Authority of Scripture
The authority of scripture has been debated, not only among Christians and non-Christians, but even discussed among denominations that were founded on the collection of books that we call the Bible. If there is a question of the authenticity of the Word of God, then there surely will be a question of obedience to authority that is written in those pages. Some denominations have even taught that portions of the book were true, while other portions could be dismissed as stories, traditions, or good teachings. The true question that should be asked, perhaps, is not the level of authenticity of Scripture, or what particular actions should be exercised, but what do us, as people, believe the Bible says about itself. This question is in direct correlation with a similar question about Christ. At some point, every man, woman, and child must come to some conclusion concerning the claims of Christ and the claims of the Word of God, which narrows the debate to the question of belief. Do we believe that is what the Bible claims to be? Do we believe that Christ is who He claims to be? To discover more about the Word of God and the authority of scripture, take the Authority Bible Quiz.
With all the arguments that swirl about Christ, one final conclusion must be found. Was Christ a liar, or was the One the very Son of God, making Him deity. With the compromise of some religions claiming Christ to be a great prophet, what do you do with what Christ proclaimed about himself? Jesus did not claim to be a prophet from God, or a teacher. In fact, it was Jesus that claimed himself to be sent directly from God for one purpose. Obedience to authority is desired by Christ through His teachings. The book of John records the claims of Christ and His deity. In John 4:26, Christ explains to a woman that He was the promised Messiah. John 5:24 states, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death to life." Here, Christ clearly claims to be the way to eternal life, as in John 14:6, "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." One searching for the truth about Christ is faced with the choice of believing or not. Was He who He said He was? We cannot simply create Him to be a figure or man that fits into a mold that is easy for us to comprehend or accept. If one comes to the conclusion that Jesus Christ is truly the Son of God and the way of salvation, then one must come to conclusions about the authority of Scripture.
In the beginning of the book of John, John makes a dramatic proclamation about Christ and His association with the written Word stating the authority of Scripture. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God." (John 1:1-2) The Greek word used for "Word" is logos. Logos means intelligence that is expressed. John is telling his readers that Christ is the very Word of God, the expression of God's intellect. And when we search further, we find that the Bible is also an expression of who God is and what is desired that we know of Him. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Timothy 3:16-17) Here, the Bible claims to be God inspired. We see in the Bible where men searched the scriptures to determine that the prophecies about the coming Christ had been fulfilled. "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." (Acts 17:11) When searched, we'll find that scripture supports itself and is never contradictory even when describing the people's obedience to authority. Christ even rebukes the religious leaders of His day, telling them that they did not know the scriptures as they should. "Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, not the power of God." (Matthew 23:29) Jesus implies that to know the Word of God is to understand the power of God. Christ gave the scriptures authority. For more topics like this, visit our Bible resources.
So, with evidence from Christ and from the Word, itself, we come to face yet one more question. Does the scripture teach that we are to obey authority completely? The answer is yes. Paul makes an enlightening statement about this obedience in the book of Romans, chapter 6. "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness." (Romans 6:16) What Paul is stating here is that when we do not have obedience to authority in the Word and in Christ, then we are actually being obedient to sin and death. It seems we are faced with a choice again, and not the simple choice of obedience to authority or not, but obedience to what: sin or righteousness.
Free Bible Study ToolsThe free Bible tools that are available because of the growth of the internet are a tremendous blessing for anyone seeking Biblical information. Thanks to the powers of the web, a person can access free Bible study tools anywhere an internet connection is available and at any time of the day or night. For the minister who is researching information for a Sunday sermon, the Bible study leader wanting additional insights on a specific topic, the student working on a research project, or the layperson seeking an online community, this type of access to such a wide range of information is invaluable.
