The Authority of Scripture

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 10
The second epistle of Timothy presents to us the ruin of the outward testimony of the church and the consequent duty of the individual believer in such a situation. Two points are brought before the believer to guide his feet — his individual conduct and his relationship to the public profession of Christianity. In connection with both of these, Paul brings out the authority with which our souls must be directly in communion, on which our conduct rests, and the rule by which it is guided. There must be the direct and immediate connection of my soul with God, and immediate subjection to His authority in His Word. Someone else may help me by ministry or pastoral care, but he does not come between my soul and the Word. He may bring me more fully into acquaintance with what God says to me in it, but he does not take me out of the relationship. God’s title is absolute and embraces the whole of my being in obedience. He exercises His authority over me by the Word.
In our lives there are necessary duties toward others, but these are acknowledged by the authority of and obedience to God in His Word. I am to fulfill every relationship in which God has placed me, only by and according to the Word. “We ought to obey” is the Christian’s ensign, but “we ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:2929Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:29)) is the absolute claim of God. Thus a believer is bound to take the Word of God as the ultimate rule of truth and conduct, with nothing else between him and God.
Scripture Gives Authority
God has provided for His saints a sure and certain guide, a body of writings called by the Apostle the Holy Scriptures, to be received as inspired and having divine authority. They were recognized by the Apostle and in the most solemn manner by the Lord Himself, as being inspired and as commanding faith because they were inspired. During His earthly pathway, the Lord Jesus constantly recognized the authority of and referred to the Scriptures, whether in teaching or in silencing those who opposed Him. If they were not believed, He assures the people, then men would not be persuaded even if one rose from the dead. More than this, the fact that something was in Scripture gave it authority, for “the Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:3535If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; (John 10:35)). It was not merely that truth was found in it, for this may be the case even in what man writes. Rather, the Scriptures are God’s ordained method of authority, not merely of truth, but clothed with divine authority for the truth. As such, they are addressed to all of God’s people.
God’s Direct Authority
This then is the divine and divinely given resource for the Christian when the church is in an evil state. They are able to make the individual wise to salvation through faith in Christ. The Scriptures are the sure, individual guide when the church is in confusion and evil. More than this, the Scriptures furnish the man of God perfectly. Everything that is Scripture is inspired and profitable for all that is needed to make the man of God perfect. Everyone who wishes to stand for God before the world and who wishes to act for God in the world will find all he needs to complete his state and competency for service in the Scriptures. Others may help me to understand what is there, but if anyone seeks to hinder God’s direct claim over me through the Word, he interferes with God’s title. This is true whether it is an individual or a company, and the higher the claim to do so, the greater the guilt. Because of the present state of things around us, the individual must hold his ground against advancing evil. Under such circumstances, the Scriptures should have the place they were meant to have — a divine authority to instruct and reprove.
The Secure Authority
Finally, we would refer to 1 John 2:2424But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, (John 2:24), “Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.” Nothing has secure authority for the believer but that which was from the beginning. This alone ensures our continuing in the Father and in the Son. In the Scriptures I have that certainty — I have the thing itself—nowhere else. No agreement of Christians can give me this — only the Word itself.
J. N. Darby, from Scripture:
The Place It Has in This Day