|Authority of Scripture by Pastor James Lindgren|
"For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account."
Today the church is in a debate over the place and authority of the Bible in our lives. Some think that the Bible is only useful to tell stories about what God is like and what He has done for His people and for us. They think that while these stories are useful, we are educated people and have evolved beyond the need of repentance. The laws and commands of God were written for a more primitive time. They certainly do not apply to us. We can do as we will and know that we are saved because of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Now it is not so much what God has done for us or what God demands of us. Now what is more important is what I do for God by being baptized, taking communion, showing up at worship once in a while and occasionally giving a gift to support our congregation and its work. This is how the ELCA leadership looks at the Word of God today. They hope we will be more active and give more to the ELCA. Yet, they refuse to acknowledge that CCM, the homosexual stance, and proposal of the new hymnal have influenced the giving and the membership of the church in negative ways.
In contrast, there are still some of us who believe that the Bible is the Word of God and carries the authority of God Himself. His commandments are valid even though He has abolished the ceremonial laws and the dietary laws through Jesus, His Son, the New Covenant of faith, love and grace. His Word declares God's truth. It reveals His demands on our lives today. This Word is a reliable standard of authority over our lives today. It is the source and norm for faith and life. It is an understandable Word, as the Holy Spirit opens the Word to us in our daily devotions, Bible studies and at worship. It is Christ who saves us through His death on the cross for sin and resurrection from the dead. This salvation is received into our lives through faith in Jesus. There are three marks of a Christian: love, obedience, and repentance. There is no forgiveness without the faith to trust the promise of Jesus. There is no forgiveness without the action of faith that is called repentance. Here, confession, faith in the promise of Christ, and turning from sin to Jesus in faith are the normal responses of a Christian. Service, witness, and worship are actions of obedience. These are done out of love and gratitude for our Lord Jesus Christ. Here, the primary focus is on what God has done for us. Now, how shall we respond to His call to faith, repentance, obedience, and love?
The Bible is not some ancient dead text. It is living and active. It is able to convict sin, convince of righteousness in Christ, and change hearts and minds, the very lives, of those who hear the Word, receive it and, in faith, apply it to their lives. When we allow the Word and the Holy Spirit to do their work in our hearts, it gets at our thoughts, attitudes and our standing before God. For nothing is hidden from God. Everything that we do, say, or think is known to God. One day we will give account of our lives before God. Will He say, "Come, you blessed by my Father" . . . or say, "Depart from me you accused . . .?" (Matthew 25:34, 41) Have we trusted in Jesus and in God's Word, the Bible? Have we acted on the example of Jesus with love, care, kindness, and help for those in need out of love for Jesus?