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Silence of the Scriptures
Series: Establishing Authority
Bible study on silence of the Scriptures and authority.

In previous articles of this series, we talked about commands, expediencies, apostolic examples, and inferences. Now, in this article, we continue with silence of the Scriptures.

What is silence of the Scriptures?
God is silent when He's not spoken.

For example, in Hebrews 7:14, Paul shows that Jesus was not authorized to be a priest under the Mosaic Law because Moses had "spoke nothing" concerning priests from Judah.

God's Silence is not Authoritative
Paul uses the fact that God's silence is not authoritative to show that the law had to be changed before Jesus could serve as our high priest (Heb. 7:12-14).

This shows we're only permitted to do the things God has authorized -- nothing else.

God's commands teach us to respect His silence, and only do the things He's authorized.

  • 1 Pet. 4:11 We must speak, and therefore do, what God instructs in His word.
  • Col. 3:17 Our words and actions must be in the name (i.e., by the authority) of Jesus Christ. We can only do the things that are authorized.
  • 1 Cor. 4:6 We cannot think beyond what is written. We cannot do anything that has not been authorized in God's word (cf. 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:3; 2 Jn. 1:9).
  • 2 Jn. 1:9 If we do not abide in the teaching of Christ, we do not have God -- we've gone "too far" (NASB).
  • Rev. 22:18-19 We cannot add to or take from God's word. We cannot do anything that has not been authorized in God's word (cf. Deut. 4:1-2).

It's also interesting to note that men communicate in the same way -- silence is not authoritative.

  • Acts 15:24 The apostles and elders wrote a letter to the Gentiles, stating that false teaching regarding Christians keeping the Mosaic Law hadn't come from them. This was evidenced by the fact that they had given "no such commandment" (NKJV). They had been silent; therefore, they hadn't authorized the teaching.

For example, an employer tells his employees what to do, without listing the millions of do-nots. We understand as employees that we can only do those things authorized, and that we'll be punished for doing other things. If our employer tells us to work one place and we go home for the day, we know we'll be punished and probably fired.

Just as employees know their employer's silence is not authoritative, we know God's silence is not authoritative. When God tells us to do one thing, and we do something else, we know we'll be punished for our disobedience.

To Live by Faith, We Must Respect God's Silence
A lesson we learn from the Old Testament is that people who live by faith respect God's silence.

  • Heb. 11:7 Noah obeyed by faith and built the ark.
  • Heb. 11:17-19 Abraham obeyed by faith and offered up Isaac.
  • Heb. 11:28 Moses obeyed by faith and kept the Passover.

As Christians we walk by faith, just like people in the Old Testament (2 Cor. 5:7; Gal. 3:11; Hab. 2:4).

We too must respect God's silence to faithfully serve Him.

God Punishes People Who Disrespect His Silence
Another lesson from the Old Testament is that God punishes people for their sin, when they don't respect His silence.

In Numbers 20:7-12, Moses disobeyed by speaking to the rock.

  • Moses didn't respect God's silence and was punished. He wasn't permitted to enter the Promise Land.
  • From this event, we learn that people sin when they don't respect God's silence, because they neither believe, nor treat God as holy (Num. 20:12).

In Leviticus 10:1-3, Nadab and Abihu offered fire God hadn't commanded.

  • They didn't respect God's silence, and were punished for their sin. Fire came out of heaven and killed them.
  • From this event, we learn that people sin when they don't respect God's silence, because they don't treat God as holy (Lev. 10:3).

In 1 Chronicles 13:9-10, Uzzah touched the ark of the covenant, which Israel was transporting on a cart pulled by oxen.

  • Uzzah didn't respect God's silence and was punished with death, even though David and the people thought they were doing the right thing (1 Ch. 15:13).
  • From this event, we learn that ignorance is not an excuse for disrespecting God's silence and sinning.

In 1 Samuel 13:1-15, Saul unlawfully offered a sacrifice. As a result, God took away the kingdom from Saul's family and gave it to David.

  • Saul didn't respect God's silence and was punished.
  • From this event, we learn that a person who doesn't respect God's silence acts foolishly, because he hasn't kept the commandment of the Lord (1 Sam. 13:13).

In Jeremiah 7:22-31; 32:35, God condemned Israel's sacrifice of their children to Molech.

  • This abomination hadn't been commanded by God, nor even entered His mind.
  • Because of their sin, God brought the Babylonians upon them to destroy their cities and take them into captivity.
  • From this event, we learn that disrespecting God's silence results in abominable sin for which we are punished.

From the Old and New Testaments, we learn God's silence is not authoritative. We are only permitted to do the things God has authorized, and nothing else.

We must respect God's silence or be punished for eternity.