The Primacy of Scripture

It’s not an uncommon thing throughout history that men will look towards other men to follow rather than to follow God. It’s common spiritual principle that you become what you follow, and in the end following men only brings you the fruits of men.

This is true in person, but also extends to books – it is ever more popular today due to the ubiquitous availability of books and the ever beckoning money and fame that’s out there for those who are pleasing to men and want to scratch ears instead of present the true Gospel:

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:2-4)

Books are Just Like Preachers – Fallible
It is almost without argument that this looking towards men, especially the books of men can turn people away from the truth. Arguably, this is a large reason for the existence of Churchianity: Men don’t know the truth, and especially are not unapologetic witnesses of it. This is especially true in the drive to appease women that’s existed in the church for quite a while.

Now it is unfortunate, but yet not surprising that Free Northerner would ask for study resources himself and then get ten responses that don’t point back to Scripture. There are reasons that people do this, but namely the Churchian idea that only those that go to seminary are capable of interpreting Scripture and that the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit can not impose structure upon anything that happens within His Church. Therefore, it is thought that books written by men are required to gain Spiritual enlightenment when we are graciously granted the best Teacher possible: God Himself:

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:26)

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. (John 16:13)

It is definitely by the influence of Churchianity, where we can go from men who are “unschooled” carpenters and fishermen taking the world for Christ to the expectation that only the “schooled” can bring “structure” to the Holy Scriptures. There’s simply no place for Peter, James, John, or Jesus in most churches today.

Teachings of Men Vs. The Teachings of God

Then the Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote, Therefore behold, I will once again deal marvelously with this people, wondrously marvelous; And the wisdom of their wise men will perish, And the discernment of their discerning men will be concealed.” (Isaiah 29:13-14 NASB)

Now, it takes being a leader in Christ in order to stand on the primacy and truth of Scripture, whether facilitating or participating. I know this personally from reflecting back on the ten years that I’ve spoken about Scripture before others in person, through groups like Free Northerner’s, and through the different online venues I’ve professed Scripture, including this blog. My presence in these situations has proven to be a driver for change in this regard, not due to my own actions (for I am nothing) but the grace of God through submission and holding to His word and not my own thoughts. I’m not “schooled” but yet somehow the Lord manages to use me.

The commonness of looking towards men instead of God brought an interesting comment. I had a woman come up to me after one session and state that for three years of attending “Bible studies” that it was the first time that the Bible was actually opened in any of these things she attended. She went on to relate how many obvious to her falsehoods in the books involved that weren’t challenged simply because those involved didn’t know the truth. How can you know the truth of God’s very words and have the authority behind them if you don’t know them? It was an amazing thing in my walk to discover people that knew nothing of God’s Scripture, but could quote Warren’s False Gospel to the letter and didn’t know better.

The deception that has caused the Church to give up its authority in God and its equipping for life is a masterwork of Satan. This is especially plain since the example of Jesus is so clear. The Gospel of Warren or The Gospel of Hybels or even The Gospel of Ballista74 has no power. Only the true Gospel of God holds power in the spirit realm. Knowing God through His Scripture is so important that the instruction was given to meditate on it all day and all night and to abide in the doctrine of Christ.

Teaching as One Having Authority
It becomes of interest to note that tradition takes its hold by the teaching of men in Jesus’ day to the point that He had to remind people of the truth that should have known better. It was also particularly interesting that it was said of Jesus:

And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. (Matthew 7:28-29)

To enlighten us of the culture at the time, Edersheim tells us that in the life of children, Scriptural instruction was started at five (1), the Mishnah at ten and the Talmud at fifteen. It was considered more laudable to be able to handle the later two in the culture. The interpretations of the Rabbis were considered more important than the context of Scripture to the point that they were quoted more than any authoritative teaching in the documents. Appendix II (starting on page 174 of this version) is especially enlightening in terms of what this meant. The number of references to the quotes of Rabbis are head-spinning, making it quite understandable how the scribes and Pharisees lost their way with God – the same way the Church has lost its way. By knowing men who are just as fallible and just as sinful as they, and not seeking to know God and be washed by His word. Man’s ways hold no authority or power. God’s ways hold all the authority and power.

