“Where there is no revelation [of the Word of God], the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law…If people can’t see what God is doing they stumble all over themselves. But when they attend to what He reveals they are most blessed” (Proverbs 29:18, NIV, MES).
There was a time in the this great nation when the integrity and centrality of the Word of God was not questioned, debated, or vilified, but gladly and openly recognized, accepted, and celebrated. Our country’s revolutionary and constitutional documents were so heavily influenced by the Scriptures that one can actually find portions of sermons lifted verbatim and inserted into the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, and the U.S. Constitution. Additionally, one does not need to be a lawyer to notice right away that the moral law of our land has been directly influenced by the ancient moral code of the Bible. Unfortunately the enduring covenant words of the Most High God set in motion through the blood of Jesus Christ are being systematically replaced with an ever-changing covenant of ink that is marginal in its authority and easily and frequently manipulated
Today, vast numbers of Americans have no understanding of the history of the formation of these documents and how central the Word of God was to their development and adoption. Today, it is common to see a great ambivalence and even disrespect for the Bible. For sure, the high degree of authority the masses once gave to the Scriptures is missing in today’s post Christian America. With this decline in respect for the Word, we have seen a distinct decline in the manifestation of the blessing. As Proverbs 29:18 indicates, the more attention and honor we give to the Word, the more blessed (empowered to succeed and prosper) we will be.
There are four basic levels of respect that people in this nation give to the Word of God. I want to discuss each level to demonstrate where we have come from and where we need to return to if we want to see the blessing of the Lord on this great land again. The key is for all of us to come to the place where the Word has the highest degree of authority and respect. The more we recognize and honor the integrity of the Word of God the more victorious our lives will be. Conversely, when people reject, limit, or marginalize the authority of the Word of God in their lives they set themselves up for confusion and ultimately defeat.
First, many people today see the Word of God as “relative” these days. By relative I mean the authority they give to the Word is dependent upon external conditions, input, or opinions outside of the Word of God. In other words, there are no absolutes. These individuals may see a small portion of the values and morality of the Bible as relative to their lives but for the most part they reject the authority of Scripture opting instead to be the sole basis of right and wrong themselves.
Second, there are people who see the Bible as “somewhat authoritative.” They would agree that many aspects of the value system described are binding and important like the biblical prohibition on murder or stealing and the mandate to love one’s neighbor, etc. On the other hand, these folks have certain special areas of life they see as off-limits to biblical authority. They buy into some false reassignment or interpretation of Scripture to justify thinking or behavior that contradicts the Word.
The third level is made up of people who have historically viewed the Bible as “inerrant.” This means that they believe the Scriptures in the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek autographs or manuscripts are completely without error. The sad truth today is that even Christians are backing away from this high view of Scripture to adopt a less authoritative view of the Word. In fact, one major evangelical group with a long track record of believing in the inerrancy of Scripture has only two Bible colleges left out of dozens that still boldly push inerrancy. The problem is that when we open this door we give license to individuals with terminal degrees deciding what parts of the Bible are accurate and which parts should be set aside. Imagine that, a man or woman thinking they have more intelligence than the author of the Bible, the Holy Spirit, simply because they have some letters behind their names.
The highest view of Scripture, however, is the understanding that all Scripture, regardless of testament or type of literature is “covenant language” and as such is sacred, binding, and irrevocable. This view of Scripture embraces inerrancy, accepts the commands, and makes a faith-based demand on the promises and the terms of the covenant that God, by his own volition, will, and sovereignty entered into with man. The Lord said in Psalm 89:34 says, “I will not violate my covenant or alter what my lips have uttered.” When we view the Bible as covenant language we have a strong conviction about the nature and character of God to honor His Word and great confidence that if we keep our part of the covenant we will tap into the covenant promises of God.
It doesn’t take you long to see the high place we have fallen from as a people – from seeing Scripture as covenant language to viewing the Scripture as nothing more than a moral suggestion – from a covenant of blood to a covenant of ink. For those of you that want to honor God and to see God’s best in your lives, make every effort to return to the high view of Scripture and develop a dogged determination to obey the principles of the Word of God and hold on passionately and diligently to the amazing covenant promises in the Word. Make up your mind today to make the Word of God first place and final authority in your life. This means the Word is the first place you go to for counsel and the final authority and influence once you know what God’s Word declares about a matter.