How are the Scriptures Authoritative? (Basic Bible Doctrine, Part 4)

How are the Scriptures Authoritative? Because they are God-breathed (or inspired by God), the Scriptures are the ultimate standard of truth. In John 17:17, Christ Jesus declares, “Sanctify them [i.e. His followers] Thy truth: Thy word is truth.” Elsewhere, the Psalmist exclaims: “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times” (Ps. 12:6). As a result, only God’s Word has the authority to bind the conscience (Heb. 4:12) – not any human tradition, human intellect, papal decree, or human law. In Matthew 4:4, the Lord Jesus proclaims, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (cf. 1 Cor. 14:37). God’s Word is the divine, and hence perfect, guide for the entirety of the Christian life.[1]

Historically speaking, Protestant evangelicals have asserted, and rightly so, that the Scriptures alone (sola Scriptura) are the sole authority for faith and practice in the life of a believer. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 declares, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” Notice that the Apostle Paul teaches that “All Scripture…is profitable” for both the content of a Christian’s faith as well as his or her practice. In other words, all Scripture is sufficient and authoritative for the entire Christian life. Other verses also speak to this truth. For example, Romans 15:4 states, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” [emphasis mine]. In 1 Corinthians 10:11; Paul admonishes New Covenant believers to learn from the follies of Old Testament Israel: “Now all these things [vv. 1-10] happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Cor. 10:11). Truly, the Scriptures alone (sola Scriptura) are the sole authority for faith and practice in the life of a believer.


[1]Does this statement constitute bibliolatry, i.e. the worship of the Scriptures, as some may argue? Surely not, as Psalm 119:105 declares, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Furthermore, Psalm 138:2 also teaches that God has magnified His Word above His Name.

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