“…the word of God judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” -Hebrews 4:12
…the thoughts and attitudes of the heart do not judge the Word of God’s veracity!
In today’s politically correct world many of the rulings given in Scripture are extremely unpopular. The Bible’s stance on a wide variety of issues, including but not confined to such notions as eternal damnation, salvation through Christ alone, pre-marital sex and homosexuality are totally contrary to the spirit of the age.
Attempting to defend any of these non-PC biblical judgements can court severe social and even legal sanction. To avoid such societal marginalization many who would call themselves Christian have invented novel methods of interpreting/denigrating Scripture so as to free themselves from the rulings of the Most High God.
Biblical inspiration, inerrancy and infallibility are all serious stumbling blocks to those Christians who would quiet God when His words become too much of an embarrassment for polite society. The gravity of such prideful attitudes cannot be over-emphasised for they attack the very lordship of God in the life of the Christian, an area essential to salvation.
“Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” – James 4:4
Accepting the moral authority of God is an essential tenet of Christianity and seeking to nullify those verses of God’s Word that you deem immoral demonstrates a level of pride that would make the Devil blush.
Is the Bible the final authority in your life?
If you take your walk with Jesus seriously then the answer to the above questions should be a resounding ‘YES’. Sadly many ‘Christians’ today want to wriggle out of accepting the Bible as the final authority for faith and practice in their lives by lowering it to ‘one of many’ authorities for the believer.
Many who call themselves followers of Christ will say yes to the biblical authority but place a little asterisk in their mind after “authority”.
If ever questioned about the asterisk, they would say that the Bible is actually only one of many ‘authorities’ that God has given us, including the Church, the individual believer and the Holy Spirit to name some of the more common ‘biblical authority displacers’.
To most Christians this is a very plausible asterisk. The Bible definitely mentions the importance of the Holy Spirit in interpreting Scripture so the asterisk becomes perfectly reasonable and acceptable. The key problem here is the relationship between the Holy Spirit and the Scripture. The ‘friend of the world’ Christian will apply those passages that mention the importance of the Holy Spirit as a Carte Blanche to overrule any Scripture with which he feels uncomfortable. This has the effect of elevating the moral judgements of man above the moral judgements of God.
The less-than-obvious error with this method of interpreting Scripture is that the Holy Spirit will never disagree with the Word of God. If the plain common-sense meaning of Scripture makes a moral judgment, that judgement cannot be overruled by what a PC Christian believes is the leading of the Holy Spirit.
The result is that for all practical purposes, the Word of God is the final standard and all of those other authorities must conform to it.
A common retort when confronted by a moral judgement from Scripture that is less-than-PC is to accuse the person who mentions the offending Scripture of “bibliolatry”, thus insinuating that he is putting the Bible on a higher level than God Himself – the Holy Spirit.
The accusation of ‘bibliolatry’ is ironic in the sense that the accuser is actually guilty of idolatry – a real sin, whereas the Christian who defends the clear teaching of Scripture is being accused of a made-up ‘sin’ – ‘bibliolatry’, something never even mentioned in Scripture.
To illustrate the point consider the example of the ‘Christian’ who says that the Holy Spirit guided him to leave his wife and move in with his secretary, and make no mistake this does happen!
The correct Christian response to this “feeling” that the Holy Spirit has spoken would be to check if this new personal revelation from God fits with specific revelation in the rest of God’s Word. Paul himself instructs us on this in Galatians 1:8.
“But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!”
The Word of God makes it very clear that adultery is a sin and therefore would never be commanded by the Holy Spirit.
“Thou shalt not commit adultery” -Exodus 20:14
In Ephesians 6:17 the Bible tells us that the Word of God is the “sword of the Spirit”. What this means is that the Holy Spirit’s tool for guiding the believer in his walk with Jesus is the HOLY BIBLE.
You can be 100% certain that if you think the Holy Spirit is telling you to do something that the Bible calls sin, YOU ARE WRONG.
The Bible is not above the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life. The Word of God and the Spirit of God work in perfect unison, never contradicting each other. If what you consider to be the Holy Spirit goes against clear passages of Scripture, you have not heard the Holy Spirit.
The issue is sinful man’s imaginings being confused with the guiding of the Holy Spirit.
