Authority of God (Faith of Our Fathers)

20Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God,” (1Cor. 1:20-24; NKJV).

In speaking to a couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses yesterday, I asked what their ultimate authority was, what their most foundational doctrine might be. They seemed a bit startled and did not quite know how to answer. The answer for Christians should be fairly easy. The Christian worldview has one primary beginning point: God. If we are to affirm the authority and nature of the Bible, and thus all that the Bible teaches us about what we ought to believe concerning God and the duties He requires of us, we must first affirm the God who reveals Himself in the Bible, which further necessitates that we acknowledge His existence.

Any proper knowledge of God would have God as its Source. The world tells us that such an assertion is circular reasoning. They argue that we cannot point to God as the authority that establishes His own authority. We might ask in return: “What then stands as the prime authority above God that would be sufficient to establish His authority?” If they answer reason, we might ask what gives reason its authority and, in order to assist them to remain consistent, we might ask that they not use reason to establish the authority of reason. If they answer evidence, our response is the same. We ask them to prove evidence as a sound and prime authority by which to judge God without using evidence itself. All arguments for authority, then, are inherently circular, but that does not necessitate that all arguments for authority are wrong.

How is the authority of God different from evidence or reason? While our interpretation of evidence can be flawed and our reason will inevitably fail us, God Himself never fails. Wherever we find God, whether in Scripture, or in nature, or in our own consciences, we find that He always ultimately lines up with what He has spoken about Himself in His word: the Bible. Apart from His word, we are destined to run into error.

“God is the source and fountain of all our knowledge. He possesses an archetypal knowledge of all created things, embracing all the ideas that are expressed in the works of His creation. This knowledge of God is quite different from that of man. While we derive our knowledge from the objects we perceive, He knows them in virtue of the fact that He from eternity determined their being and form,” (Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, pp. 93-94.).

We have limited knowledge; God has exhaustive knowledge. God knows all things perfectly, fully, and truly. There are many things we might know to be true. There are many things we might know to be false. There are many things that are true that we don’t know. There are many things that are false that we don’t know. It is not our place to strive to know all things. “It is totally inconsistent with creatureliness that man should strive for comprehensive knowledge; if it could be attained, it would wipe God out of existence; man would then be God,” (Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, pg. 36). Rather than comprehensive knowledge, we ought to strive after the apprehension of true knowledge. We cannot know all things but, by God’s grace, we can know true things.

All that there is to know, including the depths of God Himself, are known by God. “God’s knowledge is primary, and whatever man is to know can only be based upon a reception of what God has originally and ultimately known,” (Greg Bahnsen, Always Ready, pg. 19). Thus, if we are to have any assurance that what we know about God is true, we must receive affirmation of its truthfulness from Him. We must do the impossible and reach into the heavens to pull down truth. Given the absolute impossibility of this task, thanks be to God that He has condescended to us in order to reveal His truth to us.