My question is more about the bible. As a Priest I am thoroughly grounded in the Church’s argument as to how it can be that a specific collection of writings which we call “the bible” is the word of God and not other writings. But I’ve long suspected that a denominationalist couldn’t ever use our reasoning. So the question is, “who says the bible is the word of God?” How do you establish its authority before you open it up and quote from it?”
Thanks so much for writing. You have a question that many people wonder about in their minds.
To your first question, “Who says the Bible is the Word of God?” Very simply, God says that it is. First, by giving us a detailed account of what happened when no one else but God was there. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Second, the Bible directly quotes God many times. “And GOD SAID, Let there be light: and there was light” (Genesis 1:3). Third, the Bible explains how it was given, and how it is thus different from all other books. “ALL SCRIPTURE IS GIVEN BY INSPIRATION OF GOD, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (II Timothy 3:16). The word “inspiration” means “God-breathed.” When God breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life, man became a LIVING SOUL (Genesis 2:7). And when “God-breathed” His Word, it became the “living Word of God.” “Knowing this first, that 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” (II Peter 1:20,21). “For THE WORD OF GOD IS QUICK, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and morrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). The Bible is a “living Book,” that is why people are convicted of their sin when they read it.
Your second question was, “How do you establish its authority before you open it up and quote from it?” Herein lies the error of many people. If you have to first establish the authority of the Bible, then you have made MAN THE AUTHORITY. You are looking to man to tell you what is God’s Word and what is not. No one can establish the Bible’s authority but the One who gave it – God. You do not have to defend a lion – you just let it loose. You do not have to prove the Bible’s authority before you use it. You use it, and its authority will be seen in lives. “Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” (Jeremiah 23:29). You do not have to prove first whether the hammer will break the rock – you just pick it up and try it. Even so, God challenges people to do the same with His Word. “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17).
When Jesus came upon the scene, people immediately noticed something different between Him and the other religious leaders. “And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as ONE HAVING AUTHORITY, AND NOT AS THE SCRIBES” (Matthew 7:28,29). The scribes were always quoting other greatly respected Jewish leaders and teachers, but it did not have an impact upon the people. That is the difference between using the Word of God, and just quoting a man or a church.
Far too many people place what a church or a man says on the same plane as God’s Word, and God condemns that practice. “Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For LAYING ASIDE THE COMMANDMENT OF GOD, YE HOLD THE TRADITION OF MEN…Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition…MAKING THE WORD OF GOD OF NONE EFFECT THROUGH YOUR TRADITION” (Mark 7:7-13). A noble Christian does not automatically believe any church or any man until he/she checks out what they are being taught. “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and SEARCHED THE SCRIPTURES DAILY, WHETHER THOSE THINGS WERE SO” (Acts 17:11).
The question for you is, “Have you been teaching people the church traditions that you have been taught, or have you been teaching what God says in His Word, and encouraging people to check it out?”