The Proper Place of Books and Commentaries
Now books and commentaries have their place in things, if they are used properly. They can be useful to enhance understanding of the culture involved, or to give fresh thoughts to consider on matters. But they should never function as substitutes to the truth of God no more than the sermons/homilies of men should substitute for it. Unfortunately in many environments, there are people who should be learning Scripture and have that learning substituted with these books. In fact, books and commentaries should be tested the same as any other teacher or preacher to see whether what they are saying is correct. Praise was given to the Ephesians and Bereans for not accepting what they heard without question but testing it to see if it is true. In fact, dialogue and questioning was the order of the day and not the monologues of tradition today – the purpose is that we all learn and correct each other where we stray off the path, for God’s authority comes through the adherence to His words.

Leading on the narrow path is definitely a challenge, but a necessary one to the servant of God. And my response to the original post is this, which I would write there if it didn’t provide the opportunity for the text above:

Why not prayerfully consider a book of the Bible for your study instead of the teachings of fallible men? I suggest James or 1 John if they aren’t too initiated.

(1) Sketches of Jewish Social Life by Alfred Edersheim, p 121
(2) ibid page 127.

17 thoughts on “The Primacy of Scripture”

  1. Absolutely love this. I may just reblog it.

    The dumbest thing that has happened to me in this regard is that when I have challenged things by what Scripture says, some Christians have actually accused me of trying to be a know-it-all. This blows my mind. So, instead of thinking about what the Bible says, some just want to make excuses. Just plain crazy.

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  2. Amen! Amen! Amen!

    This can not be stressed enough!

    This is one very important reason that Tom Shipley’s book “Man and Woman in Biblical Law” should be widely read. On the surface the book is a pladoyer for polygyny, but upon closer analysis, it will be apparent that it is actually a defense of God’s Law – and of patriarchy.

    The current ills of Marriage 2.0 can, I think, be traced back to the victory of the monogamy-only heresy in the Church. Monogamy-only undermines patriarchy by giving the wife an unbiblical control over her husband. Marriage 2.0 is but the logical playing out of that idea.

    http://www.amazon.com/Man-Woman-Biblical-Law-Shipley/dp/055752900X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1383911006&sr=1-1

    Here is but one example of the sad consequences of the monogamy-only lie: Doug Phillips, a man who has done much for the Kingdom of God, sees himself as being an adulterer and resigns his position as Vision Forum. Biblically, he is not an adulterer; biblically, he is acting like any one of the many men of God who had more than one wife – like a man living by the creation principle of patriarchy.

    Read his Statement of Resignation here:

    http://www.visionforumministries.org/issues/news_and_reports/statement_of_resignation.aspx

    Sad.

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  3. Scripture does not come first, God does. Of course you know that; but you didn’t say that. When Moses led Israel to Mount Sinai, the people saw and heard the lightning, thunder, trumpet and voice of God as He spoke with Moses. The people, with one voice, told Moses that they did not want to ever hear God’s voice again, but that Moses should talk to God and then come and tell the people what God said they should do, and they will do it. The Church follows this model. When Jesus entered any synogoge to teach none of them responded by asking Him to stay on and teach them. Mostly they responded by dragging Him outside to kill Him. The Church, like Israel, does not mind the Scripture ( the primacy) but does not want to hear the Voice of God. Unrepentant sinners like Adam, like Israel, like the Church, don’t want to hear. Telling, that your previous post (good woman) got 29 comments; Scripture, 3 comments. The Voice of God, just like in Jesus’ day, very few want to hear.

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  4. There is also an important use of commentaries and older writings of church men of good repute to see – do I understand this in a way others have understood it before? – as a companion to your scripture reading. (You are exactly right – never a substitute for scripture.) The likelihood that a new (to the world) understanding of a passage is valid and divinely-inspired is very low; it is almost certainly a self-serving and wrong personal agenda. Sometimes, you get a changing fashion in the language, and you have an older rendering in your Bible, and you get misled if the meaning of the word has mutated.

    By giving you a better understanding of whether something was previously held as a stand-alone part or rather part of a larger point, the commentaries will also be able to give you some insight if you’ve run into someone who’s playing proof text – e.g., somebody who cites John 3:16 to suggest a universal reconciliation. I had a discussion with somebody about this faddish “you are fearfully and wonderfully made!”, which has become the pop culture self esteem go-to verse, and I notice that Henry’s commentary doesn’t even care about that particular verse 14 when discussing the wider verses – i.e., it was being proof texted out of context.

    Commentaries can also help you ferret out someone who is trying deliberately to change something to fit a current social fad. The best example of this would be the “scholarship” around Romans 1, where, to try to make this a gay-friendly or even pro-homosexual provision, it has become popular in the last decade to suggest that Paul was speaking about “heterosexuals pretending to be homosexual” and “homosexuals pretending to be heterosexuals” by being “contrary to their natural desire” whereas it was always understood as “contrary to their natural function”. It was never understood to be that way before the modern era trying to mainstream homosexuality, and these older understandings – whether you have writings from Tertullian or Augustin or Henry – help you to know that this is a modern invention and therefore more likely a false doctrine instead of some new revelation.

