I’m a big believer in the authority of Scripture. I believe the Bible is God’s Word, and that it’s been revealed to his people by his Spirit. I also believe that it’s without error and should be recognized as the authority for our lives. Some people agree, some don’t. I’m not really looking to debate that or defend that today. But I am curious about something.
I’m preparing to speak tomorrow at our church. The pastor has been working his way through 1 Corinthians in a series called “Unsanitized Christianity” and so far it’s been great. Right now we’re in the midst of chapters 6 and 7. As I am preparing to bring the teaching tomorrow I couldn’t help but consider again an old thought that has come to my mind from time to time. I have my own ideas about it, but am continuing to consider and contemplate it. And it’s always interesting to hear from others.
If we are trying to live with the Bible as the authority for our lives, then places that give commands and directive or texts that reveal God’s expectations in clear and concise language are easy. Maybe not easy to follow, but easy to at least know what’s expected!
But does having the Bible as our authority for life just mean following a list of rules it lays out? I have a sneaking suspicion there is more to it!
In 1 Corinthians Paul makes a couple of statements that don’t exactly sound clear or certain. He doesn’t even seem sure if they are from god or just from himself. Let me show you. The two I’m considering (and I think there are more) come from Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church. He’s talking about marriage and singleness. First he preps a statement about how they should live with these words:
I say this as a concession, not as a command. 1 Corinthians 7:6
So, what do we do with that? Is this something we should follow? Something we can choose to take or to leave? Or is there another way to look at it? Again, I have my own thoughts, but I’m wondering what you think. I feel like in some ways considering what to do with passages that don’t lay out a clear and complete explanation of exactly what to do are critical to understanding what it truly means to honor the Scriptures as the authority for life. Let’s face it, there are more places that are ambiguous or open to some interpretation than there are lists of do’s and don’ts. And this is good I think! We just need to consider what we do with these. How do we handle them?
Here’s another example, just a few verses later:
To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 1 Corinthians 7:12
“To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord)…”
Paul is making a clear distinction between some things that the Lord is commanding and the things he is saying. So what do we do with that? How do we handle that? What kind of authority do we give those types of passages?
Again I say that I believe that how we handle passages like these has far reaching effects for what it really means for us to acknowledge the Bible as the authority for our lives. The Bible doesn’t cover directly and in list form every issue we will ever face in life. How do we let it be the authority for our lives in these cases? I think considering how we handle places like the two I’ve mentioned above will get us on the right track.
What do you think? Please share your thoughts or add your own questions.