The written Word is the covenant constitution of the people of God, and its authority is absolute, because the authority of its author is absolute.
Without authoritative words from God, there would be no story of redemption. Everything we know about salvation comes through such words. The law that we have broken to deserve hell is a divine word. The gospel that promises forgiveness to those who trust Jesus is also a divine word. And we prove our love by obeying Jesus’ commands—again, divine words.
So without authoritative, divine words, it is quite meaningless to claim that Jesus is our Lord and Savior. As our Lord, he speaks words that we must obey. And as our Savior, he brings a reliable promise, without which we cannot be saved. Without words from God of absolute authority, there can be no gospel and no Christianity.
Absolute authority entails infallibility. A word of ultimate authority is beyond human criticism. We may never judge it to have failed or to have been mistaken. So God’s word in Scripture, as all his other words, must be judged to be infallible and inerrant.
Theologians who try to play down the importance of God’s authority—whether to avoid “patriarchalism,” to promote the freedom of human thought and choice, to allow greater latitude to science and philosophy, or whatever—have lost something that is central to the biblical revelation. Everything in Scripture comes to us as an authoritative communication. Pervasively, Scripture claims our thoughts and decisions. To miss that is in one sense to miss everything, for it is to miss the lordship of Yahweh and the lordship of Christ.
Reprinted from The Doctrine of God by John M. Frame, copyright 2002 P & R Publishing, Phillipsburg, NJ. (pp. 91-92)
Dr. John M. Frame serves as J.D. Trimble Chair of Systematic Theology and Philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida.