Understanding Bible Authority

When a Roman soldier once asked Jesus to cure his palsied servant who was in great pain, Jesus said He would come and heal him. (Matthew 8:5-7).

The centurion humbly responded to Jesus: “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to that one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” (Matthew 8:8-9).

This Gentile soldier truly understood authority and was humbled in its presence. Not frightened; not condescending in hypocrisy; but truly humbled. In fact, he was both subject to and a possessor of authority. He realized the import of power in a given field, and recognized the validity of Christ’s position in the realm of healing. It was like his own authority with reference to men under him — an authority that was absolute (Matthew 7:28-29; John 7:46).

The centurion knew that the personal presence of Jesus was not necessary to heal his servant (Matthew 8:8; cf. Psalm 107:19-20). The demons of Satan’s kingdom, like the forces of nature, bowed to a stronger force than themselves (Luke 8:26-36). There is tremendous power in the Lord’s word (Luke 24:49; cf. Acts 1:8; Acts 2:1-4). With the Father, He spoke the world into existence (Psalm 33:8-9; cf. Psalm 148:5; Genesis 1:3), and He stilled the sea with the simple phrase, “Peace, be still!” (Mark 4:39).

How wonderfully blessed we would be if we understood divine authority to the extent that the centurion understood it; and in our understanding, respect it (Colossians 3:17; cf. 1 Corinthians 10:31). The acceptance of God’s word as authoritative, would end any and all foolish strife. We would hasten to measure our practice by God’s Word, for we would want nothing more than to speak where the Bible speaks (1 Peter 4:11), and be silent where the Bible is silent (cf. Hebrews 7:14; Hebrews 8:4).

Beloved, let us earnestly pray toward that end.

Mike Riley, Gospel Snippets


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