This post is part of a series of posts on the basics of systematic theology. Why do we need theology, and what are the essential truths to know about each doctrine? All the posts are archived under the category “Theology 101.”
I was a literature major in college. I love bookstores. New ones. Old ones. Resellers. Online bookstores. I like them all, and am reticent to pass by any of them. My wife and I have even had dates to bookstores. And I like to purchase books. Even after acquiring or constructing new bookshelves, it is rare that all my books will fit on my shelves without laying some books on top of others, or tucking a few lesser volumes behind the more important ones.
Yet one book surpasses all others. The Bible is the one supreme book. There is no other book like it. The Scriptures are “God-breathed” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). They contain the life of God and are life-giving. So the Bible is not motivational like a sonnet by Shakespeare or a poem by Homer. The Bible is alive.
And the Bible has authority. So when Christ was tempted by Satan, the most powerful response He could give was to quote Scripture (Lk. 4:1-13). There is inherent power in the Word. The Scriptures are the means God uses to reveal the inner heart and condition of every man (Heb. 4:12-13). No man has any inherent authority because of his own fallenness and errancy. But the Word he holds in his hand is inerrant and authoritative.
Moreover, the Scriptures speak to every area of life (2 Tim. 3:14-15) and are relevant for every situation (2 Tim. 3:16-17, 2 Pet. 1:3). Anyone in any situation or dilemma can find sufficient truth in the Word of God to guide him wisely and graciously. And that’s why the Bible is the tool used by the Holy Spirit to equip believers to live righteously.
If the believer fails to acknowledge these truths it will lead to:
- a pursuit of comfort rather than obedience. He will disdain the authoritative direction and commands of God for something that appears easy (but that will end in hardship and difficulty, as is always the result of disobedience).
- a submission to the “authority” of personal experience over the authority of Scripture. Something will be authoritative in our lives. If it is not the Word of God, then something else will usurp the Bible, and it will generally (and detrimentally) be personal opinion or experience.
- an exaltation of contemporary thinking rather than the principles of the Bible. If personal experience doesn’t usurp the Bible, then worldly principles will. There are only two potential sources for truth — God in His Word and Satan and his worldly philosophy. And if we reject the authority of the Word of God, then we will also by default embrace the philosophy of our enemy.