March 2, 2011

By what Authority?

Preached from Luke 20 tonight. Was helped to discover some practical wisdom in the way Jesus dealt with scoffers and skeptics ...

In verse 2, we find Jesus’ opponents coming to Him, in essence, with that age-old childish refrain: ‘Says who?’. ‘You’re saying a lot of incredible things there, Jesus. But what gives you the right to talk like that? What gives you the right to make these kinds of claims? "By what authority are you doing these things?"’

It’s the same thing that people say today when you present to them the challenging words of Scripture. Instead of just taking them at face value, and admitting that they just don’t like what they say … some of our friends start questioning the authority of the scriptures themselves: ‘Why should I believe the Bible? Who says that this book is any better than or different from the Qur’an, or than my own religious musings?’ And I just note that, in the face of that kind of questioning, Jesus did not feel the need to get into a long drawn out argument about the authority behind His teaching. He just demonstrated the authority of the teaching by continuing to teach … and letting God continue to work (see the rest of Luke 20)! And that is a good lesson for us.

God’s word is like a hammer that break rocks into pieces, says Jeremiah. And no one ever argues about hammers, do they? No, if your friend doesn’t believe that your hammer is strong enough to shatter a rock … you don’t argue with him about the physical properties of your hammer! You just keep hitting the rock until the hammer settles the argument itself! And so should be our first response when people question the authority of Scripture. So maybe they don’t believe it has power. But if you just keep applying it to the hardness of their hearts, eventually the Bible will prove itself!

Now that is not to say that there is no place for showing people why the Bible is reliable, and why the faith is reasonable. There is, indeed, a place for those things; a place for apologetics. But when someone is simply scoffing at the authority of Jesus and Scripture, arguing and apologetics usually serve little purpose. Sometimes it is far better to demonstrate the authority of Scripture by simply proclaiming its truth than by arguing about its truthfulness!

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