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Scripture Reading: Ezekiel 43:7-12

Bible Authority, Part 6


The Nature of Bible Authority



1.  The pattern of truth has been revealed by God and we are to hold fast to it (Heb. 8:5; 2 Tim. 1:13).

2.  God has revealed His authority by commands, apostolic approved examples and necessary inferences (how to establish Bible authority).

3.  The nature (traits) of Bible authority is vital to properly applying truth in our lives, cf. 2 Cor. 5:10-11.

4.  Two kinds of authority are revealed in the Scriptures; generic and specific.  Illus. Building a house – Blueprints specify 6 rooms (excludes any other number). But the generic authority to “build” includes tools needed to build house (even though tools not mentioned).

5.  Understanding generic and specific authority will help avoid extremes and rightly divide God’s word of truth.



  A.  Generic Authority is Inclusive in Nature.

    1.  It includes the means and methods for carrying out the authorized action (although they are left unstated).

    2.  Allows choices because God has not specified (cf. Rev. 22:19).

    3.  Examples of generic authority:

      a.  “Go”Matt. 28:19. How? (All available kinds of transportation)

      b.  “Assemble” Heb. 10:25. Where? (All available places)

      c.  “Outward apparel” 1 Pet. 3:3. What? (Includes all styles)

  B.  Specific Authority is Exclusive in Nature.

    1.  It excludes all things except what has been specified.

    2.  Removes choices, because God says specifically what He wants (cf. Rev. 22:18).

    3.  Examples of specific authority:

      a.  “Build an ark” Gen. 6:14 (Excluded all other structures)

      b.  “Sing” Eph. 5:19 (Excludes all other kinds of music)

      c.  “Lord’s Supper” 1 Cor. 11:23-26 (Excludes all other elements)

      d.  “Modest apparel” 1 Tim. 2:9 (Excludes all immodest dress)



  A.  Everything is Acceptable unless it is Specifically Condemned.

    1.  “It doesn’t say not to!”  Approval based on God’s silence: “Silence gives consent.”  (cf. Parents and children)

    2.  Silence does not give consent; it constrains, restricts and prohibits, Heb. 7:13-14.

    3.  This extreme looses where God has bound, 1 Cor. 4:6.

  B.  Nothing is Acceptable unless it is Specifically Approved.

    1.  Ignores generic authority and necessary inferences.

    2.  Inconsistent: “GO” – Couldn’t use plane, train or car.

    3.  This extreme binds where God has loosed, Mk. 7:9.

  C.  We must have Positive Authority from Scripture to Please God (expressed either generically or specifically), Heb. 13:21.

    1.  No deviation to right or left (pattern to follow), Josh. 1:7-8.

    2.  If not according to “this word,” no light in them, Isa. 8:20.

    3.  Test all things (implies an objective standard), 1 Ths. 5:21.

    4.  What is written is the fullness of God’s affirmation (positive authority), 1 Cor. 4:6.

    5.  The doctrine of Christ is the line of demarcation, 2 Jno. 9.



1.  Without Christ’s authority supporting it, all we say and do is sin, Col. 3:17 (cf. Acts 4:7-12).

2.  What must I do to be saved?  Specific authority:

  a.  Hear the gospel  (Rom. 10:17).

  b.  Believe Jesus is Son of God (Jno. 8:24).

  c.  Confess faith (Rom. 10:10).

  d.  Repent of sins (Acts 17:30).

  e.  Be baptized for remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16).

3.  Next lesson:  How we scripturally tell the difference between an aid that helps us obey God’s word and an addition that violates God’s word.