Our Final Authority (Part 3)

   by Rayola Kelley

  For the last couple of months, I have been dealing with our attitude towards the Word of God. It goes without saying that the Word of God should be the Christian’s final authority. In fact, it should be the means that determines our present reality. However, the truth is that many walk in unbelief towards the Word of God. This unbelief is not blatant or obvious, but subtle. The reason unbelief is not blatant is because people often refer to the Bible for confirmation of present beliefs, read it out of duty, or debate what it says out of confusion or arrogance. But, few simply approach the Word to believe what it says about God, salvation and godliness.

   The Word of God is powerful and living (John 6:63; Hebrews 4:12). Sadly, the impact of the Word is very minimal in most people’s lives, as it has been rendered ineffective and dead-letter (Matthew 15:3-9; Romans 7: 6; 2 Corinthians 3:6). The rendering of the Word to a state of being powerless is the result of people becoming caught up in intellectual pursuits to gain knowledge about God and doctrine, rather than to gain Christ, so they can know God in a personal way (John 14:6; Romans 10:2-3; 1 Corinthians 8:1-3; Philippians 3:8-14).

   Our approach and attitude towards God hinges on our attitude towards His Word. God is only as good as His Word, and His Word is only as credible as the author who inspired it. We know that the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Godhead, is the Author who inspired the truths found in this incredible Book (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19-21). If we believe the God of the Bible, we will believe that His Word is a true representation of what we need to understand. If we do not believe His Word, then we do not believe the character of the God of the Bible. In a way, we call God a liar as we create a God who does not mean what He says because His reality changes with the times or our personal moods and desires (Romans 3:4;Titus 1:2). God is not a liar, and His truths never change; therefore, they are always applicable, regardless of the culture or time we live in.

   As the God of the Bible, He not only inspired His Word, but He also maintains and ensures the integrity of it for each new generation. In the end, the pure Word of God will stand as truth, while all other beliefs or philosophies will fall into the abyss of hell (Psalm 119:89; 1 Peter 1:23). Ultimately, it will judge those who fail to respond to it in faith and obedience (John 5:39-47). However, the truths of the Bible cannot be discerned with our intellect. Only the Holy Spirit can bring about revelation of the Word of God (John 16:13-14; 1 Corinthians 1:13-14; Ephesians; 1 John 2:27). Such revelation brings life to the Word as it begins to penetrate our perception, heart and life. It is vital that we consider the importance that the Word must have in our lives.

   New birth: Jesus told Nicodemus that a man had to be born of water and of the Spirit (John 3:5). Often times the Holy Spirit is symbolized by water (John 7:37-39). However, in this Scripture, water and Spirit are clearly being distinguished, and separate as being vital in the new birth.  When you study the concept of being born again, you will come to 1 Peter 1:23: “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.” Clearly, the Word of God is part of our new birth experience. We know we are saved by grace through faith, but where does such faith come from? It comes from hearing the Word of God (Roman 10:17; Ephesians 2:8-9).

   If a person believes the Word of God, he or she will experience the new birth experience.  I constantly exhort Christians to get into their Bible, so the truths of God can get into them. The reason for this exhortation is because the Holy Spirit needs something to work with. When people actually hear the pure truths of God’s Word, the Holy Spirit has a means by which to convict a person of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:7-11). Sadly, people think that if they are saved or have read the latest books by popular Christian writers and have their doctrine memorized, that they will get by in their spiritual lives.

   However, I must stress that salvation is simply the helmet in the spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:17). The helmet does not cover the whole body. It simply protects our initial foundation of faith. It is up to us to do as the Bible exhorts. We must grow in the knowledge of Jesus (Ephesians 4:13-15; Philippians 3:7-8; 2 Peter 1:8-9). It is not enough to read other people’s interpretation of Jesus and His truths or stand behind doctrine, which has often been established by man. The Holy Spirit is the only One who can bring revelation of Jesus to our spirits, and He does so from the foundation of the Written Word (Ephesians 3:3-5).

   Establishing us on the Rock: Jesus is the Rock or foundation to our beliefs (1 Corinthians 3:11). It is His Written Word that establishes us firmly upon Him. In fact, if a person is not founded upon Jesus, his or her  life will collapse when the storms of life hit. Jesus clearly brought this fact out in His Sermon on the Mount. He related how people who fail to build their beliefs on who He is, His Words, teachings, and examples are standing on sand that cannot hold them when the storms come (Matthew 7:24-27).

   The key to building on the right foundation is a person must observe or obey the Word of God. James reiterates obedience to the Word in his epistle (James 1:22-25). Obedience to the Word is what makes it living to us. As individuals obey the Word, they will see how the Word changes their attitudes, provides a way through problems, gives the wisdom to confront obstacles, and brings revelation of God’s faithfulness and intervention, producing much-needed reliance on Him.

   Sadly, many people are like the children of Israel. They want a Moses to be a mediator that will relay God’s words to them. The reason people desire a mediator as far as a physical person is concerned, is to avoid having to take personal accountability for their spiritual lives. However, to solely accept the regurgitated understanding of another is to adopt assumed beliefs that cannot be defended, nor will they stand when a person’s faith is challenged. Such an irresponsible attitude towards God and His Word has been clearly refuted.

   As Christians, we are personally commanded to: “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). On judgment day, many religious people may try to hide behind those who influenced them in their spiritual life, as a means to justify their ignorance towards God and His Word, but in the end, they will be held accountable for walking in disobedience and unbelief towards the Word of God. The Apostle Paul confirmed this when he made this statement to the people at Mars’ Hill: “And the times of this ignorance God winked at, but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). There will be no excuse for such ignorance.

