The Bible Is Only An Authority If Your Life Reflects It
I grew up near San Francisco in the 1960’s during which the shift from respecting to disregarding authority showed itself on the nightly news for all the world to see. Many in my generation threw off the shackles of following anyone elses’ orders, especially moral authority. Long held authoritarian views of morality regarding sexuality and drugs as well as obeying civil authorities were tossed out the window.
We’ve continued down that path as a society to the point where one often hears “it doesn’t matter what you do as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else.” There is no authority except for what you decide for yourself. What is amazing is that some in the church often share this view.
This immediately causes tension and leads to a clash of cultures when a Christian says, “The Bible is my authority.” It’s worth thinking about what we mean by this. There are two things people often mean when they say the Bible is an authority in their lives.
Two Common Ways People Think of the Bible as Authoritative
- The Bible is our authority because it tells us what to do and what not to do. It is a spiritual rule book for us. We read it and follow its rules.I think we’d all agree that’s not the primary purpose or intention of the Bible. People don’t use the Bible that way. Even if you want to there are many more stories, poems and historical passages than commands in it. There’s a lot more to it than rules.
- The Bible is an authoritative guide book. It’s God’s word and full of wisdom and insight. We can use it as an authoritative guide through life.I agree it provides guidance but it isn’t a typical guidebook. For example, it’s not as specific as a travel guidebook. There is guidance in the Bible but it is woven throughout stories and letters and parables.
This leaves us in an interesting quandary. There are elements of truth in these two points but they are not the main focus of the Bible. How then is the Bible an authority in your life?
Two Ways the Bible Is Authoritative In Your Life
- When your life fits morally and spiritually within the pages of scripture. If another book of the Bible were written today, would stories from your life fit in it?
- When you use the authority Jesus gave you. Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations. . .” Matthew 28:18-20. The authority of the Father was given to Jesus and passed on to us. For the Bible to be an authority in our lives, we must share our faith.
I don’t mean that we are to try to be the first century church, as some suggest. Nor are we to live like Israel in the Old Testament. The Bible is an authority in your life when your life is consistent with the Bible. We can’t do this without reading and immersing ourselves in the word. Spend time today in the word!
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