The Final Authority

Michael Andres

Read: 1 Corinthians 4:6-7

Do not go beyond what is written. (v. 6 NIV)

When buying a car, you may look to CARFAX, Consumer Reports, or your mechanic to make a good decision. But when forming our deepest and most significant beliefs about God and life, what sources are most reliable?

Jesus founded his ministry on Scripture. He was its fulfillment (Luke 24:44), and it was his weapon against evil (Matt. 4:4). Jesus marked a sharp division between Scripture and the traditions of the rabbis (Mark 7:8). We are forbidden to add to or take away from Scripture (cf. Deut. 4:2; Prov. 30:5-6; Rev. 22:18-19), and the Corinthians were told, “Do not go beyond what is written” (1 Cor. 4:6 NIV). This draws the line between what is Scripture and what is not, and warns against elevating tradition above its place.

The Reformation was founded on the principle of sola scriptura, “Scripture alone.” The Reformers asserted that Scripture is the only final authority in faith and practice because it is God’s own word (2 Tim. 3:16). Tradition aids interpretation, and Scripture should not be interpreted in any arbitrary way. However, tradition is never an authority equal to or above Scripture. Everything necessary, everything binding on our consciences, and everything God requires of us is given to us in Scripture (2 Peter 1:3). Are you grounding your beliefs and behaviors in the Word of God, or some other source? What is the ultimate authority in your life? —Michael Andres

Prayer: God our King, we come to your authoritative Word first and last to build our life and faith.