OUR GREAT SALVATION (5)/ THE DOCTRINE OF THE AUTHORITY OF THE BIBLE/ LORD, ONLY SPEAK A WORD
During the Sunday service, Pastor (Mrs) Silvia Lia Leigh preached a sermon titled Our Great Salvation (5)/The Doctrine of the Authority of the Bible/Lord, only speak a Word. Her text was taken from the Book of Psalms, 2Timothy, and Matthew 8:5-13. “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven” (Ps 119:89). “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 complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16, 17).
THE AUTHORITY OF THE BIBLE
The doctrine of the Authority of the Bible is one of the most important doctrines. This is because we need to be sure of our foundation as Christians. The entire Bible is the Word of God. The Bible is a spiritual, unique, extraordinary, special, and supernatural Book. All other books are written by wise and literary gifted men. Their books are a collection of their ideas and imaginations. But the Bible is different. It is the Word of God!!! The word “Bible” comes from the Greek word ‘biblion’ which means “The Book”. ‘The Bible’ is also known as ‘The Scriptures’ or “God’s Word”.
The Bible is the infallible (perfect, incapable to be wrong) and inerrant (never makes mistakes) Word of God. It is sufficient for all matters of faith and practice. Thru the Bible, God speaks to man. Therefore, the Bible has complete authority over the souls of men. Authority is defined as power to influence, to command thought, opinion, or behavior. Man has limited delegated authority. God has supreme authority over all creation. The Bible demands total submission, faith, and obedience. Without these, the Bible will not ‘open’ to you. No unbeliever loves the Bible. It is only the children of God that love, study, and apply the Bible. God’s supreme authority is given to Christ, the Living Word. This authority is the basis for evangelism and ministry. “Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen” (Mt 28:18-20).
The Bible is the best-selling book of all time. It is impossible to know exactly how many copies have been printed in the roughly 1500 years since its contents were standardized, but research conducted by the British and Foreign Bible Society in 2021 suggests that the total number probably lies between 5 and 7 billion copies. The oldest original Bible known to have existed in this world is safely kept in the Vatican Library since the 15th Century. It is still looking good. The Bible has 66 books, 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. These are written by 40 different authors over a period of 1500 years. The whole Bible is a unit. There is no contradiction in it. You can see the unity of the Spirit in the Bible. The Old Testament is written in Hebrew and the New Testament is written in Greek language. The Book of Psalms is the longest Book in the Bible. The book of Jude is the shortest. The shortest scripture is “Jesus wept” (Jn 11:35). The last word in the Bible is “Amen!” (Rev 22:21). The oldest Book in the Bible is the Book of Job. It was written about 4000 years ago. The Book of Revelation is the most recent Book in the Bible. It was written about 90 AD. The Bible is about 1900 years old in its completed form. The Bible is the most loved and the most hated Book in the universe. It has survived all attempts of men and nature to destroy it. The Roman emperor Diocletian ordered all Bibles destroyed and decreed death for anyone who had copies of the Scripture in his possession. But he failed to destroy the Bible. His adopted son Constantine became the next emperor. He was the first Caesar to officially become a Christian. He made Christianity the law of the Roman Empire. “Kings and kingdoms, shall pass away, but there is something about Your name, Jesus!!!”
Scientific books older than ten years are out of use. But the Bible is still current, and its truth can be applied even after all these thousands of years. In the Bible you find science, history, politics, moral laws, prophesy, poetry, love, and romance. The main story of the Bible is God’s redemption of sinful man thru the Life and Death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The Bible is the Book of the Christians, but it has influenced many cultures all over the world. All countries that have a Christian heritage are more civilized than others, especially concerning human rights.
Man must submit to the authority of the Bible. The Bible is not just a textbook. It is God’s revelation to man. The Bible is not a word of advice. It is the command from the Master. The Bible is not a Friend but a Captain! You need to humble yourself and receive this revelation by faith in God. It is only thru the Holy Spirit man can understand the Word of God. The unbelievers hate and reject the Bible. Even many Christians do not believe that the whole Bible is the Word of God. They take what they like from the scriptures and ignore the rest. Saving faith manifests thru believing the Word of God and not the word of men. Apostle Paul said this: “For this reason, we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe” (1Thess 2:13). These days many Christians do not regard the Bible as the Word of God. They preach and believe a ‘Jesus’ of their own imagination and not the Jesus of the Bible. Men put themselves as the ultimate authority! This is a terrible danger in many churches. What is the solution? We need the Holy Spirit to open the eyes of our understanding to see that the Bible is the Word of God. Ultimately, you need faith to submit to the authority of the Word of God.
