Saturday, June 16, 2012

THE AUTHORITY OF THE BIBLE



Authority means the power to command and get a response of obedience.  There may be two authorities in competition.  God is the final authority and, if necessary, all other authorities may be put aside in order to obey Him (Acts 4:18-20, 5:27-29). 
How do the apostles, in these verses, show God is the final authority in their lives?  The religious authorities (4:5-6, 5:27) forbade them to speak in the name of Jesus, because God had commanded them to speak
This is a most important question for all religion claims to be based on truth.  Where is truth to be found?  How can we be sure that what we believe is the real truth?  The answer of our 1689 Confession of Faith is: “The Holy Scripture is the all-sufficient, certain and infallible rule or standard of the knowledge, faith and obedience that constitute salvation” (Chapter 1, Section 1).  It is because the Bible is the word of God that it has final authority over our lives.
THE BIBLE IS OUR AUTHORITY BECAUSE IT IS INSPIRED
When we say the Bible is inspired we mean that what is written in it is fully the word of God.  Thousands of times we read, “The Lord said”, or similar words (starting with Genesis 1:3). 
Write out the first words of 2 Timothy 3:16 about inspiration ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­  All Scripture is breathed out by God  “Inspired” means that the words come from God, and this is true of all Scripture. 
Write out 2 Peter 1:21 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 prophets did not speak according to their own interpretation of the situation, but God was at work in them by the Holy Spirit, making sure that they only spoke what was from Him.
Our Lord and His apostles believed the Scriptures were the word of God. 
Jesus said God commanded the law Moses wrote in Exodus (Matthew 15:4, see also 19:4-5).  How did David speak the words of Psalm 100?  In the Holy Spirit (Mark 12:36).  Whose words were the words of the prophet Isaiah?  ­­­­­­The Holy Spirit (Acts 28:25, see 1:16, 4:25).  What promise did Jesus make to His apostles that they would write the full truth from God?  Read John 14:26.  The Holy Spirit will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.   See also John 16:13. 
How does Peter recognize that Paul’s writings are the word of God?  He calls them ‘Scripture’ by comparing them with the “other Scriptures” which are also twisted by the ignorant and unstable (2 Peter 3:15-16). 
They could appeal to a word (John 10:34-36), even a singular noun (Galatians 3:16).  Jesus said, “Scripture cannot be broken” because what it says is final, and everything must be judged by it.
How do we know Jesus’ words are the final authority?  They will be our judge on the last day (John 12:48).
How do we know the writings of the apostles are the final authority?  Paul claims that what he is writing is a command of the Lord (1 Corinthians 14:37, also read 2 Thessalonians 3:6,14).
claims to other sources of authority
1.       Catholicism believes that the Bible is the word of God but can only be properly interpreted by the church.  How the church has interpreted the Bible in the past, and what the Popes say, are the authoritative teachings of Scripture and must be believed.  In this way so many unScriptural doctrines and practices entered the church.  The Reformation of the 16th. century was a call to return to the Bible as the final authority, with the cry, “Scripture alone!”  When standing before the Emperor and other dignitaries, having been asked whether he still believed what he had written in his many books, Martin Luther replied: “I am bound by the Scriptures and my conscience has been taken captive by the word of God, and I am neither able nor willing to recant, since it is neither safe nor right to act against conscience”.
2.       Charismatics also believe the Bible is the word of God, but insist that there is continuing prophecy in which the voice of God is heard.  In practice such prophecies become the voice of God directing His people, so that the Scripture is no longer the final authority.  If the Bible is the complete word of God, then it is sufficient to give all necessary “teaching, …reproof, …correction, …and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).  Our 1689 Confession states: “The sum total of God’s revelation concerning all things essential to His own glory, and to the salvation and faith and life of men, is either explicitly set down or implicitly contained in the Holy Scripture.  Nothing, whether a supposed revelation of the Spirit or man’s traditions, is ever to be added to Scripture” (Chapter 1, Section 6).
3.          Liberalism, in all its various forms, teaches that the mind of man is the final authority.  So where science conflicts with the Bible, as in the account of the creation and fall (Genesis 1-3), then the Bible must be wrong; it is just a ‘myth’ to teach some spiritual truth.  In this way, men can take what they like, and leave what they do not like in the Bible.  If you do not like the idea of an eternal and conscious suffering in hell then say it is not true because Jesus was just repeating what He heard from His teachers.  If the world has a ‘Women’s Liberation’ movement then let us say that Paul refused women to teach (1 Timothy 2:12), either because he had a very low opinion of women, or because this was the culture of the day.  But if God made everything He is the only One with full understanding; and if man is a sinful creature he cannot possibly understand unless it is revealed to him.  And this is why the Scriptures have been given.


the authority of the bible in practice
“All religious controversies are to be settled by Scripture, and by Scripture alone.  All decrees of Councils, opinions of ancient writers, and doctrines of men collectively or individually, are similarly to be accepted or rejected according to the verdict of the Scripture given to us by the Holy Spirit.  In that verdict faith finds its final rest” (1689 Confession, Chapter 1, Section 10).
Why does the Bible commend the Jews at Berea as “more noble than those in Thessalonica”?  Find the answer in Acts 17:11 They received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so
Where does Isaiah say people should go for guidance instead of to the mediums and wizards?  To their God (8:19), and to the teaching and the testimony (8:20).
How did our Lord respond to the devil’s temptations? “It is written” (Matthew 4:4,6,10).
How important it is to know the Scriptures!  Write out the following two verses from Psalm 119:
Verse 9 How can a young man keep his way pure?  By guarding it according to your word
Verse 11  I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you
The Bible constantly warns us against false teachers/prophets.  How can we know what is truth and what is error, what we should accept and what we should reject?
Who are the “us” John says we should listen to if we “know God”?  John, other apostles and all who preach the truth about Christ (1 John 4:6).  Note that this is in the context of many false prophets having gone out into the world (v. 1).
Whose gospel is the only true gospel?  The one Paul first preached to the Galatians (Galatians 1:8).
Why do we forbid women to become pastors?  (1 Timothy 2:12)
Why do we not practice the ceremony of Confirmation?  (not in the Bible)
Why do we baptize believers only?  (Acts 2:41)

Write true or false for each of the following statements:
  1. ________ Those who speak “This says the Lord” should not be listened to. 
  2. ________ The Bible has final authority over our eating habits.
  3.  ________ Because the church is now much larger than at the beginning it needs bishops to rule over pastors.
  4. ________ The Bible must be believed rather than the sayings of expert scientists.
  5. ________ The “altar call” should be used in evangelism because it has been so successful.

The following books are recommended:
1.      Brian H. Edwards, Nothing but the Truth.
2.      E.J. .Young, Thy Word is Truth
3.       

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