Our Final Authority (Part 1)

   by Rayola Kelley

   In the years I have been involved with ministry, I have discovered that many in the Christian realm declare that the Word of God is their final authority. However, one finds by their reaction that such a declaration is contrary to reality when their concept of truth is challenged. Such Christians use the Word of God as a means to confirm their present belief or reality, but never as the actual instrument that is used to test their way of thinking, doing and being.

   The problem with denying the Word of God or ignoring it in any capacity is that it strips it of the authority it must possess in our lives to bring about the necessary changes. The Word of God should be spirit and life to us (John 6:63). In other words, it must establish the right spirit for us to experience the life God has for us.

   As we honestly consider how the Word of God is being treated, we must acknowledge that there is a famine growing in this land (Amos 8:11). The famine does not exist because  there is a lack of Bibles, but it is the result of improper or an absence of instruction. And, if the Word is presented, it proves to be a perverted version, rather than the pure Word of God. For example, in many churches, God’s Word is not being studied or preached.

   Today, books about the Bible or books written by those many consider to be successful men in the kingdom of God are being studied, preached and promoted in many churches, rather than the Bible. It is as though the Bible is obsolete or unrealistic for the times we live in. If this is not bad enough there are various erroneous translations of the Bible, updated paraphrases, or “so called” Bibles that contain the Bible in story format, but are minus foundational doctrines or anointing. These counterfeit Bibles not only counterfeit the spirit behind the true Word of God, but they change the intent of the Bible.

   By changing the intent of the complete counsel of God’s Word, God can be redefined and people’s worldviews changed to embrace erroneous doctrines, a counterfeit Jesus and a different gospel. Sadly, such Bibles will dull any discernment Christians may have, causing them to prefer the contaminated presentations over the pure Word of God.

   Today, unbelief runs rampant as those who call themselves Christian walk in the darkness of ignorance towards God, and in delusion about their own spiritual condition and sin. This unbelief causes people to adjust the Word of God to their desired reality. This is made obvious when truth challenges their reality. They will become insulted by the truth and will criticize it as they maintain their personal reality. Ultimately, they will walk in defeat.

   It is vital that we as believers examine our attitudes towards the Word of God. Our attitudes towards the Word will reveal the attitude we have towards God. Most people’s attitude towards God proves they do not really know God. Once again, our knowledge of God will come down to how we view and value the Word of God.

   The one way to come to terms with our attitudes towards God is to examine our approach to the Word of God. Each different approach will reveal how we view God.

   Intellectual approach: Many Christians approach the Word of God from an intellectual standpoint. This is where they approach the Word to understand God and His truths according to their personal reasoning. In their mind, this understanding is vital if they are going to put confidence in God. However, true confidence in God is not based on our intellectual understanding of God, but on our knowledge of Him.

   Knowledge of God is not a matter of a calculated conclusion on our part, but on revelation from the Holy Ghost. Only the Spirit of God can lead us into all truth about God (John 16:13; Ephesians 3:3-5; 1 John 2:27). The truth is, mere man cannot comprehend God Almighty. If man could understand God, God would not be God. Therefore, He would be incapable of requiring us to respond towards Him in faith. Faith actually begins at the point when we cease to try to understand, and believe what the Word of God says with a child-like trust.

   We can only approach God by faith because He is beyond our understanding. In fact, when we approach God from an intellectual perspective, we take the facts of God and run them through our carnal mind (Romans 8:5-9). The problem is that our carnal mind is against God; therefore, it maintains an agnostic view, while undermining the true God. Ultimately, the mind will create a god that can be controlled with the intellect. The problem with the type of god the intellect creates is that reality will reveal such a god as being deaf, indifferent and uncaring to one’s needs. In the end, such a person will end up becoming a total skeptic towards the true God of the Bible.

   Doctrinal approach: Other Christians approach the Word with a doctrinal frame of reference. This means everything in the Word must be interpreted according to a person’s doctrine or creed. Such an emphasis exalts religious dogma or traditions over truth. In fact, concrete doctrine of this nature will automatically reject any truth that will challenge its limited, bigoted ways. Although this belief system will have certain facts right about God, God will have no life or dimension to His character. Since there will be no life to God, the right spirit will be missing.  Such beliefs will become dead letter (Romans 7:6; 2 Corinthians 3:6). There will be no Living Water to prevent spiritual stagnation and dissatisfaction of the soul.