The authority of the Bible was central to the Reformation. The Roman Catholic Church believes that the Bible is the Word of God. But they connect its authority with the Church, therefore limiting it. They do not see the Bible as an absolute authority, as God speaking to man. They say that the Bible needs the Church to be interpreted. They do not think that the Church needs the Bible. When Martin Luther became saved, he brought the truth to light. This is how the Reformation started. The Reformers believed that the Bible has an inherent authority because the Holy Spirit moved men to write it. The Bible must be believed for its own sake because it is the inspired Word of God, and it addresses men directly with the authority of God. The Catholic Church said that the scriptures are too difficult for the ordinary Christians. That they need the priests to interpret them. The Reformers said that the scriptures are simple and clear for anyone to read, believe and apply, with the help of the Holy Spirit. They did not deny that there are mysteries in the Bible and that we need Bible commentaries to help us understand the depth of the scriptures. What they are saying is that any man or woman who genuinely seeks God and salvation, will find the reading of the Bible simple enough to be saved, by the power of the Holy Spirit. No one needs the church to be saved. Faith in God’s Word is enough for that. The reason we attend church is so that thru the preaching and teaching of God’s Word we mature spiritually. The written Word is perfect and sufficient for all the spiritual needs of each believer and for the growth of the church. This is a quote from one of the saints of old: “The Bible is a sure guide to eternal life. The prophets and apostles did not speak from themselves but delivered what they received of God. It is profitable for all purposes of the Christian life. It is of use to all, for all need to be taught, corrected, and reproved. There is something in the Scriptures suitable for every case. Oh, that we may love our Bibles more, and keep closer to them! then shall we find benefit, and at last gain the happiness therein promised by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the main subject of both Testaments. We best oppose error by promoting a solid knowledge of the word of truth; and the greatest kindness we can do to children, is to make them early to know the Bible” (Matthew Henry, 1662-1714).
GOD’S WORD STANDS SETTLED IN HEAVEN AND MANIFESTS ON EARTH
“Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven. Your faithfulness endures to all generations; You established the earth, and it abides” (Ps 119:89, 90). “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever” (Is 40:8). God’s Word is like a Rock that cannot be moved. The word ‘settled’ means that the God’s Word is standing like a pillar, secure, established, firmly fixed, and unchangeable in heaven. God’s Word is eternal. It will last for as long as heaven. That means, forever! The word ‘settled’ describes the armies of heaven, all in their position, following the Captain of Salvation. This holy army is orderly and all powerful. It can never fail. The heart of man may be unsettled by the trials of life. Circumstances and seasons change. What Man needs is God’s unchangeable Word! Let that man look up and see the settled eternal all-powerful Word of God in heaven. God’s plan of salvation, and God’s promises are all settled in His mind. The devil may attack on earth, but he cannot touch God’s Word in heaven. Faith in God’s Word in heaven manifests on earth. God is faithful to His word not only from birth to death, but thru all generations of children. The earth was created by God’s Word. By the same Word, creation is sustained and lives for the purpose of God. God is Eternal, Almighty, and Glorious! And so is His Word! Amen!
GOD HAS MAGNIFIED HIS WORD ABOVE ALL
“I will praise You with my whole heart; Before the gods I will sing praises to You. I will worship toward Your holy temple, And praise Your name
For Your lovingkindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word above all Your name. In the day when I cried out, You answered me,
And made me bold with strength in my soul” (Ps 138:1-3). This is a Psalm of King David. He was a true worshipper of God. As he was praising God for His faithfulness and truth, God gave him a special revelation. This scripture may sound confusing at the beginning. It says that God, of His own divine choice, has magnified the Word of His mouth above all His other attributes that compose His name. God’s Word is sovereign above His faithfulness, power, justice, love, and compassion. God’s Word is King! It is exalted above the earth and the heavens, which are the works of His hands. Jesus Christ is the Living Word made flesh. God has exalted His Son above all else. This is an encouragement for us, the believers. Faith in God’s written Word should fuel our prayers. During times of trials, we cry to God like children. As fast as that cry leaves the lips of a child, it is heard in heaven. Immediately, the answer comes down to the earth. God may not remove the burden, but He will immediately give strength into your soul, so that you are able to carry it. This is the holy strength of a true champion. That supernatural strength remains in your heart to the end of your life on earth. Faith in God’s Word and prayer are powerful sources of miracles. Your suffering paves the way to glory! This is the testimony of all true children of God, that God is faithful, and that He answers us when we pray!
