Authority of Scripture
Transcript of the first sermon from the series on Provision Church’s Core Values. The sermon is titled “Authority of Scripture,” and comes from Isaiah 45:9-13.
This series includes a Family Worship Guide. Find it here.
Today begins a six week series looking at our core values at Provision Church. Our core values aren’t exhaustive, but they do represent some of our most important beliefs as a church. Those core values that we’ve identified to make a focus are:
- Authority of Scripture
- Made to Worship
- Power of Prayer
- Substitutionary Atonement
- Great Commission
These core values are really beliefs that we as individuals and as a congregation need to continually return to. They ground us and give us focus and clarity in difficult and confusing times and in the midst of big questions.
We know these beliefs are important for individuals and the congregation, and we also want to help as you make them important in your homes. As a church we really want to focus on equipping moms and dads to disciple their sons and daughters. Or really, we want to equip anyone who God’s given the task of helping raise children.
Family Worship Guide
So we’ve developed a family worship guide. I want to make sure every family here has a chance to pick this up. If you want one and don’t have one, you can raise your hand, and someone will bring you one.
If you open it up, you’ll notice that there is a daily guide for each weekday we’ll be in this sermon series. The goal is for your family to get in 5 days a week with this guide. If you miss a day or two you can catch up on the weekend. And if you miss a day or a few, you don’t have to stop because the days aren’t dependent on each other. So just pick back up on the day and go from there.
Passage To Read: We’ve provided a few short verses to read and I know that there’s a big difference between the needs of a 1 year old and a 10 year old, but even if this isn’t as accessible as the Jesus Storybook Bible, or something specialized for your child’s age, it is still God’s Word being read in your home. And that’s a good and powerful thing.
I’ve provided a couple of follow up questions that help check for understanding and begin Christ-centered conversation.
Memory Verse: Then you’ll see a memory verse. I would LOVE to see all of our families committing scripture to memory over these next six weeks. Wouldn’t that be awesome! I promise you will find it beneficial if you memorize scripture together as a family.
Sing: Then the last two bullets are kind of a journal area. We’re asking you to just jot down the song your family chooses to sing. It’s a little bit of personal accountability and a little bit of tracking for your future use. My family sometimes sings stuff acapella, sometimes we pull it up on our phone, and most of the time we ask Alexa to play it for us.
Pray: And then make a note of what you pray for as a family. I’m not necessarily asking for you to write every little thing down, but what are the one or two special things you prayed for that day? You might say, “we prayed for a missionary,” or, “for our church,” or, “for a lost friend at school.”
If you’re not sure which songs to sing or what to pray for, early in the booklet, you’ll find a “Helpful Hint” page that gives some suggestions.
I really hope this will be helpful for you and your family over this next month and a half. If you’re already consistent with something, don’t feel like you have to switch to this. But if you’re family doesn’t have something you’re sticking with you need a restart or you need to start family devotions for the first time – this is a great tool.
Last thing before we get to the authority of Scripture – I want to encourage you to try to find a consistent time in the day to enjoy family worship together. When can mom and dad and all your kids do this together consistently. Is it in the morning with your bowl of Captain Crunch? Is it at dinner before everyone breaks for the evening? Or is it right before bed? There’s always going to be weird days, but try to find something regular and stick with it.
Authority of Scripture
Today we’re going to look at the book of Isaiah and particularly chapter 45 verses 9- 13. Isaiah was a prophet to Israel and this passage is amazing for a few reasons – one is that it’s about a king named Cyrus. In verse 1 of chapter 45, God actually gives us his name. But when Isaiah was written, there was no King Cyrus. That’s because Isaiah made this prophecy about 150 years before it came to pass.
You’ll see some of this as we read this passage, but God used Cyrus to free the Jews from captivity and allowed them to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their temple. As we look at the authority of scripture, it’s powerful to start from a passage that correctly prophesied a deliverance for God’s people by name a century and a half before it happened.
Look at verse 9.
9 “Woe to him who strives with him who formed him,
a pot among earthen pots!
Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’
or ‘Your work has no handles’?
10 Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’
or to a woman, ‘With what are you in labor?’”
God Has All Authority
The starting point for the authority of the Bible is the authority of its Author. This is true of all words right? How many of you as a kid told some adult they couldn’t tell you what to do because they weren’t your momma or your daddy. Even as children we understand that authority of words come from the authority of the speaker.
God’s authority is far greater and higher than any other. Here’s some things we know about God:
-He created everything
-He sustains everything
-By His will all things exist
-He does all that He pleases
-He rules over all
-None of His plans can be stopped
-From Him and through Him and to Him are all things
-His adversaries will be broken to pieces
-His dominion is an everlasting dominion
-His understanding is beyond measure
-Nothing is too hard for Him
-The counsel of the Lord stands forever
-As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are His ways higher than our ways and His thoughts than our thoughts.
In every possible way, all authority is His. He says it himself – “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
God reminds us of this through Isaiah: Woe to him that thinks he knows better than God. The clay doesn’t question the work of the potter, it just enjoys its existence. The child doesn’t question his parent’s conception. Our place under His authority is a place of trust.
Romans 9 says this another way:
20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—
If you’re not a Christian, we’re glad you’re here. I think this is a great day for you to be here because it’s pretty practical stuff about what Christian’s believe. I want to ask you what do you consider the greatest authority in the universe.