   The doctrinal approach causes the Word of God to become a burden, rather than milk and meat to the soul. Since there is no life to it, it will have no impact. It will simply be a book that must be read out of obligation, but has no real meaning outside of it being a religious duty. At best, this environment will produce self-righteousness that will walk according to its own light or understanding, but will fail to come to any revelation. These people will become indifferent to the mirror that truth puts before them. They will shift the attention from themselves as they harshly judge anything or anybody who fails to fit into their doctrinal box. In the end, these people will crucify the truth, as they become hardhearted towards God for failing to perform according to their religious understanding.

   Self-serving approach: There are those who approach the Word with self-serving agendas. In other words, they will approach the Word of God to verify a God or lifestyle that will serve their purposes. Such an approach is in compliance with these people’s particular fantasy about life or their goal to be a somebody in the kingdom of God. They accomplish their self-serving approach by using certain Scriptures. These Scriptures will be out of context, but they will justify these people’s claims or practices.

   One of the greatest examples of the self-serving approach is how people present God in light of His love. Needless to say, most people’s perception of God’s love is based on the world’s presentation of love. As they combine Scriptures with their concept of love, they create a God that wants them to be happy according to the world’s idea of happiness, no matter how ungodly or immoral it may be. After all, such a God will be tolerant of sin, and understanding towards moral indiscretion.

   Those who create a god from the basis of self, end up with an unrealistic or lopsided god who will change with personal moods, desires and worldly values. Needless to say, such selfish pursuits lead to emptiness. These people’s god not only proves to be nothing more than a perverted, exploitation of their appetites and moods, but he will leave them in total disillusionment and discontentment as everything proves to be a matter of vanity.

   The approach of faith: As already pointed out, the only right way to approach the Bible is with the intent of believing it as true. Believing points to child-like faith. The Word of God clearly tells us that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). Obviously, you cannot have faith without the Word of God, and the Word of God will mean nothing to you without faith. As stated before, faith begins where our intellectual understanding ceases. The reason for this is because faith or our confidence in God is never placed in what we intellectually know about Him, but in what we need to discover in greater measure about His character, ways and perspective, in order to know Him in a personal way. The benefits of knowing God is that we can trust Him with the details of our lives, and will be able to maintain an upright attitude before Him, no matter what is going on.

   Genuine faith’s main goal is not to just know biblical truths, but to apply them. Application of truths is faith in action. Active faith provides the way to develop the needed wisdom in walking uprightly before God.  Godly wisdom is the beginning of the fear of the Lord (Psalm 111:10). Such fear causes one to tremble before the Word. Fear of this nature points to awe and respect towards God’s Word (Ezra 9:4). In fact, when one fails to approach God and His Word by faith, he or she will be committing the sin of rebellion or unbelief (Romans 14:23).

   As you can see, there is only one right way to approach the Word of God. Sadly, genuine faith is often missing from the equation. In some cases, beliefs or activities will be rendered unprofitable because they have not been mixed with faith (Hebrews 4:2).  In other cases, people have never really placed their faith in Jesus Christ. As a result, such people are not in the faith; therefore, their whole life will be discredited or considered reprobate (2 Corinthians 13:5).

   How do you approach the Word of God? It is not unusual to approach it from all four angles depending on what is going on in one’s life. The problem with approaching God and His Word in the wrong attitude, frame of reference or spirit is that it will undermine the faith that was first delivered to the saints (Jude 3). Undermining the faith means that God and His Word will be perverted, causing a warped perspective of God and misuse of His Word.

   Next month, I will address the makeup of the Word of God with the intent of challenging people in regards to how they handle it. Meanwhile, ask the Lord to shake any wrong foundations created by a wrong approach, and give you a love for His pure Word. Then, invite the true teacher, the Holy Spirit, to lead you into all truths about the character, work and will of God. I can assure you that it is a glorious journey of discovery, awe and revelation.