The Authority of Scripture
Today there is a spiritual famine in the church because of absence of the pure Word of God. The church is anaemic as a result of the poor diet she is receiving from the leaders within it. Instead of good health giving food we are fed junk food, with all kinds of preservatives and all sorts of unnatural substitutes. Biblical malnutrition has affected the church as never before.
Many in the church are experience centered and pragmatic, and the current trend is a drifting away from Biblical preaching and teaching in the pulpit.
Then there are those who do not want to rock the boat who follow the new trends taking on non-scriptural practices so as to be in the “in crowd.”
Others drift along going with the flow because it will affect their pension if they don’t, or their mortgage payments, or their security. They will not confront those who are teaching the things are making a mess of the church. There is little conviction in their preaching and their commitment is shallow. They are weak in defending the finished revelation, inspiration and infallibility of God’s Word.
Partial Inspiration. Some teach that only certain parts of the Bible are inspired. Evangelicalism began to lose some of its dynamic in the second quarter of the nineteenth century because some moved to partial inspiration. These people say “It may be that some portions and particular statements and teachings are inspired.” To follow this route will causes a lack of conviction and determination to preach the Scriptures with confidence. They believe that some historical books and various sections are not inspired. This is wrong, as every word in the Bible is the inspired word of God.
Liberal views have weakened the conviction of others who now believe the Bible is partially inspired and there is some error in it. They preach the text half-heartedly; they have put their faith in the critics and not in God. They need to follow the command of Paul, “Preach the word” (2 Tim. 1-2).
The Word-Faith camp push rhema teaching. This is a combination of new revelation and inspiration. This is one of two Greek words in the New Testament which refer to the “Word of God.” The other is logos. They have a dichotomy of the spoken vs. written word. Though the Bible uses the two words interchangeably, in Word-Faith theology, rhema is said to be the “spoken Word of God,” while logos is considered the “written Word of God.” This doctrine has been adopted by renewal and revival movements such as the Toronto Blessing and the Pensacola Outpouring. In the Rhema doctrine Rhema is used for extra-Biblical revelation, such as “words of knowledge,” or “prophecies.” The idea that “spoken” revelation is in effect now, written revelation is not. It does not matter if it is true as it has to be evaluated like any revelation as to its source. Rhema advocates say they have revelation revealed to them now. They misuse the phrase “The Sword of the Spirit” Rhema is the Greek word used in the Sword of the Spirit passage (Ephesians 6:17 – “..the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”). They stand strong in the belief that God has given a rhema word for a particular situation and confess it (positive confession) in the face of the enemy’s attacks. They also believe speaking or singing scriptures (logos) that apply to the situation we are facing.
These people say they have a “word from the Lord” for you or the church or a group. They believe they speak into our lives and situations directly from God. The Mormons have an “inner witness” which is similar to the “rhema word.” There is no scriptural Scriptural validation or mandate for this practice which is almost non-existent. Many preachers take the lazy way out, they do not “study to show themselves approved a workman that needs not to be ashamed” and look down on others who study the word deeply and teach it in an expository way.
There is no doubt God can use someone or a circumstance to speak to us today but that is not revelation or inspiration of Scripture. The Lord can use another believer to speak to us, advise or help give us direction but when they say they have “a word from the Lord” for us, a red light should come on. God can do what He wants when He wants to whom He wants and where he wants but He will not give extra biblical revelation or revelation that contradicts the completed canon of Scripture.
Inspiration: – The Greek word is “theopneustos” made up of “theos –God and “nuestos” “spirit” and means “God breathed.” The key verse is 2 Timothy 3:16. God supernaturally directed the writers of Scripture so the without affecting their literary style, vocabulary, intelligence, or personal feelings, His complete message to mankind was recorded with perfect accuracy…the very words of the original manuscripts bearing the authority of divine authourship (2 Pet. 1:21). Inspiration is the vehicle by which God’s special revelation came to man (1 Cor. 2:12-13). The biblical writer received the revelation when God inspired Scripture. We receive illumination when the Spirit makes the word alive for us.
a) Inspiration was the unique process by which God revealed Himself. The Scriptures are a divine product breathed out by God; God breathed the messages into men and through them. The writer was controlled by the Holy Spirit of God in such a way that he cannot be guilty of error in what he writes. The Spirit controlled and directed the hearts, minds, and wills of chosen men as they wrote exactly and totally what God wanted. They are His divine action. The Bible claims to be Divinely inspired, claims to be Gods Word and the original manuscript was without error or omission. They are “inspired by God” not of God. God spoke to people even though scripture did not exist at the time but were attributes to scripture because they were identified with God.
