Early in our marriage, I made the unassisted decision while Tabatha was away to get rid of some of my sweaters and one of hers in order to fit our clothes into the tiny apartment closet. I learned soon enough that I should have discarded more of my sweaters and none of hers!
Sometimes our pursuit of one thing leads us to foolishly discard a more valuable thing. Consider how our culture’s undiscerning pursuit for “sameness” has discarded some valuable distinctions. Men used to stand when a woman entered the room to honor her God-given distinction. Marriage used to be protected as a sacred institution because of its God-given distinction. Citizens used to speak of their elected leaders with civility in spite of disapproval because of the God-given distinction of their office. In blurring the lines of what is honorably distinct, we have unknowingly discarded many treasures.
People often think it’s strange that we take the Bible seriously because they fail to see it as honorably distinct from any other book. I know many of us own a Bible, read a Bible, and even claim that the Bible is superior to every other book, but do you know why? In addition to its historical credibility, its message, and its divine inspiration, the Bible is so special because of its unrivaled authority.
In addition to its historical credibility, its message, and its divine inspiration, the Bible is so special because of its unrivaled authority.
At the end of Paul’s life, while sitting in prison awaiting execution for his faith, he wrote one last letter to a young pastor named Timothy. Paul didn’t have a son and Timothy didn’t have a Christian dad, but for 15 years Paul had poured into him and called him his “beloved child.” As the end of Paul’s life drew near, he learned that Timothy was in a pit of spiritual discouragement, so he wrote, “As for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 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” (2 Timothy 3:14-17). What’s so special about the Bible?
THE BIBLE IS THE ULTIMATE AUTHORITY
(2 TIMOTHY 3:16)
The blue ribbon of ‘ultimate authority’ goes to the book that has the ultimate author. Paul writes, “All Scripture is breathed out by God.” The Greek word is ‘theo (God) pneustos (breathe).’ Paul is echoing Peter in affirming the divine inspiration of the Bible. “No prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” Like a boat being carried along as wind fills its sails, God’s Spirit filled the hearts of people and carried them inside the context of their personality and perspective to write His words. Therefore, when we read the Bible, we are hearing the voice of God.
As you read the Bible you find that things happen when God speaks. In Genesis 1, God speaks and the world is formed. In Genesis 12, God’s promise to Abraham initiated a sequence of events that led to the formation of nations. In Exodus 3, God’s calling to a displaced prince named Moses initiated a sequence of events that led to a great deliverance of His people. Listen to the testimony of biblical authors who saw and heard the power of God’s words. “He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction.” “The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars.” “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” “You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.”
History also bears witness of the power of God’s Word. In the 4th century, Augustine threw himself to the ground of a courtyard in agony and then heard a child say, “Pick it up, read it!” He picked up a Bible, read Romans, believed in Christ, and was saved! In the 16th century, a monk named Martin Luther bemoaned his struggle to earn his salvation until he picked up a Bible and read the truth that the righteous shall live by faith. In the 19th century, Charles Spurgeon went to the Crystal Auditorium to test the acoustics. Believing he was alone, he read, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” along with a few of his notes. A worker cleaning the balcony overheard, believed in Christ, and went home telling his family he had been forgiven. This is what God means when he said, “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
The Ultimate Author has given us a book called the Bible that has ultimate authority. It is the standard on all matters of faith and life. It is the plumb line of all truth statements. It is the “power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” Were all the world to reject the Bible, it would not tremble. For all flesh like grass shall wither in the sun, but “the word of the Lord remains forever.”
THE BIBLE’S AUTHORITY IS PROFITABLE TO MAN
(2 TIMOTHY 3:14-16)
The Bible is the best source of authority because it is written by God who loves us! Paul wrote, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable.” The authority of the Bible is not a liability that robs us of life, but an asset that profits our life. The Bible is profitable, first, because it is “able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” The Bible affirms our guilt before God, and then reveals His love to send His Son to save us. Christ came to earth, lived without sin, willingly died for our sin, and rose from the dead! The subsequent invitation of the gospel is stunning. If we will admit our need, put our faith in Jesus Christ, and confess Him as Lord, then all we deserve for our sin will fall on Him, and all He deserves for His righteousness will fall on us.”
The Bible is also “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and training in righteousness.” The Bible “teaches” us the right way to live. It teaches how to please God, experience good, and avoid shame. The Bible gives “reproof.” When we get off course, God’s Word warns us that we are in the wrong. The Bible provides “correction.” If you visit an orthodontist because your teeth are not in alignment, they attach braces. Braces add soreness as they align our teeth. Similarly, the Bible corrects our course to restore alignment with God’s will. Finally, the Bible offers “training in righteousness.” Like a trainer at the gym, the Bible helps us grow mature in what is right. The Bible’s instruction, warning, corrective realignment, and training may be painful, but it is profitable!
The Inferior Authority of Intuition
If our authority is not God’s Word, we will lean on something far less reliable to help us make decisions. Many people lean on their desires, saying, “I just do what feels right.” But haven’t your feelings often proven to be unreliable? We all can look back on decisions we made 10 years ago that led to regret, and sadly, in 10 years we will look back on some decisions we are making today with similar regret. How can we rely on our intuitions when they have proven to be unreliable?
