Summary: A sermon on the authority of the Word, the Bible, for the church (Material adapted from Daniel Overdorf's book, Rediscovering Community, Word Driven chapter)
My father in law was asked to intermediate in a dispute between a preacher and the elders/ deacons. In a heated meeting the preacher was talking how the Bible related to the issue at hand. One leader said something like this, “Well, the Bible might say that but I feel...” The preacher left the meeting and the leaders feared he would not come back at all.
Can we trust our feelings and experiences?
A recent Barna Research Group survey regarding what Americans believe asked the question, "Is there absolute truth?" 66% percent of adults responded that they believe that "there is no such thing as absolute truth; different people can define truth in conflicting ways and still be correct."
Where do modern men and women turn for stability and a foundation on which to build their lives? Many look inside of themselves, assuming that truth and enlightenment come from deep within. When people do this there is:
No stability to any belief, always changing
No enduring ethical standards, situation ethics
No way to validate one’s conclusions. No way to test experiences
No basis for concluding that one person is right and another is wrong
No real hope for the future
As Christians we must accept the slogan, “The Bible and the Bible alone is our only rule of faith and practice.”
Thesis: Let’s talk about the authority of the Word
The Authority of God
God reigns as the supreme ruler of the universe. He holds ultimate authority. Nothing or no one else possesses any authority except when granted by God. “for there is no authority except that which God has established.” Romans 13:1, NIV.
This holds true of the Bible. The Bible finds its authority not in its human writers, not in its ability to stand the test of time, and not even in its subject matter. Scripture has authority only because of its origin. 3 Scriptures here:
1. “All Scripture is God-breathed” 2 Timothy 3:16, NIV.
2. “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:20, 21, NIV.
3. Paul’s instructions to the church in Thessalonica, he says that he gave them “by the authority of the Lord Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 4:2, NIV.
When people speak of the “authority of Scripture,” this phrase serves only as acknowledgement that God, who holds all authority, invested authority into His Word.
Sometime we do not handle the Word of God as it should be. Sometimes we treat the Bible as answer book. Sometimes we view it as a devotional work meant to give us warm fuzzies. Sometimes we approach it as a checklist of rules to define what is right and wrong. Other times we go to the Bible to find proofs for our favorite doctrines. This has kernels of truth but when we view the Bible in only these ways we miss the transformative power of God’s Word.
Unfortunately sometimes we view the Bible as a textbook. Heard more than one student majoring in Bible say, “I have difficulty reading the Bible for myself because I am always thinking about papers, tests, lessons or sermons.” Now studying the Bible does involve work at times but such work should lead us into a greater awe of God, not just lead us into more academic exercises.
Other see the Bible as a book of history. It is a book of history, His Story. The Bible begins with, In the Beginning, God created. It ends with happily ever after, as John describes the glory of the New Jerusalem and Jesus’ promise to return. Between these bookends lies the story of God’s redemption of a deeply flawed, but deeply loved, creation. Had God given only a list of rules or a series of logical principles, people may have simply ignored it or explained it away. Instead His Story, God’s story, energizes and transforms. As God’s people, we find our identity and purpose in His Story, God’s story- the Holy Scriptures.
Scripture reveals God. Now God has revealed himself in many ways to mankind. Some revelation is possible without words, such as the knowledge of God that comes to us through nature. Because of our sin, though, we are inclined to ignore it or distort it (Romans 1). Therefore, we need word revelation. Words are the most natural form of communication for human beings. In view of this fact, it is rather inconceivable that God would choose not to use words or speech in revealing himself. The truth is that God has spoken. The expression “Thus saith the Lord” or something like it occurs nearly 2,000 times in the OT.