In this series we have seen that: God is the Supreme authority over all creation and all mankind; angelic powers reluctantly serve God but hold sway over the lost people of the world; Christians willingly live for God in the midst of this fallen world; the rest of humanity are lost, enslaved to sin, and without hope—seeking their own desires. However Jesus Christ offers freedom from sin as well as eternal life to all who repent of their ways, believe in Him, and follow Him. So, if we are to serve God/Christ as our authority, how do we know what He wants from us?
God’s Authority Revealed—in Time
While God created everything in the beginning, intervened in human history and revealed Himself to individuals over time through His words and through events, it was not until around 3400 years ago that God began to reveal Himself through written texts to His people.
God’s Authority Revealed—By God
God spoke to Moses in several ways: incarnationally, audibly as a voice,[5 ] and internally (by the Spirit of God). God at times dictated to Moses what to write, but at times God inspired Moses to write by the Holy Spirit working through Moses’ mind and thoughts so that every word God wanted written was written down in the original documents. This is how God worked with later writers of Scripture as well, but for the most part God’s later revelation was more often internal and/or audible—all being Holy Spirit inspired communication—with the exceptions of various prophetic visions in the OT, Christ’s teachings in the Gospels and John’s visions in the book of Revelation. In this manner all Scripture was and is inspired by God, without error when written down, and is therefore God’s word. This is how God has chosen to communicate His will to His people—with each generation copying, translating, and disseminating these documents for the sake of spreading God’s word among the people of the world.
God’s Authority Revealed—to Moses
Moses wrote the origins accounts in the book of Genesis while in the Wilderness of Sinai. This is the first book of the Hebrew Scriptures—what Christians now understand as the Old Testament. Here God revealed to Moses (and all humanity) previously unknown information about the origins of life and also corrected traditions which humanity had remembered incorrectly. God revealed: Himself as Creator-God; as well as the order of government that He imposed upon His creation. He told of how He delegated His authority and purpose to His creatures to rule over His creation. God set in order all that exists, in Genesis chapters 1 and 2, and began His plan for humanity within that order. Moses wrote the accounts of the Exodus and God’s covenant of Law, the priestly Laws of Leviticus, the wanderings accounts in Numbers, and the restatement of the Covenant in the form of a Suzerainty treaty in the Book of Deuteronomy—all written to reveal God’s will for His people Israel.
God’s Authority Revealed—to Human Authors
Throughout Biblical history, God inspired many authors to write 66 different books in two Testaments over the span of 1500 years, which are the entirety of God’s revelation to mankind (i.e. the Scriptures). God’s scriptural revelation to humanity ceased ca. AD 95 with the writing of John’s Apocalypse which describes the future return of Christ to rule the earth. The Jews had recognized the authority of the OT books long before the 1stcentury AD, but formally recognized them by AD 90. Jesus and the New Testament authors recognized these same OT books as Scripture as well. The New Testament books, which we have today, were read as Scripture by the early churches from the beginning—being widely recognized by the end of the first century. However a few other writings were debated and ultimately considered by all not to be Scripture. The NT books were officially recognized at the council of Carthage in A.D. 397. The criteria for affirming these books as Scripture was four-fold: 1) The book was written/affirmed by a recognized apostle or by an associate of a recognized apostle, 2) the book’s message was true and consistent with the rest of Scripture, and 3) early Christian Churches universally accepted the book as God’s authoritative word (Scripture). Much later, the Catholic Church considered the apocryphal books (between the testaments) to be scripture. However the early churches never affirmed them. Various other writings have been considered by the religions of this world to be God’s authoritative word to them such as the Koran, Book of Mormon, Catholic church encyclical pronouncements, Vedas, Upanishads, Pali Canon, etc., but these human documents are not God’s inspired word to His people.
God’s Authority Revealed—to Humanity
God’s words express His will and in their original documents the text(s) convey His word(s) and will to those who read or hear them spoken. As creator, God’s words are authoritative over all he created—thus all of Humanity. The only standard(s) of righteousness are those God the Father has revealed in the Scriptures. The Bible traces the actions of God in creating and, over time, relating to His created beings as they either: A) rebel against His authority and standards of behavior and thus reject relationship with Him, or B) subject themselves to His authority and His standards of righteousness, and thus seek proper relationship with Him through faith. Since God knew from the beginning that His people Israel would not be able to keep those standards (i.e. the Law), He had already planned a way for His standards to be met—through the atoning death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus. The Bible explains to us God’s standards of righteousness and His plan of how to have a proper relationship with Him in and through Jesus Christ alone.
The Bible, and the Bible alone, is God’s authoritative word to His creatures. It is the only message which is inspired by God’s Spirit, and which is our authority for faith and practice in this world. Coming next—The Bible: God’s Authority Understood.
On the exclusivity if the Christian faith, see John 14:6, John 3:16-17 & 3:36, Acts 2:38, Acts 4:10-12, Rom 1:1-6, Rom 10:9, 1 Tim 2:5, 1 Tim 6:3-4, 2 John 1:7-9; Speaking of the exclusivity of the Bible/Scriptures—2 Tim 2:15, 3:16;