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Wondering What to Believe?

  1. Does Nature Give Proof of God?
    8 Digging Deeper
  2. Can I Hear God's Voice?
    8 Digging Deeper
  3. Who is God?
    8 Digging Deeper
  4. Who Wrote the Bible?
    8 Digging Deeper
  5. Can I Trust the Bible?
    7 Digging Deeper
  6. Is there a Right and Wrong?
    7 Digging Deeper
  7. Why Does God Allow Evil?
    9 Digging Deeper
  8. Who Am I?
    7 Digging Deeper
  9. What is the Meaning of Life?
    7 Digging Deeper
  10. Does God Love Me?
    5 Digging Deeper
Lesson 6, Digging Deeper 6
In Progress

Is the Bible is our absolute moral standard for topics such as honesty, sexuality, the value of human life?

If a person believes the Bible, then there is a solid basis of authority and a textual standard that can be consulted, studied and explained. Of course, people may have differing views of what the Bible says and those will need careful investigation in the text. Hopefully, careful, honest and judicious study of the text will lead to some definitive answers. God does not specifically address every question that we may raise but he does speak on the fundamental, basic questions of the purpose, meaning and value of life and relationships. Where God does not speak, we must not speak for him, make rules for him or press our opinions as law.

Why can we believe that the Bible has moral authority on life issues like those named in the question?

The Scriptures (the Bible) reveal God as our creator, Lord, savior, and judge. He is God and we are not. Because of who he is and what he has done and is doing, we are accountable to him for the way that we live our lives. In the preface and first three of the Ten Commandments, God said that the basis of the commandments are his existence, moral nature and actions in delivering his people from Egypt:

I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
You shall have no other gods before me.
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Exodus 20:1-6)

God has revealed himself in the Scriptures. Whatever is written there is his will for us. The Scriptures found in the Bible claim to be “breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). This means that the Scriptures are authorized and approved by God and provide us with God’s truth on every matter that they address. That’s why people are commended for “searching the Scriptures to see if the things taught are so” (Acts 17:11). To reject the word of God is to reject God.

The law that God revealed to Moses was taught to the fathers who were to teach it to their children for generations to come (Deuteronomy 6:1-11). The Lord commends the person who delights “in the law of the Lord” and who “meditates on it day and night” (Psalm1:2). David loved God’s word and praised it because it came from God and gave him wisdom and guidance for life:

The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the LORD is sure,
making wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
9 the fear of the LORD is clean,
enduring forever;
the rules of the LORD are true,
and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward. (Psalm 19:7-11)

Psalm 119 is 176 verses that express love for God’s word and praise to God for his perfect word. Every verse of this the longest psalm and the longest chapter in the Bible commends the word of God as our guide in life. Among them are these thoughts: “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (verse 11) and “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (verse 105).

The word of God found in the Bible is to be taught and applied to life. Isaiah the prophet spoke to a generation that desired to seek out mediums and necromancers (those who claim they can contact the dead) and urged them to listen to the revealed word of God: “Consult God’s instruction and the testimony of warning. If anyone does not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn” (Isaiah 8:20). About 458 B. C. when God’s people desperately needed to be taught God’s word, Ezra the prophet and scribe “set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel” (Ezra 7:10).

Throughout the Old Testament, the words “thus says the Lord” or “the word of God came to” a prophet (as in Jeremiah 1:4; 2:1) speak of the moral and spiritual authority of God’s revealed word. God’s people were to obey that word in order to honor and please God.

The New Testament Scriptures reveal the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth who claimed to be the perfect revelation of God. The words of Jesus and his apostles on whatever subject they address are to be taught and obeyed. Here is what Jesus claimed:

I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.
8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. (John 14:6-11)

Earlier in the Gospel of John, Jesus said that he spoke as the Father directed him and that his word will judge us on the last day.

The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. (John 12:48-49)

The crowds who heard Jesus’ authoritative words said, “No one ever taught like this man” (Matthew 7:29). Jesus claimed that his words were spirit and life (John 6:63). He said that only those who listen and obey his words would be blessed by the Father in heaven (Matthew 7:21-27).

Jesus appointed his special servants, the apostles, to preach the message of the kingdom of God and eternal life to all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). These apostles were guided by the Holy Spirit in their preaching and teaching so that what they said and wrote were the words of God (John 14:25-26; 16:13-15; Luke 24:45-49; Acts 2:1-4; Galatians 1:1, 11-12; I Corinthians 14:37). Jesus said to his apostles, “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me” (Luke 10:16).

This means that the words of God found in the Bible must be respected, studied and taught as an authoritative guide for life. The words of God in the Bible are to be applied and obeyed. They are an authoritative guide in all issues and subjects that they address whether it be matters of faith and doctrine, morals and ethics or work and relationships. Since the Bible addresses moral issues like honesty, sexuality, the value of human life and other life issues, then it is God’s word on those topics. If we are to please and obey God that word must be correctly interpreted, taught and obeyed.

If a person does not believe the Bible, then the discussion must begin with what moral authority determines the right or wrong of these questions. Is there even a moral authority? If so, what is that moral authority? Is it objective, universal and permanent? Who or what determined that moral authority? If there is no God, then we cannot trust our brains to determine right from wrong because our brains are nothing but a collection of atoms formed by mindless matter. C. S. Lewis reasoned this way:

“Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It’s like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes will give me a map of London. But if I can’t trust my own thinking, of course, I can’t trust the arguments leading to Atheism and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God.” [The Case for Christianity, p. 32]

William Lane Craig reasons:

. . .if there is no God, what’s so special about human beings? They’re just accidental by-products of nature that have evolved relatively recently on an infinitesimal speck of due lost somewhere in a hostile and mindless universe and that are doomed to perish individually and collectively in a relatively short time. According to the atheistic view, an action such as rape may not be socially advantageous, and so in the course of human development has become taboo, but such a view does absolutely nothing to prove that rape is really wrong. It follows, therefore, that there’s nothing wrong with your raping someone. Thus, without God there is no absolute right and wrong that imposes itself on our conscience. (“Why I Believe God Exists,” in Why I Am a Christian: Leading Thinks Explain Why They Believe, ed. Norman L. Geisler and Paul K. Hoffman, Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2006, pp. 80-81).

Lane explains how God’s moral nature determines right and wrong:

God is the good. The good is the moral nature of God himself. That is to say, God is necessarily holy, loving, kind, just, and so on, and these attributes of God comprise the good. God’s moral character expresses itself toward us in the form of certain commandments, which become our moral duties. Hence, God’s commandments are not arbitrary but necessarily flow from his own nature. They are necessary expressions of the way God is. (“Why I Believe God Exists,” in Why I Am a Christian: Leading Thinks Explain Why They Believe, p. 83).

Thus, the question resolves to whether we believe in God or not. If we believe in God, then if not in the teachings in the Bible, how and where does God communicate with us? If in some other way than in the Bible, what reasons do we have to believe that other way is right?