I don’t think that too many Christians set out to undermine the authority of scripture. Why would we, since Satan does such a good job of it for us? And yet sliding on this issue happens. Slowly, and gradually, we find ourselves relying on something else… something other than the powerful two-edged sword that is the Word of God.
Here is a gentle (but firm) reminder of some truths that you and I need to reaffirm in 2015:
God’s Word is authoritative because of its author. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 state, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” Who wrote the Bible? Chosen men of God wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (there’s a little children’s catechism for you). But don’t miss this truth. The Creator of the universe, the God Who made everything and sustains everything has spoken. And the thing is, we tend to fight more over the “how” of preservation than we bask in the very fact that God Himself has revealed Himself in a set of books put together into what we call the Bible. If the One who Whom we will one day answer has spoken, then we give it the important place in our lives that it deserves.
God’s Word is singularly authoritative. Contrary to the teaching of some, the ultimate authority is not God’s Word as interpreted by the church. Rather, the Word stands alone. It alone is our final and ultimate source of authority. When I stand in the pulpit, the power and influence that I have goes only so far as I have accurately communicated the text of the living Word.
God’s Word is authoritative because it is inspired. When 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that the scripture is breathed out by God, it is telling us that the very words of the Bible are inspired (in the original autographs, but preserved in the body of manuscripts we have today). Two aspects of this must be noted. First, inspiration means that the Bible is infallible. This tells us how scripture functions. It is completely trustworthy and can never fail. Scripture is also inerrant. This points to the truthfulness of scripture. Scripture has no errors or contradictions whatsoever. Why is this so? Because of the One Who wrote it!
A case study in the authority of the Word- Luke 16:19-31. In this account, we see the familiar story of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man dies and goes to hell, while Lazarus goes into Abraham’s bosom. A great gulf is fixed between the two, and one cannot travel between. But the poignant part of the story comes towards the end. The rich man calls for Lazarus to be sent back to warn his siblings of the judgment to come after death. But the response is powerful. “If they will not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” (verse 31). Whoa. A few things to think about.
There is an immediate judgment after death, even prior to the Great White Throne (v. 22-23).
This judgment is permanent no second changes (v. 24-26)
There is no room for annihilation here (v. 27-28)
The rich man seems to have a point (v. 29-30). Surely, people would be open to someone coming back from the dead!
But Abraham’s logic is airtight (31). Scripture plus anything else is not scripture alone when it comes to salvation. As you can see in places such as John 6, the problem with “signs” is that people see them but don’t see them. And so we see the ultimate case for the authority of scripture. In it alone is salvation found. If someone will not listen to the scripture, they won’t hear even if one should rise from the dead (after all, One did rise from the dead, and people still won’t listen….).