Jun 8, 2017

The Authority of Scripture

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by Grace Community Church

We believe in the verbal, complete inspiration of the Old and New Testaments and hold them to be the inerrant Word of God, the supreme and final authority.

“It’s one thing to know about the Bible, and it’s altogether another to have it dramatically transform your life.”  – A.W. Tozer.

A recent study on interaction with the Bible showed that 88% of American households own at least one Bible and average over four Bibles per household. But the study also found that only 37% of Americans read their Bible at least once a week. As a pastor I consistently hear the same remarks regarding the Bible: “I believe the Bible, but I’m just not much of a reader,” or “I just do not understand it the way that others do,” or “I read it when I need some inspiration to get me through my day,” or “I don’t agree with all of it, especially some of its outdated teaching.”

To truly understand the Bible’s power and relevance for our life, we have to better understand the “why” behind it. What is God’s intention for giving humanity His Word, and what does it mean for my life? We must first understand that God, in His very nature, is a supreme communicator. Have you ever thought about God as a communicator? Through every sunset, every clear blue sky, every ocean wave, every breath that you’ve been given to breathe, God is communicating to you. We see this in the creation account when God brings all things into existence and does so through His words (Genesis 1). Eugene Peterson explains this important truth regarding God as a communicator like this: “The Christian gospel is rooted in language: God spoke a creation into being; our Savior was the Word made flesh.”

The Inerrancy of God’s Word

God has graciously provided us the very words of life, the Bible. The early Christians held firm to the belief that the Bible contains the very words of God, uniquely inspired and inerrant, incapable of being wrong. This is the foundation of the doctrine of biblical inerrancy. The Protestant Reformers also believed the Bible to be the revelation of God’s truth to humanity, that God safeguarded the truth by controlling, through the Holy Spirit, the authors of the books of the Bible, keeping these authors from error and anything that was untrue. They believed the Bible was and is the inerrant Word of God, His masterpiece of communication to humanity. For God’s Word to be inerrant means that scriptures possess the quality of freedom from error.

An Inerrant Word Aids Inerrant Living

If we don’t take seriously this doctrine of biblical inerrancy, we run the risk of living a life that functionally ignores an infinitely generous gift that God alone has placed before us. God provided us His inerrant word so that we don’t err in how we live. His Word is designed to love us by protecting us. As John Piper helps us better understand,

“Truth leads to freedom (John 8:32), and error leads to bondage (2 Timothy 2:25–26). Truth saves (2 Thessalonians 2:10); error destroys (2 Thessalonians 2:11). Truth enlightens (Psalm 43:3; Ephesians 5:9); error deceives (Proverbs 12:17; 2 Corinthians 11:13). Truth gives life

(1 John 5:20); error brings death (2 Samuel 6:7). Therefore, God is concerned not only for his own glory in being a God of truth (Romans 3:7); He is concerned also for us when He guards His Word from error.”

When we read God’s Word without listening intently, we are sabotaging His words to us.

An Inerrant Word, God’s Inerrant Plan: the Gospel

One of the most common views of the Bible is that it is an ancient book full of inspiring, but disconnected, stories. However, the stories we read in the Bible – such as David and Goliath, Daniel and the lion’s den, and Jesus walking on water, are more than just detached ancient records. The Bible is one book, composed by one Author, telling one grand story: God’s redemption and restoration of the world lost in Eden through direct intervention. This intervention climaxes in Jesus Christ who accomplished for us what we could not accomplish for ourselves: salvation. Every Biblical text must be placed in this bigger story to be understood. Tremper Longman III provides strong support to this point:

“We should never read Scripture in isolation from the whole Bible. While many human authors contributed to the Bible, God is the Ultimate Author of the whole. While the Bible is an anthology of many books, it is also One Book. While it has many stories to tell, they all contribute to a Single Story.”

We must ask every biblical text one question: “What does this tell me about the main story of the scriptures, which is salvation we have in Christ?” I encourage you to read your Bible and ask this question, and when you do, the Gospel will begin to shine from the pages of your Bible.

Jesus affirms the Gospel-centered nature of scriptures in his discourse with the two men who were traveling to Emmaus. Shortly after His crucifixion, we see these words ‘And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, [Jesus] interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself,’ (Luke 24:27, ESV). Josh Moody and Robin Weekes provide helpful commentary to Jesus’ message here,

“Notice that according to Jesus, all the Scriptures (which for Him was the Old Testament) are about Him…we must see that Christ is at the heart of Scripture… in other words, Jesus Christ is the key, which unlocks every part of the Bible. He is the lens through which all Scripture must be interpreted and lived.”

When you hold your Bible in your hand, you are holding: 66 books, 40+ authors, 1,500+ years, 10 civilizations, 3 continents, 3 languages, and one unified Gospel Story of Jesus Christ!

God’s Inerrant Word and Your Life

If God has provided us His inerrant word that serves as a safeguard so that we don’t err in life, and every text we read shows us more about Jesus, how does that change us on a day-to-day basis? The goal of reading the Word is not to master the content of the Word, but rather the goal is to be mastered by the Author of the Word.

Honestly examining your view of God’s Word is vital, because if God has provided His inerrant Word to us, then maybe at the root of many of our problems in life is simply that we do not know our Bible very well. As Charles Spurgeon once said, “A Bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t.” Far too often we charge into our busy schedules, appointments, and daily responsibilities swayed by self-sufficiency or a “get through the day” mentality when God has graciously provided us His words of life. His inerrant Word speaks to the core of our lives in a more realistic and honest fashion than any other piece of literature. Often we cry out, “God is silent!” but that cry is accompanied by a closed Bible. Martin Luther best summed up our need for God’s Word when he said, “The Bible is a remarkable fountain: the more one draws and drinks of it, the more it stimulates thirst.”  Is this the Bible that you know? The first step in God’s Word coming alive in your life is to pick it up and with complete openness soak up His inerrant words.

Additional Resources

30 Days to Understanding the Bible by Max Anders

The Big Picture by Tommy Nelson

Living By the Book by Howard Hendricks