The Authority of Scripture

Marrieds with a Ministry Sunday School Class
Two Rivers Baptist Church
Nashville, TN, USA

For Sunday, 09 September 2001


Red: question for class

Ink: answer


  1. Gen. 2:9 - the two trees
    • Life - 3:22
    • Death (the knowledge of good and evil) - 2:16-17

    Adam was instructed about the trees. Then God made Eve. Implicitly, Adam was responsible to teach Eve about the trees, to deliver to her the Law of God, the Word of God, such as he had it; that he did so is manifest by Eve's response to the serpent. Adam and Eve had great freedom - they could do anything at all that they wished, except for one thing - eat of one certain tree. The punishment for that sin was death. Seems kind of harsh for eating a piece of fruit. Death is always the consequence of disobedience to God.

    Satan's strategy is to shake our confidence in God's Word, then degrade our theology.

    3:1-5 - Satan challenges God's Word, then twists it to make God seem unfair, unkind, unjust, unloving. His strategy is to shake our confidence in God's Word, then degrade our theology. He wants to make us believe that God does not have our best interest at heart. That was his strategy then, all thru Scripture, when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness, and today. He doesn't want you to know God's Word, but to the extent that you do know it, he wants you to doubt it.

    E.g., election and predestination. We are not free to choose only those parts of Scripture that we like and ignore or deny the rest. We must hang on to the Word of God in absolute confidence.

    3:6-7 Adam should have held fast to God's Word. What shook his faith? [Eve wasn't dead] His experience appeared to conflict with the Word of God. Our experience often seems to contradict the teaching of Scripture; but it's always our perceptions, our limited sight, our weak flesh that clouds our judgment. When what we think we know conflicts with the Word of God, it is always we who are wrong, never God. Who was wrong here? Any examples?

    This is the danger of the current emphasis in evangelical Christianity on our relationship with God as opposed to sound doctrine - our worship experience, our personal relationship with God, our individual feelings and perceptions and religious experiences. God does pursue a personal relationship with us but only based on His Word. When you sing about His love for you may legitimately become overcome with emotion, and raise your hands and feel all warm and fuzzy inside, and that can be a good thing. But if you want to know God, that's not something you can rely on. Our experiences are fleeting and subject to the whims of our flesh and our circumstances. God reveals Himself to us by His Spirit through His everlasting, unchanging Word. If you want to know God, read His Word, study His Word. If you don't know this (the Bible), you don't know God.

    A form of this wrong attitude, this humanistic attitude, toward the Scriptures can be seen in the popular Christian bumper sticker "God said it, I believe it, that settles it."1 What's wrong with that statement?

  2. In the past century or so, many unbelievers have attacked the authority of the Bible, claiming that it gets certain details wrong in the realms of science and history. E.g., Copernicus and Galileo vs. the Church (Ps. 93:1). Do we really have the Word of God? Has God spoken? In Exodus, when Moses spent several weeks on Mt. Sinai, he came back down with many messages, each of which began with a certain phrase, or a variant on it: "Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying" or "I am the LORD"; same with the book of Leviticus; when the prophets brought messages to Israel, they always began with the same phrase: "Thus says the LORD (YHWH)." To claim that an acquaintance of yours said something that they didn't really say is a lie; to claim that an authority figure said something they didn't really say is worse because their authority in the mind of the listener adds weight and credence to your lie; to claim that God said something He didn't say is a grave wickedness. Jer. 23:28-36 A prophet was forbidden to make that claim unless the Holy Spirit came upon them and moved them to write specifically what they wrote. If God did not really say those things, then the Bible is not merely a good book but the most evil book in history. We know that it's not an evil book; thus, its truth claims must be real - it is the very Word of God.

    C. S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity2, wrote of Jesus that He cannot be merely a good teacher. He claimed divinity, supreme deity. If He were not God in the flesh, then He is a liar, a lunatic, a deceiver, or worse. The same can be said of the Bible: either it is the most dangerous and evil book ever published, and we should all be working to abolish the memory of it from the face of the earth; or it is the Holy, unerring Word of God, and we should all be devoted to discovering what God has said in it.

  3. More on the
    authority and
    sufficiency of

    II Tim. 3:16 - The word for Spirit in both Hebrew and Greek is the same as the word for "breath" and "wind." Remember Jesus speaking to Nicodemus in John ch. 3, "Unless a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nic was incredulous: "I'm an old man - you expect me to crawl back into my mother's womb and be born all over again?" Jesus answered, "The first time you were born of the flesh. Now you need to be born of the Spirit. Look at the wind blowing in the trees. You can't see the wind but you can see what it does. You can hear the leaves rustling as they are moved by the wind." (my paraphrase).

    "Inspiration" is translated from Greek theopneustos which means breathed out by God. Theo = God, as in theology, theophany, theocracy. Pneus as in pneumatic, pneumonia. When someone has pneumonia, they have trouble [breathing]. English "inspiration" = breath in, but Paul is saying that the Holy Spirit breathed out the Scripture3. Why didn't Paul say "spoken" rather than theopneus? II Peter 1:19-21 "...for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." The Holy Spirit is a person of action, always on the move. When God breathes out his Spirit, He is breathing Truth and Life. When He breathes into someone or something, he is breathing life into them. This alludes to man's creation, when God breathed His own breath into Adam's body, "and man became" - what does it say? ["a living soul."] God breathes life; He is the source of all life. Paul is referring to the source. The source of all Scripture is the Spirit of God. Scripture comes out of God. As God is the source of all life, He is also the source of all truth. Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Truth, He who leads believers into all truth. The Holy Spirit is the revealer of truth. When the Scripture writers wrote, they were moved by the Spirit to write what they wrote. Thus their own styles can be discerned there. Their personal tone was not changed to a monotone, what is consistent from writer to writer is the truthfulness of the message. The Spirit did not always merely dictate. Sometimes, as in the case of the Law of Moses, He dictated letter for letter. Belshazzar saw the hand of God writing on the wall. So Paul was careful not to say all Scripture is spoken by God - though some of it is - but all of it is theopneus. And when God's breath, which is His Spirit, moved the writers of sacred Scripture, they wrote what He wanted them to write.

    A remarkable thing about II Tim. 3:16 is its context. (Rest of chapter)

  4. Other passages about Scripture
    • Heb. 4:12
    • Matt. 5:17-18. The words of Christ on the Law and the Prophets. (Cracking the Bible Code, p. 4)
    • Psalm 1 - the value of the Torah of YHWH.

1From Renewing Your Mind radio program, sometime in early September 2001
2Simon & Schuster Inc., 1996 p. 55-56.
3"Scripture" = the graphi, the writings: a technical term to the Jews referring usually to the Old Testament, although Peter uses it to refer to Paul's writing as well.

David J. Finnamore
Orlando, FL