-Is it the inanimate universe itself? How can something without a mind be authoritative?
-Do you think mankind is? With mankind’s history of competition for power and evil use of it, can we really be the highest authority?
-Do you think multiple gods might be? If multiple gods are, then really there is no authority because everyone is competing for some of it.
The best and only answer is that there is one true God who has all authority.
God Has All Authority. And that brings us peace and comfort. Because if anyone else had more authority it would be someone who wasn’t completely just and completely merciful, and completely righteous and completely loving. It’s a good thing for the universe that Jehovah is the one with all authority.
And as the One with all authority, His word carries all authority.
God’s Word Carries His Authority
11 Thus says the Lord,
the Holy One of Israel, and the one who formed him:
“Ask me of things to come;
will you command me concerning my children and the work of my hands?
12 I made the earth
and created man on it;
it was my hands that stretched out the heavens,
and I commanded all their host.
13 I have stirred him up in righteousness,
and I will make all his ways level;
he shall build my city
and set my exiles free,
not for price or reward,”
says the Lord of hosts.
Thus says the Lord. His words are powerful. Look at what God claims for Himself. He says that He made the earth. That He created man. That His hands stretched out the heavens. He’s going to stir righteousness in Cyrus. He’s going to make his ways level. But do you know how God does that: through His Word.
If you look at Genesis 1 it says that God said and it was. God considers the work of His words the same as the work of His hands.
Tim Keller says that God’s Word is active in a way ours are not. His helpful example is that if I say let there be light in a dark room nothing happens unless it’s followed by the action of flipping a switch. My words are not an action. But God’s Words are different. He says let there be light and there is light. His Words are active – they in themselves bring the result. There is no further action needed to make them true or active.
Hebrews 4 says the same thing: 12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
His Word is living and active.
His Word is living because it is the very essence of God. We even see Jesus referred to as the Word in the Gospel of John.
We cannot separate God from His Word. God’s Word carries the authority of God Himself.
Since God is our highest authority. And since God and His Word cannot be separated from each other, we must agree that God’s Word is Our Highest Authority.
The Bible Is Our Highest Authority
I think a fair question to this would be: “How do we know what is God’s Word?”
“How do we know the Bible is God’s Word?”
“That guy on TV just said God told him I need to give him money, is that God’s Word?”
“What about the books the History Channel tells me the Bible left out?”
First of all, good questions. Second of all, there’s no way I can answer all of this in just a few minutes. I’d love to have long conversations with anybody interested in more info. Here’s a link to a really helpful article by a guy named Wayne Grudem.
I want to give you like a 5 minute history of the Bible, though. Because I think most people don’t know much about what the Bible is, where it came from, or why we accept these books and letters as God’s Word.
Our Bible has two parts, the Old and New Testament.
Old Testament: The Old testament is largely Jewish scripture that was passed down through generations. It was written and handed down over a span of a thousand years. Starting with God writing the ten commandments and giving the law and history of the Jewish people to Moses. From Moses, the Old Testament continues as the prophets wrote what they heard from God. Prophets like David and Isaiah and Jeremiah and Obediah. We can affirm these books by the truth of their prophecy, historical and archeological accuracy, and by our personal experience of the Holy Spirit stirring us as we read. And not just our experience but the shared experience of Jews and Christian’s for thousands of years.
New Testament: The New Testament is the second part of our Bible. The New Testament was mainly written by apostles (men who spent time with Jesus while He was physically on earth) and a few were written by associates of the apostles. The books included in the New Testament have sufficient evidence to trust they were authentic and written to and for the benefit of the early churches. As with the OT, we can test these books by their historical and archeological accuracy and the personal experience of the Holy Spirit working through them.
Both the Old and New Testament writings should also be tested against their consistency with itself. Probably one of the most astounding confirmations of scripture is the way that all 66 books support each other. Written by different men over thousands of years and it is perfectly cohesive.
The final way I want to encourage you to trust scripture is God’s Word is by trusting in God’s faithfulness. Would a faithful God who loves His people and wants us to know Him allow us to have incomplete or wrong information about Him for all of History? We should trust God enough to believe He gives us exactly what we need to know Him.
If you’re with us today and you’re not a Christian – you haven’t given your life to God. You just heard me talk about His faithfulness. You heard me talk about His authority. This faithful and powerful God came to save you. That’s what we learn from His Word. That He had a plan from before the beginning to take a people for himself. And He came in the form of a man to do that. He suffered and died for our sins and rose again.
He asks you to surrender to Him. In fact, He demands it in order for you to have eternal life. So I want to ask you to consider that today. Will you give your life to Christ? This trustworthy Bible that we have says that if we confess with our mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in our heart God raised Him from the dead, we can be saved.
I’d like to ask you to bow your heads and close your eyes.
If you would like to enjoy Christ forever. If you would like to spend eternity with the source of all good things. I want you to tell Jesus that you believe He died for your sins and rose again. And tell Him that you want to make Him your Lord. That you want Him to lead you and that you will do whatever He asks of you.
Do that right now. If you’re here and you’re a Christian – spend this time praying for those in this room who may not know Jesus. Ask that the Holy Spirit would move in them.
If you told Jesus that you believe He saved you and that you want Him to be your Lord. Come see me or tell someone you trust after the service.