"He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything."
Colossians 1:18

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The 1-2 Punch of Scriptural Authority - First, Divine Authority

As believers devoted to God's Word, we are not afraid to beat the drums that have been sounded throughout the life of the church.  We know that the truths of scripture are never worn out, exhausted, or depleted by anything, be it time, culture, science, human progress, demonic intrigues, or all such things en masse.  Scripture is just as fresh, urgent, and applicable to our lives as ever it was in ages long past, so we gladly tread the selfsame paths that our fathers have beaten through a hundred generations.

With this in mind, I do not in the least mind sharing a few thoughts that are, if not novel, at least crucial and basic and cherished.  Peter did this very thing in his day, did he not?  Consider 2 Peter 1:12-15.  At any rate, were the truth told, in such a day as this, when we fight off the double envelopment of liberal scholarship and relativistic apathy, these truths may come as novelties - not because they are new, but because they are not heard nearly so often as they once were. 

We will say some words about the authority of scripture, then, using a classic text.  2 Timothy 3:16-17 makes several categorical statements regarding the authority of God's Word:  "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."  I would like at this time to briefly consider the more commonly-celebrated element of scriptural authority here; namely, its divine origin. 

If scripture is inspired by God, or, as the English Standard rightly has it, "breathed out by God," this means of course that its origins lie, incredibly, with a God who cannot be false (Titus 1:2).  Although sinful, finite men lifted their pens and wrote the Bible from their own hearts and minds, yet God superintended its creation with such utter precision and specificity that His flawless character and omnipotent care sponged away any traces of fallibility, such that the end result was a divine revelation without error.  Do we trust this work of grace that we call the Bible as much as its divine origin would demand?  Do we believe its truthfulness in all matters?  Are we glad in our hearts; do we marvel that the Word of God is truly the Word of God? 

And do we obey it as the Word of God?  This is another matter, but one of the first importance.  The Word of God is not one man telling another what to do; nor yet is it an earthly sovereign decreeing laws for his or her subjects.  This is the holy, sovereign Deity, whose anthropomorphic hands encompass all the universe, immovably laying down His commands for the whole of mankind.  He is Creator; He is King; He is Judge - and He did not deliver His book to us as a trifle.  "But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word." (Is. 66:2b; ephasis added)

When Paul therefore makes statements like, "Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God" (Rom. 13:1), it is necessary for us to muzzle both the scornful disbelief of modernity and the clamor of excuse in our own hearts.  This statement, along with all of its fellows, did not originate in the mind of Paul; it came first from God Himself.  We find ourselves mocking the divine with our disbelief; indeed, we say, even as the serpent said, "Indeed, has God said...?" (Gen. 3:1) The unchanging and holy Father clothes Himself with an immeasurable glory when He suffers His children to question His Word, even as Adam and Eve questioned it so long ago, without responding to us as He did to our earliest progenitors. 

Patrick Henry once famously said, "Give me liberty or give me death."  We Christians may well say, "Give me scripture, or give me death," for without the divinely-appointed Bible, God is silent.  Salvation is an indiscernible vapor because we do not understand God and His holy character!  How could we ever perceive our need for a Savior without knowing what God expects of us?  How could we discover such a Savior?  We have made many attempts to guess over the years - survey the false religions around us - but our sin-choked hearts assure that this effort amounts to naught but blasphemy.

Gladly, though, God's Word is real and authoratative.  For the one who knows and affirms this, Psalm 119 becomes the glad and perpetual anthem in all seasons of life, for by His Word are we given reverence for God (v. 38), delight in His commandments (v. 47), the pure way of living (v. 9), revival in affliction (v. 50), divine wisdom (v. 24), continual thankfulness (v. 62), illuminating direction (v. 105), hatred of sin (v. 128), worship of God (v. 164), and still far more.  When we understand that God gave the Bible in order to deliver to us a divinely authoratative account of Himself and His glorious character, how wondrous are the results!  This is our lifeline to God, and our only true testimony about Him!  No heart that truly knows this and humbly seeks out the one true God in His Word will be disappointed.

(The series is continued here)


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