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Speaking the Authority of God's Word

Originally submitted in fulfillment of completion of THEO525 at Liberty University.


If we trust the Word of God, then we must also submit to it. In a world that is filled with “my truth’s” there seems to be no definitive way a person ought to live. Well, this is not true for the Christian. As disciples of Christ there is definitely a right way and a wrong way to live. The world is quick to listen to other chosen authorities that confirm the lifestyle they want to live but we cannot pick and choose what we want to believe from the Word of God. Everything in the Bible is in there for the purpose of the glory of God. We were created for God and His glory, so we need to follow what He has to say about the way He wants us to live.

            The first thing we need to look at is the authority of God’s Word – the what and why of its authority.1 Peter 2:20-21 addresses the divine authority of scripture, it says this: “knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation.  For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”[1] While human hands physically wrote down God’s words, they were empowered by God Himself through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, being one part of our triune God has the divine power to speak God’s Word to His trusted people to record His Words and instruction. We can trust that these humans took great care in writing God’s Word because tampering with His words brings great punishment. Revelation 22:18-19 says this, “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.” These are some pretty big consequences for tampering with God’s Word – plagues and their share in the tree of life. If you believe in God and His power and He chose you to write these words, would think this is the perfect safeguard against tampering with the word of God.

            For the Christian, the ultimate authority of scripture is that it is divine – God is the author. We have to trust that because God is sovereign, He can use futile humans to achieve His goal of His written word.[2] The Bible is not a collection of human thoughts, but God’s divine word as a revelation of Himself to His creation.[3] One fact that can give us confidence in this is that both Old and New Testament authors give credit to God for their words. In Jeremiah 1, he repeatedly declares “The Lord said to me”. This sounds like a humble stance giving God the credit where it is due and that Jeremiah, himself is not all powerful for he even admits his own weaknesses.[4] Hebrews 1:1-4 confirms and upholds God as the author of Scripture who spoke through the prophets while also adding that in the New Testament we have also been spoken to by the Son. The third portion of the Trinity was sent down to earth to fulfill the prophecies while also providing teaching. It says this. “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.  He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.”[5] So, the author of Hebrews confirms God speaking through the prophets, then continues on to confirm the authorship and deity of Christ. The author of Hebrews confirms Christ in His deity, omnipotence in upholding the universe, His part in the creation of the world, and His superiority over even the angels in heaven. Christ’s position seated at the right hand of God also confirms His authority in heaven and over creation.

While Scripture itself declares its authority and can be confirmed in its unity and fulfilled prophecy, we can also trust its authority by the Spirit bearing witness to our hearts. Paul said, “But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.”[6] The Bible is filled with some pretty heavy stuff and some difficult things to grapple with which makes it necessary for the Holy Spirit to bear witness to our hearts and minds the full truth of God’s Word. If we have the Holy Spirit bearing witness within us, then we have no reason to doubt the authority it should hold in and over our lives. As a people called to submit to the authority of God, we are also called to submit to the authority of God’s Word that has been carefully recorded and preserved in our Bible. We must submit to it, speak it, pray it, and live it. Calvin states the core concern for the Christian concerning the authority of scripture when he says, “We owe to the Scripture the same reverence which we owe to God, because it has proceeded from Him alone.”[7] God’s Word and Himself are of equal authority because we cannot separate scripture – His word – from Himself.

As a Christian who has always had access to a Bible, especially living in the U.S. where I can go to a bookstore and openly buy a bible, I can take it for granted. I love God’s Word. Reading it, studying it, writing on it, - that’s all my favorite. Applying it to my life and submitting to it, well, let’s just say I certainly do need more practice in that area. For someone who is always browsing and purchasing study bibles on Amazon I ought to be a pro… Nevertheless, I am human, and as humans we are futile and far from perfect which is why we need to submit to the authority of scripture which will lessen the strife in our life. Yes, there is hardships, but to be void of strife between God and us is the goal. Salvation and walking in obedience according to the Spirit is the solution. Our access to the Bible should never be taken for granted or diminish our awe at its divine authorship that reveals our God. We should be humbled that God decided to reveal Himself to us in His word. By revealing Himself to us we get to know His character and love for us thus allowing us to cultivate a loving, intimate relationship with our heavenly Father. This revelation of Himself is truly a gift.[8] This alone should humble us into submission to scripture.

We can often forget that Scripture is the active and living Word of God. We should submit to it, but also realize it gives us power in our lives. We often believe we are at a disadvantage compared to the Old Testament characters and prophets who have heard God’s audible words, but we are submitting to the very same words He had spoken then.[9] Since we know that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever we know that His word too is unchanging.[10] Culture and circumstances may change but God and our obligation to submit to scripture stays the same. Christianity and the popular culture have been clashing since the times of Paul.[11] Paul instructed us not to conform to the patterns of the world. The world is not the authority in which we submit to. As a citizen of heaven, we are called to submit to the authority of the Holy Scriptures.