God spoke to Abraham and told him, “In you shall all the nations be blessed” (Genesis 12:1-3; Gal. 3:8). God spoke unto Pharaoh, “ …even for this reason I have raised you up” (Ex. 9:16).
b) How did the Holy Spirit do it? He moved men to write and speak what He placed His words in the mouth of others. Peter said, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20-21). They wrote out of their own experience, used their own vocabulary, their education and background differed, over many centuries but the great miracle is the unity of the Bible. They sometimes used secular sayings as Paul did on Mars Hill. They were human people, “moved” by Almighty God. The Holy Spirit controlled and directed the hearts, minds, and wills of chosen men. They were chosen men who wrote exactly and totally what God wanted (2 Tim. 3:16). The word “moved” is also used in Acts 2:2 (rush of mighty wind”; and Luke uses it to say the ships were “carried along by the wind” also “when the ship was caught and could not face the wind, we give way to it, and were driven” (Acts 27:15, 17). Although the ship was at the mercy of the storm, it did have final control over its course and destination. Similarly the writers of the Bible were “borne along” in their writings to produce the words, which God intended to be recorded.
c) God the Father spoke. God spoke out of the mouth of David, “…Why did the heathen rage and the people imagine vain things” (Ps.2: 1). To David again, “Because he said in another Psalm Thou wilt not give thou holy one to see corruption” Ps. 16:10. God said, “…but of the son, He said, Thy throne O god, is for ever and ever,” (Ps. 45:6). “As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, Who have been since the world began…” (Lk.1:20).
d) God the Son spoke. Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” (Lk.24:44) “I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.” (Jn.8:38).
e) God the Holy Spirit spoke. He guided every word the apostles and prophets wrote. David wrote “by the Hoy Ghost” (Mk. 12:36). “The Holy Ghost” spoke by Isaiah (Acts 28:25-26). Peter said, “Then the Spirit told me to go with them, doubting nothing. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house” (Acts 11:12).
f) The Result of the Holy Spirit Speaking. All that He inspired that was in the original manuscript was without error or omission (Mt. 5:17-18; Jn. 10:35).
Verbal inspiration. This is not merely that all thoughts or ideas are inspired, but the actual record down to particular words is. It is not just that the statements were correct, but every word is divinely inspired. It means the Holy Spirit has overruled and controlled and guided these men, even in the choice of particular words, in such a way to prevent error, and above all to produce the result that was originally intended by God.
Plenary Inspiration. – God is the author and inspired all the writers to record totally and wholly what He wanted. The writers were inspired in all that they wrote. The content was only known by Divine revelation. Their mental faculties and process were sharpened and elevated. If only parts came from God there would be a problem determining what is from God and what is from human authors.
“All Scripture is God-breathed”; therefore all Scripture is without error (defect) and is fully authoritative (profitable).
Paul’s entire purpose for placing the clause “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” in 2 Timothy 3:16 is to give a basis or support for the profitableness of Scripture for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction. If Scripture’s source was not the mouth of God, it has no authority and no ultimate profit.
