Basics of the Reformed Faith: Scripture’s Authority

Here on the Zion blog, we will be offering a series that will cover the basic subjects of Reformed theology. You can see the whole series of “Basics of the Reformed Faith” here. This week: The Inspiration and Authority of Scripture.

In Genesis 1:1 we read “in the beginning was God.” Echoing the opening declaration of the Bible, in John 1:1 we read that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” But John goes on to say “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). The fact that God chose to reveal himself in the person of Jesus Christ (the eternal word made flesh) brings us to the subject of the inspiration and authority of the Bible.

It is important to understand what the various human writers of the Bible say about the Bible itself. What kind of book is it? What do they testify about it?

The Bible never claims to be an “inspirational” book which grants its reader some sort of spiritual insight or self-enlightenment. The Bible was not given to motivate us to live better lives, or to motivate us to do great things. As we have seen, the Bible is given by God as a testimony to the Word made flesh (Jesus).

The testimony of the biblical writers is paramount. As Paul says in his second letter to Timothy, “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” Although the term “inspiration of Scripture” is used to describe God’s revelation of himself to us in written form, modern translations of the Bible (such as the ESV) correctly note that the verb which the King James Version famously translated as “inspired” (theopneustos) is better translated as “breathed out” by God. This emphasizes the fact that the various books of the Bible (Scripture) are given to us by God (”breathed out”) through the agency of human authors. This is why in Romans 3:2, for example, Paul can speak of the Old Testament as “the very words of God.”

Since the Bible is the very words of God (it doesn’t merely contain the word of God), it comes to us with the authority of God himself. The Bible is God’s word written and must be seen as divine speech through human agency. As one writer (B. B. Warfield) so aptly put it, “It says, God says.” Continue reading at WSCal Valiant for Truth Blog

About blund

Brian J. Lund is minister of Word & Sacrament at Zion Evangelical & Reformed Church. You can follow him at his website or @BrianJLund.
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