Systematic Theology 4.a Authority of Scripture

Buckle yourselves in, I know I am! This is a long post. We’re still in the Doctrine of the Word of God. But we’re entering a sub-series called the 4 Characteristics of Scripture. Now we’ve defined the different forms of the Word of God (Scripture being one of them), and then defined what writings made up Scripture (Canon). We’re going to look at the 4 characteristics of Scripture.

Now, Grudem doesn’t use this, but the 4 Characteristics spell out the word SCAN.  I find it a useful way to remember it:

S (Sufficiency) C (Clarity) A (Authority) N (Necessity)

We’re starting with A – Authority of Scripture.

The Authority of Scripture means that 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.

The chapter breaks this into 2 parts. This post will look at the first part.  Series within sub-series within series! Whatever next!?

Machines making machines – C3P0, Dreams within dreams – Inception

Side note: A massive component of the Authority of Scripture is it’s truthfulness. Therefore Truthfulness and Authority are woven together. For more detail see/wait in anticipation for the next blog!

All Words in Scripture are God’s Words

  1. This is what the Bible claims for itself!
    • Old Testament:
      • The phrase “Thus says the Lord” introduces a lot of OT scripture.
      • Further we know God speaks through the prophets (1 Kings 14:18, Jer 37:2, Deut 18:19, 1 Sam 10:8).
      • Finally the NT says this about the OT: “All Scripture is God breathed” (2 Tim 3:16 – easy to remember because of J 3:16 just another book). But the NT is scattered with moments where it refers to OT this way 2 Pet 1:21….see page 75 of Grudem for like a mega list!
    • New Testament:
      • 2 Pet 3:16, here Peter puts Paul’s writings among other Scriptures!,
      • 1 Tim 5.18, here Paul quotes Jesus in the book of Luke as if Scripture!
      • Furthermore the passages about the Holy Spirit let us know that the apostles could write Jesus’ very own words: John 14:26 and 16:13.
    • There is an argument against this using 1 Cor 7.12 where Paul explains that he is writing a command that’s not specifically from Jesus. “To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord):…“. Grudem acknowledges this point and replies:
      • V25 & 40 are good verses to remember in light of this objection. That even though Paul is expressing his judgement 1) He has the Spirit of God in making this judgement and 2) is giving the judgement as someone who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy!
      • V10 might also give some explanation as to why, Paul phrases V12 the way he does. That because in V10 He quotes some of Jesus’ actual words (from the gospels) on a subject, but because he doesn’t for V12. He could mean – “I, not the Lord – [because Jesus didn’t say anything specifically on this topic – so I can’t quote Him]”
      • The fact that Paul, on this one occasion acknowledges it’s not Jesus, should add weight to every other occasion where he doesn’t put this limit on his writings.

2. We are convinced of the Bible’s claims to be be God’s words, as we read the Bible. This is a work of the Holy Spirit.

  • 1 Cor 2.13-14 reminds us that we need the Spirit to discern spiritual things.
  • In John 10.27, Jesus explains that His sheep can hear/know His voice.
  • It is important to note it is as we read, not apart from reading or in addition to reading that the Holy Spirit does this work. If we want the Holy Spirit to convince us the words are true – we must read them! (Good excuse as any!)

3. Other evidence is useful but does not finally convince us.

We have loads of other evidence that the Bible is God’s true and His word: Historical accuracy, Internal consistency (despite being written across 1000s of years) , how lives have been changed throughout History as a result of this book, how human history has been influenced by this book more than by any other. YET “not withstanding, 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” – Westminster Confession of faith,

4. The Words of Scripture are self-attesting.

This basically means, they appeal to themselves to be true. At first glance this may seem like circular reasoning. However, Grudem explains that every appeal to Ultimate Authority must ultimately appeal to that Authority for proof. He then goes on to give a series of examples of this being played out.

Circular

Finally, Grudem explains that just because the Bible is God’s word doesn’t mean He dictated it all for humans to write down. Claiming that all Scripture is God’s words describes the result ,  to talk about dictation is to refer to the process . Grudem mentions other ways God’s has brought about the Scriptures, as well as dictation, Writers’ research (e.g. Luke 1.1-3), Dreams (see Ezekiel), Visions (See Peter in Acts), Jesus (John 1, Word made flesh), Holy Spirit (John 14-16), some of it we don’t know – but the method/process isn’t as important as the result. God works with sovereignty and power through all the human life, emotions and will to bring this book about. It is 100% God, 100% man.

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