In Sunday School, our teachers have been leading us through the key doctrines that anchor our understanding of the Church and Discipleship. This past Sunday we were discussing the inerrancy and authority of Scripture. The main points emphasized were the Authority and Clarity of Scripture.
Scripture is authoritative, not because it is a magic book or because the Church has declared it to be the authority. It has authority because it is the speech of a personal, Triune God. His words and his person are vitally connected. If I disregard my wife’s words, I can’t say to her “Chill out. I still love you. I just don’t need your words.” My rejection of her words is a rejection of her. Though God’s Words are now committed to writing, they lose none of the power and force of being connected to his holy and loving Person, inspired and sealed by his Spirit.
As for clarity, Romans 1 gives us a hint that God has been TOO clear. He has made himself known, and that knowledge is dangerous and damning. This knowledge must be suppressed if we are to enjoy what we enjoy. So we suppress the truth in unrighteousness.
As we closed our class, I had a flash of insight that connected Authority and Clarity. Some of our email programs are trained to spot SPAM. It will ask if we trust the Sender. God has communicated with mankind in Creation, in Scripture, and in his Son. Because these facts and these personal entreaties are cramping our style, we mark these communications as coming from a sender who is not trusted. (If you want to dig deeper into how trusting and knowing fit together, examine the lighter works of Esther Lightcap Meek, especially A Little Manual for Knowing). When God’s messages come at a heart committed to autonomy, sensuality, and rebellion – they are marked as SPAM. As Romans makes clear, we are always believing something, and since we have marked God’s messages of holy love and saving power as SPAM, we will have to click something else. We will inevitably click on messages entitled HOT BABES and NIGERIAN PRINCE NEEDS YOUR HELP. In rejecting true knowledge that leads to life and salvation, we are reduced to messages of sensuality and quick riches. And through these messages we end up in spiritual poverty without enough light to know our true lostness.
Scripture’s Authority and Clarity are a great gift – enlightening the eyes, making wise the simple (Ps. 19). If our hearts have placed God’s truth in the SPAM folder, we need to return his words to the INBOX, as trusted and life-giving truth, from a trustworthy and loving Redeemer. We also need to return our whole selves to the SENDER in repentance and faith. Repentance is a turning from our foolishness and receiving the wisdom that will set us free, the freedom that Christ has purchased with his blood and heralded by all who speak his word in truth, power, and clarity.