This week we are continuing the tour that we started last week of the foundational doctrines of the Christian faith. Our intention is to find out what the Bible affirms about those doctrines. There are lots of ministers, lots of churches that teach lots of things that the Bible does not affirm, but we are Bible-believing Christians. We speak where the Bible speaks, and we are silent where the Bible is silent. Today we are going to consider what the Bible affirms about itself. As we will see, the Bible proves to be self-authenticating. Before we do that I am going to address a couple important issues. Let’s pray before we begin.
When we talk about the inspiration of the Scriptures we are not simply meaning the normal everyday use of the word. The inspiration of the Holy Scriptures was unique. As we will see in just a little while, the Bible affirms that the Scriptures are “God-breathed.” To say that the Bible was uniquely inspired does not necessarily refer to the means by which God brought about the final product. God did not dictate all of the words of the Bible to the human authors. God used several means by which to bring about the final result that we call the Bible (Hebrews 1:1-2). It was over a long period of time that the Old Testament was compiled then there was a gap of time before God began to reveal the New Testament which took less than 100 years. It was at various times that God spoke, but it was not always continuous, and is no longer ongoing. God has revealed everything that we need to know about life and salvation. As we will see in just a moment, the Bible affirms that the Holy Spirit is the One who revealed the things of God to the prophets and the apostles. God used various ways to make His revelations known
and it was the Spirit overseeing
this process. The greatest revelation, the culmination of all of the
revelations, was/is Jesus Christ. God is seen most clearly in the person of
Christ. God’s judgment, love, and ways are realized most clearly in the
accomplishments of Christ.
If we are to be thoughtful individuals, we must ask ourselves difficult questions. One of those difficult questions that we should ask is, what books should be included in the biblical canon? The word “canon” refers to a “measure.” There is a standard that must be used to define what is and what is not God’s written revelation. There are several things that have been used as qualifications over the history of the people of God to determine what a biblical book is or not. I will give you a few. First, the people of God have corporately listened to the sixty-six books of the bible and said that they all heard the words of God as opposed to many other writings. Second, those sixty-six books all say the same thing. There is a history of redemption contained in the books which all point us to Christ. Third, Christians inherited from the Jews the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament. They had already established that those books were the written word of God. The Jews have many more books, but they are not considered inspired by the Holy Spirit. Fourth, concerning the New Testament, one of the greatest qualifications was the fact the twenty-seven books are apostolically related. A New Testament book must be written by an apostle or a leader who was within the realm of the apostles. A last qualification I will give you for the New Testament is that it had to be early. The latest book written was Revelation. Anything after the 1st Century is not accepted. The Bible is God’s Word in 66 books.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 and 2 Peter 1:20-21
Before we look at these two Scriptures, let us keep in mind that we just established that the sixty-six books of the biblical canon are exclusively the written Word of God.
The first phrase, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God. . .” has also been translated, “All Scripture is God-breathed. . . .” I think that “God-breathed” better conveys the meaning because what God has done in revealing the Scriptures is unique. That the Bible is profitable for doctrine tells us that it is intended to build up believers. You can see from these verses that the Scriptures are completely sufficient for the Christian life. They are able to thoroughly equip us for all the things that God has called and commanded us to do. They are able to make us wise unto salvation.
This second passage helps us to understand a little better how God used men to write Scripture. Christians believe that God prepared men, elected them before they were born, and raised them up as leaders in order to reveal His will through them. It was not man’s will, but God’s will that brought about the Scriptures. The Spirit moved men to speak and write. What we have is God’s words, what He intended is contained in Scripture, but it is given through various men. Their vocabularies, their personalities, and their characteristics are seen in Scripture, but ultimately the message is God’s. John wrote in simple terms, but with deep meanings. Luke wrote from somewhat of a journalistic process. Paul was complex and intellectual. Various men moved by the Holy Spirit recorded those things that God wanted us to know.
The Bible Alone is Our Highest Authority
Often times in conversations, debates, and arguments (even in Christian circles) human reason or experience is referred to as the highest authority. Many Christians are even arrogant enough to argue for something merely because it is their personal preference. In churches and seminaries all over this country, Christians are no longer looking to the Bible for authoritative answers. They are looking everywhere but the Word of God. But let me tell you, the Bible tells us everything that we need to know about life and salvation. It is complete and closed.
(2 Timothy 4:1-4) It is the word of God that I have been called to preach and teach because it is the highest authority known to man. We cannot believe that this book is the word of God and not obey it. I am commanded to preach the word in and out of season and will be held to a stricter judgment because of the responsibility that is on my shoulders. Whether it is popular or not, I must appeal to the Scriptures. No matter what other ministers or churches or doing, I must preach the Bible. There may be many people who turn away, but I must teach the Scriptures to the few who remain!
ConclusionThe Bible is self-authenticating. There are all sorts of external evidences for the value of the Bible, but the Scriptures claim for themselves to be the Word of God. Christians know these things to be true. We have found life in the pages of Scripture. We know that they are true and complete. They have told us all about life and salvation. Would you seek out God’s will? It is found on the pages of Scripture. Would you appeal to no higher authority than the Bible? Will you do all that it says? Man does not live by food alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. In its words you will find life.