are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will
tremble to take us."
when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast
say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name
that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him...
the kings of the earth, and...every free man, hid themselves in the dens
and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks,
Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne,
and from the wrath of the Lamb:
Christ is Lord... so what? That's not just a skeptic's retort, that is a
self-test question professing Bible believers can benefit from asking themselves.
what was different about my life today because I believe Jesus is Lord?
What did those differences say to others about Jesus? What did those differences
say to Jesus about me?
The disappointing truth
behind asking what difference belief in Christ makes is how little belief
some believers have. Nonbelievers must think it quite hypocritical that
people who say a sovereign God came to earth and shared three years of instruction
"have no time" to study and have marginal desires to obey those
teachings. (This is especially incredible knowing some of the things for
which those people do make time.) Those nonbelievers would be right!
It doesn't matter what
the excuses are; understanding them would not excuse hypocrisy. What would
be helpful, and what might instead preserve a believer's integrity, is understanding
the authority of God. Let's look more closely at God's authority in terms
of it being:
1. the key to our
2. the key to helping
us learn and obey his Word,
3. the key to loving
4. the key to properly
responding to "So what if Jesus is Lord?"
1.2 How does authority relate to salvation?
the half-brother of Jesus, sharply illustrates that there is much more to
salvation than knowing who God is, or believing that he exists. It is noteworthy
this comes from James because although he knew Jesus longer than most of
Jesus' companions, James did not come to faith until after the resurrection.
You believe that
there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that - and shudder.
(James 2:19 NASB)
(angels who sided with Satan in his rebellion against God) clearly know
the truth about God, yet Scripture states those same demons will be thrown
into the lake of fire. In pointing this out, James is revealing to us
that merely believing God exists neither makes us good nor guarantees us
the demons refused to acknowledge, and what we must, is that God alone is
the true supreme authority. Salvation is not a matter of what you
or I know, but it is a matter of God's dominion over life, sin, and death,
and our being positioned in such a way that his life-enriching, death-defeating
dominion covers us. (more)
1.3 How does authority relate to learning and obeying God's
we are at home, we generally do what we feel like doing. When we are at
work, we generally do what we are supposed to do, or what we are told. The
difference is due to authority. At home we are the authority, but when we
take a job, we have placed ourselves under someone else's authority.
this to God's Word, the two reasons we might not be studying the Bible include
the possibility that we're in conscious rebellion against the obligation
to submit to God's authority, or that we honestly feel we're not under any
obligation to do so.
we feel we're under anyone's authority or not, God has written that everyone
is obligated to study his Word. Mastering the Word is not a matter of feelings
(only studying it when we feel like it, seldom feeling like it, and thus
never mastering it), but a matter of willful submission to believing in
the authority of God and doing what he says. As James further writes,
Do not merely listen
to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
1.4 How does authority relate to loving God?
...You shall love
the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with
all our strength, and with all your mind;...
honest question for a believer to ask from time to time is "How
well or how much do I love the Lord?"
of everything in the Bible about love, no where do I find that we are asked
to tell God we love him. The very first "I love you" in
the Bible is between Samson and Delilah (if you're not familiar with the
account, let's just say the relationship could have ended better). Peter
told Jesus that he loved him, but it was only in answer to the direct question
"Do you love me?" Jesus responded to Peter with something which
Peter could do for him.
response, as well as the rest of Scripture, indicates that love for God,
as far as God is concerned, means obeying him. In other words, to love
God is to submit to his authority. Here are a few verses in which that
is very plainly stated (all NASB):
- If you love Me,
you will keep My commandments. (John
- He who has My
commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me;... (John
- The one who says,
"I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar,
and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love
of God has truly been perfected... (1 John 2:4-5a)
- For this is the
love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not
burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world;... (1
the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, it is explained
that different people interpret or receive love in different ways. Although
his book focuses on men and women, it helps illustrate and explain how and
why there is a right way to show love for God. The right way, per the scriptures
quoted above, is to follow God's instruction.
married man might dearly love his wife, but he knows (or learns) that an
anniversary gift of high-quality rebuilt auto parts is not the way to show
it. It won't register. She won't get it. As far as most new brides are concerned,
it doesn't say "I love you". Similarly, our intentions don't register
with God unless we are using his language of love - obedience. It is not
enough to say "I love you Lord" without actually doing something
he has commanded.
the Bible is full of specifics on what God commands, only one example is
needed now - on loving one another. Loving one another is a fantastic way
to start showing God you love him:
If someone says,
"I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does
not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not
seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God
should love his brother also.
John 4:20-21 NASB
How does authority answer the question "So what if Jesus Christ is
is a story of a young soldier who was brought before Alexander the Great
for disciplinary action. The young man was not in deep trouble until he
mentioned that he, too, was named Alexander. That man was then punished
severely for his minor offense. Alexander the Great explained, "Anyone bearing
my name is going to have to act in a manner worthy of it." So
it is with Christ.
anyone who follows Christ, Christ commands them to walk as he walked.
Scripture reveals that every follower of Christ will be held accountable
to submit to his Word. Therefore, having a fruitful and demonstrable relationship
with Christ is again not a matter of the intellect or of feelings, but of
willful submission to believing in and acting under the authority of God.
in mind that one
purpose of the Bible is to enable us to please God. The means of pleasing
God is to know God. And knowing God is only evidenced by this: by believing
God, by doing what he commands, and by acting under his authority. Christ
summarizes what our actions should be as the two greatest commandments:
'Love the Lord
your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your
mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor
as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these. (Mark 12:30-31
we know and feel about the Bible is insufficient to constitute a believability
that is pleasing to God. An acceptable, genuine belief in God's Word requires
a positive acknowledgment of God's authority. That authority is the subject
of these final three sections. These examine:
and his authority, so that we may know more about him and know
that he has authority,
authority of God's Word, to see how the authority which God does
have is translated into the vehicle of the Bible and which characteristics
of his it reflects, and
relationship between ourselves and God's authority as expressed
in the Bible in order to learn how we can translate God's communicated
authority into the purposes for which God intended.
NEXT: The authority of
The authority of the Bible
Biblical authority and humanity