God’s Word is Authoritative

Last time we looked at the power of God’s word, in creating the world and controlling the world through God’s spoken word. Today I’ll explore how God’s word is authoritative. Unfortunately for too long some teachers/preachers/scholars have understood and thought of God’s word as only power. However, God’s word is also language. Why is this important? If God’s word is only power but not language, then it cannot speak authoritatively to us on a personal level. Which is exactly what liberal theology is about today, a word without authority.

Look again at the creation story and you’ll see God’s word had meaning and authority, not just power. God didn’t just bring all things into being, God also named them… light God called “day”, darkness God called “night.” On five separate events of creation, God calls created things by the names He gave them. When God controls the course of nature it is not only powerful, but also wise (Psalm 104:24).

So, here’s the thing.

God’s spoken word, (meaningful speech), is authoritative over all His creatures. Remember, because God is LORD, His speech is authoritative, and His creatures are obligated to obey Him. We can really only do this correctly when we believe Him. The entirety of Scripture is the story of how God speaks, and how man responds to what God says… either in obedience, or rebellion.

The Fall… demonstrates the first humans disobeying God’s word, and the consequences which result. Yet, over and over and over, time and again, God continues to send His word into the world to communicate with mankind.   Sometimes people do hear, believe, and obey: Noah built an ark, Abram left his home country to become the father of many nations. And other times people disobey God’s authoritative word and suffer extreme consequences. So the main question is whether people will hear, comprehend, believe God’s word at authoritative, and be obedient.

Let’s not leave out the New Testament version of this truth.

Matthew 7:26
Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.

For those living in the world today the words of Jesus must be our foundation. We are to hear them, read them for ourselves, understand them, believe them, and act obediently to what they convey. Here’s a short list of the authoritative words of Jesus to live by:

Matthew 7:21-29
Mark 8:38
Luke 8:21; 9:26
John 5:24; 6:63, 68; 8:31, 37, 43, 47; 12:47-50; 14:10, 15, 21, 23-24; 15:3, 7, 10, 14; 17:6, 14, 17 1 Timothy 6:3-4
1 John 2:3-5; 3:22; 5:2-3;
2 John 6; and
Revelation 12:17; 14:12

Simply put, to be a true Christ-follower, to be a genuine person of faith, means that we come under the meaningful, authoritative word of God the Father, Jesus the Son, and all those prophets and apostles who recorded that word through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Surrendering to the authoritative word of God means we believe it, and act in obedience to it.

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God Acts in His Decrees

We’ve made a good start at discovering how God acts in this world through miracles, providence, and creation.  His Lordship is demonstrated in real time now, through the beginning of time in creation, and all the way back to eternity past.  The Lordship of God in eternity past is best seen through His eternal decrees.

I mentioned the Westminster Shorter Catechism before.  Listen to what it says about God’s decrees:  (they are) “…His eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby, for His own glory, He hath fore-ordained whatever comes to pass.”

This supports our earlier discovery, that God controls everything.  Stated this way though, we see that this control is the evidence of a plan, and the Bible calls it “his counsel, or the thoughts of His own heart.”  It seems even on a cursory reading of scripture that God has already thought this thing through.  Knows every possible nuance of every possible decision of every person who has lived, is living or will live.  And because He has a PLAN (reason, goal, and purpose for everything)… God is able to make “all things work together for good.” [Romans 8:28; Ephesians 1:11]

Let’s read how God’s plan goes back before time into eternity past…

Psalm 33:11
The counsel of the LORD stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation.

Psalm 104:24
O LORD, how many are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all; The earth is full of Your possessions.

Isaiah 37:26
Have you not heard? Long ago I ordained it. In days of old I planned it; now I have brought it to pass, that you have turned fortified cities into piles of stone.

Matthew 25:34
Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

1 Corinthians 2:7
No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.

Ephesians 1:4
…just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. 

Ephesians 3:11
…also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will…

 

Please don’t miss the most significant and wonderful truth of Ephesians 1:4.  Jesus Christ the LORD chose me… chose YOU… before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before Him!!!  It was the PLAN.  It was the PURPOSE.  It was the GOAL.  It was the RESULT of all He decreed from eternity past!

So, in all the ways that God acts, [miracles, providence, creation, and decrees] He is LORD of ALL, and LORD throughout time.

Another way the Bible teaches us about God, and pretty clear and directly, is by describing what God is like.   The Bible’s many descriptions of God are intended to help us get past all the theoretical (theological mumbo jumbo) evidence, to see and know Him personally.

Next time, we’ll dig into the names, images, and attributes of God revealed to us through the Bible.

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God Acts … in Providence

If the definition of “miracle” is defined as God working in extraordinary ways, then “providence” is God working in ordinary ways.  However, the line between these two distinctions is not always that clear.  Miracles seem magnificent to us, but providence can also be amazing.  The Westminster Shorter Catechism defines providence like this:

“His most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing of all His creatures and all their actions.”

In short, this means God either allows or designs everything that happens.  Where do I get this idea?  Focus here on the word “ALL” in this definition of providence, because God’s control of His world is comprehensive and all-inclusive.

Providence carries with it these three concepts:  preserving, revelation, and concurrence.

God’s PRESERVING can mean a variety of things but according to scripture must include:

  • that this earth could not continue to exist without God’s permission
  • that Jesus holds everything together [Colossians 1:17]
  • that God is holding off His final judgment until all He knows will be saved, are saved [2 Peter 3:5-9]
  • that God preserves His people from death or destruction at many points during this earthly life [Genesis 45:5]
  • even though death will come to us eventually, in death God continues to preserve us [Psalm 16:10]
  • ALL this happens as God directs the course of nature and history to a preordained goal [Ephesian 1:9-11]

God’s REVELATION is not mentioned in the Catechism above, but is important for us to note, because:

  • everything that happens reflects (reveals) God’s wisdom (Psalm 104:24; Proverbs 8:22-36]
  • God’s Word directs (reveals) all things [Psalm 147:15-20; 148:5-8]
  • the heavens themselves declare (reveal) God’s glory
  • in all this God’s invisible nature is clearly in view (revealed) {Romans 1] as He makes Himself known to us.

CONCURRENCE then refers to God’s working in even the smallest events of nature and history to bring about (according to the Catechism) ” the cooperation of the divine power with all subordinate powers, according to the pre-established laws of their operation, causing them to act and to act precisely as they do.

Huh?

Think of it this way.  When plants germinate, they are carrying out the natural law God designed for them.  This is true.  However, the doctrine of concurrence demonstrates that God is also working in, with, and through these laws to achieve His own ultimate preordained goal [Ephesians 1:9-11].  This means that even when a sparrow falls to the ground [Matthew 10:29], this event will never occur unless it fulfills God’s preordained goal.  It also means that God knows the numbers of hairs on each of our heads [Matthew 10:30].

God is working both in heaven and in everything that happens in nature and history.

So here’s the thing.

Providence (in the same way we looked at miracles, fits the original threefold picture of: control, authority, and presence.

In providence God controls everything, reveals Himself authoritatively, and is present and active in the world He made.

Next time we will look at how God acts in Creation.

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