Embraced  by  Truth . . .
                                    reflections on theology and life

THEOLOGY > Bible > Authority > Scope of Authority   


The scope of the authority is total; it touches all of life, including both the mental and the moral dimensions. It questions beliefs and behavior; to the mind and to the will Scripture comes with the authority of Truth. Man is not left to his own devices, but he is given a clear and definite word. In both areas of life man is confronted with Scriptural authority, an authority which does not challenge man to dialogue, but instructs man with that which is dogmatic. In neither the mind nor the will is man autonomous.

Confronting the Intellect – The Mind. The authority of Truth impacts the mental dimension, for the mind is confronted. Truth informs the individual what it is that must be accepted, proclaiming to the individual: “Believe the Truth!” Of the Truth about God, man, sin, salvation, and many other concepts, authority says: “Believe it!” The mind is not left to believe what it thinks is correct; it is not invited to consider options.

Truth provides the content; and authority forces the confrontation, for Truth does not come without a confrontation, a provoking of the mind. The mind is challenged: the facts challenge the mind; the comprehensive perspective of the Truth challenges the mind; the mystery of the Truth challenges the mind; the glory of the Truth challenges the mind. Man is made to realize that his thinking is flawed and his perspective is erroneous; the individual comes to understand that his basic point of view is inward and earthly rather than outward and heavenly. In the words of Paul: “There is none who seeks after God. . . . There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Rom. 3:11, 18). The mind is made to recognize that left alone its worldview is humanistic rather than theistic, and for this depraved reasoning man is guilty before His Creator (see: Theism or Humanism).

The Truth is overwhelming, and the authority of the Truth demands the mind to consider and to accept what it cannot really grasp fully. Isaiah wrote: “His understanding is unsearchable” (40:28); Zophar challenged Job: “Can you search out the deep thing of God? Can you find out the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than heaven—what can you do? Deeper than Sheol—what can you know? Their measure is longer than the earth and broader than the sea” (11:7-9); Eliphaz added that God “does great things, and unsearchable, marvelous things without number” (5:9). In chapters 38-39 of Job the Lord challenges Job with the greatness of creation and His own providential control. Paul wrote: “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!  For who has known the mind of the Lord?” (Rom. 11:33-34). With the Truth comes the confrontation and challenge to accept the Word of God.

Confronting the Volitional – The Will Also impacted by this authority of the Truth is the moral dimension of man. The will is confronted. Truth instructs the individual as to how he should behave; authority says: “Behave in this way!”  Of the Truth about the family, finances, church, government, spiritual discipline, interpersonal relationships, and many other things, authority says: “Practice this”

The will is challenged with the conduct, behavior, and practices called for in the Scriptures. The will is told that it does not do what is right, that it desires that which is improper, that its public expressions of inward corruption are wrong, and that God’s Truth is correct and must be followed. For a will that is set on selfishness, self-centeredness, and self-seeking this is a challenge indeed. Like the mind, the will is confronted and challenged by Truth; it cannot do away with the irresistible authority.

Truth is all encompassing
in that it informs the intellect and it instructs the will,
speaking to man of his beliefs and of his behavior.

And to both of these areas Truth’s authority comes with great force; in no area is man left untouched. Whether approached intellectually or volitionally the authority of Scripture is ultimately directed toward the moral side of man. For he needs to know what is right in order that he may do what is right: doing comes from knowing.

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! 
How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!
For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Rom. 11:33-34

Return to Authority; Next Article: Action of Authority

For overview of THEOLOGY, see: Site Map - Theology
Copyright © Embraced by Truth
All rights reserved.
Materials may be freely copied for personal and academic use;
appropriate reference must be made to this site.
Links are invited.