Last week I introduced the topic ‘The Bible our final authority.’
In the article, I discussed four common responses people usually do when they are faced with problems in life. I refer to these four responses as escapism, cynicism, humanism and supernaturalism as common crutches on which people lean.
Unfortunately, none of these is an acceptable final authority. There can be no more reliable authority on earth than God’s Word, the Bible. This timeless, trustworthy source of truth holds the key that unlocks life’s mysteries. It alone provides us with the shelter we need in times of storm.
If I could have only one wish for God’s people, it would be that all of us would return to the Word of God, that we would realise once for all that His Book has the answers. The Bible is the authority, the final resting place of our cares, our worries, our grief’s, our tragedies, our sorrows, and our surprises. It is the final answer to our questions, our search. Turning back to the Scriptures will provide something that nothing else on the entire earth will provide.
Psalm 119 speaks of a person who knows what it means to experienced hurt. The person needs help outside of himself. The specifics may be different from what I’ve described thus far, but the person is no stranger to suffering. The person is going through a hard time. He says, “My soul languishes for thy salvation; I wait for thy word (v.81).
In other words, “I wait for the truth of Your Word to come to pass, Lord. I wait for help to return. I wait for the promises to become a reality. I wait for the wisdom to take shape and to make sense in my life.” That’s what the psalmist means when he writes, “I wait for Your Word.” Notice he waits for God’s Word, not human reasoning, not his own feelings, and not for a chance to get even.
Let’s read on: “My eyes fail, looking for your promise; I say, “When will you comfort me?” (v. 82). God’s assistance is not always immediate. He doesn’t come swiftly every time we cry out for help. Most Christians I know are currently “longing for God’s word” to bring needed relief in at least one major area of their life. The psalmist goes on to say, “The arrogant dig pitfalls for me, contrary to your law. All your commands are trustworthy; help me, for men persecute me without cause. They almost wiped me from the earth, but I have not forsaken your precepts.
In verses 89 and 90, the psalmist goes on to say, “Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth, and it endures. And finally, verses 92. I love it! “If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.”
Isn’t that the truth! If we hadn’t had the eternal foundation of the Book of God on many occasion, our life would have been finished.
In a world of relativism, the Bible talks in terms of right and wrong, good and bad, yes and no, true and false. In a world where we’re encouraged to do it “if it feels good,” the Bible addresses that which is sinful and holy. Scripture never leaves us with a bewildered look on our faces, wondering about the issues of life. It says, “This is the way it is. That is the way it is not to be. This is the way to walk; do not walk there.” It tells us straight. It provides the kind of solid foundation we need today.
It is one thing to affirm that the Bible claims to be the word of God. It is another thing to be convinced that those claims are true. Our ultimate conviction that the words of the Bible are God’s words comes only when the Holy Spirit speaks in and through the words of the Bible to our hearts and gives us an inner assurance that these are the words of our Creator speaking to us.
Just after Paul has explained that his apostolic speech consists of words taught by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:13), he says, “The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). Apart from the work of the Spirit of God, a person will not receive spiritual truths and in particular will not receive or accept the truth that the words of Scripture are in fact the words of God.
But for those in whom God’s Spirit is working there is recognition that the words of the Bible are the words of God. This process is closely analogous to that by which those who believed in Jesus knew that his words were true. He said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). Those who are Christ’s sheep hear the words of their great Shepherd as they read the words of Scripture, and they are convinced that these words are in fact the words of their Lord.
It is important to remember that this conviction that the words of Scripture are the words of God does not come apart from the words of Scripture or in addition to the words of Scripture. It is not as if the Holy Spirit one whispers in our ear, “Do you see that Bible sitting on your table? I want you to know that the words of that Bible are God’s words.” It is rather as we read Scripture that we hear our Creator’s voice speaking to us in the words of Scripture and realise that the book we are reading is unlike any other book that it is indeed a book of God’s own words speaking to our hearts.
By Rev. Eric D. Maefonea