Is the Bible the authority for the Christian religion and, therefore, the final authority for the individual Christian’s life?
This question can only be answered considering our last two weekly questions: “Is the Bible the Word of God” and “Is the Bible Inerrant” (without error). Please, if you have not read them, I strongly encourage you to do so, because they both give clarity and breath to my answer here.
So, is the Bible the authority for the Christian? Yes. And not only is it the authority, it is the centrality of the faith. For, if it is true that God has spoken through the Scriptures (Old and New Testament), we must acknowledge that such a God can only speak the truth, no matter the circumstance (inerrancy) and is incapable of speaking error (infallibility). Furthermore, since when He speaks He speaks as creator and king of the universe, His word is the authoritative word for all creation.
For Christians, this is not a hard concept to grasp. We process with ease an infinitely more difficult concept through reading and understanding the first few sentences of John Chapter 1, where John describes Jesus as the Word of God incarnate. Wow! Never lose the wonder of that chapter. Ponder that for a while.
Back to the point, understanding the concept that God’s word is authoritative is not hard to understand; rather it is hard to accept and to submit to what it says. Why is this?
I believe the answer lies in Genesis 3. In this chapter, a chapter many find offensive, Moses records the history of the fall. This both spiritual and cosmological event occurred when Adam and Eve rebelled (sinned) against God’s loving headship. They sought to be like God themselves, defying God’s command and eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:50) Since this moment, mankind has been dead spiritually and born as sinners (rebels to God’s law) by nature. It is not until we experience regeneration through being born again in Jesus — by turning from our sin (repentance) and trusting Him as Lord and Savior — that we escape this hopeless state. But, even then, we who love God are not made perfect in this life; we still sin and must seek Christ’s grace daily.
Nevertheless, I believe our problem with accepting the word of God as our authority is this: we want to go our own way. Isaiah the prophet writes, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned our own way.” (Isaiah 53:6) We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
But thank God that verse in Isaiah doesn’t end with us being lost and hopeless in our own way forever. Rather, the verse ends with these words, which themselves scarcely plunge the unfathomable depths of God’s mercy: “each of us has turned our own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)
Do you know what this means, reader? There is hope! You can be forgiven of your sin! No one can save themselves or anyone else for that matter; we know this instinctively. So, the Lord saved through Jesus’ taking your place, meaning when you sinned, Jesus took the punishment. This is the great substitute. And He accomplished our salvation on the cross. Then, three days later, he was raised from the dead, to show that He was the Christ (the chosen one/Messiah) and that death will no longer conquer those who love God.
All we must do to accept this free gift of God in Jesus is turn (repent) of our sinful ways and trust in Him and his death for our personal salvation, making Him Lord and Savior over our lives. The authority housed in God’s word is not something to resist; it is something to flee to for hope, for it is the very power of salvation to all who believe. (Romans 1:16)
If you have any questions about this article (or any other) or want to know the peace and wonder of becoming a Christian, please email me. Until next week, God bless.
(Jeremy Breland is a farmer in Ruffin and a M.Div. student at Southern Seminary. He can be reached at email@example.com.)