The Authority of the Bible (PDF)
Why do we study the Bible? What is its authority in our lives? This is a good way to start an introduction to Bible study–by looking at what we expect to get from the Bible. It takes a high view of inspiration but does not make a statement on Biblical inerrancy.
Note: This is a PDF designed to print on 8.5″ x 14″ paper. We are in the process of replacing these pamphlets with our FastTracts booklets.
The text below is for the original PDF. The FastTracts release will be edited.
What God has said isn’t only alive and active! It is sharper than any double-edged sword.
– Hebrews 4:12
What is the authority of scripture in the life of a Christian?
Everything in the Scriptures is God’s Word. All of it is useful for teaching and helping people and for correcting them and showing them how to live. The Scriptures train God’s servants to do all kinds of good deeds. – 2 Timothy 3:16, 17
The key word in this passage is “useful.” Scripture should be a present guide to life and should be useful in our daily lives and in the life of the church.
The Law of the Lord is a lamp, and its teachings shine brightly. – Proverbs 6:23
How can I test the Scriptures to determine if they are true?
We test the Scriptures by placing our trust in God and seeing what He will do for us through Jesus Christ. “Discover for yourself that the LORD is kind. Come to him for protection, and you will be glad.” (Psalm 34:8) “But if we live in the light, as God does, we share in life with each other. And the blood of his Son Jesus washes all our sins away.” (1 John 1:7)
We place our trust in God, His Word and His promises, not in a book. God will fulfill those promises and validate His word in our lives.
Our LORD, you are true to your promises, and your word is like silver heated seven times in a fiery furnace. – Psalm 12:6
|All scripture is useful. – 2 Timothy 3:16|
What should I do when people tell me there are errors and contradictions in the Bible? Doesn’t this make the Bible untrue?
Suppose you are using a hammer successfully to pound in a nail and someone comes by and starts pointing out the flaws in the hammer. They tell you it doesn’t look very good, and perhaps it isn’t too efficient. If it is accomplishing the task for which you bought it, what will you do? You’ll keep on using it, of course!
Though the Bible contains much history, we don’t read it because we are curious about the historical details it contains. We read it to receive a message from God. If the Bible sheds light on our paths, then it is doing what it is supposed to do. Many people study and debate about errors and contradictions in the Bible. It takes considerable knowledge to enter that debate-knowledge of history, of languages, of interpretation, and of science. But there is one test we can perform, no matter what skill we have. We can apply the promises of God and verify them in our own lives.
You can tell what they are by what they do. No one picks grapes or figs from thornbushes. A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. – Matthew 7:16, 17
Is the Bible all there is to God’s word?
No. The Bible is one of the ways that God has to give us His word. The Bible contains God’s word and conveys God’s word and is God’s word, but it is not all of God’s word.
- God’s word created the heavens and the earth (Psalm 33:6-9)
- God’s word is shown in the heavens (Psalm 19:1)
- God’s word comes through the Holy Spirit (John 14:7)
- God’s word can come through the gift of prophecy (Romans 12:6)
- God’s word can come through words of knowledge or wisdom (1 Corinthians 12:8)
|Long ago in many ways and at many times God’s prophets spoke his message to our ancestors. But now at last, God sent his Son to bring his message to us. God created the universe by his Son, and everything will someday belong to the Son. God’s Son has all the brightness of God’s own glory and is like him in every way. By his own mighty word, he holds the universe together. – Hebrews 1:1-3|
Isn’t this basing all our belief on experience?
We are basing our lives on experience that works. But this is not just our own experience. It is the experience of God’s people through the ages as recorded in the Bible and in church history. It is not just our experience, but the experience of our fellow-believers.
Hebrews 11 describes many of these people of faith and then concludes: “All of them pleased God because of their faith! But still they died without being given what had been promised. This was because God had something better in store for us.” (Hebrews 11:39, 40a)
Is the Bible good only for providing doctrinal information?
The Bible isn’t even primarily designed to give doctrinal information. It is a book of experience. “These things happened to them as a warning to us. All this was written in the Scriptures to teach us who live in these last days.” (1 Corinthians 10:11)
God’s word, brought to us in these various ways, also aids us in doing much more than just gaining information. It can:
- Help us resist sin (Psalm 119:11)
- Help us discern right and wrong (Hebrews 4:12, 13)
- Guide us in knowing what God will do soon (Revelation 1:1)
If the Bible is a valid guide, why do so many people understand it differently?
The Bible needs to be understood as part of a community of faith. “But you need to realize that no one alone can understand any of the prophecies in the Scriptures. The prophets did not think these things up on their own, but they were guided by the Spirit of God.” -2 Peter 1:20,21
We need the Holy Spirit and our brothers and sisters to help us understand God’s message for us.
Your word is a lamp that gives light wherever I walk. – Psalm 119:105
- What is the Word of God?, our more extended pamphlet on the word of God in general, how we get it and how we understand it.
- Inspiration and Sources of Authority for the Christian
This is an article (not another tract) on Biblical inspiration.
All scripture quotations taken from the Contemporary English Version, Copyright © 1995 American Bible Society.
Copyright © 1998, Henry E. Neufeld