The Presupposition of the Gospel
The authority of the Scripture is at risk of being set aside if not totally abandoned even amongst some evangelical churches today. We live in a generation that rejects absolute authority. People choose their feelings, the consensus of majority, and the appeal of the physical that are pleasing to the eyes in order to decide on what is right. They never love the idea of an absolute authority since it violates their claimed freedom. I call this the presupposition of the gospel.
He who has the gospel must presuppose this absolute and ultimate authority, otherwise he is open to corruptions of this glorious message. The Authority of Scripture is the presupposition of the gospel. Reject its authority and you have no gospel at all.
The late Apologetics professor and debater Greg Bahnsen, in his book Presuppositional Apologetics Stated and Defended writes, we “…must presuppose the Word of Christ and have the mind of Christ when encountering unbelief with reason for accepting the gospel.” “…must presuppose the Word of Christ and have the mind of Christ when encountering unbelief with reason for accepting the gospel.”
Why is this important? God has spoken! He who has supremacy over all creation willed that His Word be inscripturated. The creation, as majestic as it can be, which displays God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature, does not reveal the gospel. What we have today that shows us clearly the good news that men may be saved is the Scripture and the Scripture is our ultimate authority. This is the testimony of the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith in chapter 1, paragraph 1:
The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience…
Let us take a look at the four words use to describe the Holy Scripture in the first part of the confession.
This is Sola Scriptura. The Scripture claims for itself exclusive authority. This is the unique status of the Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:15-17). You cannot find any other institution or book that is described as “God-breathed”. The Scripture alone is our absolute and final authority in all matters of faith. To add anything besides or equal to it is to deny its exclusive nature and divine origin.
The Scripture is both formally and materially sufficient. Its material sufficiency means that Scripture is the ultimate authority for the Church and that every doctrine had to verified from Scripture (1), that everything that a Christian needs to believe can only be found in the Scriptures. It includes every teaching necessary for man’s saving faith, knowledge, obedience (Lu. 16:29-31). Its formal sufficiency means the essential truths of Scripture are clearly revealed and easy to comprehend and that a true believer can understand the word of God directly through the ministry of the Holy Spirit (2). The Scripture does not need any infallible interpreter to tell us what it means. We believe in the clarity of the Scriptures in matters of faith. It is sufficient that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Tim 3:17).
We do not look at the Scripture with mere high probability or extremely plausibility. We know that it is certain. We are sure that it is the very Word of God. When we preach the gospel, we must take this to heart: that we have a certain message revealed by God in the Scriptures. In Psalm 19:7-11, we read seven qualities of God’s revelation being perfect and sure (v.7), right and pure (v.8), and clean and true (v.9). Taken together they add up to the declaration that God’s Word is of the highest possible quality. Peter says that we have a sure word of prophecy (2 Peter 1:19). Indeed, there’s no other human works described this way.
It cannot err, hence infallible; the autographs contain no errors, inerrant. As stated above, if the Scripture is certain and sure, it means that it cannot go wrong in anything that it addresses. Since the origin of the Scripture is the divine revelation, God Himself, its author cannot lie (Numbers 23:19, Hebrews 6:17–18), we believe that what it says is true and has no shadow of errors. The prophets and apostles committed no error in writing the Scriptures (Isa. 8:20, Eph. 2:20). The Scriptures claim divine imprint when it testifies, “Thus says the LORD.” So, it cannot err in in its teaching and it has no error in its original text from Genesis to Revelation. Thus, it reflects the perfection of its perfect Author, God Himself.
Since it is the only sufficient, certain & infallible rule of faith and practice, it is able to make one wise unto salvation. Salvation can only be found in the person and work of Christ, and Christ Himself can only be known in the Scriptures.
As we come to discover the treasures of the gospel, it is important that we have a clear and high view of the Scriptures as it is explicitly defined by God Himself. We must uphold this gospel presupposition. A denial of the sufficiency, certainty, infallibility and inerrancy of the Scripture will blur our understanding of the gospel. Let us value and love the Word! Pastor Sam Waldron says, “If we are interested with the welfare of our soul, it is to this foundation of knowledge that we must come.”
SOLI DEO GLORIA!
(1) Sola Scriptura and the Church Fathers: The Material Sufficiency of Scripture by William Webster
(2) Sola Scriptura and the Church Fathers: The Formal Sufficiency of Scripture by William Webster