Theology for All #2: The Bible: The Authority of Scripture

Why is the Bible so important to Christianity? There is a relatively simple answer, but it’s an answer made cloudy by the number of Christian churches that claim the answer in their theological statements while denying it in their practice. The Bible is vitally important to Christianity because it is the authoritative source document for all Christian faith and practice (2 Peter 1:3). The Bible is where we go for understanding our relationship to God and what he requires of us. We call this the “authority” of scripture. Wayne Grudem defines authority this way, “The authority of Scripture means that all the words in Scripture are God’s words in such a way that to disobey or disbelieve any word of Scripture is to disobey or disbelieve God.”

In the Old Testament, the communal life of the nation of Israel was rooted in the written words of God. Moses spent 40 days on Mount Sinai receiving the very words of God. These words were to guide and legislate the lives of God’s chosen people. They were sacred words, holy words… because they came from God Himself. Jesus upheld this view in Matthew 5:17 when he made it clear that he had not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. He strengthened this position in John 10:35 by stating that “scripture cannot be broken” (speaking of the Old Testament). 

As the church age begins and the New Testament is written, the authors of books of the New Testament recognize that their writings carry the same level of authority as the books of the Old. In 2 Peter 3:16, Peter equates the writings of Paul with Scripture. Paul makes a similar claim in 1 Timothy 5:18 when he quotes both Deuteronomy and Luke as being Scripture. 

We could say more, but remember, this is meant to be an accessible and general series. I would be happy to recommend resources for deeper study. So what are the practical implications of the authority of Scripture? There are several:

  • For the church, the life of our communities must be rooted and grounded in the Bible. This truth needs to confront much of what happens in the context of many churches. Our preaching must be text-centered. Our music must be scripture-saturated. And our studies must be biblically rooted.
  • For the individual, we need to re-examine how we view the Bible. Our lives are so filled with devotional books and other resources about the Bible, that we can neglect the actual study of the Bible. Scripture itself is our guide for life and holiness. We’ll talk more about this in future weeks.