I’d like to talk about several things that make the Bible authoritative, with Charles Colson’s book Loving God as the springboard.
1. Jesus used the Word to combat Satan. How much more do we need it then. He said “It is written” and Satan had to leave. Adam failed by not sticking to what God explicitly commanded him and making sure Eve stuck to it.
2. 2 Peter 1:20-21 state that “no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will but they spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” That means that any author of the Bible’s words, let’s say Isaiah or Paul, carry the same weight as if God Himself said them. He did. We can’t pick and choose what we want to take at face value or not. It’s all God speaking.
3. 1 Peter 4:11 tell us that when we speak we should do so as though we’re speaking the very words of God. The only way we know that is when we’re speaking Scripture and then we are speaking the very words of God.
4. We ought not to water it down and sink to the level of “image is everything.” God’s Word is the living and active 2 edged sword that pierces through our excuses and sees what is in our hearts. If we don’t get into it, we don’t get to see what ails us. God already sees it, as Hebrews 4:13 states. We shouldn’t be as concerned with the NSA spying on us as we need to be that God sees everything we think and do.
With knowing the absolute authority of the Bible, and it’s power, the next question is: Why don’t we get into it more? The reasons we came up with are:
Distractions. It’s so easy to be well intentioned, but to be distracted. In 1 John 2 tells us that we fight against the pull of the world, the flesh and the devil. Self discipline kicks in and God’s empowering Holy Spirit to come against the pull.
Time/Priorities. Even when we resolve to have quality time in the Word, others call us out. In Mark 1:36-37 it records that Jesus went to a lonely place to meet with His Father, but Peter came and found Him and said “Everyone is looking for you!” That’s the way it is with us, when they tell us that if we don’t go to something “it won’t look right” or “you missed it.” It is God that we seek to please first and not what looks right or even makes others’ feel good. We might get out of the loop when we say no to events, bleacher sitting and even gatherings. But in the end what goes into eternity is not what ball games are won and lost but what souls are won and lost.
The wrestle of faith. It is a wrestling match to move ahead in the Christian life, to fight the flesh and to get priorities straight. That’s why we need each other. In Colossians 4:12 we find Epaphras who Paul said “always wrestles in prayer for you that you may stand mature, fully assured in all the will of God.” We need to wrestle in prayer for ourselves and for others. Augustine had a mother who wept in prayer continually for his salvation. Joshua had Moses, Aaron and Hur up on the hill holding up holy hands to God to see victory. Sometimes we are Joshua’s down in the fight, desperately needing the guys on the mountain. Other times we’re the ones praying or holding up someone else’s arms.
It’s amazing how many distractions can come when we resolve to get into the Bible and get it into us. People rabbit trail, distract, and get side tracked so easily. We do it when we get together and when we’re alone. “Take up and read” was the prompt Augustine heard. Just do it!
Colson laid out the apologetics of defending the authority of Scripture to those who do not accept or understand. They are worth summarizing so that we can engage others in the process of coming face to face with the God of the Bible to be transformed by Him. In fact, the two core issues in apologetics come down to the resurrection and why the Bible is God’s authoritative word to us. So if we can get some answers down in our heads to those objections, it might give us more confidence in striking up these conversations, or not running from them when they do arise:
- The Bible is unbelievable with all of its miracles. (Colson: “If there is no supernatural, there is no God” pg. 73). If we wrote the Bible, we might make it superhuman, but not supernatural. The accounts and claims in the Bible are bigger than us and beyond our comprehension. The difficult parts in Scripture point to the fact that it is God that wrote it, not man because we would make it more convenient, provide closure and more man-sized.
- The Scriptures don’t really matter. At the core of our human existence are the questions “where did we come from,” “where are we going,” and “why are we here?” If people are honest and thinking, the things they do address those questions. Even our popular songs do, like “Dust in the Wind,” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Dallas Willard writes in The Divine Conspiracy that everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame because we are made in the image of God and we want our lives to matter. The Oscar Meyer jingle says that if we were an Oscar Meyer wiener, “everyone would be in love with me.” The fact that we want everyone to be in love with us points out that we’re made to love and to be loved by God. The Bible gives answers that nothing else gives in regards to finding hope, peace, joy and destiny–and that matters to everyone.
- It’s out of date, time passes, customs change. God is unchanging and the Bible is for all time and all people. Human sin nature is also still the same. What Adam and Eve, Cain and others did are the same things we do. In fact, the more we read about the foibles of Samson, Abraham and Peter, we see ourselves and our sin nature in them. God had men write in the time they were in, but He spoke to all time through them. His character and ways are for us too.
- We live under the new covenant so we don’t need to bother with the Old Testament. The OT teaches us about the character of God, God’s plan of dealing with us starting with the Jews and the sacrificial system, and all Scripture is inspired by God and there for a reason. Romans 15:4 says that whatever is written in the past is to teach us so that through the endurance and the encouragement of Scriptures, we might have hope.
- There are contradictions and so many different interpretations that we can’t accept that the Bible is literally true. This is where we need to look deeper to find the answers to seeming contradictions to find that they just aren’t there. Colson lays out on pg. 74 the idea of learning and applying the basic rules of logical interpretation. Most people don’t get that far. People can question with an unbelieving heart or with a seeking heart. Our job is to dialogue with gentleness and respect regardless, and not treat people as “less than” as we seek to respond to their challenges. Sometimes underneath peoples’ questions are wounded hearts that can’t believe that a loving God would allow their parents to divorce or someone close to die. Their objections aren’t then intellectual as much as emotional and we need the eyes of the Spirit to discern what lies behind the questions.
- I don’t get anything out of the Bible. 1 Corinthians 2 relays that the things of God are foolishness to those who don’t have the Spirit of God. If someone is not a believer and is not led by the Holy Spirit, having the mind of God, we won’t get it. C.S. Lewis talks about the eyes of faith. Without those, we won’t get the Word. But if we have the Spirit inside of us, He promises to lead us into truth and He will when we ask, seek and knock.
Charles Colson talked about Jesus’ resurrection as being the key event that proves the He was who He said He was. In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul wrote that if Christ’s dead body had been produced, we of all people should be pitied. The disciples were either mistaken or believed a myth–both would have been impossible to perpetuate this long. The good news is that Jesus proved that He is who He said He was by His resurrection and that Scripture is anchored in that fact. Jesus’ body has never been produced and the excuse that His body was stolen away never went any further than the first weekend.
The authority, efficacy (effectiveness), inerrancy and of the Bible is the basis for our faith. The more we dialogue with people about Jesus and about even current events, the more those objections begin to surface. The more you know from your heart about how to answer those objections, the more you can speak into their lives and see them take an honest look at both Jesus and the Bible. And then stuff happens…