Authority of Scripture

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Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn

I was watching a video yesterday (15 June 2021) and the speaker made a good point that there was a time (at least in the States) while people wanted Jesus to return, they were hoping He would prolong His arrival so that they could get married, have children, graduate from whatever school, etc. People were comfortable living in this world. Since 2020, I do not hear people saying they want Jesus to prolong His return for their personal x,y and z.

In a world gone mad more and more people are seeking and asking, “What is truth?” (John 18:38 ESV), yet very few people are accepting the Authority and Truth of God’s Word. The Bible is being distorted, lambasted and outright rejected at record speed.

I have read time and time again that in the Last Days there will be a great falling away, that the Word of God will be traded for lies and that the apostate church and its false prophets will be considered true Christianity. Only now, I am starting to understand what that looks like in real time and place and it is horrifying.

From the time of Israel (Old Testament) until now (New Testament) the Lord has preserved His Word declaring that it will remain forever:

“The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” (Isa 4:7-8). 

Peter cites Isaiah saying, “The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever” (1 Peter 1:24-25).

Jesus, God Himself says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matt 24:35).

God is sovereign and He makes it clear, “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isa 55:10-11).

God will most certainly accomplish His Will and we can either be holy, faithful useful agents/servants of the Gospel or God will continue on with His plan without us by disciplining us, putting us on the shelf, etc.

Both the Old Testament and New Testament affirm that we are NOT to add or take away anything from God’s Word. God’s Word cannot mean, what it did not mean to the original author and audience. Context is indeed king! The Bible is being removed from its original context and this has serious consequences for individuals and for society.

Moses tells Israel in Deuteronomy, “You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you” (4:2) and “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it” (12:32).

While this refers to the prophecy in Revelation, John states, “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book” (22:18-19). 

We alter God’s Word when we cherry-pick what we want to believe and apply. We alter God’s Word when we minimize the reality of hell and the wrath of God that John prophesies in Revelation. We alter God’s Word when we say, “love is love.” At no point in time has the Triune God ever changed His design for marriage. It has always been between one man and one woman. God has never ceased creating biological men and women in His image. We alter God’s Word when we interpret it based on our emotions, feelings and desires.

Peter states, “[N]o prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet 1:20-21). Sin and a low view of Scripture is what is altering God’s Word today in terms of marriage, sex, gender etc.

Let us never forget that sin began with a question, “Did God actually say…?” (Gen 3:1). From the beginning, “the most important strategy in Satan’s war against God, His Christ, and us is to undermine our confidence in God’s word. He does this by means of worldly wisdom. The wisdom of the age will always conflict with Scripture” (G. Cook, Severe Compassion: The Gospel According to Nahum, 2016, p. 57).

What is absolutely amazing about the Fall of Man in Genesis 3 is that “God does not intervene to defend his word” (p. 58). God gave His Word directly to Adam, Adam shared it with Eve. God has given His Word to us in written form, in many different languages and it is up to God’s people to rightly defend, interpret and share the Word.

Scoffers of God’s Word have always existed and will continue to exist. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 is still as relevant today as when Paul wrote it: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the [messenger] of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 

God asks us to choose an authority. It can either be God and His Word or it can be sinful man armed with Satan’s deceptive, destructive and damning wisdom. Make no mistake every person who has lived, is living and will live will be examined by Scripture, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Heb 4:12-13).

May God and His Word be our ultimate authority. I implore you to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you where Satan is seeking to undermine your confidence in Scripture.

Lord God, thank You for the preservation of Your Word. Lord God, I pray that for those who are being swayed and deceived by false teachers and teachings that You will open their eyes and ears to You and to Your Truth. Lord God, strengthen Your people who hold tightly to Your Word. Lord God, impress on us to know Your Word as we guard our hearts and minds. Lord God, may we never take Your Word for granted. May we never become bored or tired of hearing Your Word read, taught and preached. Lord God, thank You that for those who have never heard the Good News of Jesus Christ that they can know You through nature/creation. Lord God, thank You for this reader. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Burning Coals

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you (Pr 25:21-22 ESV).

Love for one’s enemy is a biblical theme that runs from Genesis to Revelation. In this Proverb eat and drink are commands; enemy and heap are participles. It is a fact that we will deal with enemies in this life, but when we heed the command of giving our enemy bread to eat and water to drink we will continuously heap burning coals on the head of our enemy. The concept of heaping coal’s on an enemy’s head is one of pain and shame. The verb reward is related to shalom which is more than just peace, it is the state of being whole.

Paul confirms this when he says, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head” (Ro 12:20.) As in Proverbs 25:21-22 feed and drink are commands. But the motive of Paul is different: “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord'” (Ro 12:19).

When we allow the Lord to deal with our enemies and we trust Him by loving our foes, He will take care of us. This is a mark of the true Christian. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Ro 12:21). Paul commands us to not be overcome by evil as well as to overcome evil with good. This is by no means easy! But we can rest assured that God is indeed a God who wages war on His enemies. While this is NOT popular today, it is true. From Genesis 3 to Revelation 20, there is a theology of holy war in the Bible.

Each day is one day closer to the return of Christ, as such believers need to start practicing what it looks like to love their enemies now. Hostility for Christians is growing by the day. As Philip Ryken says, “The law always reveals the character of the lawgiver” (P. Ryken, Exodus: Saved for God’s Glory,2005, p. 525). As to the character of the lawgiver, “It must also be noted that Jesus’ instruction on the love of enemies (Matt 5:43–47) be read in light of this proverb and that the love of enemy is originally an Old Testament idea that was both enacted and commanded by Jesus” (Duane A. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiasties, Song of Songs, 1993, p 209). The more that we love our enemies and overcome evil with good the more we will be transformed into the image of Christ.

Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Proverbs, Matthew, Romans we are given commands to love God, be holy as God is holy, love our neighbor and to let the Lord take vengeance for His Name’s sake and for the sake of His people. Again, I do not claim this is easy; however, may we start obeying God and His commands. The more that we love our enemies, overcoming evil with good, the more we will be transformed into Christ’s image.

Lord God, it is not easy to love our enemies. I am thankful Lord that loving our enemy does not go hand and hand with reconciliation. Lord God, give us wisdom and discernment when it comes to handling difficult relationships and people. Lord God, help Your Church. Help us to be a people who live in Your strength and not our own. Lord God, may we NEVER forget that You are both a God of Wrath and a God of Love. May we NEVER forget that You are Just, Jealous and Compassionate. May we NEVER take Your mercy and grace for granted. Lord God, it is time for Your called out, set apart, holy people to live LESS like this world and MORE like citizens of Heaven. Lord Jesus, You know I get this wrong ALL the time, I am a sinner saved by grace and I praise You for the gift of salvation daily. Lord God, thank You for this reader. Lead them and guide them as they navigate living in a world that is rapidly changing. Keep this reader connected to You Lord and in all things may they seek You more than the things of this world. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.