The Canon’s Authority

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, November 21, 2014 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Last week, I opened the discussion on how each book of the Bible was put through the “Canon Test” to see if it was worthy of being included in Scripture. I referenced a quote from Eric Ludy’s The Bravehearted Gospel where he describes what the Canon is, how it was determined, and what it means for us. Because that quote is directly from his book, I will repeat it here.

The Bible can be likened to a great tree with 66 branches. But this tree didn't start with 66 branches. Every branch had to be added over time. And to be added each branch must first have endured the supremely difficult "test of canonicity".
1. It has to prove it came from the same root. It has to be inspired by God himself.
2. It has to bear perfect likeness to the rest of the existing branches on the tree and could not contradict or bear the nature of a different type of tree. It had to align to perfection without a single fault.
3. And it had to evidence fruit identical to the fruit on the rest of the existing branches, showcasing in its life the exact same nature as the root from which it is born.

The Canon has divine authority to rule and control. So whatever possesses the distinction of Canon becomes...
  1. A Measuring rod against which all other ideas or truths must be measured, and all men must be judged, as well as all other aspiring measuring rods must be tested.
2. A correcting rod by which all men must come into alignment and all rebellion is driven from the hearts of men.
  3. a shepherd's rod that guides, comforts, and enables men down the narrow way of God's kingdom path
4. And a King's rod that silences all opposing opinion, holding all authority to divine truth, righteousness, and the nature of sin, death, life, salvation, and the world to come.
~The Bravehearted Gospel by Eric Ludy, pp 186-187

Last week, I addressed the three criteria any book must have to be considered as part of the Canon of the Bible. This week I will address the four points that Ludy lists for what the Canon is and what it can do. The Canon is the ultimate authority we have for our lives in all areas. While it does not address every specific situation, it gives us the guidelines for how we should live regardless of time, culture, or language. In keeping with the tree language, Ludy describes the Canon as a rod that has four functions.

1. A Measuring Rod. The Canon is the ultimate standard. It appeals to no other standard other than itself. The Canon being the ultimate standard does not rule out other standards from being able to exist, but they must be judged by the Bible. To describe this in scientific terms, there is a weight in the International Bureau of Weights and Measurements that defines the mass of one kilogram. It also has the standards for every other unit of measurement. Every weigh scale, every ruler, every thermometer, must be compared to the one standard at the IBWM. Likewise, every standard we use for any reason, be it science, ethics, government, business, or even just family rules, is subject to the Canon and must be checked by it. EVERY standard is subject to the authority of the Canon.

The Canon is also the judge of us. Hebrews 4:12 describes it as living and active, able to judge the hearts of men. We often hear that we have to interpret Scripture this way or that way. But such a mindset places our minds, our worldview, and our standards above Scripture. And this will always lead to false teachings and false beliefs. I cannot judge Scripture and determine if it is good or bad. It judges me. The Canon is the standard. Be a Berean. Measure anything anyone says against the Canon, including your own ideas. If it stands, it’s good to go. If not, reject it.

2. A Correcting Rod. The Canon provides not just the ultimate standard for how we should live, make our decisions, and do what we do, but it also provides the means of getting us back onto the correct path when we stray from it. It is not enough to tell us we are wrong. Satan does that too. That is condemnation. What God does is conviction. The two look VERY similar but there is one difference: When God convicts us, he tells us exactly where and how we got off on the wrong path and he tells us what we need to do to get back on it. The Canon provides what we need to do that.

3. A Shepherd’s Rod. The Canon does more than just tell us what the right and wrong paths are. It does more than just tell us how to get back on the right path when we stray. It also tells us how to stay on the right path so we don’t get off it in the first place. It provides us the comfort we need to know and understand that God is indeed with us through our life’s journey and that he guides us and directs us each step of the way.

4. A King’s Rod. There is a lot of evil on this world and the Canon points out that such evil will be punished. This is one of the key reasons why so many people hate it. Because unless they come into agreement with what the Canon says, they are under the King’s Rod, not the Shepherd’s Rod. The King’s Rod means government and justice. God is a just God. Yes, he is love and he wants what is best for us but if he does not punish evil, how can he be called loving? God knows what the punishment is for sin and he must enforce it. But because of his love and mercy, he is holding it back as long as he can. He does not want any to perish under that Judgment. But the day will come when Judgment is carried out. And there will not be any warning other than what we have already received. The Canon describes what the law is, what the standard is. If we do not follow it, when the King’s Rod shows up, do not be surprised. We are not perfect and we never will be able to perfectly stay on the right path. But if we believe the Canon and strive to follow it, we will see the Correcting Rod, not the King’s Rod.

The Canon shows what the standard is and it requires perfect fulfillment. We all know that we cannot meet this standard. But the Canon also provides the clues of what to expect for the Promised One who can fulfill it. There are over 300 prophecies detailing how the Messiah would come and how his life would be carried out. Next week, see how Jesus is the one that passed the Messiah Test.