It’s one thing to say something is true, it’s another to submit to it. Some people view the Ten Commandments at the ten suggestions. Good principles. Good ideas. Commandment implies authority and accountability. As an example, we may know what the speed limit says, but do we view it as an authority over us or not? It quickly goes from a suggestion to a commandment the moment we see a state trooper. Our instinct is to hit the brakes. Ever do that only to realize that Crown Victoria is being driven by grandma and not Officer Krupke?
The role of the Bible in relationship to the church has also been debated.
The graphic above summarizes the authority structure options. The church over Scripture is an option, although I am unaware of any branch of Christianity that overtly practices this. The church and Scripture as equals is the belief of the Roman Catholic Church and other ancient churches. They call it “tradition,” which means interpretations and teaching decrees over the centuries are viewed as having equal authority with Scripture.
By the time you get to the 16th century, the church being equal with Scripture has produced terrible abuses of authority and even more horrific doctrines. I could list some, but then you would be asking, where is that in the Bible? You are revealing your Protestant DNA. With the Reformation, Protestants began asking about everything, where is that in the Bible? Why? Because we view Scripture as having authority over the church and everything else. If the Bible says it, that’s the way it is.
I remember 20 years ago we were in the process of revisioning our worship services. I was told of someone in the church who wasn’t happy about it. Their friend who related this to me had encouraged them to come and talk to me about it. Their friend said, “what’s the point? He’ll just ask, where is that in the Bible?”
That was one of the nicest things that has ever been said about me. May that continue to be the culture around here. Where is that in the Bible? What does the Bible say? Our instinct must be to first open the Bible to see the truth. Secondly, to view that truth as more important than my opinion or preference.
May I give an example? What if I could open the Bible and show you where it says, during a pandemic, wear a mask? How would you handle that? There are many strong opinions about this, but what if the Bible said that? Would you humbly submit to it? Now you may say, but the Bible doesn’t say that, that’s a terrible illustration! No, but it repeatedly tells us to put others’ needs and interests ahead of our own. How might that apply?
“But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.” (Isaiah 66:2)
A biblical church trembles at God’s Word. Trembles to know it and trembles to obey it.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
© 2020 by Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.
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