There are many astounding details of Christmas. They begin with the birth of an infant from the womb of a virgin. Even Mary questioned how this could be. Then this infant grew up in favor with God and man, who at the age of twelve seem to have realized that he was the Son of God living in that human body. Later in his ministry Jesus healed people, he forgave them of their sins and raised some from the dead. He preached love and peace and kindness. He was murdered anyway by being pinned to a cross. He predicted that after three days he would be resurrected from the dead. This resurrection meant that he conquered death and in so doing conquered death for all of us. That is what the Bible says, but do you accept it. Each of us have a basis on which we make decisions, take different directions in life, or allow other people and events to influence us. When issues arise, whether we realize it or not, we address them as a result of the authority we hold.
Even our attitude is directly tied to the authority of our lives. We relate to other people because of the authority that we honor. The consequence of owning a basis for our authority may be significant. That includes what we say to other people, our attitude toward other people, and even our attitude toward God.
Let us list possible authorities people use as a basis for their lives.
Someone may believe that he is his own authority. He is right and everyone else is wrong. The basis for what comes into his life is by the scorecard that he has created. He decides if something is right or wrong based on that scorecard.
Another person or group may be the final authority on which to rely. This might be called groupthink or peer pressure. This could be the generally excepted beliefs of society. It might be the influence of an occult. Some people believe the final authority should be science. If is logical, if it is believed to be accurate, if is a generally accepted theory, if it can be seen and touched, if it is the construct of scientific principles, then all things should be measured by scientific principles.
Part of this authority would be situational ethics. If the circumstances dictate a result, that is the authority on which to live. If it is acceptable to cheat someone or lie because of the situation, there is no question of right or wrong. It is merely the correct response under the circumstances.
To others if a scholar makes a statement or holds a position or has a following, that could be a basis of authority. He said it and that is what I believe. “I respect him and believe him and that is why I hold to this position.” So might say these people.
Religion is likely the final authority for many people. If the standard of truth is what a certain religion says, this is how a person believes he should react. Conversely, if the religion forbids something, that should be avoided. A case in point is when I was a young person. My pastor did not believe in going to the movies and he said if he ever walked in a theater, he believed the roof would cave it on him. That had a great effect on me. I never went to a movie until I was a senior in high school. Now as I look back, that made no sense to apply that concept to my belief system.
The fallacies of all of these are profound. If an individual believes he is his own authority, what about the other individuals who believe they are the final authority? With every single person having themselves as the final authority, then there is no final authority. This is a chaotic and confusing condition. If a person puts himself as the authority, he is likely to question God or question what is written in the Bible.
If a person believes that others should be the authority or science should be the authority or scholars should be the authority or religion should be the authority, there still is no final authority. There is no one single authority on which people could build their lives with any of these choices. Self or others who are the final authority including scholars quite often are just opinion makers. And opinions can change by the day. The function of religion cannot be an authority because there are so many religions with their rituals and their individual human leaders.
There is only one absolute authority available on which anybody and everybody should build their lives and that is the Bible. It has a common thread through all the centuries. It is the reference on which people can return and find answers. The Bible is miraculous. It contains 66 books written by many different people over many centuries with many different occupations under all circumstances. However, the Bible is a unity with one message.
The Bible tells the story of how God came down to man. Should a man use something or someone as a final authority, the result is that man finds himself reaching up to God. It is man deciding the rituals and the circumstances. Or it is the man who rejects the Bible and has so many options none of which are reliable throughout life.
Some people would say the church is the authority. This is not historically accurate. The Bible including the New Testament preceded the existence of any church. The Bible is the source from which churches derive their concepts. The church has taken those concepts and adapted them with human reasoning as what is dictated to the congregation.
It was several centuries after the last disciple went to heaven that a church organization came to be. So, the church became formalized with a leader. Centuries later certain people decided that the current system of ecclesiastical doctrine and theology should be changed. Martin Luther is one of those persons. John Calvin is one of those persons. Small groups organize themselves to have a different theology or doctrine. An example of those people is the origin and growth of the Baptist Church.
With all the centuries that have passed since Jesus walked the earth and with all the flexibility that has happened, it can be quite discomfiting to find a final authority on which to live. The source of the church comes from the Bible. The source of many people’s attitudes comes from the Bible. The Bible even includes some scientific facts that later, much later, were confirmed by science. An example of that is when the Bible said the circle of the earth. Hundreds and hundreds of years past until it was resolved that the earth was not flat.
The Bible is God’s love letter to man. In it are guidelines for how to live. Simple things like not lying or not being a glutton or not hurting other people or offering help. Being kind and supportive and forgiving of other people comes from the Bible. It is reassuring to know that there are answers and they come from God. It is a way of life and of purity without the fear of knowing whether God will accept a person’s soul after death and in eternity.
Of course, self, other people, scholars, science, and religion are all important in our lives. Of course, they contribute information and helps. Still, whatever they say must be measured by the Bible. It becomes a simpler and more enjoyable way to live when one reads the Bible and follows what it says. We may not always understand every verse of the Bible. Nevertheless, it is still the final authority.
We may not understand why God put all those names in the Bible. We may not understand why certain events happened in ancient history that was dictated by the current culture. All of that is in the Bible and for some people it seems to be a roadblock to enjoying what the Bible has to offer. There is so much more in the Bible that is a solid rock on which to base our lives. It is that which we can return for comfort and help and direction.
It is Christmas – enjoy it because the meaning of Christmas comes from the Bible.