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Scripture Reading:  Joshua 1:5-9

(Part 5)

God Has Spoken: A Study of Bible Authority

(The Nature of Bible Authority)


1.  The pattern of truth has been revealed by God & 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 & necessary inferences.

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 & specific.  Illus. Building a house – Blueprints specify 6 rooms (excludes any other number of rooms).  But the generic authority to “build” includes tools needed to build house (even though tools not mentioned).

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



  A.  Generic Authority:  Inclusive in Nature.

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

    2.  Allows choices because God has not specified (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.  “Apparel” 1 Tim. 2:9.  (Includes all that is modest)

  B.  Specific Authority:  Exclusive in Nature.

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

    2.  Removes choices, because God says specifically what He wants (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 & children)

    2.  Silence does not give consent; it constrains, restricts & 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 & necessary inferences.

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

      3.  This extreme binds where God has loosed.

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

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

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

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

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

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



1.  Without Christ’s authority supporting it, all we say & do is sin, Col. 3:17 (cf. Acts 4:9-12).

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

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

  b.  Confess faith (Rom. 10:10).

  c.  Repent of sins (Acts 17:30).

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

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