The Authority of God's Word


Jesus is God’s loving, living expression of Himself to us. Similarly, the Bible is God’s written expression of Himself and His will. Without these two living revelations of God, we could not know who God is or how to find life through Him. Because God Himself authored the Bible and the Holy Spirit is present as we read, it is completely dependable and sufficient to shape our convictions and help us live life well. When we face hard decisions in life, we can trust the Word of our trustworthy God to guide us into true and wise choices. Ultimately, trust is involved in committing your all to the authority and sufficiency of Scripture.

God’s Word is God’s Revelation

Writers of Scripture attributed their words to God in many places. A few of the places are listed below.

Moses said the words he spoke to the Israelites were from God.

1“Now if you faithfully obey the LORD your God and are careful to follow all his commands I am giving you today, the LORD your God will put you far above all the nations of the earth. 2 All these blessings will come and overtake you, because you obey the LORD your God:… Deuteronomy 28:1-2 CSB

David said the Spirit of the Lord spoke through him.

1 These are the last words of David:
The declaration of David son of Jesse,
the declaration of the man raised on high,
the one anointed by the God of Jacob.
This is the most delightful of Israel’s songs.
2 The Spirit of the LORD spoke through me,
his word was on my tongue.
3 The God of Israel spoke;
the Rock of Israel said to me,
“The one who rules the people with justice,
who rules in the fear of God, … 2 Samuel 23:1-3 CSB

Jeremiah’s mouth was filled with the Lord’s words.

6 But I protested, “Oh no, Lord GOD! Look, I don’t know how to speak since I am only a youth.”
7 Then the LORD said to me:
Do not say, “I am only a youth,”
for you will go to everyone I send you to
and speak whatever I tell you.
8 Do not be afraid of anyone,
for I will be with you to rescue you.
This is the LORD’s declaration.
9 Then the LORD reached out his hand, touched my mouth, and told me:
I have now filled your mouth with my words. Jeremiah 1:6-9 CSB

Paul said the words he spoke to the Thessalonian believers were not human words; they were God’s words.

13 This is why we constantly thank God, because when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you welcomed it not as a human message, but as it truly is, the word of God, which also works effectively in you who believe. 1 Thessalonians 2:13 CSB

The divine authorship of Scripture is revealed in Scripture.

16 Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action),
17 So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 AMPC

God has exalted His name and His word above all things.

2 I will bow down toward your holy temple
and will praise your name
for your love and your faithfulness,
for you have exalted above all things
your name and your word. Psalm 138:2 NIV84

God, who is present everywhere, says His words are living and active and full of power. How could the words the Living God speaks be anything else?

12 For the word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as the division of the soul and spirit [the completeness of a person], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 AMPC

If it is a word from God, it has authority over men. For behind every word that anybody utters stands the person who speaks it. It is the speaker himself (his character, knowledge, and position) who determines how people regard his words. So God’s word carries God’s authority. It is because of who He is that we believe what He has said. John R. W. Stott, Understanding the Bible

The Confidence of Jesus in the Scriptures

Let’s take a brief look at the temptation of Jesus as written in Luke 4.

1 Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.
3 And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 4 But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’ " 5 Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 7 Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.” 8 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’” 9 Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. 10 For it is written:
He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you,’ 11 and,
In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’”
12 And Jesus answered and said to him, “It has been said, You shall not tempt the LORD your God. Luke 4:1-12 NKJV

Jesus gave no consideration to Satan’s offer in verse 9 before He made His decision in verse 10. In verse 10, notice how the Lord Jesus used the Scripture to bring everything back to “worship the Lord your God and serve only Him”. We would do well to remember these 3 things:

  • Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God (verse 4)
  • Do not test the Lord your God (verse 7)
  • Worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him (verse 10)

Three verses of Scripture and resisting. That is all Jesus needed to resist the tempter and pass God’s test. Jesus had to obey the Holy Spirit guiding Him into the wilderness to be tempted. After He fasted for 40 days under the direction of the Holy Spirit, he was hungry. Then the tempter came. This was a time of temptation by the tempter, but it was also a time of testing by God. This test from God that Jesus passed proved the character quality of the Lord. It was impossible for the Son of God to sin, and that truth is actually enhanced by the tests. Because God is love, and love is holy, and Jesus is God, it was impossible for Jesus to sin. Perfect love is perfectly holy. Therefore, He could not give in to the tests and sin, but He had to endure until the tests were completed. Since Jesus placed Himself under the authority of Scripture, what implication does this have for you?

