How is it possible that sixty-six distinct books seamlessly contribute to the same story? On this episode of Simply Put, Barry Cooper traces the authority of the Bible back to its divine author.
Let’s talk about the authority of Scripture.
Imagine a radio with sixty-six stations.
As you flick rapidly between them, you notice something very odd. The songs sound different—country and western collides with hip-hop collides with opera—but each new vocalist is developing the same story.
The Bible contains sixty-six documents. Approximately forty authors wrote in three different languages over a period of about fifteen hundred years. Some of the authors were young, some were old; some were professionals, others were peasants; some were soldiers, others were civil servants, fishermen, farmers, or kings. They wrote in wildly different genres: history, population statistics, poetry, travel diaries, law, prophecy, family trees, biography, geographical surveys, architectural blueprints, song lyrics. And it wasn’t like a relay race, with one author handing on the baton to another. Often, the authors were writing centuries apart. They were writing in different periods of history, in different geographical and cultural situations, to different groups of people.
Consider that for a moment. What if multiple authors, all with very different educational and cultural backgrounds, had each written a single sentence of the script for this broadcast.
What if each of those authors wrote in different genres, in different centuries, and in different countries, with no “master plan” for them to consult? Would it make any sense at all?
And yet, the sixty-six documents of the Bible have a single theme running all the way through them, like rings in the trunk of a tree. They tell the unified, coherent story of humanity’s creation by God, humanity’s rebellion against God, and God’s redemption of His people. It’s like flicking between sixty-six different stations and finding that each is advancing the same story, a grand symphonic drama that only grows in beauty as it develops.
As well as having a single theme, the Bible has a single hero. Each of these sixty-six documents, even the ones written hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth, are all singing the same song. And the song, consistently, is about Jesus. As Jesus said, “These are the very Scriptures that testify about Me.”
What are the odds?
Second Peter chapter 1 offers an explanation for this stunning single-mindedness, and that is that a single mind was behind it all.
Although there were many different human authors involved, the ultimate Author of Scripture was God Himself. And the Author of Scripture is what gives Scripture its authority.
Listen to what Peter says here:
“Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
Peter wants us to understand that the writers of Scripture (including himself) weren’t simply sharing their own expert opinions or subjective experiences. When they wrote, they “spoke from God.”
When we read one of the sixty-six documents, we aren’t reading “the prophet’s own interpretation of things.” Each author was “carried along” by God’s Holy Spirit. In other words, the fallible, human authors weren’t allowed to fall into error as they wrote. God’s own Spirit would not allow it. Peter is quite matter-of-fact about this: he describes his own testimony as having been guided and enabled by (quote) “the Holy Spirit sent from heaven.”
That’s the reason for the stunning sixty-six-station single-mindedness of Scripture: the single-mindedness of its origin. When we open it up and peer inside, we can see that it has one overarching storyline: the salvation of God’s people. It has one purpose: to “make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” It has one person as its main subject. And all of this is true because the Bible has one ultimate Author. “All Scripture,” writes the Apostle Paul, “is God-breathed.”
All that to say, Scripture is authoritative because ultimately, the living God Himself is the Author.
The authority of Scripture is grounded in the authority of its Author.