MEN WROTE AS THEY WERE MOVED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT
“And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet 1:19-21)
This scripture has been the source of much argument among the Christians. For example, the Roman Catholic Church said that the ‘ordinary’ Christians cannot ‘interpret’ the Bible. They say that only the Church can do that, thru the Popes and the Cardinals. That is why for many centuries the Roman Catholic Christians were not allowed to have their own Bibles. They depended solely on the preaching of the priests, and church attendance was insisted upon. This is the false doctrine of the Catholic Church. After Martin Luther split from the Catholic Church, the Reformation started. The doctrines of justification by faith and the priesthood of all believers were brought to light. The believers were now encouraged to study the Word of God by themselves. Faith in Christ and in the Word is enough for salvation. Many became saved. Like a Light shining in the darkness of empty religion and ignorance, the power of the Gospel manifested once more. Men were ready to die to print the Bibles so that the masses can have access to the scriptures in their own languages. Like a lion let loose from its cage, God’s Word created the greatest revolution in the world. This is the story of the Reformation. The Protestant and evangelical churches were born. Praise the Lord!
What is the correct interpretation of this scripture? The Bible is God’s revelation. It is ‘inspired’ by God! This says that prophecy or the scriptures in general, are not the product of the human writer’s will, wisdom or imagination. For example, Moses, who wrote the first five books in the Bible, he did not sit down to think about writing. These Books are not the product of his wisdom he has gathered in life. Some writers like Jeremiah, were ‘arrested’ by the Holy Spirit, became prophets, and wrote the words even against their will. The Word of God did not originate in the will of man, but it is ‘inspired’. They wrote the truth as it came to them from the Holy Spirit. They did not understand everything they wrote but they were sure that they wrote God’s Words. The Holy Spirit breathe on the writer and helped him to hear and write the exact words. The authors were ‘moved’ by the Holy Spirit who oversaw the writing of the scriptures. The word ‘moved’ means to be lead, to be carried along. It describes a ship with its sails driven along by the wind. The Holy Spirit helped them to write the exact words that He wanted them to do. That is why the scriptures are no longer seen as the words of men, but of God.
THE DOCTRINE OF INSPIRATION OF THE BIBLE
“All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately—behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage]; so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, outfitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16, 17; AMP). The word ‘inspiration’ means ‘God breathes out life’. God breathed on clay and Adam became a living soul (Gen 2:7). In the same way, God breathes on the Bible, and it became the Living Word! Halleluiah!
The word ‘profitable’ means to be useful for advantage. The men who wrote the Bible were inspired by the Holy Spirit. This ‘inspiration’ is not mechanical. The men were not unconscious or in a trance when they wrote the words. The Holy Spirit came on the writer, and worked in accordance with his own character, temperament, gifts and talents, vocabulary, and style. The Holy Spirit illumined his mind to see and understand what God was showing him. The Holy Spirit repressed sin in his vocabulary, prompted him to write, guiding him in the choice of words, protecting them from errors. That is why you see the different style among the authors of each Book in the Bible. The prophets often said: ‘Thus says the Lord…” Many reject the doctrine of the inspiration of the Bible. They see the Bible only as a Book of religion and wisdom. Others believe that the Bible is God’s Word in general, but they do not believe in every word written there.
What then is the true doctrine? The Bible is written by men, but it is 100% the Word of God. God made it in such a way that we cannot separate the words, which one is human, and which one is divine. Therefore, we believe that all the Bible is the inspired Word of God! The Bible is not just a book for “Bible studies’, so that we argue with other about doctrines. We must honor the Bible by trusting and obeying God’s Word!
