The early Church and its leaders merely SAW the worth in the books that came to be included in the Bible, and RECOGNIZED the inspiration of God which the books already contained. The Canon of Scripture was determined by God and then discovered by men.
The American scientist Benjamin Franklin, who lived in the 1700’s, did not invent electricity. He just discovered it and recognized it for what it was.
In the same way, the people of the Church did not “invent” or create the Scriptures. They just recognized and received certain writings based on the obvious God-breathed inspiration of those writings.
Hundreds Bear Witness
There were many false books and writings produced at the same time Scripture was being written.
Church leaders carefully reviewed ancient writings, and rejected many of them. They wanted to be absolutely convinced that a book had divine origins before it was to become part of the Bible
It became necessary for the people of God to carefully establish a set of “guidelines” to help determine which writings should be part of the Bible.
These principles also helped assure that what was to be included in the Bible would not be decided by a select few. Many hundreds, if not thousands, would have to “bear witness” that certain writings were of God.
The following principles helped to guide the selection of what writings were to be included in the Canon of Scriptures.
Five Tests Of Authenticity
- Divine Authority
Each book in the Bible possesses a prophetic or divine pronouncement and often contains the phrases “Thus saith the Lord” or “The word of the Lord came to me.”.
This divine authority was also shown in the telling of what God had done in the history of His people.
- Prophetic Authorship
The Word of God is given to His people through Spirit-moved, God-appointed men known as prophets (Heb 1:1).
Books were considered for inclusion in the Bible only if they were written by recognized prophets, apostles, or someone close to them.
- Authentic Truth
A book with heresy […define…] or doctrinal errors was obviously not inspired by God, and was therefore rejected. If a writing contradicted previously accepted biblical revelation, it was also rejected as false.
God cannot lie: No book given by God would contain falsehood or contradiction. Each book would agree with the other books God had inspired.
The Bereans “received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). They wisely made sure that what Paul was teaching matched up with God’s previous revelation in the Old Testament.
- Dynamic Power
Though this is harder to determine, the books of the Bible must contain dynamic, life-changing power.
“For the Word of God is quick and powerful…” (Heb 4:12), and can be used “for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16).
Sound, God-breathed teaching builds up, edifies and liberates (2 Tim 3:15; 1 Pet 1:23; John 8:32). False teaching discourages, tears down and leads to bondage; It will deceive people, and lead them astray from worshipping the One true God and His Son Jesus Christ.
- Wide Acceptance
One more test was used to determine if a book was “God-breathed”: Was it recognized in the churches? Was it accepted, collected, shared and used as God’s Word by God’s people?