“The Authority of the Scriptures”
2 Timothy 3:1-17
Dan Brooks, Pastor
Download a pdf of the notes here.
Introduction: How many copies of the Bible do you have in your possession? I have 9 English Bibles on my shelves; 21 different versions in my Bible study software. There are hard copies and electronic copies. The Bible is available to us on our computers, IPhones, IPads and Kindles.
And yet for all the availability, we may be among the least Biblically read generations in the history of the church.
Most Americans own a Bible. In fact, 92% of households in America own at least one copy. Of those households that own a Bible, the average number of Bibles is three. This includes not only the homes of practicing Christians but hundreds of thousands of atheists as well.
Although most Americans own a Bible, use of the Bible varies significantly. In a poll taken by the Gallup Organization in October, 2000, 59% of Americans reported that they read the Bible at least occasionally. This is down from 73% in the 1980s. The percentage of Americans who read the Bible at least once a week is 37%. This is down slightly from 40% in 1990. According to the Barna Research Group, those who read the Bible regularly spend about 52 minutes a week in the scriptures. Barna, “The Bible,” data is from 1997.
As of 2004 [“One change discovered related to Bible reading, which climbed to 44% of adults reading from the Bible during the past week (other than while at church), up from 37% in 1994 and 36% in 1999. Bible reading jumped most noticeably among Protestants (up from 47% in 1994 to 59% in 2004) and residents of the west coast states (California, Oregon, and Washington - rising from 29% a decade ago to 44% today).”]
Which gender is more faithful at reading the Bible at least weekly? The prize goes to the women. Women (42%) are more likely than men (32%) to have read the Bible in the past week. . . .
When it comes to going beyond merely reading the Bible to actual study of the Bible, the numbers decline sharply. Only one in seven Americans report an involvement that goes beyond just reading the Bible. Fourteen percent of Americans currently belong to a Bible study group. This is down a full one-third from 1990 when 21% said they were involved in a Bible study group.
How about knowledge of the Bible? According to Gallup, “Despite the impressive statistics concerning Bible reading and study, it is apparent that ignorance about its contents is widespread.”
He gives evidence for this conclusion:
– Only half of adults interviewed nationwide could name any of the four Gospels of the New Testament.
– Just 37% of those interviewed could name all four Gospels.
– Only 42% of adults were able to name as many as five of the Ten Commandments correctly.
– Seven in ten (70%) were able to name the town where Jesus was born, but just 42% could identify him as the person who delivered the Sermon on the Mount.
Researcher George Barna has also documented the lack of Bible knowledge in the United States:
– 38% of Americans believe the entire Bible was written several decades after Jesus’ death and resurrection.
– 12% of adults believe that Noah’s wife was Joan of Arc.
– 49% believe that the Bible teaches that money is the root of all evil. (The love of money is said to be the root of all types of evil).
– 75% believe that the Bible teaches that God helps those who help themselves.
If you were among those surveyed where would you fall?
1. Right to command, the right or power to enforce rules or give orders. Ex.: “Parents have authority to discipline their children.”
2. Holder of power, somebody or something with official power. Ex.: “A church has authority to discipline its members.”
3. Power given to somebody, power to act on behalf of somebody else, or official permission to do something. Ex.: “As power of attorney he has the authority to handle the estate.”
4. Source of reliable information. Ex.: “Wikipedia is not recognized as authoritative.”
5. Administrative body, an official body that is set up by a government to administer an area of activity. Ex.: “the local authorities.”
Authority of Scripture: “The idea 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 Christian principle of biblical authority means, on the one hand, that God purposes to direct the belief and behavior of his people through the revealed truth set forth in Holy Scripture; on the other hand it means that all our ideas about God should be measured, tested, and where necessary corrected and enlarged, by reference to biblical teaching. Authority as such is the right, claim, fitness, and by extension power, to control.”
I. THE AUTHORITY OF THE SCRIPTURES LIES IN THE AUTHORITY OF ITS AUTHOR.
A. God reveals Himself to us in His manifold perfections.
1. He is the one true God, existing in three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
2. He is the self-existent One, existing independently of all other beings.
3. For His existence to be complete He needs nothing else from you or me or any other part of His creation.
4. He is unchangeable in His being, in His perfections, and in His purposes.
5. He is infinite, eternal and omnipresent.
6. He is perfect in wisdom knowing all things.
7. He is faithful and true, good and loving, merciful and gracious, patient and forgiving.
8. He is the God of peace, righteousness, and justice.
9. He is the God of infinite beauty and eternal glory.
10. And He is holy, absolutely separate from all other things, separate from the common, from the ordinary and from the sinful.
11. He reveals Himself to us in these and many more perfections.
B. One of the perfections of God is that He is sovereign.
1. We often refer to Him with the title “The Almighty.”
2. As Christ stands before the Apostle John as described in The Revelation of Jesus Christ, He describes Himself as “the Alpha and the Omega,” [the One] “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Rev 1:8).
3. The term Almighty refers to One who holds sway over all things, the ruler of all.
a. παντοκράτωρ: a term used only of God.
b. Re 4:8 And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”
c. What kind of sway and rule does the Almighty wield?
d. Re 11:15 Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”
e. Then the 24 elders who are seated around the throne fall on their faces and begin to chant the praise of the Almighty.
f. Re 11:17-18 saying, “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign. The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.”
g. Re 15:3 And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations!
h. Re 19:11-16 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
i. See 2 Cor. 6:18; Rev. 1:8; 4:8; 11:17; 15:3; 16:7, 14; 19:6, 15; 21:22.
j. Functionally, we ascribe far less to Him than this kind of authority.
k. The strongest proof of that functional disregard may be our neglect or disregard of the word.
l. It is not merely an exceedingly powerful force in the universe or an exceptionally wise counselor we have failed to consult, but the Almighty God.
4. How is that power exercised?
a. Je 32:17 ‘Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.
b. And in what is an Everest-like expression of this sovereign authority, the writer of Hebrews states: Heb 1:1-3 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds [pres act part: “is upholding”] the universe by the word of his power.
c. Heb 11:3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
d. Could there be a clearer expression of the sovereign authority of God?
5. His is an authority to create and to command, to hold the world accountable and to judge all beings according to His standard of righteousness.
6. Such is the authority of the God who breathes out this word.
7. The authority of the Scriptures lies in the authority of the Author.
a. The Bible is a beautiful library of literature, but it is not the literary quality which gives it authority.
b. The Bible is historically accurate as it has recorded each even, but it is not the historical value which gives it authority.
c. The Bible is full of wise counsel and sound advice for living, but in the end, the supreme authority of this word lies in the supreme authority of its author.
d. Do you value and revere, love and read the Bible as it is in truth, the word of God?
Grudem, W. A. (1994). Systematic Theology: An introduction to biblical doctrine (1236). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House.
Packer, J. I. (1995, c1993). Concise Theology : A guide to historic Christian beliefs. Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House.