Sometimes when speaking of the Bible with a nonbeliever, my conversation with them turns into a question of authority. I, of course, believe that the Bible is entirely inspired by God and his word has ultimate authority over my life, and really, the lives of everyone he has created. The question then becomes, Do we recognize that authority, and if so, do we really obey it?
We see in the Bible that there is a “chain of command” of sorts as far as authority is concerned and it all starts with the creator, God. Jesus, speaking in John 12:48-50 says, “There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”
We see here that even Jesus defers to his source of authority, the Father. But Jesus is not without authority himself. In Matthew 28:18, Jesus spoke saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” God has granted his Son authority and lordship over his creation.
The authority of God is also manifested through his Spirit. In John 16:13-15, we see that the Holy Spirit is given to us, guiding us into a knowledge and understanding of the truth. God has given the Spirit authority to reside within us, teaching and convicting us, creating in us a new heart for God.
The Spirit’s most important job at first was to guide and inspire the writers of the Bible to record God’s word for us after Jesus ascended to heaven. In 2 Peter 1:16-21 we read, “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origins in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
All this leads to our job as Christians today. We have the responsibility and authority to teach the word of God to a lost world. If we speak the truth from God’s word written down by God-inspired writers, we have confidence that what we speak is truth. Just like Jesus before us, we can boldly proclaim the message of God that has been planted in our hearts and bring glory and honor to his holy name.