Inerrancy. “Without error”: – The Word of God is “without error”. It is fully true, reliable and dependable in all it teaches. Scripture cannot err because God cannot err, otherwise it would contradict itself. This is a reason for “earnestly contending for the faith” (Jude 3). This has been the churches position for many centuries. When a theologian, teacher, school of thought are skeptical of major doctrines such as the Trinity or abandon biblical inerrancy, the Deity, the Birth of Christ, they all fall away from “the faith once delivered to the saints.” Biblical definitions of faith and ethics are based upon God’s infallibility in history. When all the facts are known they demonstrate the Bible in its original autographs and correctly interpreted it is entirely true and never false in all it affirms, whether that relates to doctrine, history, ethics, to social or physical sciences. However because of illumination we may discover more about the truths the scripture teaches but no new revelation. The Bible correctly reports false statements by ungodly people; this does not guarantee they are true but that they are correct. Apparent contradictions and discrepancies can be understood after deeper study and comparison of other Scriptures. I.E. The four gospels may give a different truth of a thing that actually happened. They are all right.
Reliability. This is its dependability, consistency, trustworthy.
a) It will last longer than creation. “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Mt. 5:18.
b) It can be relied upon. You can rely upon the promises of God (Ps. 119:65-67.)
c) You can rely upon God. “Who among you fears the Lord? Who obeys the voice of His Servant? Who walks in darkness And has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord And rely upon his God. (Isa. 50:10.)
d) Gods word is settled, firm and stable, forever in the heavens (Psalm 119: 89-91.) Vs 90. Hope in God’s word is confidence in its teachings and promises.
e) People, things, event may change but God’s Word remains firm (1 Peter 1:25). Like the heavens, it continually attests God’s unfailing power and unchanging care (Psalms 89:2).
The Authority of God’s Word
a. Definition of Authority. The Bible has the right, the power, and the last word, to command belief or action. It has the right to define belief or describe practice.
b. The Supreme Authority. Men and governments have authority but it is limited and flawed. God’s Authority is unlimited and without flaw. It is supreme, higher than man’s. He has the right as creator to determine what to believe and how we should live.
c. God’s authority is based upon who He is and what he has done. He has created us and redeemed us. He maintains his creation in existence. He continues to give us life, cares for us, and provides our needs. We are dependant on Him.
d. God’s authority is found in His Word not people. He does not speak through mediums, spritists, or a direct word or guidance. Some believe religious authority resides in prophets present in the church today. It is not some direct revelation he gives to some charismatic. When someone says, “Thus says the Lord” believing God gave them direct revelation they are suspect. When a person says, “The Holy Spirit said to me personally” they are on a bed of quicksand. The Bereans checked every thing out to see if what was said or believed was in the Scriptures. Christian people should be like the Bereans today.
e. Some believe authority is in the church or a person. However it is not in the Pope or any other human leaders since they have sin natures and are fallible, and cannot be completely relied upon. The Roman Catholic Church claims to be Gods representative on earth and it has he authority to tell people how to interpret Scripture and what to believe. They have the authority to define doctrinal matters. They also believe their authority comes from their traditions. When the church speaks it has the same authority as if the Lord himself was speaking. No! The Bible is our supreme authority and we must believe what it says regardless of what religious leaders say.
f. Some believe authority is in prophets present in the church who receive messages from God. In the church some regard the word of a “big name” speakers as almost equal with the Bible. The Cults have their prophets who believe God sent them I.E. (Joseph Smith, Mormonism; Judge Rutherford, Jehovah’s Witness; Sun Myung Moon and his unification church). Mohammed believed he was a special prophet sent from God.
g. The Bible is of Divine origin and declares it is God himself who is the ultimate authority in religious matters. He alone has the right, both by virtue of who he is wand what he does, to establish the standard for belief and practice. He created the Bible; it conveys His message to us.
h. It is because He wrote it He gives illumination of the Holy Spirit in order for us to understand it. Neither the church nor human reason can do this. We can never grasp the things of the Spirit unless the spirit reveals them to us in Scripture. He enlightens ways; His attributes and us about God’s nature but we cannot fully comprehend Him. He is infinite and only what He reveals to us of Himself through the spirit will we understand with our finite minds. He gives us certainty in the things god has revealed in Scripture.
The Bible Claims to be the Word of God
1. The Bible teaches its own inspiration and requires inerrancy. (2 Tim.3: 16).
2. The Bible calls it self “Scripture” that is not ordinary writings but special “holy writings.”
3. The Bible calls itself the “Word of God.” The words “the Lord said” “the Lord spoke” 3808 times alone in the Old Testament.
