“Blogging the Institutes” is my on-going attempt to paraphrase John Calvin’s work, the Institutes of the Christian Religion. You can find out more about the series in the Introduction. For all the posts in this series, check out the Master List.
God Speaks in the Scriptures
Understanding that God is the author of Scripture establishes the church’s teaching. God’s own character is the best argument for the authority of Scripture. When the prophets and apostles wrote Scripture, they did not brag about their own quality of writing or persuasiveness. Rather, they appealed to God’s own name in order that the whole world would be compelled to submit to Scripture. God’s name, however, is not invoked deceptively or to give legitimacy to their writings. If we want to have stability and not be blown about by the winds of uncertainty, then we must understand that the truth of Scripture comes from a source higher than human opinion or human reason. The truth of Scripture comes from God Himself, specifically, the work of the Spirit in our hearts.
Now, if you really want to, you can make arguments to support the truthfulness of Scripture. For example, if God does in fact exist, then it is logical to see how the Scriptures came from Him. Some people may try to discredit the Scriptures. But even the smartest people, if they are honest with themselves, will acknowledge that the Scriptures exhibit clear evidence of being spoken by God and teach the truth about God. We will examine a little later on how many more copies of holy Scripture there are than any other ancient writing. If we read Scripture with clear eyes and an open mind, we will certainly conclude that it comes from God.
It is, however, preposterous to try to convince someone of the truthfulness of Scripture by arguments alone. Now, if I were to argue with the smartest skeptics of God’s word—even though I’m not the smartest person or the most eloquent debater—I still wouldn’t find it very difficult to shut them up. Although my arguments could refute those who doubt Scriptures, they still couldn’t produce faith in their hearts. Unbelievers think that religion rests only on human opinion. Therefore, they demand that the truthfulness of Scripture be proved so that they can find a loophole and not believe it.
The work of God’s Spirit in our hearts is superior to human reason. Only God Himself can establish the truthfulness of His own word. Thus, Scripture will not be fully accepted by people until the Spirit works in their hearts. The same Spirit who spoke through the prophets must penetrate our hearts in order to confirm the truth of Scripture to us. The connection between God’s word and God’s Spirit is clearly expressed in Isaiah, “‘My Spirit which is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of your offspring’s offspring,’ says the Lord, ‘from now and forever’” (Isaiah 59:21).
Some believers get upset because people criticize God’s word and they don’t feel like they have the arguments to refute them. What they forget is that the Holy Spirit is called a seal and a pledge to confirm the faith of believers. Therefore, some believers will be tossed about by the winds of doubt until the Spirit enlightens their minds to comprehend the truth.