The Authority of Scripture
Biblical Sermon Outline
By Pastor Ron Jones, www.titusinstitute.com
“What does the Bible say?” is the most important question that we can ask as Christians.
What does the Bible say about my problem? What does the Bible say about this issue? What does the Bible say about this idea? What does the Bible say about this experience? What does the Bible say?
Because when we ask, “What does the Bible say?” we are asking, “What does God say?”
This morning I want to share with you three reasons why this is the most important question we can ask, “What does the Bible say?”
We are going to look at the inspiration and authority of the Scriptures. We are going to see what the Bible says about itself concerning its inspiration and authority as the book from God.
The three reasons are
I. The Bible is God’s written revelation to man.
II. The Bible as God’s written revelation is truth and contains no error.
III. The Bible as God’s written revelation is our guide to God’s Will.
First, we need to ask this question because
I. The Bible is God’s written revelation to man.
A. God has spoken in the Scriptures.
God has spoken!
And to whom has God spoken in the past?
V. 1 “to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways…”
He has spoken to our Jewish forefathers in the faith.
The Old Testament is summed up in the phrase “to our forefathers through the prophets…”
Moses was a prophet. A prophet was a man who spoke from God and for God.
All throughout the OT there are prophets. The prophets are the center of the Old Testament. God selected them and God brought his Word to them and God spoke to them and they wrote it down. Then they gave it to us.
God has revealed Himself to the prophets and the writers of the Scriptures so that we might know him and his will for our lives.
V. 2 “but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…”
This is the New Testament. However, Jesus, the Son of God, did not choose to write down his truth himself, but rather appointed apostles to speak for him.
The Old Testament and the New Testament is how God has chosen to speak to us.
The true God is a God who speaks and reveals himself. God wants us to know who he is and what he thinks. He has a plan for human beings and he wants us to know what that plan is. God never intended for humans to be confused about who he is and what he is doing in the world and in our lives.
In the Old Testament times, God chose the people of Israel to know and understand his plan and sent to them prophets, men who spoke from God. The entire OT is the revelation of God to the nation of Israel who was to know and understand God and preserve his truth that he had revealed to them and share that truth with the world.
Then, God sent his Son who was the truth. His Son is the light of the world. His Son then appointed twelve apostles who would share his message to the world.
But to make sure that His message was not distorted, God’s plan was to not only speak His divine revelation to prophets and other selected individuals, but to have them write it down.
B. God chose human beings to proclaim and write down his Word.
God spoke and then he had those to whom he had spoken write it down. His plan was always to write it down. One of the lies Satan wants us to believe is that the writing of God’s word was a haphazard process that God is Word all mixed up so that there are all kinds of mistakes and errors in transmission. That was never the way it was.
God told his prophets to write it down. That is why the Bible is the book, the Scriptures, the writings.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
v.16 “Scripture” means “the writing, what was written down.”
The Greek word translated “inspiration” means literally “God-breathed” “from the mouth of God.”
This means all the Scriptures are from God Himself.
So the process moved from speaking then to writing and God says, “I ordained and inspired all of it so that when you read it you know it is from me.”
It can’t be changed. It stands as his words to you. That’s why it is so important to know that the Lord ordained and watched over this process of writing his word down.
All Scripture is inspired by God. It is God-breathed. It comes from God.
We need to know and understand it and live according to it.
The reason we ask, “What does the Bible say?” is because the Bible is God’s written revelation to man. And it says it all over the Scriptures. It is what God intended for us to understand.
1. The Old Testament Prophets and Writers
Jeremiah starts his book with how God commissioned him as a prophet. He says it began even before he was born. It shows us how God ordained the process of speaking and writing through the prophets.
He chose Jeremiah even before he was born while he was in the womb. Why? Because this process is so important he oversees it from the beginning. He initiates it.
God did not cause the Bible to fall out of the sky and said, “This is My Word, read it.” He chose human beings reveal His truth to and to write it down. To write His word, God used human beings that were specifically selected by Him.
He selects the individual, forms them, and then at the proper time reveals himself to them. Why? So we can know that Jeremiah truly was a prophet and what he said was from God.
So he spoke, but that wasn’t enough. God also wanted him to write what he spoke down. Jeremiah didn’t say one day, “Hey, I better write down all this stuff God has told me down.” God told him to write down what God had revealed to him.” It was not a haphazard process.