4. More specific the words spoken by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:18 “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words into his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.”
5. Israel is given the criteria for distinguishing Gods message and messenger from false prophecies and prophets (Deut. 13:1-5; 18:20-22). It must be totally true.
6. All the prophets did not suddenly decide to write but they said, “The word of the Lord came.” (Ezk. 1:3; Hosea 1:1; Jonah 1:1), and they tell exactly what came.
7. Jeremiah was reluctant to speak but he was compelled to (Jer. 1:6-7). It was the “burden “ of the Lord that came upon him.
8. The Bible teaches its own authority and requires inerrancy. (Matt. 5:17-20; John 10:34-35). Jesus said, “Heaven and earth may pass away before the smallest detail of the law fails to be fulfilled. In John Jesus says hat Scripture cannot be broken and is absolutely binding. This authority is grounded upon inerrancy.
9. Scripture uses Scripture to support its inerrancy. John 10:34-35; Ps.82: 6, Matt. 22:32, Gal.3: 16.
10. The Bible s inerrancy depends upon Gods character. God cannot lie (Num. 23:19; 1 Sam. 15:29; Titus 1:2; Heb. 6:18)
Evidences for Inspiration
Prophecy:- Its Fulfillment and Historical Accuracy. All that God has predicted in the Bible has come and is going to become true. Below are a few of the hundreds of predictions regarding the Messiah at His first coming and other prophecies by the Old Testament prophets are recorded as coming true.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem – Micah gave the exact city 700 years before. (Micah 5:2 – Matt.2: 1).
He would be rejected, and He would be crucified, they would divide up his garments. (Isa. 53:3; Lk. 23:18 – Isa 53:3; Isa. 53:5, 7; Matt. 27:24 – Ps. 22:8 – Jn. 19:24; c.f. Ps. 22 – written about 1,000 B.C. Is. 53 – written about 750 B.C.)
Prophecies concerning the great nations Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome were all fulfilled (Dan.2, 7, and 11).
David predicted 1000 before how Christ would die (Ps.22).
Daniel predicted that a great leader would come 530 years before Christ.
Jesus predicted the temple would be destroyed (Matt. 24:1-2- fulfilled 70 AD.
Jesus said Jerusalem would be destroyed Lk.21:24 – Fulfilled: 70 AD.
Daniel foretold the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple Dan. 9:26 –Fulfilled: 70 AD.
Micah prophesied Jerusalem would be destroyed and “ploughed like a field” (Micah 3:11-12) 750-686 BC – Fulfilled: 135 AD
Hermeneutics is the science of Biblical interpretation. It is necessary to interpret a text properly, to know its correct meaning. Understanding the language scriptures are written in, the etymology of a word, the historical background and the culture will enhance the teaching and preaching of Gods Word.
What about the words of sinful, erring people and Satan in Scripture? Some things recorded in the Bible are the words of weak and erring men. The words are not revelation but they are recorded in an inspired manner. Some words the devil spoke are recorded. Some of these are quotes from scripture, partial quotes or wrong quotes. But when that is the case, the words are identified as such and show up their weakness and error. Revelation is the unfolding of God Himself but there are many things that are not revelation such as statements of sinful, ungodly men. But the Bible says all these statements, as they are recorded, are done in an inspired manner. The statements do not let us know more about God. There is no revelation, or self-disclosure. But the Bible claims that all in it contains an inspired record and therefore infallible an inerrant record.
Neo- Orthodoxy – This is not a single system or a unified movement. It began in the crisis developed with the disillusionment and aftermath following World War I (1914-1918). This accompanied with Darwinian evolution, higher criticism, Freudian psychology, Marxist socialism, Nietzschean nihilism, and the naturalism of new science all undermining confidence in the infallibility of the Bible and the existence of the supernatural shattered the optimistic, postmillennial vision of ushering in the kingdom of God. It is primarily associated with the Swiss Protestant Karl Barth (1886-1968) and theologian Emil Brunner (1899-1966). Barth totally rejected natural theology and inerrancy of the Bible, and emphasized the trancendance of God. He was influenced by Soren Kirekegarrd view of Existentialism a philosophical movement which claims that individual human beings create the meanings of their own lives. Barth’s view of the Bible was that it “contains the word of God” the truth is the Bible “Is the Word of God.” Although Barth’s theology rejected German Protestant Liberalism, his theology has usually not found favour with those at the other end of the theological spectrum: confessionalists, evangelicals and fundamentalists. His doctrine of the Word of God, for instance, (he rejected Biblical inerrancy) does not proceed by arguing or proclaiming that the Bible must be uniformly historically and scientifically accurate, and then establishing other theological claims on that foundation.
