The real measure of the authority of Scripture in my life is not the respect I have for the Bible but the response I have to it.
Many folk bemoan the rising level of biblical illiteracy in our day. Allusions to biblical texts or stories fall increasingly on deaf ears. People just don’t get it. Even more, we no longer know what the Bible teaches on very basic issues. While we have more versions, translations, and study tools than ever before, we see a steep slide into a medieval-like abyss of ignorance.
But shallow knowledge of Scripture marks only part of the challenge we face. The “authority of Scripture” has suffered enormous erosion as well. We may know little of the Bible, but do we respond to the little we know?
If I listen to a friend’s advice but do nothing with it, they have no “authority” in my life. I may like them and think highly of them. But authority is something I grant. Authority is my specific choice to come under their influence.
Similarly, if I refuse to submit to the Word of God, it has no authority in my life. If I respond only when it is convenient or agreeable, then I “use” the Bible rather than allow God to use it to guide me. I seize control. My power usurps its authority.
In any culture that lacks common moral authority, the outcomes are predictably diabolical. “Everyone does what is right in their own eyes.” And this inevitably breeds chaos, division, confusion, dissension, calumny, and disaster. Everywhere we look, we can see the fruit of being morally rudderless.
Historically, the Bible has served as the common authority. God’s Word has provided stability, certainty, and Truth to a world otherwise inclined. But no longer.
Many of us will speak of “biblical authority” but mean simply that we have high regard for it (and others should too), not that we have a profound response to it.
If we could administer some kind of “biblical authority litmus test” to our lives, would it read favorably? Our failure to read, memorize, discuss, and apply Scripture might suggest something less than comfortable about us.
Respect or response? What’s happening with the Word in our lives today? May it find deeper root and as much response as respect.
Because of Grace.