Why should we do with the Bible tells us to do? Most people don’t even consider what God thinks about their actions. They just do whatever they want. But Christians are called by the Bible to live a certain way.
Last week we discussed how the Bible is inspired by God through human writers. This week we’re talking about why Scripture is authoritative for our lives. Why turn to the pages of Scripture when we need to hear from God?
Inspiration of Scripture explains how God recorded His word for us today. It is concerned with how God’s Spirit interact with human authors. Authority is concerned with the importance and priority of the Bible in our lives. Authority is about credibility.
The Bible speaks into our lives and directs us. It must have authority for us to listen to it. Any parent knows what it’s like for a teenager to deny them the authority to speak into their lives. We must recognize and respect the Bible’s authority.
We looked at 2 Timothy 3:16 when we talked about inspiration, and now we must look at the second part. Paul explained that the Bible is useful for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness.
These four categories cover doctrine and practice. The New Testament writers and the Church knew for a long time that the Bible is the authority for Christian belief and practice. The Bible has the right to speak into our lives because it contains God’s words.
Scriptural authority gives the reasons for trusting in Scripture above all other sources. When we need advice, comfort, encouragement, rebuke, or anything else, the Bible is the place to go. Authority gives the Bible high honor as the greatest book ever written.
The great God spoke the greatest Word. Through the Bible, he speaks to us today. No other book in all of creation reveals his plan and purpose for our lives. No other book guides us and shows us his expectations.
The Bible has God’s fingerprints on it. It is unparalleled, matchless in the unity of its books. No other collection of books contains such a cohesive unity with such a diversity in language, cultures, and time periods.
Consider the thousands of years, number of authors, and the ability to reveal God and his plan throughout time. The Bible’s authority on ethics and morality in the time of its writing alone was greater than other moral codes.
Atheists may argue that the Bible is rife with ethical quandaries, citing examples such as God calling Israel to kill all the Canaanites, incest in its early pages, and contradictions in its teaching. But the more they would study the Bible, they would find that these are not contradictions, inconsistencies, or questionable ethics.
The Bible is not an easy book to interpret by far, but its overarching message is simple and complete. Its simplicity and complexity paradoxically run beside one another. A person can study the Bible all of their lives and still find more to know.
Authority also speaks to the historical accuracy and correctness of the spiritual and doctrinal information it contains. It speaks to other disciplines, like science, archaeology, and anthropology. We must note that at the time of its writing, it was completely accurate to the understanding of those disciplines, and sometimes provided a view advanced in its time.
For instance, some point out that it says that the sun rises and sets, suggesting that the earth is the center of the solar system. However, it also talks about the sun moving across its circuit in a circular motion, pointing to the earth revolving around the sun.
I firmly add that the Bible is not a science textbook. It’s revelation from God through the understanding of humans. We are finding as we discover more in archaeology at the geography and historical people are correct. New archaeological discoveries prove that the Bible is accurate.
One external evidence concerning the Bible’s accuracy is that it has been around for thousands of years. It has survived through human and natural attacks to destroy it. I showed in the post on the Canon some of these attempts.
God has allowed his Word to continue through the ages. He has protected and preserved it for us today. It is the true living document because God spoke it many years ago but it still speaks to us today. It does not fade away or fail with the passing of time.
Every contradiction or inconsistency people find has an answer when it is studied. Sometimes the solution is to let go of preconceived notions. For instance, the Bible contains predictive prophecies in which God historically calls his shots. Well before the event, one of the prophets declared it would happen.
People who don’t believe in predictive prophecy say that the prophecies were written that much later dates, usually after the event. They would call these self-fulfilling prophecies. We must consider in further study the calendars that are being used by each author. Aside from that, if they refuse to look closely at when the documents were written, they will never see predictive prophecy.
The Bible is authoritative for our lives today because God accurately penned through human beings the truth of their time. He has preserved his Word through centuries of danger and possible destruction. Ultimately, when we read the Bible today, the Holy Spirit speaks to our hearts.
I have one more note about inspiration. Both inspiration and authority flow together. Only after realizing that God spoke his word through human authors and then made it authoritative for our lives today can we accept its counsel for every situation we encounter.
Often linked with inspiration are the issues of inerrancy and infallibility. Inerrancy is the trustworthiness of Scripture. Infallibility says the words of Scripture are faultless. Many suggest that the message may be infallible but the text may have inaccuracies or errors.
In my studies, dealing with the original languages and manuscripts, I have personally compared manuscript to manuscript. I was practicing a discipline called textual criticism in my third year of Greek at my undergrad. I still use this technique today.
Textual criticism is when scholars compare all of the manuscripts we have found to gain the most accurate reading from the original documents. I personally use the word inerrant because it decisively suggests that there are no mistakes in God’s Word.
God has no errors in himself, and he spoke the words of Scripture. The original autographs of Scripture, the original writings on parchments are both infallible and inerrant. Unfortunately, because we don’t have them anymore, we must use these copies of manuscripts.
Don’t be alarmed! As I have described before, having so many copies helps us to understand what the most accurate reading of the original is. Through comparing the manuscripts we have, we notice misspelled words, where people who copied manuscripts skipped lines, and other common mistakes.
So the manuscripts we have do have contain errors. This is why I prefer inerrant instead of infallible. The copies we do have are not infallible..But the words of Scripture are inerrant because they come from and infallible God.
God has spoken in a clear and obvious way. We can trust that the Holy Spirit spoke through human authors. We know that our Bible is so close in accuracy to the original writings that we need not fear we have it wrong.
Our understanding of the inspiration and authority of Scripture should cause us to have great joy and worship God for the Bible. He didn’t leave us to our own devices. He guides, encourages, teaches, disciplines, and blesses us through the Bible.
We can be certain that God speaks through the Bible to us on a daily basis. Every time you open the Bible, you are reading God’s words to you. You can put into practice with great success every part of his word when you accurately and faithfully interpret and apply it.
God inspired people long ago to write the things we would need to be told over and over because they don’t come naturally to us. He preserved everything we need to know to personally know and live for him.
The Bible is like no other book in all of creation. Allow God’s Word to speak to you and receive it in obedience. But as a caution, don’t worship the Bible because it is accurate and authoritative. Worship the God who wrote his Word and reveals himself to us. The Bible leads us to God and that’s why it’s like no other book. Leave a comment and tell me what you think about the authority of Scripture. What are some situations in your life or the Bible has helped you to know what God wants you to do?