The Authority of Scripture -- By: Richard L. Mayhue

Journal: Masters Seminary Journal
Volume: TMSJ 15:2 (Fall 2004)
Article: The Authority of Scripture
Author: Richard L. Mayhue

The Authority of Scripture

Richard L. Mayhue

Senior Vice President and Dean
Professor of Theology and Pastoral Ministries

After a brief look at the general concept of “authority,” this essay continues with an introductory discussion concerning the authority of God. It is developed in terms of (1) the declarations of Scripture; (2) the displays in God’s names, nature, and prerogatives; and (3) Satan’s denial. Then, God’s authority is discussed as it is invested in Scripture in the sense that the Bible is the voice of God and therefore speaks with His full authority. God’s authority in Scripture can thus be described as original, unalterable, exclusive, permanent, ultimate, obligatory, and consequential. Scripture is to be authoritatively preached and submissively obeyed since the Author of and the authority within will reward righteous obedience and condemn those who disregard and disobey His authority in Scripture.

The concept of authority is thoroughly woven into the fabric of Scripture. It is unmistakably obvious from Gen 1:1 (“In the beginning God created”1 ) to Rev 22:20 (“Yes, I am coming quickly.”) and everywhere between. This idea of “ultimate right” is inextricably linked with God’s sovereignty (Rom 11:36).

Just how important is the authority of Scripture? Listen carefully to one of the preeminent Reformers when he spoke to this very question at the Diet of Worms in April, 1521. Martin Luther, under intense pressure to recant regarding “justification by faith” and other recently embraced truths from the Bible, responded to Meister Eck in this fashion:

Since then Your Majesty and your lordships desire a simple reply, I will answer without horns and without teeth. Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason--I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other--my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.2

What is truly known about authority did not originate outside of Scripture, but rather within. Thus, it is not a secular concept that has been co-opted by religion. On the contrary, it is a sacred element of the very Person of God. What Scripture properly teaches about authority has actually been shamefully distorted by this world’s system and wrongfully employed by all world religions. T...

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