The Bible’s Authority

A few weeks ago it was my privilege to preach a sermon on the topic of the Bible’s authority. It was noted that throughout the centuries there has been a consistent attack on the Bible’s authority. When it comes to knowing God’s will, seeking guidance, providing teaching on matters concerning salvation and spiritual growth many are asserting that churches ought to look outside of Scripture. This can be seen by those who embrace and promote personal experience, extra-biblical revelation, mysticism, philosophy, seeker sensitive strategies, and even tradition for solutions to their spiritual problems or for answers to spiritual truths.

In this message two outcomes of the Bible’s Authority were observed. Firstly, we noted the Superiority of Scripture. Knowing that throughout the ages many great books have been written and that they have provided encouragement to people and insight into certain facts. What makes the word of God superior? The  answer was its source (; ), its self-claims () and its substance (; ).

Secondly, we raised the final outcome: the Sufficiency of Scripture. By this statement I am saying that when it comes to all spiritual matters the word of God contains the necessary help and information we need. In what areas is it sufficient? In matters pertaining to salvation (; ), to sanctification () and to speaking ().

Many consider adhering to the authority of Scripture as an old way of thinking. People feel the need to look to experience, extra-biblical revelation, mysticism, philosophy and even tradition for solutions to their spiritual problems or for answers to spiritual truths. The Word and Word alone are God’s truth (); therefore it ought to be our treasure. Practically speaking, how should we respond to these realities?

Firstly, Desire the Word (). Secondly Read the Word (; ). Thirdly Meditate on the Word (). In the fourth place, Memorize the Word (). Finally, take the time to Obey the Word (). When such actions are consistent in our lives the word of God will begin to control our lives. It is our duty to stand firm against the trends that sweep through the church. May we be reminded that the Scriptures are superior and sufficient. Henry Smith, an English Puritan of the sixteenth century, said:

“We should set the Word of God always before us like a rule, and believe nothing but that which it teacheth, love nothing but that which it prescribeth, hate nothing but that which it forbiddeth, do nothing but that which it commandeth.”

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.

142 Your righteousness is righteous forever,
and your law is true.

17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

42:1 As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.

Psalm 119:131

131 I open my mouth and pant,
because I long for your commandments.

13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

11 I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

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Andrew Courtis

Andrew Courtis

ANDREW - Serves as Pastor of Hills Bible Church. I am married to Dianne and we have three children (Kate, Emma and Jack). I was born and raised in Melbourne, moved to Adelaide to undertake theological studies (BMin.), and have completed additional studies with the Australian College of Theology (MATh.). I have served in pastoral ministry in both Melbourne and Sydney and am a qualified school teacher. I am committed to expository preaching and making the word of God known and understood.

3 thoughts on “The Bible’s Authority”

  1. Thanks Andrew. Good post. While you don’t directly address inerrancy (that Scripture is without error), I have a question for you regarding it. There is a little tiff happening in the Reformed blogosphere about complimentarianism and innerrancy. One gentleman (Carl Truman at Reformation 21) has suggested that you can be egalitarian with regard to biblical sexuality, and still hold to the inerrancy of the Bible. I think he could be right, so far as it goes. However, another gentleman has answered Truman’s claims by saying that the authority of the Bible is more important, and that egalitarians cannot really hold to the authority of the Bible. I tend to agree with him also.

    A complex issue, and poorly summarised, but I’m interested in your views of inerrancy and authority, even though both go together. Maybe I should have written a post instead of a comment!

    1. Simon, you have written a mini post (something to flesh out in the near future). Recognising that Trueman is a convinced complimentarian (which I am also) and a man that I have utmost respect for, I disagree with his conclusion in his post. You are right when you say that this is a complex issue, and perhaps more time can be spend on answering this in a future post. Put simply, the hermeneutical approach of the egalitarian will have devastating effects on how one interprets the rest of Scripture and the implications of rejecting complementarinism will greatly influence the biblical requirements of marriage and church leadership. I personally found Denny Burk’s post very helpful!

      1. Appreciate your thoughts, Andrew. Also, I like Denny Burk’s post on the issue. I think he nails it. Plenty to think about! People, myself included, very easily stray toward personal experience and mysticism, philosophy and tradition, instead of relying on the clear teaching of the Bible. The gender issue is another example of this problem playing itself out.

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