God selected the prophet. God spoke to the prophet. God told the prophet to write it down so there would be no dispute about what god has said and would be preserved for all time.
Somebody asks you, “How do I know that the Bible is the Word of God?” The answer is that God appointed the prophets and spoke to them. The prophets then spoke and wrote it down. Then God spoke to other prophets and they wrote God’s Word down as well. They spoke and wrote similar or the same things that the prophets before them spoke and wrote. The people of Israel held onto those writings as from God.
Then when Jesus came, he said that the prophets wrote the Word of God as God had always intended. God spoke. The prophets wrote it down. Jesus confirmed that those writings were from God.
When people ask, “how do you know the Bible is the Word of God?” We can say, “for one thing Jesus said it was.”
If they ask, “How do you know Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible?” the answer is both the Jews and Jesus said he did.
Universities are teaching that four different groups through their editors wrote those books. This theory is called JEDP. And of course, the books are just human writings.”
That’s not what Jesus taught. Jesus never taught that! Jesus taught that Moses wrote those books and when you read it, it is the Word of God.
What Jesus is doing here is rebuking the Jews for adding to the Word of God. The Jews had the Word of God and read the Word of God which was good, but they also added to the Word of God the traditions of men which was bad. When they did this, they nullified the Word of God.
In this passage here, Jesus calls what Moses said which was recorded in the Ten Commandments of Exod.20 and the statement in Exod.21, the commands of God and the Word of God. Exod.20 and 21 is the Word of God. That is right from the mouth of Jesus himself.
How do we know the OT, the Jewish Scriptures, is the Word of God? We know
because Jesus said so. The Jews always believed this and Jesus confirms
Notice, that Jesus calls what Moses had written down, the Word of God. Moses wrote the first five books of the OT and here Jesus is calling them the Word of God. This is very significant.
2. The New Testament Apostles and Writers
Jesus appointed apostles to write down his revelation. This is how the New Testament is brought into the written revelation of God to form the Bible. Jesus preached and taught the truth and his apostles took his words and preached them and wrote them down.
Mark is very clear to show us that Jesus chose these twelve apostles. They were not chosen by the early church. They were not chosen generations later by a council.
Jesus himself chose these particular men to be apostles at the beginning of his ministry because he wanted to.
Mark names these twelve apostles. Why do you think Mark names them? They are named so there would be no mistake who was appointed by Christ to take his message to the world.
Notice, what Jesus appointed these twelve to be a part of or to do. These are the credentials of an apostle.
1) they would be with him during the years of his ministry.
v.14 “that they might be with him”
They would watch him, listen to him, and learn from him.
2) they would be sent out to preach
v.14 “and that he might send them out to preach”
And what message would they preach? Their own message? Their own opinions? Of course not, they would preach his message, what he said.
3) they would have authority to cast out demons
v.15 “and to have authority to drive out demons”
4) they were also given the authority to heal the sick
This is mentioned in Matt.10:1.
This special authority of the apostles to speak and write the truth about Jesus which Jesus gave them is attested to in early church history.
The early church fathers, Clement in 95 AD, Ignatius in 101 AD, Polycarp who lived 86 years and learned from the apostle John, Justin Martyr, the Christian Apologist writing in 150 AD, and Irenaeus writing in 185 AD and others all attest to the divine authority and truth twelve apostles and Paul to speak and write for Jesus.
They all say the same thing, the apostles and their doctrine is the doctrine of Jesus Christ and our job is to hold onto that doctrine and to preserve it and not add to it. They did their job. They said it over and over again. It is in their writings. They wrote, “we hold fast to the apostolic doctrine.”
Later in Acts 1 when Judas Iscariot was gone and because God wanted twelve apostles to represent the twelve tribes of Israel, the apostles selected Matthias to replace Judas as an apostle.
Then because God was grafting in the Gentiles, God grafted in one more apostle, the apostle to the Gentiles, Paul, whom Jesus called on the Damascus Road.
God had chosen twelve apostles to speak and write for Jesus primarily to
the Jews and one apostle to speak and write for Jesus primarily for the
Peter himself referred to Paul’s letters as part of the Scriptures in 2 Pet.3:16 validating Paul’s divine authority as an apostle.
That was thirteen apostles and that was all that was appointed by Christ to speak and write for him. The early church confirmed that there were thirteen apostles and no more!
After Jesus selected the apostles, he gave them a promise of divine power.
People might say, “Well there’s no way that the apostles could have remembered everything. And there is no way that they could have written it all down without making any mistakes. Come on. That’s ridiculous”
But was it just by human ability alone?
