I have but this to say, the Bible is the best gift God has given to man. All the good the Savior gave to the world was communicated through this book. But for it we could not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for man’s welfare, here and hereafter, are to be found portrayed in it. —Abraham Lincoln1
The Supreme Court of the United States is its highest judicial body. It consists of the Chief Justice and eight Associate Justices, who are nominated by the President and confirmed by a majority vote of the Senate. It meets in Washington, D.C. in the Supreme Court Building.2 The Supreme Court has authority over all the nation. Even the President is subject to its decisions.
God’s Supreme Court today is the New Testament. What the ‘Chief Justice’ (Holy Spirit) and eight judges (writers) wrote in that book are the laws and precedents for the human family (2 Timothy 3:16–17; 2 Peter 1:3, 20–21). Its two-hundred sixty chapters comprise the totality of God’s revealed will for the Christian Age (John 16:13).
It is absolute and final and will stand till the Day of Judgment. Jesus said, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).
Does the Bible have authority over all men, or only those who believe it?
The average person looks at religion like a university, sports team, club, or military service. If a man enlists in the army, then he has boot camp and four years of “yes, sir/no, sir.” If she enrolls in a university, then there are fees, papers, tests, and classes to attend. If he joins a team or club, then he will need to attend practices/meetings, obey the coach/leader, abide by rules/bylaws, and show up for games/events. But if a person chooses not to sign up, enroll, or join, then he or she has no obligations, responsibilities, or consequences.
Is church membership like that?
Religion is different. One cannot opt out of Christianity without eventual consequences. God exists whether or not man believes in Him (Romans 1:22-23, 28; Psalm 14:1). Denying Scripture does not change the Bible ’s validity or free one from living by God’s standards. Jesus will not ignore us just because we ignore Him. Rejecting the Spirit’s Word does not alter the reality of a coming judgment. Felix was an unbeliever, but Paul reasoned with him about judgment to come (Acts 24:25).
Upon what basis can God expect all mankind to serve Him?
God owns man’s patent. God has authority over the world because He made it (Acts 17:24). He has the right to govern man because He “created man in his own image” (Genesis 1:27). “The head of every man is Christ . . . and the head of Christ is God” (1 Corinthians 11:3). “Hath not the potter power over the clay?” (Romans 9:21). The potter can display the pot he made in his house, sell it, give it as a gift, or break it. It is his. God made vessels from dust and breathed life into them (Genesis 2:7; 3:19). He designed the procreative process that produced everyone now living. He thus owns our copyright (Romans 9:11–24). God desires more than an authoritarian relationship, though; He wants a family relationship built on love (cf. Matthew 22:36–40). His love for us prompts Him to want the best for us (1 John 4:8); so He wants us to serve Him for our benefit, not His.
Man owes his Landlord. If one lives in America, then he cannot opt out of obeying American laws and paying American taxes. Since the “earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof” (Psalm 24:1), we are living on God’s land, breathing God’s air, drinking from God’s springs, and eating from God’s bounty. Every good thing in our lives comes from that source (James 1:17; Matthew 5:45; Acts 14:17). Truly, “In him we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:28). As His tenants, we are subject to His laws. “O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord” (Jeremiah 22:29).
Jesus was given authority over all earth’s inhabitants. When Christ ascended after conquering sin, death, Satan, and hell, God crowned Him King of earth. The psalmist pre-pictured this event as God putting His King upon the holy hill of Zion (Psalm 2:6; Acts 13:33). It was customary for kings to give to favored ones whatever they asked (cf. 1 Samuel 27:6; Esther 5:6; Matthew 14:7). God promised His Son “the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession” (Psalm 2:6–8). After the resurrection, Jesus affirmed that He had been given all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). The u niversality of this supremacy means that all are subject to Him, whether they submit or not (Hebrews 2:8). Even Pharaoh—who once asked, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice?” (Exodus 5:2)—learned that he was subject to God (Exodus 7–11).
Man owes a debt he can never pay. Jesus pictured sins as debts (Matthew 6:12). All men sin (Romans 3:23), so all have a running tally that God keeps of fines associated with our spiritual misdemeanors. Jesus pictured a lifetime of sins as a “ten thousand talent” debt (Matthew 18:23–35). Since ten thousand was the largest Roman number and a talent their largest denomination of money, this pictured the maximum number—an unpayable debt. To deny the reality of sin does not cancel one’s debt any more than denying a college loan causes a bank to drop it from its records. If sins go unpaid, their wages will be due at the end. The good news is that Jesus’ sacrifice at Calvary can cover each person’s debt (Romans 3:23–26). He offers forgiveness of debt (“remission” of sins) to penitent believers who are baptized (Acts 2:38).
Man has an unavoidable appointment with Judgment Day. Tennyson referred to “that one far-off divine event to which the whole creation moves.”3 Jesus gave this preview: “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory; and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left” (Matthew 25:31–33).
On that day, all the world will be judged (Acts 17:30–31); each individual will stand before the judgment seat (2 Corinthians 5:10). Although the prevailing philosophy is, “I’ll live my life as I please,” man can only avoid answering to God for so long. “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). It is inescapable: “As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God” (Romans 14:11; cf. Isaiah 45:23).
Daniel Webster, the great New England statesman, served our nation with distinguished service the first half of the nineteenth century. Possibly the greatest orator America ever produced, he was described as “one who walked like a man, but spoke as a god.” He was once asked what he considered the most important thought that had ever occupied his mind. He replied, “My gravest thought has been that I shall someday stand before God in judgment and give an account of how I have lived.”4
Yes, your case is now on the docket of God’s final court. Read His book; prepare well. He wants to judge in your favor.
1 Abraham Lincoln’s Speeches, p. 346
3 Alfred Lord Tennyson: A Memoir By His Son, Baron Hallam Tennyson. The Macmillan Company, 1897. Page 327.
4 Edsel Burleson, “All Paths Led to the Judgment,” West End News, p. 1.