Summary: One of the basic questions of the Reformation was where does our authority come from? Answer: From Scripture alone.
By Scripture Alone
Four key questions of Protestantism: How is a person saved? Where does religious authority lie? What is the church? What is the essence of Christian living?
Luther’s new answers: Salvation by faith alone, not by works. Religious authority is not in the institution of the Roman church, either councils or Pope, but in Scripture alone. The church is all the people of God; all believers are priests before God (the priesthood of all believers). And the essence of Christian living is serving God in any useful calling, ordained or lay.
Today: By Scripture Alone
A. THE CHURCH IS FACING A CRISIS OF AUTHORITY AGAIN.
1. Today reflects 2 Tim. 4:3-4 [READ].
Some 1/3 Americans claim to be born again, yet so little positive impact on society.
Like days of the Judges: Judges 21:25, "There was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes."
2. From sexuality issues, to the environment, to war, to how to relate to other religions, to basic doctrines... how do we determine what is right?
-Experience? Whose, mine or others?
-Some new prophet?
-Or the Bible?
We will decide by an authority--but by what authority?
B. JESUS LIVED UNDER AUTHORITY; BIBLICAL AUTHORITY
1. Jesus fulfills Scripture. READ Matthew 5:17-20.
Cf. the Temptations in the wilderness, Matt. 4:1-11, where Jesus knew and had memorized OT Scriptures.
QOUTE: "The truth, paradoxical yet inescapable, is this: there is no freedom apart from external authority. To say, ’I am my own authority, a law to myself’ is to enslave myself to myself, which as Seneca the Roman moralist said, is the worst bondage of all. Only as I bow to an authority which is not myself am I ever free" (J.I. Packer, Freedom and Authority, I.C.B.I., 1981, p. 7).
2. Jesus was under the Father’s authority.
READ John 5:30.
Was Jesus less or more free, for being under authority?
Was he less or more whole and fulfilled?
In fact, He was given authority (John 5:27), for the very reason he did not become his own authority.
READ Philippians 2:5b-11.
C. THE AUTHORITY OF THE BIBLE
1. The Uniqueness of the Bible
-66 smaller books by some 44 authors over a period of 1600 years
-first 39 called OT, the Jewish Scriptures, mostly in Hebrew
-27 called NT, by Christians in Greek
-OT divided into Law (first five), Prophets (early- historical books, and later Major and Minor), and the Writings (Psalms, Proverbs, etc.)
-NT divided into Gospels (first four) and Letters with Acts as an historical bridge; ending with Revelation, a prophetic and apocalyptic finale.
-Thread through all is story of human rebellion and God’s merciful seeking of human repentance and faith.
-It is no myth! Really happened. Historical faith.
-About a nation, Israel; and a person, Jesus.
-Yes, history with a point of view, but history!
-Authors selective; write about the salvation provided by God.
2. The Bible is Revelation from God
The eternal God made himself known in time.
- READ Psalm 33:6; General revelation in creation.
- READ Hebrews 1:1-2; More clearly by prophets; then especially by Son.
- READ John 1:14; perhaps most astonishing statement in the Bible.
- READ Romans 10:17; the Word of God is both act and utterance; power and truth.
By proclaiming this revelation of God, Christians make spiritual life available to those who belive the message. Men and women find genuine faith in the way they hear the Word, and gain new life by its power.
3. The Bible, as Revelation, is Authoritative.
This power to demand our obedience is called divine authority.
-Authorities are appealed to to settle disputes, whether a law book, a medical journal, or a TV Guide.
-About God and his relationships with humanity, the authority is the Bible.
-The stories of the Bible record God’s words and acts, and they also tell us the meaning of God’s acts in history.
-They also act upon our souls and call for a response to God.
-Truth is in the Biblical story, and power in its telling. General principles of truth cannot be extracted from the history of Israel or from Jesus’ teaching and then the events discarded as myth.
-Without a real resurrection there is no truth or power. READ 1 Cor. 15:12-14, 17, 19.
4. The Bible is Inspired, "God-breathed."
-READ 2 Timothy 3:16. The Bible came about because of God’s initiative, not man’s.
-READ 2 Peter 1:20-21. Men carried along by the "wind" of God’s Spirit wrote the Bible.
D. HOW TO READ THE INSPIRED AND AUTHORITATIVE BIBLE
The Bible is both a Divine and Human book; both the words of God and the words of men.
1. Therefore it demands submission and faith, but also at the same time, study and interpretation.