As we continue our foundational series through these newsletters, we engage a very important point in this series. In fact, it is more than likely the place where every area of dispute or concern that we may face in this life can be alleviated. How we view the Bible and it's authority through the Holy Spirit changes everything in the Christians life.
Foundations Material - The Authority of Scripture - Pastor Gerald Martin
Closely related to the Lordship of Jesus are the Authority of Scripture and the Power of the Holy Spirit. In fact one cannot really separate them but for the sake of understanding we need to look at each one separately. II Timothy 3:16 says that, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness that the man of God may be adequate equipped for every good work.”
Here the Apostle Paul is writing to Timothy, emphasizing the divine nature of the written Word of God. He has just explained to him that in the last days difficult times would come. Men would be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revelers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, irreconcilable, malicious gossips and etc. In verse 5 of chapter 3, he says that they would hold to a form of godliness but deny the power and that he should turn away from such persons. Then in verse 7 he goes on to say that they will always be learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
I believe we are living in the days Paul describes in these verses. There is obvious moral confusion within our society and even in the church. At one time sin was sin.It doesn’t seem to be that way anymore. There are those who are purposing that the Bible is no longer the standard of moral behavior. According to some modern day theologians even homosexual practice is not sin. Using the same logic neither is prostitution and sex acts with animals considered to be sin if done in love. I know that sounds pretty bizarre but it represents the kind of heretical conclusions that are being circulated not only in our society but also in the church today.
What makes this so serious is that it undermines the high view of Scripture that the true church has held from the time of the early church we read about in the Bible. The only way possible to justify such deviant behavior is to either grossly misrepresent the clear teaching of Scripture or drastically undermine its authority. Those who sanction and promote the so-called gay Christian lifestyle end up doing both. While claiming to be Christian they revise the message and in so doing distort the truth of Gods Word. It is an example of ever learning but never coming to the knowledge of truth.
To declare that Jesus is Lord and not maintain a high view of Scripture is highly contradictory. Living under the Lordship of Jesus requires us to submit to the authority of His Word. Otherwise there is no standard by which we can measure our lives and examine our beliefs. And if there is no standard everyone is left to do what is right in his own eyes.We believe and teach that God has given us absolute moral standards for guiding our lives. He doesn’t leave us to figure it out for ourselves. While we have the freedom to reject and rebel against the standards he has set we cannot escape the consequences.
The Bible is to us what a framing square, level and measuring tape is to a carpenter.Without these basic tools a carpenter would have a difficult time building a house. I guess it would be possible to guess at the measurements and eyeball what is level, straight or square but the lack of a standard would be obvious in the end. It is hard to imagine what a house built without any building standards might look like when finished.
In the same way it becomes quite obvious when people try to build their lives apart from the standard outlined in God’s Word. It is just as important for us to have standards for building our life as it is for building a house. If we don’t believe that the Bible as God’s Word is the standard, we have nothing to measure by to know if we are truly living in the truth. If there are no absolutes then truth is whatever a person determines it to be. In sharp contrast to that we believe that the Bible provides clear, objective, absolute truth that shapes our beliefs and provides a standard for our behavior.
When, we believe in and accept the authority of Scripture we also have a firm foundation for effective ministry. We can declare what it says without apology and without being intimidated by those who question it’s authority.Actually our task is not to defend the Bible but to simply preach, teach and live it. It is impossible to be equipped for every good work like the Bible instructs us without being confident that it’s true. I don’t think I have ever met anyone who questions the authority of the Scripture that is actively involved in leading people to faith in Christ. Unbelief and evangelism simply don’t go together.
As part of Cornerstone you need to know that we hold a high view of Scripture. If the Bible says it we believe it and that settles it.Actually, as I heard the late Dr. George R. Brunk II say once, “If the Bible says it, that settles it whether we believe it or not.” We will be judged by what it says not by what we think it should say. Those who attempt to revise the Scripture to allow for sinful practices that are clearly forbidden by God only add to the spiritual confusion that is so prevalent today.
Rather than making excuses for sin we must constantly be examining our lives in light of Scripture. If there is a discrepancy between what the Bible says and what I experience the answer is not to change the Scripture but to change my experience. The Lord revealed to me early in my ministry that the challenge for us is to always be bringing our experience up to the level of Scripture rather than lowering the Scripture to the level of our experience. However, what we need to keep in mind is that it’s a process, a life long process of change from the inside out.
Scripture and the Holy Spirit
The authority of Scripture must always be kept in balance with the power of the Holy Spirit. Much damage can be done where one is emphasized at the expense of the other. The Scripture gives stability to the move of the Spirit and the Spirit gives life to the written words of Scripture. I have said many times that a church that emphasizes only the Scripture tends to dry up, a church that emphasizes only the Spirit tends to blow up, but what God wants is for his church to emphasize both the Scripture and the Spirit so it can grow up.
A church may have sound doctrine. It may even pride itself on being a Bible believing church but without the Holy Spirit it is simply dead orthodoxy.In a situation like this the overall attitude becomes judgmental and condemning. Verses may be used to support rules and regulations that produce bondage rather than freedom in Christ. Instead of seeing the Bible as a standard to measure our own lives we begin to use it as a rulebook to use in beating people over the head. That doesn’t bring life. In II Cor. 3:6 the Bible says the letter kills but the Spirit gives life.
On the other hand, a church that only emphasizes the Spirit opens itself to all kinds of excesses. It is amazing what people come up with in the name of “the leading of the spirit.” I have heard of persons being lead to divorce their spouse in order to marry someone else. A more bizarre example is two unmarried people being so spiritual that sexual intimacy becomes a holy expression of their Christian love for one another. In cases like this they may be lead by a spirit but it is most certainly not the Holy Spirit. We can be assured that the Holy Spirit will never lead anyone to violate the clear teaching of Scripture.
Here at Cornerstone we have tried to keep our teaching on the authority of Scripture and the power of the Spirit in balance. As a result it seems we have attracted people with traditional backgrounds looking for more freedom as well as those from charismatic backgrounds looking for more stability. I believe the Lord has honored our desire for balance and has protected us over the years from both drying up and blowing up.Instead we have been able to grow up. However, it hasn’t been without pain. We have certainly been tested and tried in the process, but having stayed the course we are experiencing the fruit of righteousness just like the Scripture promised we would.
Here at CCM we believe and will teach the Bible as the absolute Word of God that is meant to apply to every area of our lives. We will teach it unapologetically because it is the Word of God that has the power to heal me, help me, and transform me. We will encourage everyone to allow the Holy Spirit to speak to their lives through the Scripture.
How we view the Bible determines how it will minister into our lives. How each of us respond to the Authority of Scripture and the guidance of the Holy Spirit will determine my Christian life not only here in this life, but also in the world to come.