A few days ago I backed my car out of my driveway. As is too often the case, I had tried to do too much before I left the house and hadn’t left myself enough time to get where I was going. So as I put the car in reverse and simultaneously buckled my seat belt, I quickly glanced left and right and then accelerated to the end of the driveway.
And then I heard my backup warning beep go off just as I saw, with my head turned, a flash of movement from the corner of my eye. I slammed on the brakes just in time to keep from hitting a car passing by my driveway.
It should have been a little thing, really — a non-event. Cars pass my driveway many times each day and there has never been a problem for either them or me — until the day that I didn’t pay attention. Then a small thing very nearly became a large thing.
It’s interesting, isn’t it, how often we miss small things? Someone introduces himself and 15 seconds later we are desperately trying to remember his name. Our wives ask us to pick up four things from the grocery store and we come home with six items, and only two were on her list. We look at our calendar for the day and miss the most important event on our schedule for the day. We go to fill up our glass with sweet tea at the restaurant and come away with unsweet because we missed the two-inch letters, “UN…” on the container.
And we read Scripture and we miss some of the more essential statements in the passage. They seem like unimportant phrases so we readily skip over them assuming their lack of importance.
One such statement is a phrase Paul often uses in his letters, and which appears in Romans 4:3 — “what does the Scripture say?” It just doesn’t seem that phrase could be vitally important so we don’t stop to ponder Paul’s intent in using it.
But there are presuppositions behind that statement — important truths as we consider the significance and authority of Scripture. With this statement, Paul implies at least four realities about Scripture.
First, he is implying the unity of Scripture. Paul uses the singular form, “Scripture.” He doesn’t view the Bible as a series of unrelated books or stories. Instead, he sees the compilation of biblical books as one unified whole. This is one book with one great message and theme — the glory of God and how men may come to be God worshippers through the atoning work of Christ on the cross.
Secondly, he is affirming the inspiration of Scripture — including the Old Testament — that it is from God. When Paul defends his assertion about justification by faith, he appeals to the Old Testament writings. He assumes the Bible has the same authority and power as if God Himself had spoken. It has been rightly said many times, “When Scripture speaks, God speaks.” The Scripture cannot be separated from God; while Scripture is not God, it does emanate from Him and through Him (2 Tim. 3:16). It is His Word because it comes from Him and His truthful nature.
Thirdly, Paul is affirming the authority of Scripture. It has a right to speak to the affairs of men and when it speaks and wherever it speaks, it speaks with compelling, authoritative words. These are words that demand allegiance, belief, and submission.
And finally, Paul is affirming the current authority of Scripture. Notice that Paul says, “what does it say (present tense)?” Though Abraham predated Paul by more than 2000 years, what was said about Abraham was still powerfully relevant to Paul, and still is to us today. This is a living word and an active Word (see Heb. 4:12). The Scripture is not merely something that used to exist and at one time had relevance. This Scripture was relevant when it was written and it remains powerful, truthful, authoritative, and relevant to us today.
These are the kinds of things that we miss if we read the Scriptures in haste. Don’t miss the goodness and richness of the word by glancing at it as quickly as I looked out my car window on Tuesday evening. Look carefully. And revel in the delights of what the Lord has given us in this good and inerrant Word.