The Bible’s Authority

The Bible’s Authority

A few weeks ago it was my privilege to preach a sermon on the topic of the Bible’s authority. It was noted that throughout the centuries there has been a consistent attack on the Bible’s authority. When it comes to knowing God’s will, seeking guidance, providing teaching on matters concerning salvation and spiritual growth many are asserting that churches ought to look outside of Scripture. This can be seen by those who embrace and promote personal experience, extra-biblical revelation, mysticism, philosophy, seeker sensitive strategies, and even tradition for solutions to their spiritual problems or for answers to spiritual truths.

In this message two outcomes of the Bible’s Authority were observed. Firstly, we noted the Superiority of Scripture. Knowing that throughout the ages many great books have been written and that they have provided encouragement to people and insight into certain facts. What makes the word of God superior? The  answer was its source (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21), its self-claims (Psalm 19:7-9) and its substance (Psalm 119:142; John 17:17).

Secondly, we raised the final outcome: the Sufficiency of Scripture. By this statement I am saying that when it comes to all spiritual matters the word of God contains the necessary help and information we need. In what areas is it sufficient? In matters pertaining to salvation (2 Timothy 3:14-15; Romans 10:17), to sanctification (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and to speaking (2 Timothy 4:2-5).

Many consider adhering to the authority of Scripture as an old way of thinking. People feel the need to look to experience, extra-biblical revelation, mysticism, philosophy and even tradition for solutions to their spiritual problems or for answers to spiritual truths. The Word and Word alone are God’s truth (John 17:17); therefore it ought to be our treasure. Practically speaking, how should we respond to these realities?

Firstly, Desire the Word (Psalm 42:1; 119:131). Secondly Read the Word (1 Timothy 4:13; Rev. 1:3). Thirdly Meditate on the Word (Joshua 1:8). In the fourth place, Memorize the Word (Psalm 119:11). Finally, take the time to Obey the Word (John 14:15). When such actions are consistent in our lives the word of God will begin to control our lives. It is our duty to stand firm against the trends that sweep through the church. May we be reminded that the Scriptures are superior and sufficient. Henry Smith, an English Puritan of the sixteenth century, said:

“We should set the Word of God always before us like a rule, and believe nothing but that which it teacheth, love nothing but that which it prescribeth, hate nothing but that which it forbiddeth, do nothing but that which it commandeth.”

3 Comments

  1. Simon

    Thanks Andrew. Good post. While you don’t directly address inerrancy (that Scripture is without error), I have a question for you regarding it. There is a little tiff happening in the Reformed blogosphere about complimentarianism and innerrancy. One gentleman (Carl Truman at Reformation 21) has suggested that you can be egalitarian with regard to biblical sexuality, and still hold to the inerrancy of the Bible. I think he could be right, so far as it goes. However, another gentleman has answered Truman’s claims by saying that the authority of the Bible is more important, and that egalitarians cannot really hold to the authority of the Bible. I tend to agree with him also.

    A complex issue, and poorly summarised, but I’m interested in your views of inerrancy and authority, even though both go together. Maybe I should have written a post instead of a comment!

    • Andrew Courtis

      Simon, you have written a mini post (something to flesh out in the near future). Recognising that Trueman is a convinced complimentarian (which I am also) and a man that I have utmost respect for, I disagree with his conclusion in his post. You are right when you say that this is a complex issue, and perhaps more time can be spend on answering this in a future post. Put simply, the hermeneutical approach of the egalitarian will have devastating effects on how one interprets the rest of Scripture and the implications of rejecting complementarinism will greatly influence the biblical requirements of marriage and church leadership. I personally found Denny Burk’s post very helpful!

      • Simon

        Appreciate your thoughts, Andrew. Also, I like Denny Burk’s post on the issue. I think he nails it. Plenty to think about! People, myself included, very easily stray toward personal experience and mysticism, philosophy and tradition, instead of relying on the clear teaching of the Bible. The gender issue is another example of this problem playing itself out.

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