by Mike Ratliff
12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 (NASB)
We affirm that the text of Scripture is to be interpreted by grammatico-historical exegesis, taking account of its literary forms and devices, and that Scripture is to interpret Scripture. We deny the legitimacy and any treatment of the text or quest for sources lying behind it that leads to relativizing, dehistoricizing, or discounting its teaching, or rejecting its claims to authorship. – Article XVIII of The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy October 1978
The authority of the Bible is based on its being the written Word of God, and because the Bible is the Word of God and the God of the Bible is truth and speaks truthfully, authority is linked to inerrancy. If the Bible is the Word of God, and if God is a God of truth, then the Bible must be inerrant–not merely in some of its parts, as some modern theologians are saying, but totally, as the church for the most part has said down through the ages of its history.➀
One of the many ‘attacks’ this ministry has received since its inception has been on our treatment of scripture as inerrant and that it has authority over the Christian Church.
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NASB)
I pray that you see that our source of truth must be God’s Word, not what some self-proclaimed prophet says is the truth. All genuine Christians have the Holy Spirit. One of the products of the Protestant Reformation was this slogan: Testimonium Spiritus Sancti internum. This Latin slogan was used to indicate the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit. As we tackle whether the Church is to listen to ‘prophets’ or the Word of God this internal testimony becomes vital. As the passage above states, all Scripture is breathed out by God. This was Paul telling Timothy that the Word of God is inspired by God and the Holy Spirit’s role is to initiate and superintend its revelation. We know this because the Greek word he used for ‘breathed’ concerns the Spirit’s work in assisting both the reader and writer of the Word. He helps us achieve clarity in understanding the content of the Word.
Can we trust the canon of Scripture? Is the Bible we have correct. Have there been books left out that should be included or books included that needed to left out. John Calvin addressed this concern in his Institutes of the Christian Religion.
A most pernicious error has very generally prevailed–viz. that Scripture is of importance only insofar as conceded to it by the suffrage of the Church; as if that eternal and inviolable truth of God could depend on the will of men. With great insult to the Holy Spirit, it is asked, who can assure us that the Scriptures proceeded from God; who can guarantee that they have come down safe and unimpaired to our times; who can persuade us that his book is to be received with reverence, and that one expunged from the list; did not the Church regulate all these things with certainty? On the determination of the Church, therefore, it is said, depend both the reverence which is due to Scripture and the books which are to be admitted into the canon. – John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Chapter 7, Section 1.
These ravings are admirably refuted by a single expression of an apostle. Paul testifies that the Church is ‘built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets” (Eph. 2:20). If the doctrine of the apostles and prophets is the foundation of the Church, the former must have had its certainty before the latter began to exist….For if the Christian Church was founded at first on the writings of the prophets, and the preaching of the apostles, that doctrine, wheresoever it may be found, was certainly ascertained and sanctioned and antecedently to the Church, since, but for this, the Church herself never could have existed. – John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Chapter 7, Section 2.
Calvin shows us that the internal testimony of the Spirit is vital not only to theology in general but to doctrine in particular. The Church is subordinate to Scripture, not the other way round. This is why it is so tragic today as we see men such as Rick Warren twist God’s Word in order to make it appear to support his Purpose Driven Church model. Sadly, he isn’t the only one doing this and the results are multitudes of churches whose sheep are not being fed good spiritual food, but are given men’s philosophy and an edited gospel.
Nothing, therefore, can be more absurd than the fiction, that the power of judging Scripture is in the Church, and that on her nod its certainty depends. When the church receives it, and gives it the stamp of her authority, she does not make that authentic which was otherwise doubtful or controverted, but acknowledging it as the truth of God, she, as in duty bound, shows her reverence by an unhesitating assent. – John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Chapter 7, Section 2.
What does the Bible itself say about the Church’s certainty of Scripture being true? Again we must look at the work of the Holy Spirit in securing our confidence in God’s Word. Here are a few.
3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:3-6 (NASB)
10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. 1 John 1:10 (NASB)
14 I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. 1 John 2:14 (NASB)
20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. 1 John 5:20 (NASB)
1 For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:1-3 (NASB)
2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; 3 constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father, 4 knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you; 5 for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. 1 Thessalonians 1:2-5 (NASB)
6 Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Galatians 4:6 (NASB)
15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, Romans 8:15-16 (NASB)
I pray that as you read these passages that the Holy Spirit bore witness with your spirit that He is working within you to enable you to know God’s Word and thereby His truth as you read Sacred Scripture. This truth should cause us to cry “Abba Father!” Therefore, let us resolve to study God’s Word, to immerse ourselves in it and work with Holy Spirit to conform to it. If we will do this then we will not suffer from a lack of assurance nor will we be vulnerable to the lies of self-proclaimed prophets who elevate there own words over God’s. Let us reject all Christian leaders who place God’s Word in subjection to their ministries.
God has been working in my heart over the last several weeks with this. I have been pondering why some Christian leaders are so solid and bold in the face of all sorts of apostasy while others claim the same, but seem to be compromising a little bit here and a little bit there while others are up to their necks in it. What makes the difference? Some have discernment others don’t. Those with it are obedient to God by honoring His Word and subjecting their ministries to it. Those who are compromising have given in more and more in denying the Word’s authority.
➀R.C. Sproul, Scripture Alone; The Evangelical Doctrine, Phillipsburg, NJ, 2005, p121
Sola Scriptura :The inerrant Scripture is the sole source of written divine revelation,which alone can bind the conscience. The Bible alone teaches all that is necessary for our salvation from sin and is the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured.
We deny that any creed, council or individual may bind a Christian’s conscience, that the Holy Spirit speaks independently of or contrary to what is set forth in the Bible, or that personal spiritual experience can ever be a vehicle of revelation.
Soli Deo Gloria!
In scripture alone we find Salvation is by grace alone Through faith alone In Christ alone For the glory of God alone!