are warned about in the letter to the Hebrews.
We are warned about a time when people will not accept sound doctrine, but will want teachers who will endorse their sinful lifestyles (2 Timothy 4:3). Jesus called them ravenous or ferocious wolves in sheep?s clothing (Matthew 7:15). When he tells us that they will be in Sheep?s clothing, he is warning us to beware, not of outsiders, but we are to be alert for those among us who deceive us into accepting false teaching. People are always suspicious of outsiders who teach new ideas, whether those ideas are good or bad. However, when people we know teach questionable ideas, we are slower to condemn them simply because they are one of us. The greatest danger the Church of Jesus Christ faces today is false teachers from within the church. Jude warns us about this type of person.
The Scripture is full of warnings about these false prophets who have crept into the local churches, posing as believers, though in reality they were ungodly and unsaved. They are spreading destructive heresies as Peter writes, ?They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them? (2 Peter 2:1 NIV). If we deny the Lord Jesus Christ who bought us, what is there to cover our sin? How will we stand before Jehovah the righteous Judge of all creation when we have rejected the payment for our sins by denying Jesus Christ? To reject the Holy Scripture is to have ?trampled under foot the Son of God,? and to regard ?as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified? (Hebrews 10:29). When we are guilty of this, what is there to atone for our sins? We will stand before our creator not only guilty of our sins, but we will be guilty of crucifying Jesus Christ, God?s one and only Son. The letter to the Hebrews warns of the seriousness of such an attitude.
God did not give us the Scriptures to keep us from enjoying life and to destroy our happiness. The exact opposite is true. We have the Word of God to enable us to experience life to the fullest, a life with ?joy inexpressible and full of glory (1 Peter 1:8 NASB). Just as the apostle Paul writes to the Church at Rome, ?whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope (Romans 15:4 NASB). The Scriptures give us a hope for eternity. This is why we must accept the wisdom of our Creator Jehovah and acknowledge the Holy Scripture as our final authority in life. This is why we need to accept the truth of John?s proclamation that Jesus Christ is ?the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!? John 1:29) The only way one will enter into God?s glorious home in Heaven is through following the words of Jesus Christ (John 12:48). And as John records from the Revelator, God the Holy Spirit,
In the light of what the Holy Scriptures state, and considering the destruction of sin in the lives of those who reject God?s truth and salvation through Jesus Christ, we can readily see the necessity of fully believing God and accepting His Word as absolute truth. Even more serious than the destruction caused by sin is the condemnation for eternity that awaits the unbeliever. When the Church repents of her rebellion against God?s revealed Truth in Jesus Christ, the promised ?rest? that remains for His Church (Hebrews 4:9) will produce the peace that she seeks. Without Jesus Christ the, Prince of Peace, in one?s life, there is no real peace.
David L. Miller is currently pastor of the Rockhill COB near Rockhill Furnace, Pennsylvania, in the Pennsylvania Middle District. He was born in Lancaster County but moved to Fort Myers, Florida, along with his parents at the age of eleven. Snorkeling and fishing became important recreations that only enhanced his early love of the ocean. Knee surgery disqualified David from active military service during the Viet Nam war, but he was soon able to fulfill a desire for serving his country in 1969 at a Navajo Brethren in Christ Mission in New Mexico. Working at this hospital was a turning point in his life because he also became acquainted with Martha Dodson, from Broad Top, Pennsylvania. They were married in 1970, have four children, and expecting a third grandchild. At the age of thirty-six, David began night studies at Bible College and accepted his first pastorate at Grants Pass in Oregon. He currently supplements his pastoral work with a twice weekly e-mail devotional titled ?Thoughts for Victory? while also pursuing a doctorate in the field of Biblical Counseling.