Answer: “Yes, it is ridiculous if it was only by human ability.”
This is Jesus’ promise given the night before he was to die. And by the way, it is a promise only for the apostles.
Jesus promised them that the Holy Spirit would give them knowledge of his truth.
How could the apostles know the truth in such a way to teach it accurately and not add their own personal spin? Because the Holy Spirit was coming to them and would guide them into all truth, that is all the truth they needed to know to teach his trurth accurately.
The reason we know that the apostles were telling the truth is that Jesus promised them supernatural power to do it. The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity was going to guide them. Their teaching and subsequent writing would be by the power of the holy Spirit and without error.
Human beings can’t on their own teach and write without error. They make mistakes all the time. However, the Holy Spirit supernaturally guiding human beings can enable them to do so.
This divine element should not be underemphasized.
It cannot be taken away. There is a powerful supernatural element. Never be ashamed of the supernatural part of the process. Faith is faith in the supernatural, not the natural.
This promise again is only for the apostles because only the apostles could have remembered what Jesus said because they heard him.
The Holy Spirit will teach them all things and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.
We acknowledge that it would be impossible to remember accurately everything that Jesus said and did. There is no question that in the Jewish culture of the 1st century memory development was far greater than our own culture. But that still cannot account for the truth and accuracy of the New Testament.
Both of these statements of Jesus are central promises that the divine power of the Holy Spirit was at work in the apostles after Jesus died.
If people were to say to me “There are so many different opinions about Jesus, how do Christians know they’re right about Jesus?” I say, “Because only Christians teach what the apostles preached and wrote about Jesus and add nothing else.”
I would further say, “Our Jesus is the Jesus of the apostles, the only ones Jesus appointed to speak authoritatively for him.”
A lot of people assume that Jesus died and left everything in disarray. The Christians had all kinds of opinions about who Jesus really was. There was a wide diversity of opinion about Jesus in the first century. There was so much confusion.
The very opposite is actually what happened. Jesus appointed the apostles to make sure that his truth was carefully and accurately taught.
Acts 2:42 (does not appear in sermon)
Right after over three thousand were saved on the day of Pentecost, they devoted themlesves to the apostles teaching. Why? Because they knew the apostles had authority from Jesus Christ himself to teach his truth.
It is amazing to me that people can claim on one hand that Jesus was one of the greatest religious leaders who ever lived and yet on the other assume that he left his followers without any personally selected leaders to carry on his teaching.
How can one of the greatest religious leaders in history ever make such a mistake?
The entire New Testament is based upon the authority of the apostles. Every book of the New Testament was written either by an apostle or a close associate of an apostle.
The apostle Matthew wrote a gospel of Jesus. He was Jewish, educated, and a tax collector. He gave us a portrait of Christ showing OT prophecies that he fulfilled.
Mark also wrote a gospel. It is very well attested in early church history that Mark was a disciple of Peter and that the Christians in Rome asked Mark to write down what Peter had preached about Jesus.
Peter wasn’t a writer. Peter was a speaker. Writing is a painstaking, time-consuming effort which Mark was willing to do and did. But everyone knew mark was just writing down what Peter preached about Jesus.
Luke was a close associate of the apostle Paul. He was educated, a doctor. He was the historian writing about the life of Jesus.
The apostle John was the one who remembered all that Jesus said about the father and the Son. He gave the theological perspective. His was the latest gospel, which he wrote after being a Christian and an apostle for a long time. When you get older and look back on events of the past, you have a mature perspective that comes with aging. He could see the significance of what Jesus said and did, how what Jesus said about himself as the Son of God and what he did to demonstrate that truth was so important and central.
Luke also wrote the book of Acts, which records the birth of the church and the work of the apostles in spreading the gospel throughout the Mediterranean world.
Those are the writers of the four gospels and Acts.
In the rest of the NT, you have mostly letters.
1) the letters of Paul, Peter, and John who were all apostles
2) the letter of James, the brother of Jesus who was strong and respected leader in the church at Jerusalem and a close associate of the apostles
3) the letter of Jude who also was a brother of Jesus and who like his brother was a close associate of the apostles
4) the letter of Hebrews whose author was a close associate of Paul and Timothy
The last book of the New Testament is the book of Revelation, the prophecy of the last days written by the apostle John.
And that’s it. That’s the whole New Testament. All close together. All within the apostolic circle. All under the authority of the apostles.
