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The Bible is second in importance to God

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By Pastor Chuck McCullough

“You refer to the Bible as the ‘penultimate authority.’ Doesn’t that lessen its authority?” — Katrina

Christian faith holds that one God above all gods is ultimate authority (Ex. 20:3; Deut. 6:4). The eternal, sovereign Creator (1 Ti. 1:17), transcending time and space, He is the supreme, ontological ground of being (Is. 40:21-26, 28).
The faith also contends that God has a message for humans. Referred to by the Greek word kerygma (which means “preaching”, Lk. 4:18-19; Ro. 10:14; Mt. 3:1), this message is that God has made a way, through the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, to rescue a broken humanity that cannot save itself.
In place since before the beginning of time, this message is the expression of God’s heart and purpose for His creation (Eph. 1:3-12). It is the essence of the holy, just, gracious, merciful God. It is for this reason that creation itself and all eternity venerate the living, loving God (Lk. 19:40; Rev. 7:9-12).
Clearly, the Bible is indispensable to the process of articulating this message and introducing us to this personal God. For this reason, the psalmist David describes the law and the word of God as “sweeter than honey” and meditates on it day and night (Ps. 19; 119). The Bible is inspired, that is, God-breathed, and is reliable, trustworthy and authoritative (2 Ti. 3:16-17; 2 Pe. 2:20-21).
The Holy Book, however, is couched in time and space, in history and language. It is not God and we do not worship it as we do God. The Bible has the fingerprints of men all over it, from the penning of the words to the formation and preservation of the canon. Consequently, it is the “second to last” authority, second only to God.
Importantly, saying the Bible is “penultimate” does not lessen its authority. God will not speak to you today in a way that is contradictory to what He has already said through the Bible (1 Jn. 4:1-3; Heb. 6:17-18; Ja. 1:17; Tit. 1:1-2; Mt. 5:17-18).