Living Theology #3 – The Authority of Scripture

by Garrett Glende

Two weeks ago we looked at what it means for us that the words written in the Bible are the very words of God. This reminded us that there should be no time spent in His word without it eliciting a response on our behalf. Considering that we have God’s own words written down for us, there should be a deep longing to know and understand relationally who God is. This week’s topic, the authority of Scripture, flows directly from this doctrine in that because the Bible is the word of God it is authoritative.

It isn’t difficult to come to this conclusion. After all, if God has spoken, is not what He says true (Numbers 23:19)? As creator of the universe, His stance on any given subject should be authoritative on this basis alone. So the answer to the question, “Why should I listen to what the Bible has to say?” is simple: because God says so. Paul writes in 2 Timothy 3:16 that “all Scripture is breathed out by God…” As discussed in last week’s article on the canon, the Greek word used here is graphé. This term is always used to describe Old Testament writings, but there are also places where New Testament material is placed in the same category as graphé (2 Peter 3:16, 1 Timothy 5:18). Thus, we can confidently say that all of the New Testament is inspired by God as well.

The most direct implication that this has is that any time we disobey Scripture we are disobeying God. We must not see the Bible as simply a gathering of good spiritual morals to live by. Instead, it is to be looked upon and treated as the authoritative, true, and final word of God. Obedience is not optional, it is commanded.

One specific pitfall that I think is easy to fall into is defending a belief based not on what the Bible has said, but what man has said. So often we claim to understand complicated issues because our favorite theologian takes a stand on them. “I know that the Bible teaches predestination because MacArthur says so.” It’s easy to do because we know that they already have put in the hard study. If such godly men seem to be so decided on this issue, then why should I have to do much looking into it myself, is our common refrain. But this attitude displays that we care more about studying what Piper or Sproul says than what God says. If we truly believe that Scripture alone is authoritative, then we would look to it to find out answers instead of running to a pastor or friend. It isn’t necessarily wrong to ask other’s opinions, but when their opinion is placed above what the Bible says we are in sin. This is common in dealing with controversial issues or Christian liberties. Yes, the charismatic sign gifts may have indeed ceased, but surely not because Pastor John says so. And yes, it is wise to build boundaries while dating, but these things are not so on man’s authority alone.

Alternatively, because the Bible is authoritative, we should know for ourselves what it says. So when a friend asks us about a difficult subject, we can answer with “because the Bible says so” and not “because Pastor John said so.” The weight behind our words is far greater when we can point to Scripture to illustrate our beliefs instead of pointing to man. This will also strengthen our own faith and convictions because we will have thought deeply about the issues and put the necessary study in to come to a conclusion, a process which in and of itself is invaluable. May we all seek to come to know God more by reading, studying, and meditating on the glorious truths revealed through His authoritative word.

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The Beacon is the monthly newsletter for Lighthouse Bible Church in San Diego, California. It covers a variety of subjects including LBC events, church history, current events from a Christan perspective, ministry profiles, and messages from our pastors and elders. To join the Beacon ministry, please contact Stephen Rodgers.

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