3. THE AUTHORITY
II Tim. 3:16; II Peter 1:19-21; Matt 5:17-18; John 10:34-36; Matt. 4:1-11
Why is the Bible authoritative?
IV. The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, depends not upon the testimony of any manor church, but wholly upon God (who is truth itself), the author thereof; therefore it is to be received because it is the Word of God.[II Peter 1:19-21; II Tim. 3:16; II Thess. 2:13; I John 5:9]
How do we know that the Bible is the Word of God and, thus, authoritative?
V. We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the church of God to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scriptures; and the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, and the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man's salvation, and many other incomparable excellencies, and entire perfections thereof, are arguments whereby it doth abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God; yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth, and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts [John 16:13-14; I Cor. 2:10-12, I John 2:20, 27.]
These two emphasis the authority of Scriptures from two different perspectives; the fourth paragraph is more objective while the fifth is subjective.
The fact of the divine authority of the Bible means its absolute authority, its verbal, plenary inspiration. This means the words of the Bible – all of the words Bible – are the products of direct, supernatural influence of the spirit on the men who were His organs or instruments. It is completely without error.
The Bible never adversely criticizes itself. The Bible never asserts of another statement in the Bible that is in error. This is so evident that it needs no defense. We have two classes of evidence for its authority:
1. The witness of the Old Testament to the Old Testament
2. The witness of the New Testament to the Old Testament.
The witness of the New Testament to the Old Testament makes most clear the authority of the Old Testament as an organic whole and in detail it’s is God-breathed, the product of divine origination and determination, permanent unbreakable in its very assertion, and as written is perfectly authoritative. The argument for the authority of the Bible begins, therefore, with its doctrine of the authority of the Old Testament found in the New Testament.
1. The Old Testament is sacred (2Tim. 3:15) and holy (Rom. 1:2). Like the temple the Old Testament is peculiarly associated closely with God. The Old Testament writings are God’s writings.
2. The Old Testament writings are the oracles of God (Rom.3:2; Acts 7:38; Heb. 5:12). The word oracle simply means divine utterance. So Romans 3:2 refers to the written embodiment of these oracles as their being entrusted to Israel indicates.
3. God is the ultimate, determinative speaker and author of the Old Testament (Acts 2:16-17; 4:24-25; Matt. 13:35)
4. For this reason the phrases ‘God says’ and Scripture says are equivalent. In Romans 9:17 and Galatians 3:8, what God said in the Old Testament is attributed Old Testament Scripture, while in Matt 19:4-5 what Scripture said in the Old Testament is attributed to God. This holy confusion can only be explained on the supposition that Scripture is viewed as God’s very speaking.
5. Since God is the Author of Scriptures, they can be and are written with the distant future in mind (Rom. 15:4; 1Cor. 10:11) Cf. Rom 15:4
6. Since God is the Author of Scripture it is not only invested with plenary authority; it is also authoritative in detail. Arguments are built on the very form of a single word (Matt 22:32; Luke 16:17; Matt.22:41-46; John 10:35; Gal.3:35)
7. Since Scripture is divine, it is, so to speak, the transcript of God’s divine decree. A divine necessity demands its fulfillment (Acts 1:16; 2:24-36; 13:34-35; John 19:34-36, 24; Luke 22:37; Matt. 26:54; John 13:18)
For the argument of the authority of the New Testament we are to first of all presuppose the extension of the authority of the Old Testament to the New Testament is the specific relationship of the organic unity which exist between them. The prophetic character of the Old Testament called for a New Testament. The New Testament proclaims itself to be that fulfillment. In the organic unfolding of redemptive history it must therefore exist on at least the same plane as the Old. This fact demands that an equal authority and inspiration be attributed to the writings of the New Testament. This organic unity of the two can be proved from such passages as Hebrews 1:1-2 and 2 Corinthians 3:10-11. The specific passages which the equal authority of personal authorities of the New Covenant (Rom. 16:25-26; 2Peter 1:16-21; 1Cor 14:37 15:3-11; 2Peter 3:1-2; John 2:22) and those which teach the equal authority of the written authorities of the New Covenant (2Peter 3:16; 2Tim 5:18).
Objection to the authority of Scripture – the Bible has no authority because it was written by men for it has errors:
· We can use a parallel from the doctrine of the Person of Christ – the humanity of Christ does not mitigate or negate His full deity, with its implications. So also the humanity of the Bible does not it is errant.
· The reformed doctrine of organic inspiration which denies the mechanical or dictation view of inspiration which asserts that humanity of the human author was suspended. It teaches the full humanity of the Bible, i.e. the human writers personalities and freedom was fully operational yet fully divine without human distortion or weakness. The same activity can be both divinely ordained and the product of free, human agency yet be inerrant.
What about the authentication of is divine authority?
1. There is the self-authenticating character of general revelation (Psa 19; Rom1:18-32; Acts 17
According to the reformed view of self-authentication (autopistia) of the Scriptures, God in His revelation is ceaselessly authenticating Himself to man. The creation can never escape its Creator.
“The most depraved men cannot wholly escape the voice of God. Their greatest wickedness is meaningless except upon the assumption that they have sinned against the authority of God thoughts and deeds of utmost perversity are themselves relational, that is, in their very abnormality. The natural man accuses or else excuses himself only because his own utterly depraved consciousness continues to point back to the original natural state of affairs. The prodigal son can never forget the father’s voice. It is the albatross forever about his neck” Cornelius Van Til
2. There is the self-authenticating character of the Scriptures
The Bible is the living WORD of God (Jer23:28-29; Luke 16:27-31; John 6:23; 1Pet 1:23; Heb. 4:12-13). Thus the Bible demands to be believed (Deut 31:11-13; John 20:31; Gal. 1:8-9; Mark 16:15-16)
3. The testimony of the Holy Spirit to the Scriptures
Those who have who have been inwardly taught by the Spirit feel an entire acquiescence in the Scripture, and that it is self-authenticated, carrying with its own evidence, and ought not to be made the subject of demonstration and arguments from reason; but obtains the credit which it deserves with us by the testimony of the Spirit. Sin is the reason why there is a need for the authentication by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 1:21; Eph 4:17-21; 2Cor.4:3-4) who removes that evil dispositional which blinds man to the light of divine revelation. The Holy Spirit enables us to see and understand spiritual truth ( Matt. 16:17; 1Cor. 2:14-16; John 3:3-8; 1Cor.2:4-5; 1Thess. 1:5-6; 1John 2:20-21,27). It is the Spirit who creates faith in the Scriptures.