This past Sunday I preached on the ways that the Bible does not gain authority. Its it not perfect for science, it forgets some of the details of ancient history, it contains any number of errors on the geography of the ancient world, and the manuscript copies of the Bible contain literally tens of thousands of errors that only further push it from the ranks of somehow perfectly composed and translated into our modern world. As for theology, there are even a few sections in which is seems to compete with itself: Paul's writings on the value of marriage and later on women participating in worship both immediately come to mind.
I continue to read good books about the Good Book as I am preparing for the teaching series this month on the authority and place of the Bible. This week I learned about its great value as the only existing document of colloquial Greek from 2000 years ago. Yet, that in itself is not enough to gain its place as a document worth granting highest status of authority in our lives and in the church. Surely, the Bible gains its power to speak words of truth to us more than just being a great resource for how the world of Alexander the Great would greet each other on the street. Right?
Of course, it does. The Holy Scriptures holds a place of authority in my life, a sinner in need of redemption, and in the life of every saint and sinner for 3000 years precisely because they tell the story and point the way to God and the work of God through the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. The Bible is not perfect in any number of ways, but it tells the story of one who is perfect in love and mission to redeem the world. The Westminster Confession of Faith says it this way, the authority of Scripture "depends wholly on God." The Bible has authority from the ultimate authority. The God who made heaven and earth.
William Barclay, the popular Scottish author, minister and theologian of the 20th century, literally finished his 142 page primer on the Scriptures with just such a thought:
- The Bible is the word of God, because it is the place where the broken relationship between man and God is repaired.
- The Bible is the word of God, because it was written by men who new God, because they loved him and obeyed him.
- The Bible is the word of God, because it tells the self-revealing, saving acts of God, culminating in the event of Jesus Christ.
- The Bible is the word of God because in it and in it alone we are confronted with the life and teaching of Jesus Christ.
I am excited to go even deeper in the coming weeks around how the power of God's Word is available to shape and increase our very lives.
Grace and Peace, Scott