Three examples of how Jesus used Scripture in situations are listed below.

5 So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders, instead of eating bread with ceremonially unclean hands? "
6 He answered them, “Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written:
This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me.
7 They worship me in vain,
teaching as doctrines human commands.
8 Abandoning the command of God, you hold on to human tradition.” 9 He also said to them, “You have a fine way of invalidating God’s command in order to set up your tradition!” Mark 7:5-9 CSB

24 Jesus spoke to them, “Isn’t this the reason why you’re mistaken: you don’t know the Scriptures or the power of God? 25 For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like angels in heaven. 26 And as for the dead being raised — haven’t you read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the burning bush, how God said to him: I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob? 27 He is not the God of the dead but of the living. You are badly mistaken.” Mark 12:24-27 CSB

25 Then an expert in the law stood up to test him, saying, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the law? " he asked him. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,” and “your neighbor as yourself.”
28 “You’ve answered correctly,” he told him. “Do this and you will live.” Luke 10:25-28 CSB

Why did Jesus believe it was necessary to go to the cross?

25 And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures. Luke 24:25-27 NASB95

44 Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Luke 24:44 NASB95

People whose lives are oriented around Christ don’t just study the Bible to be smarter. They see that every single page of [His Word] is stained with the crimson blood of Jesus himself. Suddenly, the Bible isn’t just a text to be studied but a source of life for a withering branch. Eric Sandras, PhD

Jesus said some other things about the Scriptures.

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” Matthew 5:17-18 NIV

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Matthew 7:24 NIV

17 “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” John 17:17 NIV

In what ways is Jesus’ example helpful to you? Do not underestimate the importance of God’s Word.

The authority of scripture is the authority of Jesus Christ; they are indivisible. To attempt to distinguish the two is like asking which blade of a pair of scissors is more important, or which leg of a pair of pants is more necessary. We know Christ through the Bible, and we understand the Bible through the knowledge of Christ. The two cannot be separated. That is why Paul calls it “the word of Christ.” Ray Stedman, part 4 of a sermon on Ephesians 6:14-17 titled “Defense Against Defeat”

Our Confidence in the Scriptures

Followers of Jesus can confidently rely on the Scriptures in all areas of life because of what God has done for them.

Look at what Joshua spoke before his death.

14 “I am now going the way of the whole earth, and you know with all your heart and all your soul that none of the good promises the LORD your God made to you has failed. Everything was fulfilled for you; not one promise has failed. Joshua 23:14 CSB

5 Every word of God is pure;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
6 Don’t add to his words,
or he will rebuke you, and you will be proved a liar. Proverbs 30:5-6 CSB

Luke’s introductory statement to his gospel directly speaks to the reliability of the Scriptures.

1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as those, who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, handed them down to us, 3 it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in orderly sequence, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty about the things you have been taught. Luke 1:1-4 LSB

Jesus took Peter, James, and John on a high mountain by themselves (Matthew 17:1-9). In 2 Peter 1, Peter wrote about his experience and what he witnessed.

15 And I will also make every effort so that you are able to recall these things at any time after my departure. 16 For we did not follow cleverly contrived myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; instead, we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased! " 18 We ourselves heard this voice when it came from heaven while we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 We also have the prophetic word strongly confirmed, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you know this: No prophecy of Scripture comes from the prophet’s own interpretation, 21 because no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:15-21 CSB

  • Peter said the prophetic word is strongly confirmed (verse 19)
  • The reason prophecies of Scripture are reliable is explained in verses 20-21

What fulfilled prophecy do you think provides the most convincing evidence of the reliability of Scripture? See the Wednesday evening sermon named The Person of Jesus Christ for some of the prophecies Jesus fulfilled.

Our indwelling Helper—God the Holy Spirit—helps us understand the Scriptures and obey them, thereby strengthening your confidence in God and His Word.

27 I will place my Spirit within you and cause you to follow my statutes and carefully observe my ordinances. Ezekiel 36:27 CSB

45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.” Luke 24:45-48 NASB95

9 But as it is written,
What no eye has seen, no ear has heard,
and no human heart has conceived —
God has prepared these things for those who love him.
10 Now God has revealed these things to us by the Spirit, since the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except his spirit within him? In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who comes from God, so that we may understand what has been freely given to us by God. 13 We also speak these things, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. 14 But the person without the Spirit does not receive what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually. 1 Corinthians 2:9-14 CSB

Our Source of Life

Look at what the Word of God is able to do in you.

