As we live our lives we all have a final authority for the way we live them. For some the final authority is themselves. For some it is their church or religion. For some it is someone who is highly respected. For the true New Testament Baptist it is the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures. What we choose to make our authority determines the way we live our lives.
Even though many Christians give lip service to the Bible being their final authority, few make it so. There may be a variety of reasons for this. I recently spoke to a person that said they trust their Sunday school teacher and pastor for understanding the Scriptures because she had not been taught how to study the Word of God for herself. This makes the Sunday school teacher and the pastor her final authority.
How can the Scriptures be one’s final authority if they are not understood. Christians must be taught how to study God’s Word so they understand it themselves. This is the only way they can truly hide God’s Word in their hearts.
One of the main reasons there are so many who depend on their pastor or Sunday school teacher for understanding is because too many of the teachers say things like, “in the Greek this really means…” How many ordinary Christians have the ability to read and understand the Greek? How many teachers who say this kind of thing can read and understand the Greek? I can tell you from experience that very few of either have the knowledge necessary to say how the Greek should be translated. This is why God has given us His Word in our own language.
I do know that it would be very difficult to bring together a group of more that fifty scholars today who could match the qualifications of those who translated the King James Bible. Many of the KJV translators could read and write elegant Greek and Hebrew by the time they were eight to ten years old. They also knew the sister languages which helps in the understanding of the words used. The fact that I speak French helps clarify the meaning of English words that have Latin or French origins.
Another reason that many who claim the Bible as their authority don’t really make it their authority is that they have not read it for themselves. They have depended upon what others have told them it says. What people say the Bible says is not always what it says.
Just reading the Bible is not enough. For example, many say that Revelation 1:3, promises a blessing for just reading the Word of God. But what does this verse actually say? It says, “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.”
You will notice that the promise of blessing is not just for reading. The blessing requires three things. It must be read to find out what it says. It must be heard or understood. It must be kept or put into practice. All three are necessary for blessings to come. The blessings come from the keeping more than from the reading.
A third reason that many don’t make the Bible their final authority is that when the Scripture does not say what they want it to say, they will try to find a way to say that it does not mean what it says. One of the main examples I see among Bible believing Baptists relates to what is said in Titus Chapter two concerning women being “keepers at home.” I have heard good men change this to say “keepers of the home.” That is not what it says, nor is it what it means. Without getting into a long dissertation on this just let me say that it means just what it says. If you want the full implication, it means to be physically present to guard the home. One lexicon actually uses the example of a guard dog. The dog cannot guard my home if he is always gone to guard the home of someone else.
The following three passages of Scripture tell us why the Word of God should always be our final authority.
Proverbs 21:30 says “There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD.”
No one has more or better wisdom than God. No one has better understanding of creation and what is best. No one’s counsel can stand before Him. God is always right and anyone that disagrees with Him is always wrong.
Jeremiah 10:23 “O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.”
This tells us that we are not able to direct our own steps. We need God’s word to guide us through the snares of this life. Satan is subtle and has thousands of years experience to use in deceiving us. Who do we think we are? We need God’s word to guide us.
In Psalms 37:23 we are told, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.” A good man is a man who seeks God’s counsel in all things. His steps are ordered by the Lord.
There are two ways the phrase “he delighteth in his way” can be understood. It could mean that the good man delights in his way when he allows his steps to be ordered of God. It could also mean that God delights in the way of a good man who allows his steps to be guided by the Lord. It depends on the antecedent of the pronoun “he.” Either way, it is a good thing to have one’s steps ordered by the Lord.