The Authority and Need of the Bible

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:6–9, ESV)

I was reading in the book of Galatians and was struck again by the text above. These are the Apostle Paul’s opening words. In this epistle, he castigates the Galatian believers for abandoning the gospel of God’s grace. They did so by pursuing a “faith plus” approach to the Christian life. Paul goes on in this letter to teach salvation by grace alone through faith alone.

What strikes me is Paul’s words in verse 8. It’s slightly confusing at first glance. Paul writes, But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. Did you catch it? Paul says if I preach to you a gospel other than the one I first delivered, consider even me accursed. Why does Paul put it that way? He wants to stress that the message is ultimately from God and not from him. Even with all the authority he has an Apostle he stresses here that he is the messenger. Paul is pressing the need to put our faith in God’s revelation of Himself as the final resting place.

This fits with what we read in the book of Acts. There we read of the Bereans who heard Paul preach. It says of them there, “The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:10–11, ESV)  The Bereans are labelled as “more noble” because they took as their ultimate authority the Scriptures. Even when they had an Apostle before them in the flesh it was the Scriptures- the word of God- that were the final authority. For this wise and discerning action, they are commended.

The bottom line is that the Scriptures are our authority in all things. It’s no accident that the first chapter of our doctrinal statement in the Westminster Confession of Faith is entitled “Of the Holy Scriptures.” We need to be a people who are committed to the Reformation slogan sola Scriptura which means “Scripture alone.” We need to be a people “of the Book.”

Having that firm commitment to the Bible, we look forward to hearing from a representative of the Gideons International this Sunday. We have had the Gideons come each year for as long as I can recall here at HLPC. The Gideons are committed to Scripture distribution, a “Berean-esque” ministry. You are encouraged to give to them this Sunday.