The Bible itself was written over a span of fifteen to twenty centuries (give or take). The book of Job may be the earliest written text, though no one knows for sure. The events of the book probably took place in the patriarchal age, sometime after Noah's Flood. The author is also a mystery. The last written book, Revelation, was penned by the apostle John in 96 A.D. Because Biblical history covers such a huge, and ancient, time span, the use of additional resource materials helps us understand the teachings of Scripture. By using free Bible study tools, we can research Biblical people, their culture and language. All this information gives additional insights into historical events and mysteries.
By consulting maps and an atlas, the student can trace the travels of the Hebrews as they wandered in the desert between Egypt and Canaan during the forty-year exodus. The Sunday School teacher can print out a map showing how the twelve tribes of Israel divided up the Promised Land for her students to color. They can pinpoint the cities of the Levites, who weren't given land of their own, and the cities of refuge where a person accused of murder could find safety. Someone studying the book of Acts can look up exactly where Paul traveled during his missionary journeys.
Most Bibles have a concordance in the back. This is an alphabetical index of words used in the text and where they can be found. Of course, the concordance in a Bible lists the most relevant words and verses. But online concordances and relevant search engines exist that can help the researcher find all the verses where a particular word can be found. This is especially helpful when someone knows part of a verse, but can't remember where it's located. Commentaries provide explanations of the text. These vary in scope and complexity. The shorter ones give details on authorship, the date of the book's events, the date the book was written, historical background, and significant themes and theological teachings. The more complete ones go more in-depth on these features and also give a verse-by-verse analysis of the original language, koine Greek.
A Bible dictionary defines Biblical words, including character and place names. A timeline helps in understanding the dates of a particular book in the context of historical events. For example, placing the dates of the books of Esther, Nehemiah, and Ezra on a timeline with the dates when the Israelites were exiles in Babylon and their return to Jerusalem provides a greater understanding of the historical backdrop of these texts. There are even sites that show the same passage in several different versions. This side-by-side comparison can be very helpful in understanding a difficult passage.
Other free Bible tools include studies, devotions, lessons, and sermons. These cover the gamut from Genesis to Revelation and everything in between. The study guide may be on one particular book or on a specific topic, such as prayer or the miracles of Jesus. A sermon could be on a short passage or on a broad issue like evangelism or stewardship. A person can find just about any kind of study, devotion, reading plan, or lesson for junior church on the internet.
In addition to all these resources and free Bible study tools, the internet also offers interactive opportunities. Forums and message boards give people the chance to discuss inspirational, theological, and Christian living issues. This is a great way to make new friends, to learn about Scriptures, and to share prayer needs. In fact, there are specific message boards devoted to prayer. Other free Bible tools allow people to sign up to have a Scripture verse delivered to their email addresses on either a daily or weekly basis. Imagine beginning one's day with this email greeting: "Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice" (Philippians 4:4). On other sites, a person can design a Christian e-card and send it to a friend. On these sites, a variety of Scriptures, backgrounds, and even music can be combined to create a custom greeting. Screen savers with Biblical themes can be downloaded from some sites.
An ancient and revered text like the Bible has been read, studied, and written about for centuries. Through the internet, we are able to access resources that are hundreds of years old without leaving our homes. Though at one time, this material was stuck in library shelves, now it's as close as an internet-connected laptop. The works are now in the public domain, which means that they are no longer protected by copyrights. Anyone can post them online or quote from them. Some of these resources include the Geneva Study Bible (1599-1560) and the volumes that make up the Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible (early 1700s). Still, the Christian researcher needs to be aware of copyright protection laws and be sure to heed any protections that might apply to a particular work. For example, the New International Version and New King James Version of the Scriptures are protected by copyright.
With such a large variety of free Bible study tools available, every person with internet access, either at home or through the public library system, can research Biblical history, people, culture, and issues. Whether these free Bible tools are accessed for the person's own benefit or to share with others, the commentaries, concordances, sermons, forums, and e-card sites will deepen one's knowledge and understanding of Biblical themes and issues, provide material for teaching others, and open up new avenues for friendship.