    I remember taking issue with the phileo/agape guys some time back. This seems like it was all the rage about five years ago, and it swept through my church, and I heard the preaching in sermons that Jesus could “Agape”, but Peter could only “Phileo”, and, you can’t get this from reading your English scripture, but only from a learned scholar. It was so tempting to imagine being able to learn some secret knowledge by studying arcana of Koine grammar, but that is not the mode of the New Testament. Of course, this particular false teaching was serving of the feminist agenda, as it allowed women to get off the hook as less capable of love; if this were such an important issue, it would have been emphasized some time earlier in the history of the church, or even in Paul’s instruction on male vs. female obligations in marriage. Further, back to your point, it’s hard to imagine that the Lord would have sought to make a point with Peter which required deep understanding of Greek when Peter wasn’t exactly a Greek scholar and probably spoke Aramaic as his mother tongue, not Greek.

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  5. @Chris@QPC I’ve run into that too. Even the “no I want to know what you think” thing when I go to the Scripture for guidance. Churches are simple worldly social clubs these days. What they hold as priorities always reveals where the hearts of those who lead are and the character of the group. Case in point is the prominence of prayer. Reference Scripture for the phrase “house of prayer” and then compare what those say to what most average churches are – that says enough in itself. For the places I step in, the priority of prayer is…none.

    @Bobbye

    Scripture does not come first, God does.

    Of course this is true. We know God from many places, but we are given Scripture as the measure of truth about who He is. In other words, Scripture is how we know who He is and how to put God first. We are given the Holy Spirit, but we are told to test the spirits. There are those who claim the Holy Spirit told them to divorce, but the Spirit never contradicts the truth told us in Scripture.

    Telling, that your previous post (good woman) got 29 comments; Scripture, 3 comments.

    Believe it or not, you would think this to be good in comparison to the blog stats, which tell an even starker story than the comments.

    @jaybeespancakes

    do I understand this in a way others have understood it before? – as a companion to your scripture reading. (You are exactly right – never a substitute for scripture.)

    Yes, never a substitute. Made by fallible men, so you always need to test and see if it makes sense. Hopefully I can get the series I spoke about done on the study of the Bible soon, which I’m sure one post will be about the proper use of commentaries. As I wrote then, describing mental process is hard but one thing I found is important is the need to own the meaning of Scripture for yourself and not just accept the commentary as the proper explanation. Accepting the commentary without question in effect does substitute it for Scripture. Does this make sense to me in light of how the Scripture reads? Do I find a comfort in accepting a particular explanation of what Scripture says or are there anxieties or questions? Again it’s a mental process that’s hard to describe, but I’ve found it to be important when dealing with Scriptural meaning. Of course, when you get certain understandings or correct certain base misunderstandings endemic to Churchianity, it has the tendency to change this as well – I’ve witnessed this evolution in myself several times when certain Red Pill truths have come to light.

    Believe it or not, there is much disagreement in different commentaries regarding numerous verses I’ve used them on (they all can’t be right), and even Scriptures that commentaries won’t touch. The Proverbs (11:14; 15:22) about a multitude of counselors is important when it comes to different Scripture versions (a number of those read different from one another and even generate nonsense when passages are logically tested), commentaries, sermons, writings, or asking anyone any kind of Scriptural question.

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  6. Of course this is true. We know God from many places, but we are given Scripture as the measure of truth about who He is. In other words, Scripture is how we know who He is and how to put God first. We are given the Holy Spirit, but we are told to test the spirits. There are those who claim the Holy Spirit told them to divorce, but the Spirit never contradicts the truth told us in Scripture.

    the Scripture never contradicts the truth told us by the Spirit is the correct point of view. We are instucted to be led by the Spirit. We are NEVER instucted to be led by the Scripture! Two examples: 1) Eve in the Garden had the Scripture, “do not eat of that tree, lest you die”. The Scripture did not lead her to the truth about God; rather, if she had asked the Spirit, the Spirit of God would have led her to the truth about the Scripture, Instead, she figured “lest you die” did not mean ‘die’. And also, God was a big meany trying to cheat her out of some really good stuff. 2) In your next post you featured a dust-up between ‘Sis’ and ‘Amos and Gromar’. You stated that Sis was “The infamous Churchian and Personal Jesus follower “. How did you ‘know’ this? Sis uses lots of Scripture to defend herself and her position, but even a contrite Sis doesn’t seem convinced by her use of cherry-picked Scripture. I submit that it was the Spirit that led you to ‘know’ the error(Jn16:13). If followers of Christ do not get the ‘primacy’ right, they will at best be Pharisees and at worst be “blind leading the blind”.

