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Don Stewart :: What Does the Bible Have to Say about Its Own Authority?

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Don Stewart

The Bible is a book that is divine and human. Divinely inspired by God but written in the words of humans. It is important that we realize the dual nature of Scripture. The Bible is the Word of God written in the words of human authors. For example, we read in the Book of Acts.

When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. "Sovereign Lord," they said, "You made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: "Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain" (Acts 4:24,25).

God spoke by means of the Holy Spirit through His selected messengers.

They Assumed They Were Quoting God's Word

When the New Testament writers quoted the Old Testament they assumed they were quoting from God's Word. The writer to the Hebrews attributed Old Testament Scripture to the Holy Spirit.

So, as the Holy Spirit says: "Today, if you hear his voice" (Hebrews 3:7).

Consequently, the Bible is more than a human witness to divine revelation; it is God's witness to Himself.

The Writers Of Scripture Claim Authority In Three Different Areas

We find that the Scriptures make claims of authority in three separate areas. First, God told them to write the things that He had spoken. Second, the content they wrote was not theirs but came from God. Third, the final result was authoritative Scripture.

1. God Told Them To Write Down Certain Things

We find that the writers of Scripture claimed that God spoke to them and told them to write down the contents of what he said.. For example, we read.

Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven" (Exodus 17:14).

Moses obeyed God by writing down things that the Lord instructed him to write.

So Moses wrote down this song that day and taught it to the Israelites (Deuteronomy 31:22).

In the Book of Jeremiah we read of God telling Jeremiah to write down certain things.

Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, "Write all the words which I have spoken to you in a book" (Jeremiah 30:2).

2. The Writings Were Not Their Words

In both testaments we find the writers stating that the words they spoke or wrote were ultimately from God and not from themselves. Peter stressed the words of the Lord were spoken and written through the apostles.

I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles (2 Peter 3:2).

Moses emphasized that his commands were really the commands of the Lord.

Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you (Deuteronomy 4:2).

God supernaturally gave Paul his ministry.

Paul, an apostle (not sent by human beings nor through the agency of humans, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead) (Galatians 1:1).

His words ultimately had a divine origin - they were not merely human words.

For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:11,12).

They were speaking God's message - it was not something they have originated. In the Book of Acts we read.

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance (Acts 2:4).

The Holy Spirit guided them with respect to what they said.

Later in the Book of Acts it says.

Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus (Acts 4:13).

Even unbelievers noticed the authoritative manners in which the apostles spoke.

3. The Final Result Was Authoritative Contents

The final result was considered authoritative Scripture. Moses commanded.

Take this Book of the Law and place it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God. There it will remain as a witness against you (Deuteronomy 31:26).

The written word was their final authority. The Scripture Is God's Message

Paul believed his message ultimately came from God.

If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord's command (1 Corinthians 14:37).

Paul's words were God's words. He said.

And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

John wrote about the finality of the testimony that God has given

The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son (1 John 5:10).

Summary The Bible is a book that is both human and divine. It is God's Word written by human beings. The idea of an authoritative, divinely inspired Scripture is not something that the church invented; it is the testimony of the biblical writers. The claims of biblical authority can be seen in three areas. First, God told them to write down the truth that he revealed. Second, the words they composed ultimately came from God. They made it clear that God supernaturally spoke to them, what they wrote down was not their own words. Finally, the contents of Scripture are fully authoritative. They are the final words on all matters of faith and practice.

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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