31 The instruction of his God is in his heart;
his steps do not falter. Psalm 37:31 CSB

99 I have more insight than all my teachers
because your decrees are my meditation. Psalm 119:99 CSB

105 Your word is a lamp for my feet
and a light on my path. Psalm 119:105 CSB

130 The revelation of your words brings light
and gives understanding to the inexperienced. Psalm 119:130 CSB

3 “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.” John 15:3 CSB

32 “And now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you an inheritance among all who are sanctified. Acts 20:32 CSB

21 Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent, humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. James 1:21 CSB

Notice the parallel between water and the Word of God in Isaiah 55.

10 “For just as rain and snow fall from heaven
and do not return there
without saturating the earth
and making it germinate and sprout,
and providing seed to sow
and food to eat,
11 so my word that comes from my mouth
will not return to me empty,
but it will accomplish what I please
and will prosper in what I send it to do.” Isaiah 55:10-11 CSB

The ultimate reason for the authority of Scripture lies in its authorship. It is nothing less than the Word of our utterly trustworthy God; therefore, it is completely authoritative. Do you desire greater faith and love of God? Then seek a greater living knowledge of God’s Word. Your view of God and of the authority of the Scriptures will stand or fall together.

Remember what the Lord Jesus said in John 5.

39 “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me,” … John 5:39 NIV84

And again in Luke 6.

46 “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” Luke 6:46 NIV84

And again in Luke 24.

25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” Luke 24:25 NIV84

Also in John 12.

47 “If anyone hears my words and doesn’t keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and doesn’t receive my sayings has this as his judge: The word I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own, but the Father himself who sent me has given me a command to say everything I have said. 50 I know that his command is eternal life. So the things that I speak, I speak just as the Father has told me.” John 12:47-50 CSB

Look at Moses’ warning and promise regarding God’s Word.

45 After Moses finished reciting all these words to all Israel, 46 he said to them, “Take to heart all these words I am giving as a warning to you today, so that you may command your children to follow all the words of this law carefully. 47 For they are not meaningless words to you but they are your life, and by them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.” Deuteronomy 32:45-47 CSB

Look at the principles in Psalm 119:59-60 that relate to applying Scripture to your life in Christ.

59 I thought about my ways
and turned my steps back to your decrees.
60 I hurried, not hesitating
to keep your commands.
61 Though the ropes of the wicked
were wrapped around me,
I did not forget your instruction.
62 I rise at midnight to thank you
for your righteous judgments. Psalm 119:59-62 CSB

Applying God’s Word

Here is a good plan to follow in taking specific steps to apply the Bible.

  1. State what the Scriptures say about some area of your life.
  2. Honestly say what your heart and life are like in this area.
  3. Describe what you are going to do to bring your life into step with God’s Word.
  4. Specify practical steps you will take to check up on yourself and to identify someone who will help you.

Now work the plan.

  1. What Scripture passage in this chapter has touched an area of need in your life? Write it down.
  2. Explain what this passage means to you.
  3. What improvement is needed in your heart and life in this area?
  4. What specific steps can you take toward improvement in this area? Who will help you?
  5. How will you know when you have completed your goal?

Memory Verse

12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 LSB

How would life (yours and everyone else’s) be different if God had never spoken to humanity?

Things to Ponder

Do you trust that God will reveal Himself to you in Scripture and show you how to live well? Record questions you have about the authority and sufficiency of Scripture. Ask God to give you answers from the Bible to these questions over the next weeks and months.

Open your Bible to Psalm 119 and begin reading anywhere in the chapter. Observe the benefits of God’s Word (also referred to as His commandments, testimonies, precepts, judgments, and law).

The ultimate purpose of the Word of God for us is found in John 20.

30 There are also many other signs and miracles which Jesus performed in the presence of the disciples which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written (recorded) in order that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ (the Anointed One), the Son of God, and that through believing and cleaving to and trusting and relying upon Him you may have life through (in) His name [through Who He is]. John 20:30-31 AMPC

In light of that purpose, are you truly committed to following God and obeying His Word? What may be holding you back?