Rev. Key is pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church of Randolph, Wisconsin.
In our last article we considered your struggle with doubt. We concluded that all doubt must be faced and must be resolved, and that the resolution of that doubt comes by going to the Bible for the answers to our questions. It seems to me, however, that to stop there is not sufficient. For there are those who may in fact have doubts about the Bible itself, its authenticity and its authority.
Especially those of you who go on to college will find your Christian faith under attack from an intellectual point of view. Those attacks, quite generally, are leveled against the authority of Scripture. The inspiration and authority of the Bible is called into question, and rejected. Sad to say, it was my own experience and continues to be my observation that those attacks come most vehemently on the campus and in the classrooms of many of the so-called Christian colleges.
It is my purpose, therefore, my young brother or sister, to consider with you the particular place that the Bible has in the practical life of the Christian. Some of what follows may require you to put on your “thinking cap.” But this is a matter worth thinking about. The world does not require you to think. They just want you to reject the Scriptures, and receive without thought the opinions of men. The world wants you to drink in the doctrines of devils without thinking. I wrote to you before: Satan would have you reject the truth to which your faith holds, and deny the certainty of that truth. For that very reason, I want you to think through your faith and to see its certainty.
While the authority of the Bible is very much disputed in our day, there is a testimony within Scripture itself that cannot be ignored.
I refer not merely to the classic proof texts of II Timothy 3:16: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God,” and II Peter 1:20, 21: “No prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” Those texts in themselves are powerful testimonies to the believer. For they speak of inspiration not merely in the sense that Bach was “inspired” to compose great concertos and chorales and other music. These texts do not speak of inspiration in the sense that Mark Twain and other classic authors were “inspired” to write their novels. For the word translated “inspired” in these two texts actually means “God-breathed.” The divine origin of Scripture is emphasized.
But our belief in the inspiration and authority of Scripture rests upon much more than a couple proof texts from the Book which itself is called into question by many. The fact is that the evidence of its divine origin is sprinkled throughout the contents of the Bible. The testimony of a multitude of people was that the Scriptures were God’s own authoritative Word or proclamation. And this multitude of people included not just a few ignorant folk who followed Jesus, but several highly intelligent and well-regarded men, prominent men among the nations. These men all viewed the Scriptures as God’s own Word, authoritative for their own lives on a practical and daily basis. The apostle Paul, a highly educated man, prominent in the nation of Israel and highly regarded even among many heathen, wrote to the Corinthians in I Corinthians 14:37, 38: “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.”
It is rather remarkable that when later writers of Scripture quoted from other parts of the Scriptures which had been written centuries before, they frequently quoted it as words spoken by God Himself. Texts throughout the Bible show an absolute identification of “Scripture” with “the speaking God.” Jesus Himself gave a sweeping endorsement of the Old Testament and its authority, when He said (John 10:35), “the scripture cannot be broken.”
The Bible, you see, can stand on its own.
There is another element, however, that must also be considered. Those who attack your faith and the authority of the Scriptures substitute another authority. Their authority is man’s mind. Man’s mind is the standard for all things. So says the rationalist. Now, obviously, we have not proved the inspiration and authority of the Scripture to the rationalist. Have we then failed? Not at all! For there is also a spiritual dimension to our belief that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God.
To this point we have been arguing the truth of Scripture’s inspiration and authority, while ignoring the fact that every person has not only a mind, but a spirit. Every person stands in a relationship to God. That also is a part of this whole picture of what: you think about the Bible. That relationship to God is either one of hatred toward God, or one of love.
Sin has turned us against God. Sin causes a person to hate and to deny the truth of God. Only the God-given bond of faith changes that. Only by being born again are you brought into a relationship of love toward God. And the nature of that spiritual love is that it puts you into living, real contact with God. It unites you with Christ.
When you belong to Christ, you hear His voice, also as He speaks to you through the Scriptures. You who are in Christ Jesus do not need to prove to an unbeliever the truth of the Scriptures. For you the testimony of the Bible itself is enough. The spiritual knowledge given you by God stands firm even when the Scriptures are called into question by unbelief.