New (neo) – Evangelism. It took issue with the older fundamentalism. Harold Okenga argued that it had the wrong attitude and was suspicious about the wrong strategy and brought the wrong results. It was open to contacts with Rome and Liberal church but reject fundamentalism. It became widespread to include some Baptists, Methodists, Holiness churches, Pentecostal churches, Charismatic, Christian brethren, black churches etc. Evangelical ecumenism has the Billy Graham organization as its main catalyst. On other issues they were willing to drop or not mention certain Biblical truths in the fight against secular society. Many Neo-evangelicals believe the Bible is partially inspired by God. They are very open to ecumenical persuasions. This in turn has affected missionary endeavours as seen in the evangelical movement Roman Catholics and Evangelical Together, in the 1990’s. In my opinion it leads to Pragmatism, which includes things are tested upon their practical consequences of belief. It is no important how you get results so long as you get them. Gods Word does not become the standard but results are the standard we measure success by.13. This view has many varieties:
a. Illumination theory – God gave illumination the writers of Scripture so that at certain points of their writing were the Word of God.
b. Demythologizing theory – God inspired the truths found in the Bible. They say that the true Bible is found by removing the cultural myths (Ex: miracles) (Bultmann).
c. Concept theory – God inspired the ideas, thoughts, or concepts but not the words. Each writer was free to record it in his own words. The Spirit did not guide him in his choice of words.
d. Essential portion theory – God inspired only portions of Scripture, which describe salvation. This view, also held by the Roman Catholic Church, says that the Bible is without error in matters central to the Bible, but has errors in “peripheral matter.”
e. The Death of god Theory. In the 60s these views were prominent and the main theologians quoted were Harvard Divinity School professor Harvey Cox, and Bishop of Woolwich John. A. T. Robinson. Others such as Thomas. J. J. Altizer, William Hamilton, Gabriel Vahanian and Paul van Buren were leading lights in this movement. They spoke of “man coming of age”. Cox in his book The Secular City believed we should applaud the secular city and that Judeo – Christian tradition itself leads us to a secular position. He believed that modern man, with his technology, urbanity and pragmatism is the product of Biblical faith. There is no biblical basis for this as it is worldly wisdom and integration into the world system instead of the Biblical teaching of the Church being separate form the world.
f. Potential Inspiration. Carl Bath, the father of neo-orthodoxy, believed that the Bible becomes the word of god. God reveals to man in an encounter in an act of revelation. It becomes the Word of god at that moment.
g. Inspired like other authors? – Some believe that men wrote in a masterful creative way as a poet, or some one like Shakespeare, and they were “inspired”. Nor were they ideas that were given by which were given to the writers were inspired. The writers of the Bible were not inspired in this way it was not of human origin but God breathing His Word into them.
d. Mechanical Dictation. This view teaches the Bible is inspired by God, but there is no real human participation in its production. It was a stiff mechanical, dictated inspiration of the Word. Men did not I sit down and God dictated each word to the writer. He did not suppress human personality. The men would only have been typists and God would have used only their physical bodies, not their minds or personalities. Divine revelation desires not passive `mediums’ but active men of God; not dead tools, but living, sanctified co-workers with God; not slaves, but friends (Jn. 15:15). The difference of style between the authors is evidence that this is not the case. Each one has his own style, characteristics, habits and idiosyncrasies. You can tell if Paul or Peter or John wrote a book. For instance Luke with his medical training give us precious records and had various other records in order to examine certain reports.