We’ve been discussing that God loves us and KNOWS us — every thought and every action — He knows our hearts. We have also been discussing that He wants a personal relationship with each of us, and in order to have that we need to get to know Him personally. Last night in our bible study we completed a study on The Kingdom Agenda by Dr. Tony Evans, entitled “The Authority of the Kingdom Agenda“. Tony Evans defines the kingdom agenda as the visible demonstration of the comprehensive rule of God over area of life. Following a biblical overview of God’s rule in history, Evans challenges viewers to recognize God as the sovereign Ruler of the universe. What follows are excerpts from his book in the chapter The Authority of the Kingdom Agenda.
The Bible holds authority over us by virtue of its Author, who is the King of creation and Ruler over all the earth. The Bible’s authority extends to every word and even every portion of a word, as we will see. The Bible is supremely authoritative because it is God’s revelation in history. There is no higher authority you and I can appeal to than to the Word of God. The Bible is not simply words about God; it is the Word of God. The Word of God is the voice of God in print. It is active and alive and sharper than a two-edged sword, able to reach and instruct the deepest recesses and core of who you are. “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).
But the Bible’s power is blunted in our lives when we do not respond to God in humility and obedience. A lot of people try to mix their own thoughts with the Bible’s teaching. But there is a big difference between an honest attempt to understand the Bible and diluting its teachings with human thinking. This thing of truth and authority is at the core of why the Holy Spirit is not doing more in our lives. The Spirit is the Spirit of Truth who is obligated only to God’s Word. So when we start diluting the Word with our human viewpoints, the Holy Spirit steps back, because He is not going to bless our speculations. The introduction of human opinion nullifies the effectiveness of benefits that the Scriptures are designed to give us.
Just before the closing benediction in Revelation, John issued a warning to anyone who either “adds to” or “takes away from” its words. “I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.” (Rev. 22:18-19) Biblical authority means that God has the supreme right to determine our decision-making and set the agenda for our lives. God doesn’t want our rationalizations, but our response.
God wants to occupy the place of supreme authority in your life, and He wants to set your life’s agenda as you submit yourself to His Word. Since Jesus possesses all authority, and His Word has all of His authority behind it, why are we as Christians not seeing God’s Word at work any more than we are? I am convinced the reason is that we are not living as though God’s Word were our authority. We are not seeing more power in our lives and in the church at large because we aren’t taking the Bible seriously.
In every area of our lives, we must recognize that the authority under which we operate goes far beyond any human authority. God operates His Kingdom by His Word. The Bible is the divine blueprint by which all of life is to be lived. It is the benchmark by which all decisions should be made. If we are going to advance God’s kingdom, we must recognize and submit to the divine authority of His Word. What was the first thing Satan got Adam and Eve to do in the garden? He got them to question the authority of God’s Word.
The Bible is not the Word of God emeritus, but the Book from which our kingdom agenda is drawn. To the degree that you honor, respect, and obey the Word, you will live the abundant life Christ came to give. To the degree that you don’t, you won’t. You may have what appears to be a successful life to the outside world, but the abundant life is about so much more than outer appearances. It is the presence of peace coupled with the power of divine purpose. The reason we need the Scripture as an authoritative document is found in (Isaiah 55:8). God says, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways.” God functions in a totally different sphere, which we call His transcendence. He is totally distinct from and above His creation. So if God did not reveal His standard to us, we could never figure it out on our own.
Since God is the only true authority in His Kingdom, we must live under His revealed authority and standard. The Bible provides the standard. Yet some Christians want to switch books. They want to use the Bible when it’s convenient, sort of like making God a servant in His own kingdom. But it won’t work. God alone is sovereign, so He has the right to draw up the rules of kingdom life. The Word of God reveals the absolute standard to which all other standards must bow, since it is right about everything on which it speaks. This means we must take the whole Bible seriously, including the revelatory aspects of the Old Testament. Paul told Timothy, who did not yet have a New Testament to read, that the Scripture (Old Testament) was sufficient for all of life. “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16–17).
The statements of particular Old Testament regulations may differ in their contemporary application. But the clear principles of Old Testament truth, as they reflect the character of God and the operation of His kingdom, are applicable to us since “they were written for our instruction” (1 Corinthians 10:11), and since the typological nature of the old covenant is true of the new covenant, providing us wisdom for all of life today. Furthermore, Old Testament Israel was the only government legislated by God, so it is the only place we can look to for guidance on how government should work and reflect the character of God today. This is the effect that Israel’s government was to have on other nations—to serve as a paradigm for them to emulate (see Deuteronomy 4:5–8).