   Nourishes our spirits and souls: The Word of God is referred to as pure milk for the new converts and meat to those who are of full age (1 Corinthians 3:1-3; Hebrews 5:13-14; 1 Peter 2:2). Every new believer starts out with the milk of the Word. This pure milk includes God’s love, sin and salvation (1 John 2:12-14). This pure milk has the ability to make those who partake of it thirsty for the things of God. As they partake of the milk of Word, they will begin to develop spiritual teeth to partake of the bread from heaven, Jesus Christ.

   At this time, those who are developing their teeth will begin to partake of bits and pieces of the meat of the Word. This is where the greatest maturity takes place, as these people begin to discern good from evil. Sadly, many believers never get past the milk stage. Not only do such people remain in an infantile state, but they also never mature to become productive in the kingdom of God. Such people are often tossed to and fro by the latest religious movements, due to the fact that they remain spiritually dull to the things of the Spirit (Ephesians 4:14-15).

   The psalmist made this declaration about the Word: “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth” (Psalm 119:103). Those who love the Word understand this statement. It is not only life and much needed nourishment to their spirit and soul, but it is sweet as they partake of the very life of Jesus. Granted, sometimes God’s Word becomes bitter to the soul, as it reveals aspects of a person’s life or the world around them that needs to be confronted, but the bitter-sweetness of His Word brings a much needed contrast to one’s spiritual life before God (Revelation 10:8-11).

   It cleanses: As water, the Word of God cleanses us (Ephesians 5:26). The way the Word cleanses us is by bringing the necessary contrast to our lives. It is hard for us to see the error of our thoughts, ways and practices (Proverbs 14:12; 16:2; Isaiah 55:8-9; Romans 12:3; 1 Corinthians 10:12; Galatians 6:3). However, the Word brings the contrast that will show us why and in what way we are falling short of the glory of God (Romans 6:23). Such a contrast serves as our reality check. As we respond to the Word in humble submission, we will separate from that which is unholy in our lives, in order to be sanctified or separated unto God for His purpose and glory (John 17:17; Romans 15:16; 2 Timothy 2:19-22).

   Our rod and sword: The Word of God is what disciplines our Christian walk. It serves as the rod that will line us up to God’s character and guidance (Psalms 23:1-4; 119:105).  It acts as the sword that will expose our motives and spirit behind our attitude and activities (Hebrew 4:12). The Word becomes a fire that will purge us as we walk in obedience, and a hammer that will strike fatal blows to any faulty, deceptive, fleshly, and destructive agendas and beliefs in our disposition and foundation (Jeremiah 20:9; 23:29). The psalmist said it best: “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes” (Psalm 119:71). It disciplines the Christian’s life in such a way that he or she can take the Word as a sword, and effectively use it against the enemies of God (Ephesians 6:17). The Word of God ultimately establishes God’s people in righteousness.

   Produces righteousness: The Apostle Paul made this statement: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). Carefully notice that all Scriptures instruct in the ways of righteousness, and are important for our edification in the establishment of godly doctrine. All Scriptures, rightly divided, serve as a point of reproof. Such reproof is for our personal conviction as to what is acceptable or right to God. Without the proper application of the Word’s reproof in one’s life, he or she will become self-righteous and hypocritical. But, reproof is also for a person who is doing something wrong. The Word of God must be used in meekness to reprove the individual in the ways of righteousness for his or her sake. There are clear procedures about how to confront someone who is openly practicing sin (Matthew 18:15-17;1 Corinthians 5; 2 Timothy 2:24-26).

   If someone has a moral deviation or weakness due to his or her disposition or attitude, the preaching or teaching of the Word can be used by the Holy Ghost to reveal the moral flaw, and bring correction to the person before he or she falls into actual sin. If such a person has a wrong attitude and loves the truth, the conviction of the Holy Ghost will cause repentance in the person, and he or she will line up to the intent (or spirit) of the Word in humility and meekness.

   It is important to realize that only the Holy Spirit can bring the proper conviction with the Word in areas where the character is weak, due to a wrong disposition or attitude. He is the One who transforms the mind, and enables the person to see the fruits and consequences of such a disposition. If moral flaws are handled properly, the moral deviation remains between God and the person, as he or she gratefully brings his or her attitude into obedience to the Word, and his or her disposition under the influence of the Holy Ghost.  The psalmist said it best: “Thy word have I hidden in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11).

   As we consider the power of the Word, we must acknowledge that it alone must serve as our final authority and reality in all matters. We cannot pick or choose Scriptures as we please. The complete Bible was inspired to line us up to its wisdom, and not to be adjusted to personal preferences. We must be assured that the Bible we are studying truly represents the Spirit of God and not the spirit of this age. Keep in mind, not all bibles represent the pure Word of God. Study only the reliable versions of the Bible that you know are proven trustworthy by those whose ministries have been proven to be upright and consistent with the Word of God. (The most reliable is still the Kings James Version.)

   When you study the Bible, acknowledge that the complete Word of God must be considered in light of the Spirit behind it, and the eternal purpose that it must play in our lives, to ensure righteousness in this present world. Approach the Word of God in humility to believe it, submit to it and obey it. Recognize it as a table that not only contains vital foods for the soul, but treasures that are more valuable than anything the world can offer (Psalm 119:72).

   Value the Word as your most priceless possession, but do not treat it as some shrine. Open it, partake of it, and let it forever change your perspective towards God, transform your selfish disposition, and realign your attitude to the ways of righteousness. Let it become your source of integrity, as you establish it as your final authority in all matters that pertain to God and godliness (1 Timothy 4:8).