The Authority of God’s Word–Part 2

This post is written in response to some provocative thoughts brought up by Jada’s Gigi in the comments of my last post. As my answer was rather lengthy, I decided to post it out here rather than in the comments.

JG–thanks for your thoughtful and thought-provoking remarks.

May I propose some thoughts for your consideration?

I do not mean to say that we cannot experience God. We know that experiencing God is one of the most wonderful realities of being a believer. God, however, will never cause or allow us to experience Him in a way that is contradictory to the written word.

You mentioned the fact that prophets spoke what God had put in their heart. I agree with you on this point, they certainly did learn this by experience. However, they gave a written record of what they saw. Jesus Himself referred to the written record of the prophets many times. By the time the Apostle Peter wrote this epistle (I love using “apostle” and “epistle” in the same sentence), the O.T. prophets were long gone. The only “voice” of the prophets was the written record of their divine visions.

As far as God writing prophecy or anything else in our heart, Revelation 22:18,19 tells us that the book of God’s prophecy is complete and nothing should be added to it. The problem I see with people saying “God told me —–,” is that those who do so either claim God told them something that is in contradiction with the Bible, (which won’t happen) or else what God told them is already in the Bible (and thus there is no need for Him to repeat it). The alleged divine message becomes subjective to the bias of the recipient. I spoke to this in the first paragraph of my last post. We tread on a slippery slope theologically when we make man the final authority on what God says.

I definitely believe that in the context of Peter’s writing, he is referring to the written word as being superior to the experience. As great as it is to experience the glory of God, our sight and hearing can betray us. (As one who used to be a sports official, I can vouch for that.) But the Word of God is true.

Thanks again for your response. You certainly raised some good points that deserved a thoughtful answer. I hope that I have provided that.


15 responses to “The Authority of God’s Word–Part 2

  1. “You mentioned the fact that prophets spoke what God had put in their heart. I agree with you on this point, they certainly did learn this by experience. However, they gave a written record of what they saw. Jesus Himself referred to the written record of the prophets many times. ”

    Yes! They left us a written record. And it was God’s doing for our good. Imagine what things might be like if there was no letter to the Corinthians? All of their mistakes and sins would be our mistakes and sins. Just as they were ignorant on some finer points of, say, church order, so would we be ignorant. I find it interesting that just as the things which happened to Israel as an example, ‘but were written down for our instruction.’ (1 Corinthians 10:11)similar things also happened to the Corinthians for our example and instruction.

    The apostles were not afraid to use the OT writings at all to support their arguments and to clarify some things of the gospel, yet if they did not have those writings, what would they have used?

  2. My point exactly, Rob.

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  4. Gordon,

    I enjoy reading your posts. Well thought-out.

    I guess that I understand Peter as saying that their experience on the Mt. of Transfiguration confirmed the written Word of the O.T. prophets concerning Christ. Look at how the NLT translates the passage.

    We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.

    And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

    In other words, the Mt.experience of Peter and his friends demonstrated that what the O.T prophets said about the coming Messiah was true.

    What do you does that make sense?

    I don’t know whether or not we should make a choice between what’s more important in the Christian life: an experience or the written Word. I don’t think that this is an either/or situation. It’s got to be a both/and.

  5. thanks for checking in on me….yea i just been busy playing catchup and normal life stuff.

    looks like you got some great topics happening here. i really appreciate when we can talk and even have different view points on issues, but still show kindness, patience and long suffering.

    we are all at differnt points in our journey i guess… most people are way up in front of me, and i’m thankful when they don’t just step on my fingers when i’m barley holding on. but hopefully there are also times i can extend a helping hand, and help someone along the way.

    blessings, and keep up the good work here!

    in Him,

  6. Daniel, you make a good point about the experience confirming the written word. I have no problem with what you are saying there.

    I still hold to my point, though, about experience being subordinate to the written word. Interpretation of experience is subjective to the bias of man. I know that the same could be said of interpreting the Bible, but experience does not carry divine authority the way Scripture does. Jesus did not say we would be judged according to our experiences, but according to His words.

    Remember, after Peter described his experience, he described the written testimony of the prophets as a “more sure word of prophecy”.

    Lisa–good to hear from you. Hope things slow down for you soon.

  7. You speak it well, Gordon! Right on!

  8. this is the first time I have been to your blog and I find it interesting, I will be back.

  9. Gordon,
    I enjoy reading your articles on God’s Word. It is sad that many professing christians determine the truth of God’s Word by their experience, rather than determining the truth of their experience by God’s Word. God is the final authority.

  10. Experience is a funny thing … with out it there is no life … life is made up of experiences. The experiences of the heart is what life and faith is all about. Woe to us if when we read the scripture do not experience a moving within us … woe to us if we relegate His Holy Word to the realms of intellectual discourse and do not grasp it’s life changing power. The bible is a book of experiences that people had with God.

    Having said all of that I agree with you that the scripture is the final word on our experience. If our experience in worship is not alive and life-giving … if our prayer life is dead … if our compassion for the hurting has waxed cold … then the scripture testifies against our experience.

  11. Good words on the Word, G.

  12. Bonnie–thanks for the prop.

    LLL–you are welcome anytime.

    TA–thanks for your thoughts. We must have some authority in our life. What better than God’s Word?

    Bob–excellent point. I would never want it to be lost in this discussion that we can and should have experiences with God. I am a firm believer in that aspect of salvation. As you said, we must realize that the Word of God is the authority on how to interpret those experiences.


  13. Great post. I grew up in a church environment that was very much into visions, dreams, personal prophecies, and things of that nature. Over time God showed me how dangerous those things can be — how far we can stray from His Word in the name of what we call “revelation.”
    I always say it like this: the Spirit of God will never contradict the Word of God. God has spoken to us in the clearest way possible: the Bible.

  14. Gordon,

    I agree that this (Word as an authority over experience) is an ideal and worthy goal, but is it really possible?

    I don’t get me wrong. I’m not sure what I think on this. These are just questions that I have in the back of my mind. I probably agree with you a lot on this. I’m just voicing some of the objections that I’ve heard to this so that I can get a better understanding.

    Any time we come to the text we come with biases and past experiences already in our heads. Nobody reads the Bible in a vacuum. My own understanding of the text is based on my placement in history and American culture. So is objectivity really possible? I tend to think it’s not, but we must move on any way. Do you see what I’m saying?

    Maybe we should throw another factor into the discussion like the work of the Holy Spirit or something.

  15. Bobby-“I always say it like this: the Spirit of God will never contradict the Word of God. God has spoken to us in the clearest way possible: the Bible.”

    Excellent thought.

    Daniel–I believe that this goal is possible and I think you gave us the reason in your last paragraph. The Holy Spirit guides believers into all truth.

    You are right that we tend to superimpose our cultural background, system of theology, etc. Regardless of how we approach the Scripture, we are still accountable to God to interpret it correctly.

    This is the fundamental difference between experience and Scripture. As I have said, experience is not divinely inspired and thus carries no divine fiat. Scripture is divinely inspired and thus carries with it absolute authority.

    You have brought up some great questions here and I think you are right in that we are in much agreement on this.

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