The Inferior Authority of Culture
Others lean on consensus, saying, “I look to culture for guidance.” But how is this a reliable guide when cultures perpetually change? This may surprise you but our grandchildren are going to snicker at our culture, in similar ways that we have snickered at our grandparents’ culture. And how do we rely on the rightness of one culture when cultures contradict one another? For example, in the Middle East aggression is more honorable than sexual freedom. But in America, aggression is often met with mandatory anger management classes, and sexual freedom is seen as a courageous pursuit of being true to oneself. Which culture’s values do we adopt? And how can we blindly rely on our own culture’s values when history has proven that certain cultures, or parts of a culture, are corrupt?
The only way to build our lives on something reliable that won’t grow obsolete in time is if we build our lives on the Bible. The Bible profits by helping us live in a manner consistent with reality. When you buy a car, you fill it with the recommended fuel. You don’t feel oppressed in this because the same people who recommend the fuel also built the car. God built us. He knows what is best. Initially, it may seem costly to live according to His plan, but over time the profit will reflect His wisdom.
THE BIBLE’S AUTHORITY IS HOPEFUL FOR MAN
(2 TIMOTHY 3:17)
Paul urges Timothy to continue in the Scriptures “that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” In the Old Testament, the phrase “man of God” is only used when referencing a great spiritual giant. The only person called “man of God” in the New Testament is Timothy. In Paul’s first letter to Timothy, he wrote, “But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.” The other time this phrase is used is here in 2 Timothy, when Timothy was wavering in his faith, strength, and courage.
Knowing his young friend’s struggle, Paul was intentionally setting before Timothy this title as a promise to which he could aspire. If he had been writing a woman, perhaps he would have written, “that the woman of God may be complete…” God’s point here is to show that a noble legacy and a “life equipped for every good work” is available for anyone willing to be trained by His Word. No matter our weakness, we can grow mature and equipped. In this way, the Bible is hopeful authority.
What is so special about the Bible? The Bible is the ultimate authority inspired by our loving God. As such, the Bible beneficial and hopeful to man. Jesus proclaimed it to be true. Having full confidence that it is true, let me offer a few applications.
First, let me encourage you to read the Bible daily. Those who go to the gym once a week tend to remain weak. Those who remove their braces every other week fail to see alignment. If we will put ourselves under the Bible’s teaching daily, then according to the authority of God’s Word, we will grow strong and our lives will grow aligned to His will. Let me also encourage you to read the Bible more than you read books about the Bible. I enjoy reading authors such C.S. Lewis and A.W. Tozer. They offer great insight, but God didn’t breathe out their books.
If we will put ourselves under the Bible’s teaching daily, then according to the authority of God’s Word, we will grow strong and our lives will grow aligned to His will.
Second, let me encourage you to submit to the Bible quickly. The Bible is not an echo chamber that reverberates the desires of our heart. The Bible is a mirror that reveals what God sees that is out of place. James wrote, “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.” To hear God’s Word and not obey it is like standing before a mirror in the morning, and walking away without fixing what it reveals to be out of place. The Bible tells us to admit our need and trust Christ. Have you? The Bible tells us to be baptized after trusting Christ to profess our faith. Have you? The Bible gives many instructions about life. Is there anything you know God has told you to do that you haven’t acted upon?
Third, let me encourage you to continue in the Bible faithfully. This will be particularly important as our culture creates enemies of those who love the Bible. In light of the fact that people were deceiving and being deceived, Paul urged Timothy, “As for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it.” Hold fast to the Bible even when others abandon it as their authority! Jude writes, “Contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” The faith once delivered is not our personal faith, but the historical body of truth found in the Bible. The faith wasn’t invented, it was delivered by God once for all. God does speak through people and through our conscience, but never does He violate His Word through secondary sources. Therefore, every truth claim, whether it come from a pope, a pastor, a parent, a leader, a teacher, or a friend, is to be measured against the standard of the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.
When the truth gets distorted in our minds, we begin trusting what isn’t real. We make a ‘god’ in our own image that gladly authorizes our unreliable desires. The consequences are steep. Desiring to protect us and motivate us to hold fast to His Word, God makes this appeal. “Oh that they had such a heart as this always, to fear me and to keep all my commandments, that it might go well with them and with their descendants forever!” Oh Christian, for your everlasting good, hold fast to the Bible!
 2 Timothy 1:2
 2 Peter 1:20-21
 Psalm 107:20
 Psalm 29:5
 Isaiah 40:8
 1 Peter 1:23
 John 1:29
 Isaiah 55:11
 Romans 1:16
 1 Peter 1:24-25
 Romans 8:1-4, 31-39; 10:9; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21
 Deuteronomy 33:1; 1 Kings 17:24
 1 Timothy 6:11
 Matthew 5:17-19; John 17:17
 James 1:22-24
 Jude 1:3
 Deuteronomy 5:29