The Standard of Truth
“For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it” (Luke 7:8).- Luke 7:1–10
For the past two days we have begun to discuss the false teachers Peter counters in his second epistle. As we have seen, these teachers justified their heresies by denying the truth of the words of both the apostles and the old covenant prophets. In denying the truth spoken by these men, they denied their authority as messengers of God and ultimately the authority of their inscripturated revelation.
Regrettably, the denial of the authority of the Bible continues in our own day. In order that we might better understand and defend the concept of biblical authority, we will spend the next week looking at this important topic with the help of Hath God Said?, a teaching series by Dr. R.C. Sproul.
The debate over biblical authority has raged throughout the centuries. Liberal “higher critics” have routinely attacked the trustworthiness of the Bible. Roman Catholicism does not deny the authority of Scripture but posits its traditions to be an equal, if not higher, authority to that of Scripture.
Though the debate has taken different forms, the question of authority remains of primary importance for every believer. What can bind the conscience of the Christian? What is the ultimate standard by which we differentiate between right and wrong? Where is the infallible source that gives us the will of God?
The errors of church councils bear indirect witness to the Bible’s specific teaching that Scripture alone is the final, infallible, and inerrant source of authority for the church. Tradition may help us understand Scripture, but if it ever disagrees with the Bible, it is the authority of the biblical teaching to which we must submit.
Therefore, before we look at biblical authority in a broader fashion, we will conclude today with a simple definition of authority, namely, the right to impose obligation. Today’s passage is a helpful illustration of this concept. Roman soldiers were obligated to obey the commands of the supervising centurion. Like the soldier’s relationship to the centurion, when we confess biblical authority we confess that we are obligated to believe and obey the words of the Bible.
Biblical authority does not mean that there are not other authorities for the Christian. The concept of sola Scriptura simply means that the Bible is the final and unquestionable authority for the church and the individual in all matters of life. What is your view of biblical authority? Do you only speak of Scripture’s authority without letting it shape your life and faith? Endeavor to live out your confidence in biblical authority through obedience to the Bible’s commands.