Brilliant plan? Of course, it was. It was God’s.
Why do we need to ask, “What does the Bible say?”? It is because it is God’s written revelation to man.
God knew that his people need the truth that is written down so we can refer to it over and over again.
This produces people who have gaps in their computer knowledge, but don’t know it.
The same thing is happening in the body of Christ. When we don’t preach the Word.
It is so important for us to understand that the written word is the truth
If you cannot explain a doctrine by gogin to a Biblical text that clearly teaches it you don’t know the doctrine or the Scriptures that well.
We are studiers of the Word, not just the turht, but the Word written down. We are teachers not just of the truth, but of the Word.
The difference is that you can teach the truth by explaining it based on the Scriptures without actually looking at any of the Scriptures that teach it.
But when you teach the Word, you teach the truth and explain major biblical
texts that teach that truth so the people of God can see it in the Scriptures
And you need to know what the key Scriptures are. You don’t need to know every Scripture. You don’t need to know every verse in the Bible, only the key ones, but you ought to know some key ones.
You ought to know 2 Tim.3:16. You ought to know that. You ought to know Heb.1:1, you ought to know that. You ought to be able to take people to that. To know the Word means you have to know the key texts. You need to know the key texts we base our doctrine on. You need to know the key texts for the Trinity. We believe in a triune God, a God who is one being yet exists as three persons. Did we make that up? No. It is clearly taught in the bible. You should know the clearest texts that teach that central doctrine.
We believe that Jesus Christ is both fully God and fully man. Did we make that up? No. It is clearly taught in the Scriptures. You need to know where it is taught.
God’s people have always been people of the book.
The second reason we need to continually ask the question, “What does the Bible say?” is
II. The Bible as God’s written revelation is truth and contains no error.
Turn to Jn.17:17.
You ask, “Is the Bible inerrant?” Absolutely it is. How do we know it is? Jn.17:17
“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”
The doctrine of inerrancy is that the Bible contains no error. It is true in all that it says.
God’s word cannot be truth and yet have error in it. If it’s truth by its very nature it cannot be untruth.
Paul said, “All Scripture is inspired by God.” Jesus said, “Thy Word” (which is the same as all Scripture) and Paul said it is “inspired by God” (Jesus said it “is truth”).
God’s Word, the Scriptures, is truth because it is inspired by God.
Those statements go together.
Now as I just said that means all statements as without error.
The Scriptures do not anywhere make any distinction anywhere between what statements are spiritual and what are historical, geographic or scientific. No one, not Jesus, not Moses, not Paul, not Peter, not anyone in the Scriptures make a distinction about what is truth and what isn’t truth when it comes to historical, geographic, and scientific statements. They’re all Scripture and they’re all inspired and true. Period.
It is true in all that it says whether spiritual, historical, geographic, or scientific. It is true. It is all true.
Now often scientific statements are given in the normal everyday usage of people. For example, we say “the sun is setting” or “the sun is going down” but we know that the sun is not actually moving and it is the earth that is rotating. But we express what is happening by what we perceive is happening. We use “popular language” not scientific language.
The Bible was not written as a historical, geographic, or scientific work, but as a spiritual work so it uses the normal everyday language of the time of the writing.
The spiritual, scientific, geographic, and historical statements in the Bible are true so when we read it. All Scripture is inspired by God. All Scripture is truth and all Scripture is without error.
So when we read it, we can believe that God did not make a mistake.
The third reason we need to continually ask the question, “What does the Bible say?” is
III. The Bible as God’s written revelation is our guide to God’s Will.
People say “I just want to know God’s will for my life. I want to know God’s will.”
Look back at 2 Tim.3:16.
2 Tim.3:16 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…”
Paul says “all Scripture” is “profitable” or “useful.”
What is the Bible useful for?
1) Teaching - it explains to us everything we need to know about God and how we are to live our lives
2) Rebuking - it helps us to see what we are doing that is wrong
3) Correcting -it helps us to see what is God’s way of doing things.
4) Training for righteousness - it helps us to learn how to live a godly life
Do you know what a great Biblical definition of God’s righteousness is? It is “doing things God’s way.”
We should always tell people, “Try God’s way first.” You are at a crossroads. Which is better, the world’s way of life or God’s way of life? God’s way is the only way to receive his blessing.
And we do that by asking the most important question, “What does the Bible say?” and committing ourselves to living out the answer.