LORD, ONLY SPEAK A WORD
“Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.” And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.” The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour” (Mt 8:5-13)
This is one of the greatest miracles Jesus had performed. This is the only place where Jesus commends someone’s faith. He did not see or touch the sick man. He spoke the Word from distance and the sick, dying man was healed immediately. This story happened in Capernaum. A Roman centurion came to Jesus, hoping that his beloved servant will be healed. Previously, Jesus healed a leper. Leprosy, seen as being unclean, is a symbol of sin. The Centurion’s servant was paralyzed. Paralysis, because of its total helplessness, was seen also as a symbol of sin. The Centurion believed that Jesus has the power to make his helpless servant well again. Read to the Centurion’s words to Jesus. Two times he calls Jesus “Lord”. He is taking great risk, for as a Roman soldier, Caesar is his only ‘lord’. For calling Jesus ‘Lord’ he is supposed to be killed as a traitor in the Roman army. Faith takes risks… He only gave the information, that his servant is seriously sick… and then, he stopped. He hopes that Jesus will understand his pain. He was right. See how humble, sensitive, and gentle he is before Jesus. He did not immediately ask for the healing. He trusted that Jesus will be willing to heal. Jesus immediately said: “I will come and heal him!” and started moving towards the house of the centurion. It was at this moment that the centurion stopped Jesus and told Him that just a word from His mouth is enough. He said (I paraphrase…): “I have seen what You have done. I have heard Your words. I believe that You can command anything, and it will happen! You are God! Lord, please just say the Word!” Jesus marveled at this man’s words and attitude of faith!
The centurion was a God-fearing man, and a humble man. He has compassion. He loves people and desires to help them. He was thinking himself unworthy to bring Jesus into his house. His humility is a special attribute. The Roman citizens, especially the soldiers, were trained to think that they are better than all other human beings, especially, the Jews, the people they have conquered thru war. As a soldier, he understood authority better than others. He knew that he was a man under authority. Caesar was his supreme commander. As a centurion, he had one hundred soldiers under him. He knew that these soldiers submit to him. His wish is their command. Somehow, he heard of Jesus, that He has the power and authority to heal the sick. He believed that Jesus is God, the Creator, and the Commander of all things. He believes that nothing hinders the power of Jesus, not even distance. He believed the Word of God! “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom 10:17). He believed when Jesus said: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Mt 28:18). He believed that God “worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come” (Eph 1:20, 21). He believed that Christ “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence” (Col 1:15-18). Therefore, Jesus only needs to speak the Word of healing, and the healing will happen! This was ‘a great faith’, appreciated by the Lord. Jesus said that ‘sons of the Kingdom’ will be cast out into outer darkness. He was referring to the Jews, who rejected Him while the Gentiles, like this Roman soldier, believed in Him. Jesus rewarded the faith of the Centurion, and He immediately healed the servant.
In the Roman world a slave does not matter. Master and slave did not have a love relationship. The master had the right to sell or kill a slave who is useless. But this Centurion was different. He had compassion. (By the way, compassion for others is a sure mark of a true leader). Luke tells us that the centurion built a synagogue for the Jews (Lk 8:5-13). It means he knew something about Jehovah God. He was a God-fearing man. By the law of the Pharisees, no Jew was to enter the home of a Gentile. But Jesus was willing to go to the house of this centurion to heal his servant. The appreciation of this Roman Centurion’ faith and the miracle itself were an offence to the religious leaders. The Jews hated the Gentiles, especially the Romans who conquered their land. But Jesus helped this foreigner. The Pharisees hated when Jesus did miracles to the outcasts, to the Gentiles, or to the lepers. This Roman soldier believes that Jesus is God!!! Think of it! Jesus calls it ‘great faith’! His faith was a rebuke to the Jews. That is the reason why the Jewish leaders hated Jesus and eventually they killed Him. Jesus paid with His Blood for our salvation and for all the miracles. Selah! To the Centurion, the word of Jesus brought life, healing, peace, and joy! To the Jewish leaders who rejected Jesus, His words were death. The ‘great faith’ of the Gentiles still offends the Jews, even today. This is a prophetic picture: the Kingdom of God will be full of Gentiles, like me and you! To God be all the glory?
What are the lessons for us? The attitude of the Centurion is a great example for us, as we pray for miracles. He displayed four rare qualities: humility, compassion, spiritual sensitivity, and faith! He came to Jesus, interceding for his beloved servant. He knew that only a miracle can save him. He humbled himself. Face to face with death, men must humble themselves. Suffering should bring us to Jesus! He believed in the Grace and the Power of God. He saw himself as unworthy of the miracle. Even so, he had faith in Jesus and in His Word. This is the secret key of the miracle power of Jesus! We should also know that faith pleases God and will be rewarded by Him. “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb 11:6). Worship the Lord!