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  7. Reblogged this on Quit Playing Church and commented:
    Ballista74 at “The Society of Phineas” has written a great post that adds more depth to my last post – “Obey God rather than men”. It was so good that I just had to reblog it.

    It is unfortunate how much weight we put into the words of men, from commentaries to books. It is even more unfortunate that there are those that cannot discern if what is being read is truth because they seem to have more knowledge in what an author says than what the Bible says.

    Some of the reaction I have received at times from quoting Scripture to Christians has been anywhere from calling me a “know-it-all” to saying something like, “I’m not sure what to think of that.”

    My hope for you, dear reader, is that you take Scripture as the only source of truth. All forms of teaching, doctrine, and understanding are to be subject to it, whether it be preached from a pastor, written in a book, or in any other form. Also, that you may know His Word and that you may be able to discern and not be blown around with every wind of teaching.

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  8. @bobbye

    the Scripture never contradicts the truth told us by the Spirit is the correct point of view. We are instucted to be led by the Spirit. We are NEVER instucted to be led by the Scripture!

    I don’t disagree with you. Though the Scripture is inspired words from the Spirit, so it is essentially and almost one and the same. We are to be led by the Spirit, yes, but we need to know we are hearing the Spirit instead of another different spirit. Note that Joshua was arguably a possessor of the Spirit (Deut 34:9) but was still told to meditate on the book of the law. Another example is Moses himself who lived in Egypt for 40 years and still had to be in the desert for 40 years before he led the children of Israel out. If one were to theorize why, it’s so all the filth of Egypt could go out of his mind and heart and be replaced with God’s heart and instruction.

    I appreciate these chances to think and clarify on my writing. I try to say things accurately (with Scripture) in terms that are against certain false positions, and sometimes miss being completely thorough. FWIW, the false position here is that I’ve encountered people both in person and online that say that they have the Spirit and the Spirit alone guides them to all truth, so they don’t have to meditate on Scripture. It shouldn’t be surprising then, that these people were the ones that were usually the most shallow in discussion and reacted as if what they were hearing was new. The problem with that is that your environment tends to shape you, so what you expose yourself to is most prominent.

    Thanks again for the discussion.

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  9. @ballista74

    By 2-3 witnesses is it established. The Spirit is living, having mind, emotions, and volition. The Scripture is not alive until it is conveyed by the Spirit. The Church is a witness only when in agreement with the Spirit and Scripture. But the Spirit, being God, comes first. Humans need at least two witnesses to be persuaded(faith). You can ask the Spirit; you cannot ask Scripture. You can have fellowship with the Spirit; you cannot have fellowship with Scripture. Putting Scripture first is where most error comes from. Scripture is a helper to the Spirit, not the other way around.

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  10. First time visitor. Great blog. Fully enjoyed your list of requirements for marriage, and agreed with every one.

    I’m always sort of amused at the whole Sola Scriptura concept. Problems: illogical, contradictory, impractical, unhistorical.

    1. No table of contents. How can Scripture have primacy when it doesn’t even define itself?

    2. The bible itself contradicts it (1 Thess 2:13, 2 Thess 2:16, Mt 2:23, 23:2, Rom 16:17…many more…).

    3. Don’t work. People claiming it honestly still disagree about nearly everything, each claiming Scripture alone teaches their view.

    I think the first religion to believe in Sola Scriptura was Muslims. Jews and Traditional Christians never did. As of now, only 1/3 of Christians, for 1/3 of the time, ever believed it. Silly idea.

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  11. @mdavid444444

    2. The bible itself contradicts it (1 Thess 2:13, 2 Thess 2:16, Mt 2:23, 23:2, Rom 16:17…many more…).
    Correct. but that is because God created you body, soul, and spirit, and the Word of God is understood only by the spirit. Trying to understand only by the soul leads to all sorts of error and disagreement.Your comment was perceptive; are you a new creation in Christ?

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  12. @mdavid444444
    Jesus was accused of being snowflakish in John8:12ff so thats ok with me. As for 1Tim3:15 I guess one’s tradition flows from whether the pillar and ground of the truth is the living God, or the assembly(church) I’m following Jesus by going with the living God as the pillar and ground of the truth.

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