Those who would seek to silence God for fear of ridicule are generally apt to demote the Bible from its rightful position of the eternal, inerrant Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16) to a less authoritative position.
Their preferred view of the Bible is usually either that the Bible is merely the writings of fallible men, prone to error like the rest of us, or a collection of myths and fables with the odd splattering of truth in between. Neither view is acceptable for the serious Christian.
In the name of Church unity many Christians have suggested that the issues relating to biblical inspiration and authority are secondary with regards to the Christian Faith. After all, the Bible does command unity amongst fellow believers (1 Corinthians 1:10).
The issue is ‘unity’ at what expense?
A biblical unity is a unity based on the truth of God’s Word. It is not a unity based on never being able to talk about Christian doctrine for fear of creating division.
“I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites” -Romans 16:17-20
There are also many Christian apologists who defend the truth of Christianity admirably, yet are willing to reduce the status of the Bible to the periphery of the tenets of the Christian Faith.
Whilst I can understand relegating biblical inerrancy to the periphery of the Christian Faith, I cannot agree with it. Adopting this position means that if it can be proven that the Bible contains an error Christians don’t have to pack up shop and go home, beaten and without reason to continue believing in God. Whilst this seem like a more defensible position for the apologist, it removes the foundation of all Christian truth.
Not having to defend biblical inerrancy and infallibility may be useful for an apologist battling fire-breathing atheists, but for the pastor or indeed for any Christians seeking to lead a life pleasing to God, there is a gaping void which should have been filled with God’s special revelation to you – His child.
Are the Scriptures the Word of God or merely the writings of fallible men?
“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.” -1 Thessalonians 2:13
Evidently the apostle Paul believed his writings were the Word of God.
The authors of Scripture and most importantly Jesus Himself affirmed throughout the Bible that God was the source and author of Scripture.
In Hebrews 1:5–13 it is asked “to which of the angels did God ever say…”. The book of Hebrews then goes on to quote various Old Testament passages of Scripture.
“In speaking of the angels he says, ‘He makes his angels spirits, and his servants flames of fire.’” -Hebrews 1:7
The author of Hebrews is quoting Psalm 104:4 where the psalmist is writing of God, not writing God’s direct speech! This means that the author of Hebrews is attributing what the inspired psalmist said about God as being God’s actual words. The he from “in speaking of the angels he says” is GOD but in Psalm 104 it was actually the psalmist who said the quote.
The clear point being that what was written in the Scriptures was what God said – God’s Word and not only when preceded by ‘Thus saith the LORD’.
The words of Scripture = The words of God
For those who really want to wriggle out of the Bible having any authority over their lives, the next logical step would have to be to say that the Bible contains the Word of God, but also contains the errors and opinions of fallible men.
Any ruling that Scripture gives, that doesn’t fit with how a person wants to lead their life can easily be assigned to human error or opinion and not God’s Word.
Other critics of true biblical inspiration and inerrancy came up with the Partial-Inspiration view. The idea here being that only the texts that refer to spiritual matters are inspired and thus authoritative.
The obvious problem with this is that if you can’t trust the earthly things you can test, how can you trust the heavenly things which you can’t test?
Jesus dealt with this view more succinctly than I would:
“If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” -John 3:12
The Reformers Had it Right
The Reformation’s call of Sola Scriptura – calling Christians back to the Scriptures as the final authority for faith and practice, has been the rock (Matthew 7:24-27) for many centuries for those who love God.
When society turned against these stalwarts of the Faith this foundational belief allowed them to stand firm, and in many cases gave them the confidence to make the ultimate sacrifice, refusing to deny what they knew God had said at the cost of their lives.
I fear that without the belief that the Bible is the final authority in all faith and practice, Christians today will be like wayward ships on a turbulent sea, ‘tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness’ (Ephesians 4:14).
Without biblical authority we will be dragged further and further away from God’s moral law by every whimsical moral pronouncement made by the secular society in which we live.
The all-sufficiency and final authority of Scripture was the belief standard set by Jesus, the apostles and the Scriptures themselves.
I would urge any serious follower of Jesus to make His belief in the final authority of the inerrant Scriptures a foundational precept in their own faith (Matthew 5:18).
“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” -Colossians 2:8