How Do We Trust the Authority of Scripture?

When we talk about the authority of Scripture, we are saying more than just, "it's an important book." To say Scripture has authority is to state it is a uniquely-inspired book that affects our lives in radical ways.

Contributing Writer
Feb 23, 2022
How Do We Trust the Authority of Scripture?

At least one copy of the Bible may be found in almost every household in the United States and some other countries. The Holy Bible is often inscribed with gold lettering onto a leather-like cover, with gold leaf adorning the edge of each page. It’s an outward display of the reverence with which Christians hold what’s inside—God’s very Word. Scripture has authority over all people, but believers are those who acknowledge its authority. 

What Do We Mean by the Authority of Scripture?

The Bible is the inspired Word of God, and as such, it is a Christian’s ultimate authority. Because it is infallible truth, we search the Scriptures for all wisdom as it teaches us how to live an obedient life under the reign of our perfect King so that He will get the glory.

Knowing God gave us the Scriptures, we yield to its authority, which is paramount. The Bible’s authority and inerrancy form part of our Christian doctrine. Scripture is how God speaks to us today; we are to obey His commands through it.

The Bible was written for our benefit and instruction. The Lord reveals His will in it, and our obedience brings Him glory. His Word is His special revelation which provides believers the template for life. Upon salvation, we are given the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of our inheritance (2 Corinthians 1:22), and He enables us to understand the Bible and how we are to live as the Lord’s (1 Corinthians 2:6-16). We are saved, yet we still carry the weight of a sinful nature, and there are consequences for not following what God commands through His Word (e.g., see Matthew 19:9).

What Does the "Authority of Scripture Over Our Lives" Mean?

The Bible teaches us what to do and what not to do. Therefore, with this knowledge, disobedience is unacceptable. 1 Timothy 5:20) Isaiah 59:2a says, “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God.” Our perfect and holy God cannot look upon sin (Habakkuk 1:13). We thank Jesus God sees Him when He looks upon us (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22; 1 John 3:8).

We can use the Word for offense and defense. Ephesians 6:17 tells us to take up the “sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” We carry the Word with us for offense and defense, as a ready weapon to fight against false teaching (by rebuking and correcting it). We also use the sword of the Spirit as a spiritual weapon against the wiles of the evil ones (Ephesians 5:16).

We are given insight into the Scriptures not afforded natural men because of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 16:13; 1 Corinthians 2:14).

Because of the Holy Spirit and the instruction in His Word, we are able to refrain from sin. Not doing so incurs judgment either here or by the inference of loss of rewards once we are in Jesus’ presence (1 Corinthians 3:14-17; Hebrews 10:26-27).

The Bible teaches that we must obey the authorities God has placed over us (Romans 13:1). Yet if we as believers are given a choice between adhering to a state’s law which is wholly against God’s commands, we are to follow God’s laws above man’s. We will stand before God in judgment, not humanity (Acts 5:29-32).

2 Timothy 2:15 tells us to “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the Word of truth.” How can we do that unless we are immersed in Scripture daily—taking in the truth of God, where we find the authority?

What Does it Mean that Scripture Is 'God-Breathed'?

The Bible tells us the Lord spoke the world into existence (Genesis 1:1-31; Psalm 33:6, 33:9; Hebrews 11:3), and Jesus will defeat the devil and his horde with a breath (2 Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 19:15-21). With such mighty acts from just a breath, it’s not surprising God breathed the Words of Scripture.

1 Timothy 3:16-17 is where we find the expression God-breathed. The ESV translation states, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

God is the source of everything written in the Bible. The Greek word used here is Theopneust,  which may also be translated as “given by inspiration.” But the literal meaning is God-breathed. In Scripture, inspiration is distinct from non-inspired writings and refers to breath. The biblical authors received what God breathed out, not what He breathed in

2 Peter 1:20-21 adds to and stresses the truth of the passage above, “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” 

How Do We Trust the Authority of Scripture?

Jesus is the complete revelation of God to us. As Colossians 1:16-20 says, “He created all things and is before all things”—the preeminent One. Jesus came to testify to the truth (John 18:38), and He used Scripture against the devil’s attempted deception (Matthew 4:1-11). 

As two disciples walked along the road to Emmaus after the Resurrection, Jesus appeared to them, and “beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27).

Hebrews 1:1-2a, 3b says, “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son…and upholding all things by the Word of His power,”

John 1:1-4 presents Jesus as the Word of God. Because we trust Jesus, we trust the authority of Scripture. Jesus said to His disciples, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). 

In John 17:14-21—the Lord’s Prayer—Jesus said He shared the Word with the disciples and asked that they be sanctified in the truth and “those who will believe in Me through their Word.”

People like the Bereans checked what the Apostles said against the Scriptures available to them to see if the messages matched (Acts 17:10-11).

Proof of Scripture’s Reliability

Over the centuries, Christians have considered and presented a number of proofs for why we can believe Scripture is reliable. Here are some of the classic proofs:

Unity of the Bible: A key maxim for understanding and trusting the Bible is the best interpreter of Scripture is Scripture. The Bible never contradicts itself because God can never contradict Himself. And though many skeptics have tried, their false findings have been soundly refuted.

Archaeological Findings: Year after year, archaeological digs reveal discoveries that give further proof for biblical records. Cases in point include:

Numerous other findings corroborate the historicity, and therefore the reliability, of the Bible and never fail to repudiate naysayers.

Prophecy: The Old Testament includes over 300 prophecies fulfilled by Jesus Christ. Just the one prophecy from Micah 5:2 and the likelihood of Him being born in Bethlehem was one in 300,000. What God foretells in the Scriptures has or will come to fruition without a doubt.

Extant proof: Writings by Josephus and other church fathers give more credence to the Word’s reliability.

Accuracy of Translations: The Scriptures as God intended, have come to us through the ages without fail. In His providence, the translations in and taken from the original languages are inerrant and relevant (even many centuries since they were written). Numerous books and articles exist, giving us a clear look at how we got the Bible.

How Do We See Scripture Differently Once We Believe?

I have a relative who walks according to a different faith. She questioned me once as I read my Bible. “How do you make sense of that? I don’t understand it at all.” Once I became a believer, Scripture, once hidden to me, came alive. I couldn’t then and still cannot get enough. For every season of life since, we Christians can come to Scripture with great expectancy, knowing from it we gain knowledge of the Holy One (Psalm 19; Proverbs 9:10), love of Him (1 John 4:19), and wisdom (James 1:5). We gain everything, for in it are given the Words of life (John 6:68).

Photo Credit: iStock/Getty Images Plus/Sergio Yoneda

Lisa Baker 1200x1200

Lisa Loraine Baker is the multiple award-winning author of Someplace to be Somebody. She writes fiction and nonfiction. In addition to writing for the Salem Web Network, Lisa serves as a Word Weavers’ mentor and is part of a critique group. She also is a member of BRRC. Lisa and her husband, Stephen, a pastor, live in a small Ohio village with their crazy cat, Lewis. 

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