To submit to scripture is to submit to the living God. God requires submission because He knows what is best for us and He loves us enough to want that for our lives.[12] Prove of this love is the gift of salvation which is explained in scripture – John 3 tells us the key to salvation – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”[13] God’s Word promises to save us and not condemn us because of our failures, but because of the success of our Savior we are saved. Submission to scripture is the acceptance and submission to our salvation, unto our Savior.

Submitting to the authority of Scripture means we are to walk in obedience. While we are not held accountable under the law of the Old Testament, we are still called to act appropriately to the image in which we were created. We were all created in the image of God and our lives bear testimony to who He is. In obedience we should live out what Jesus called the greatest command – ““Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.””[14] This command umbrellas all of the other commands of new and old. If we truly love the Lord with all our heart, we will obey all the Lord has instructed of us. Submitting to the word of God looks a lot like loving Him with all our hearts and all our minds. Loving our neighbor and desiring what the Lord wants for our lives comes from reading His Word and praying His Word so that the Holy Spirit can move in us and through us for His glory.

Utilizing God’s Authoritative Word – speak it and pray it.

            There is power in the Word of God that we can utilize in our own lives. The power of Scripture literally empowers us to live it out.  As joint heirs with Christ upon salvation we have the power of the Holy Spirit living inside of us that equips us for every good work.[15] Every good work requires power, and God’s Word does just that. My mom always told me to watch what I say whether I was complaining about something or having doubts about whatever was going on in my life. She would tell me “Well, if you speak like that then of course it is going to happen that way”. Of course, growing up I would just roll my eyes and let out a huff, but years later and while she is not around to remind of this anymore, this is one truth she has taught me that I cling to. I am currently dealing with what I believe is sciatic nerve pain, but wanting to persevere in the midst of it, so instead of complaining I am communicating with God. I am telling Him this hurts God, but I’m praying for you to intervene.” We ought to pray this in any struggle in life. Complaining only makes a situation worse and ends up taking a toll on our emotional and mental health. Since there is power in speaking words, how much more power would we hold if we spoke God’s Word out loud and back to Him? Proverbs 18:20-21 says this – “From the fruit of a man's mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips. Death and life are in the power of the tongue,”.[16] If the word of God is alive and active our words would be so much more life giving if we spoke God's word in prayer, to others, and over our lives. Our words are powerful, God’s words even more so.

            If we are living and speaking God’s Word, then this should be evident in how we live our lives. If we are truly living according to scripture, we will begin to see evidence of the fruit of the spirit in our lives – “ But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”[17] This s achieved through living 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”[18] In order to utilize the power of God’s Word in our lives and live it out we need to know it and ingrain it on our hearts and in our minds.

This comes with the practice of spiritual disciplines – praying, meditating, and reading scripture. If we look at the example of Jesus’ life we know he took studying the Bible seriously. He would spend His days in the tabernacles with the rabbis learning God’s Word and memorizing it. As a human He modeled this out for us displaying the high value scripture has in and for our lives. As we have learned today, the authority of scripture and submitting to it is for the benefit of the believer.

            The Word of God is authoritative because of its divine author – God, Himself. Yes, humans helped with the physical writing, but in God’s omnipotence and omniscience He is the author. As a saved person who accepts their citizenship of heaven, we have the responsibility to submit and live out scripture in order to glorify God for the rest of our days.




[1] 1 Peter 2:20-21, ESV

[2] Richard Phillips, “Scripture as a Divine and Human Book,” The Gospel Coalition, accessed March 8, 2024, https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/essay/scripture-as-a-divine-and-human-book/.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Jeremiah 1:2,4,6,911,13

[5] Hebrews 1:1-5, ESV

[6] 1 Corinthians 2:9-11

[7] Cited from Richard Phillips, “Scripture as a Divine and Human Book,” The Gospel Coalition, accessed March 8, 2024, https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/essay/scripture-as-a-divine-and-human-book/.

[8] Matthew Barrett, “Scripture as Divine Revelation,” The Gospel Coalition, accessed March 8, 2024, https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/essay/scripture-divine-revelation/.

[9] “Divine Authorship and Authority | Reformed Bible Studies & Devotionals at Ligonier.org | Reformed Bible Studies & Devotionals at Ligonier.org,” Ligonier Ministries, February 3, 2015, https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/divine-authorship-and-authority.

[10] Hebrews 13:7-9, ESV

[11] Millard J Erickson, Christian Theology, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013), 189–229.

[12] “How Are We to Submit to God?,” GotQuestions.org, accessed March 8, 2024, https://www.gotquestions.org/submit-to-God.html.

[13] John 3:16-18, ESV

[14] Matthew 22:36-40, ESV

[15] Ephesians 3:6; 2 Timothy 3:17, ESV

[16] Proverbs 18:20-21, ESV

[17] Galatians 5:22-23, ESV

[18] 2 Timothy 3:16-17, ESV

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