Authority of the Word
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Authority of the Word
1 Corinthians 8:1-13
In our world today we find an increase of a lack of respect for authority. So much so that we see children giving orders to their parents and their parents obey. From that we have a lack of respect for other people in authority such as law enforcement, judges, and law makers. The choices we have then to correct these issues is to either have an increase of incarcerations to teach and discipline adults about respecting authority and laws; and for children to provide discipline to correct bad behavior so that just maybe they will make better choices as adults. The other option is to just give in to the bad behavior of both children and adults and eventually accept their actions as part of the new norm. Unfortunately, this seems to be the choice that most of society has begun to make. The truth is that the problem did not start with an issue of authority in society but with an issue of the authority of scripture.
In Deuteronomy 18, God speaks through Moses on which authority the people should listen to. For the people living in the land that the Israelites were about to possess listen to their own authority through sorcery and divination. This is not the authority that the people of Israel were supposed to follow. Instead, the Lord says that He will raise up another prophet like Moses whom He will speak through and put words into his mouth. The Israelites are supposed to listen to the prophet as they will be speaking as the authority of the Lord. When put forth to hear the voice of God the people trembled so much in fear that they thought they would die if they continued to hear the voice of the Lord. This fear showed a respect for the authority of the Lord but now the real test would begin in which they would have to listen to the prophet. However, how will the prophets be kept in check. They are supposed to only say what the Lord tells them to say. But if a presumed prophet claims to speak in the name of the Lord and yet the Lord has not commanded him to do so then that prophet is to be put to death because they are not speaking with authority but with his own mind or for other false gods.
Jesus was one who spoke with the most authority. Everything that Jesus spoke was absolutely from God as he was God. In Mark 1:21-28 the people were amazed because Jesus taught as one with authority. What was even more different for them was that Jesus appeared to be a common peasant of a person yet he spoke as a more learned man than even the teachers of the law. Not only that but an impure spirit that was possessing a man obeyed his authority became silent and left the man upon Jesus’ command. Even though Satan and his demons do all they can to disobey authority and cause us all to sin against authority they have no choice but to obey the authority of God. The only power they have is that of which the Lord allows them to have. Scripture tells us that Jesus is the Word of God and the Word of God has authority. At some point in time in our existence we will all have to answer to that authority whether we want to or not.
The sad thing is that as time has passed humanity has grown farther away from following the authority of scripture. Instead of following the law and accepting discipline we would prefer to take the easy way out and just follow the cultural changes of the day. This prevalent not only in the world but within the Church. It is apparent that rather than be cultural change agents many denominations have decided to give into the cultural changes and have sacrificed obedience for taking the path of least resistance. There is a hug movement to accept homosexuality within the church and many churches have changed their stance of beliefs to accept this within the church and even in church leadership. This is because the whole world is screaming for this even though the Word of God defines homosexuality as a sin. However, it is easier to ignore the authority of God to become more likeable and acceptable to the world than stand out and stand against the sins of the world.
As of right now the Church of the Nazarene has not followed the change in the culture in regards to homosexuality however there is a big push to change that in all denominations if those who wish to obey the authority of God do not do something to stop it from happening. The next thing will be a widespread acceptance of abortion in the Church. Already divorce seems to be a widely accepted norm in churches even though the Word of God says that He hates divorce.
30-40 years ago, the creation account in Genesis was accepted by most of the church denominations. There were some since the 1700’s that accepted a gap theory of millions of years as long as God was acknowledged as the creator.
However, since the 90’s the theory of evolution has creeped its way in to the church as a viable explanation of creation. Again the “theology” is that as long as God did it then there is not a problem. Obviously, none of us were there so how can we know for sure that God did not use evolution in his creation process? How can we be sure that God did not use millions of years in his creation? Here is the problem with these questions and theories. We have an authority before us in which we can read that God created the earth and everything in the universe in 6 days. When we choose to allow our theology to wander from what scripture says then we are claiming that God does not have the authority but Man in the authority. God even tells us that there was evening and morning signifying a “Day” and even calls the days by number. He even separated the light from the darkness with the sun and the moon to show us a timeline of day and night. Unfortunately, this theology of as long as God did has gradually become the stance of the Church of the Nazarene for the past 30 years. Somewhere along the way the Church decided to ignore the authority of God in order to keep peace with the rest of the world and we use scripture out of context to defend these positions.
In 1 Corinthians 8 Paul talks about eating food that was sacrificed to idols. He explains that as believers we have knowledge to know that there is only one God and one Lord. Therefore, eating such food sacrificed to idols does not make us better or worse. The only issue is when it comes to others without such knowledge and if we become a stumbling block for them by eating this food. The same thing goes with other things in the world. Television for example is one of these things. In of itself the television is not good or bad. However, there is good or bad content. If we are not strong enough to understand this then it is better not to watch the content of television for it not to be a stumbling block for us. Much of the content of television has an agenda to lead us away from the authority of God and the reason for that is for more control and for more money.
Science in itself is not a bad thing. Science gives us medicine and it helps to understand the systems of the world and how they work. However, the world is continually trying to use science to explain away God and therefore it is used to challenge the authority of God. When used in accordance to the authority of scripture science is a very positive thing.
I love the Church and I love the Church of the Nazarene. It is my hope and prayer that the church can be led back to respecting the authority of scripture. I speak of what I speak about the authority of scripture from first hand experience. In my early teen years, I questioned the authority of God and a big part of that was because of the watered-down theology about creation. I was led to believe that it was ok to believe in something different than what the bible. This meant that the bible was not the authority of God and therefore I could have been taught a lie for all my life. Once I began to develop my own relationship with God, he started to reveal to me his authority that is found in his Word. I fear though that if we continue on our current trajectory with the culture then when Christ returns, he will not be pleased with what he sees in the Church. The bottom line is that whether or not we treat the Word of God as the authority in which we should follow, believe, and adhere to we will still one day have to answer to that authority. The truth is still the truth, it is absolute and it never stops being the truth. My prayer for us is that we stop this trajectory of ignoring and disrespecting authority and begin to live for it and defend it instead.