“And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures” (Acts 17:2).
IN THE TEXT ABOVE, NOTICE THE STANDARD OF AUTHORITY TO WHICH PAUL APPEALED. With the task of convincing a Jewish audience that Jesus’ claims were true, he “reasoned with them from the Scriptures.” If Jesus was the promised Messiah, everything about Him would match up with the portrait of the Messiah in the prophecies of the Hebrew Scriptures. And if the case for Jesus could not be made from the Scriptures, it would be reasonable for Paul’s Jewish hearers, and everyone else, to reject the gospel.
The Scriptures are our only worthy standard. Having originated in the mind of God (John 5:39; 2 Timothy 3:16,17; 2 Peter 1:20,21), the Scriptures are able to make us “wise for salvation” (2 Timothy 3:15). To say that they are dependable is a considerable understatement. Jesus went so far as to say, “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). So these writings are no ordinary documents. To disregard the authority with which God speaks to us in the Scriptures is to do a very foolish thing. In all the great issues of life, it is the standard of the Scriptures that must govern us.
When we are considering controversial matters, it is hard to keep our feelings from influencing our decisions. When I served on the jury for a very sensitive child molestation trial many years ago, I well remember the judge’s instructions to the jury: “Your decision should be based solely on the evidence, not on your feelings, preferences, or personal opinions.” She was right. And when it comes to questions about our relationship to God, it is even more important to have an objective standard by which to measure.
At this point in history, however, few people believe there is any objective standard by which we can navigate. Most people assume that personal feelings and experience are the “voice of God” within them. But God has not left us to the chaos of such subjective uncertainty, and His servant David was on the right track long ago. “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7).
“We must guard against grounding our spiritual commitment on the quicksands of fluctuating experiences. Experience . . . must be constantly tested and verified by the objective truths of the Word of God” (Erwin W. Lutzer).