September 21, 2018

Divine Authority and the Scriptures

By Connie W. Adams

God the Father, sent Jesus into the world who was "Immanuel, God with us." God speaks to us in these last days in his Son and we dare not refuse him. To do so is to refuse the one who sent him. Jesus chose apostles and trained them while he was yet with them. After his ascension, as promise a, fife sent the Holy Spirit to teach, guide, remind, and show them things to come. They went forth and preached under that guidance using not words given by human wisdom but those chosen by the Spirit. Paul said his wards were "the commandments of the Lord."

These apostles not only spoke by the Spirit's direction, they also wrote letters to local churches and individuals instructing them in the will of the Lord. In this they followed in the path of "holy men of old" who "spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Pet. 1:21). Most of the New Testament was written by the apostles. The exceptions (Mark, Luke, James and Jude) were men in close association with the apostles of our Lord and were inspired to write as they did.

Search the Scriptures

Jesus said 'Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me" (John 5:39). No doubt, Jesus made reference to the Messianic prophecies. But we also need to search the New Testament Scriptures to learn of Christ. They also testify of him. We do not know of Christ apart from the Scriptures. You cannot preach Christ without preaching the Scriptures.

Paul's Writings and the Other Scriptures

Peter wrote of things written by "our beloved brother Paul" and said "according to the wisdom given unto him" he had written "in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures unto their own destruction" (2 Pet. 3:15-16). First, notice that Peter states that Paul wrote "according to the wisdom given unto him." He recognized that Paul was the source of what he wrote. Next, he speaks of his epistles in which were some things hard to be understood. I wonder if Peter had the Roman letter before him! Then, he said that the unlearned and unstable "wrest" or pervert, what Paul wrote, "as they do also the other scriptures." "Other scriptures" not only shows that what Paul wrote was classified as Scripture, but it was in the same class with "other scriptures." Then notice, that to be guilty of wresting Scripture, is to endanger the soul. They do it "to their own destruction." Folks, there is no salvation apart from respecting and obeying the teaching of the Scriptures.

Paul summarized all of it in the statement "All scripture is given by the inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished until all good works" (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Timothy had known "the holy scriptures" from a child (verse 15), but I am convinced that Paul while including the Old Testament, states a larger view in verse 16-17. The all-sufficiency of Scripture is set forth. Peter said, "According as his divine power hath given unto all things that pertain unto life and godliness through the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ" (2 Pet. 1:3). What cannot be found in Scripture about life and godliness is not worth having.

Paul wrote to the Ephesians about the grace of God given him "How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery: (as I wrote afore in few words, whereby when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit" (Eph. 3:2-5). What did God's grace give Paul? By revelation he made known the divine plan which was a mystery in Old Testament times. This message was "revealed" to the "holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit." Paul said he "wrote in a few words" so that when they would read what he wrote (that's Scripture), they in turn would understand what Paul came to know by rev-elation.

That is why we must ever be a people of the book. "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God" (1 Pet. 4:11). Scripture came by divine revelation. That means it is authoritative. If I reject (or pervert) the Scripture, I do so to my own destruction. At the same time, I am guilty of rejecting the work of the Lord's ambassadors. To do that is also to reject the Holy Spirit which directed them. To do that means that I have rejected the Christ who sent the Spirit to guide them. To reject him is to reject the Father who sent him. Yet, this is the process by which God has chosen to reveal his mind to us.

That is why it disturbs me to hear sermons from men who profess to belong to the Lord which contain very little Scripture. Dramatic stories may illustrate points but they are not on a par with Scripture. Certainly sermons ought to flow in orderly and logical fashion. There are times for illustration, for emphasis, for pointed exhortations. Yet, the Scriptures themselves are a rich storehouse of such material. When religious journalism becomes more concerned with a polished literary work with a minimum of Scripture, maybe even just one verse, than with instruction in and defense of the truth of God in a world gone mad with sin and error, then it is time to remind all who will listen that gospel preaching is Bible preaching. It is sickening to hear so-called gospel preachers mimicking the dramatic and sensational denominational preachers who fill the religious radio stations or the religious channels on television. Or who obviously have filled their libraries and their minds with the excitement of some new and cute way to say it. It is but a short step from that to belittling faithful servants of the Lord who are working hard to instill in the minds of their hearers what the word of God teaches. If you want to preach practical things, then preach the Scriptures. Do you want to speak of Jesus? Then "Search the scriptures" for they "testify" of him. Do you want to preach Christ? Then tell people what the apostles of Christ wrote as well as what he said while here.

May the Lord help us to respect the divine authority of the creator of us all. All too soon, we shall stand before him in judgment. The books will be opened, and another book, the book of life will stand open as well. The dead shall be judged out of those things that are written. May we all be prepared for that certain event.

Guardian of Truth XL: 11 p. 3-4
June 6, 1996

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