The Attributes of Scripture: #5 The Bible is Authoritative

This series is all about the attributes of Scripture, and, finally, the Bible has authority.

This feature is probably the simplest to understand. Grudem, the author of the door-wedging Systematic Theology, puts it like this:

“All the words in Scripture are God’s words in such a way that to disbelieve or disobey any word of Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God.”

We don’t really love God if we don’t obey him. This saturates Scripture. In John 14 alone, we find (15,21,23-24):

“If you love me, keep my commands.”

“Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

“Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”

I like books. I don’t like golf. Imagine that I dropped you a hint (and yes, this itself is a hint) that I’d quite like John Piper’s newest book. And imagine that you, hearing this, decided to buy me a set of shiny new clubs. I’d be annoyed and confused. Your actions would’ve clearly said to me that you know what I want better than I do. It’s laughable. And yet this is what many want to do; rip God from his words like some sort of cosmic Velcro. It won’t do.

Right from the first blog post we’ve seen that the Bible is God speaking, through his Spirit, about his Son, to call us into relationship with him. All of the words in the Bible are God’s words. Now, the authority of a book depends on the authority of the writer. For example (and I’ve stolen this example from Kevin DeYoung, who, knowing what Christians are like, probably stole it from elsewhere), the British highway code has full authority because it’s written by the government. So, if the writer of the Bible has full authority, so too does the Bible.

You might have come across people who say that they love Jesus but hate the Apostle Paul. You can’t do that. The Apostle Paul’s words are Jesus’s words. All of the words in the Old Testament are Jesus’s words.

This means that so long as we’ve done our homework, and we’ve come to the right understanding of a Biblical passage, then if our church leaders conflict with what that passage says, and scientists conflict with it, and historians conflict with it, and philosophers conflict with it, the Bible wins out.

It’s the very standard by which we measure all claims about truth.

In 2nd Timothy 4:3-4, Paul writes this:

“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather round them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”

It could’ve been written yesterday couldn’t it? People listen to what they want to hear. It’s offensively simple. We’re sinful, so we don’t want what God wants. We’re sinful, so we don’t like God’s voice. Many professing Christians will do what I like to call “theological acrobatics” to avoid certain passages because they don’t like what the Bible says.

We must realise that when we come to the Bible and don’t like what it says, the problem is at our end, not God’s.

And remember that what people turn to in 2nd Timothy 4:4 are myths. Invented. Made-up. They might be more palatable than Jesus’s words. I get that. I really do. His words can be hard. But they’re real. They’re “words of eternal life” (John 6:68). They’re beautiful. If we don’t yet see that, we should humbly come to God and say “Father, I don’t like what you say here. I’m sorry for that. Please change my desires to be your desires. Make my character beautiful like that of your Son.”

God loves this. In Isaiah 66:2, he says this:

“These are the ones I look on with favour: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.”

God wants us to say with the psalmist (Psalm 119:129-131):

“Your statutes are wonderful;
    therefore I obey them.
The unfolding of your words gives light;
    it gives understanding to the simple.
I open my mouth and pant,
    longing for your commands.”

I urge you in the strongest possible terms to read your Bible. Please. Not because you “have to”. No. But for his glory and your joy.

Until Jesus comes back.

And, face-to-face, we hear his words from his mouth, and all that is wrong is made right.

Come, Lord Jesus.

Suggested reading

Taking God at His Word, Kevin DeYoung; for those wanting to know more about how to handle the Bible.

Dig Deeper, Andrew Sach and Nigel Beynon; for those wanting to know more about how to handle the Bible.

Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem. “Part 1: The Doctrine of the Word of God”; for those wanting something meaty.

Words of Life, Timothy Ward; for those wanting something meaty. ; for those wanting a general idea of what might be useful to read.