2 Timothy 3:16-17 "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."
We've noted in the last two posts how the four main attributes of scripture (sufficiency, clarity, authority and necessity) rise and fall together. To state it another way: one cannot assert the sufficiency of scripture and yet deny its clarity, authority and necessity. When we affirm one of these qualities, we affirm all of them. In today's post we want to consider the Bible's authority.
A Brief Exposition On The Bible's Authority
We’ve looked at the Bible’s sufficiency and clarity, but what about its authority? Author Wayne Grudem gives the following definition of “authority”:
“The authority of scripture means that all the words in Scripture are God’s words in such a way that to disbelieve or disobey any word of scripture is to disobey God.”
Kevin DeYoung, in his book: “Taking God At His Word” uses the term: “final word” on page 78 to designate the role of scripture in his chapter on the Bible being the final authority.
When we designate the Bible is our final authority, are we excluding all other forms of authority (such as pastors, church congregations, science, government, etc)? not at all! All other authorities are important and function to provide guidance, protection and accountability. The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 notes about the Bible’s authority:
“the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried.”
When we talk of the Bible's authority, two very important doctrines must be mention: inerrancy and infallbility. Biblical inerrancy is another way of saying that the Bible is "totally true" in all it says, containing not one error in its words as originally given. The latter term "infallibility" refers to how the scriptures are never wrong, or, put another way: "always lead to a correct knowledge and understanding of God and everything else. The late theologian Dr. Charles Ryrie comments on this link in his article: "The Importance Of Inerrancy", in volume 120 of Bibliotheca Sacra:
"Both the authority of Christ and the authority of the Scriptures depend on the inerrancy of the Scriptures, for statements that are not completely true cannot be absolutely authoritative. Furthermore, parts of the Bible cannot be true and thus authoritative while other parts are not. It is not a book that is authoritative only in matters of “faith and practice.”
What Jesus Said About Biblical Authority
The best Person to look to in understanding the Bible’s authority is none other than Jesus Himself. In almost 30 spots in the four Gospels, we find Jesus using the phrase “it is written” in His quotations of the Old Testament. This little phrase was distinctly used by Jesus to highlight the Old Testament as God’s words in contrast to when He referenced the Jewish teachers, wherein He would say: “you have heard it said”. One of the names we use for the Bible, “scripture”, which derives from a Latin term “scriptura” meaning “that which is written” and undoubtedly reflects the attitude Jesus had toward the Bible being God’s written, authoritative revelation to us.
The Bible’s authority is unique authority, in that it alone has sway over the conscience and it alone is the final court of appeals when it comes to weighing not only matters of life but also in getting ready for the life to come. Some great scriptures that unfold further the meaning of the Bible’s authority are: Matthew 5:18; 24:35; Luke 16:17; Psalm 119:89,160; Isaiah 40:8; 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and 2 Peter 1:3-4.