Trinity College of Florida Annual Banquet
May 12, 2022
A New Launch with Great Promise
Dr. Peter W. Teague, President Emeritus
The Authority of Scripture – Our Unfailing Foundation
Today there is a confluence of demographic, economic, and technological developments that are creating a new reality driven by a new set of rules! Change is coming at us very fast – so much so that in just 6 years the “Internet of Things” will be designed to run factories, mines, energy systems, transportation systems, retail facilities, vehicles, homes, office and YES even people.
By 2028 there will be 200 billion devices and sensors connected to it. Contrast Change with “The Bible” as the Psalmist writes in Psalm 119:89, “is firmly fixed in Heaven.” The centerpiece of my message to you is the Authority of the Scripture. And to remind us that Truth matters and Truth never changes.
Thank God for Trinity College of Florida. Committed to educating Christian students to be faithful to the Word of God, allowing it to shape their thinking and mold their behavior. With a goal to prepare Christian leaders to proclaim the whole Word of God accurately, powerfully, and faithfully. Trinity College of Florida’s mission is the compass that guides our decisions, safeguards us from giving in to cultural pressures, and keeps us on course. We look at our mission statement often and work hard at mission clarity because we have seen the results in other institutions of higher education that have drifted from their original course. Some of our country’s most renowned universities were founded by deeply religious people and today are centers of secularism. Within six years of landing on American shores, the Puritans founded the first university for the purpose of training young men for the ministry and for political leadership. Their motto was “Truth for Christ and Church.” Today it is simply “Veritas,” or “truth”— quite a difference. Truth is no longer undergirded by Christ or meant to serve His Church. Religion is still a course of study at Harvard, but her students are no longer challenged to go out and reach the world for Christ. Gone are the days when Harvard called on each student to “well consider that the main end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ.” Harvard and others like them did not drift overnight. It happened in small and subtle ways that went unchecked until the shift became significant. That is why we continually check our course according to true north. At Trinity College of Florida our true north is found at the very center of our mission statement which states, “Trinity College of Florida provides a biblically-centered education, equipping servant leaders for life and career opportunities.” Unlike magnetic north, which shifts with interfering forces, true north is fixed and reliable. The Bible, as the psalmist writes in Psalm 119:89: “…is firmly fixed in the heavens.”
The Bible is the Word of God, not that it ‘contains’ it, but that it is the Word of God, divinely inspired and inerrant. It is in the Bible that God makes Himself known to us, and we are fully committed to the truth of God-breathed scriptures as the sole authority in all matters of faith and practice. In fact, what we believe about the Godhead, the person and work of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, humanity, salvation, the Church and the future—is rooted and grounded in biblical authority. The Bible reveals God as the all-powerful and all-knowing creator of the universe and sovereign ruler today. The Bible reveals that God created humanity, male and female, reflecting the image and likeness of God. The Bible establishes marriage as a covenant relationship between a man and a woman, which is a picture of Jesus Christ and His bride, the Church. The Bible reveals salvation is a gift from God and cannot be earned, that Jesus Christ was fully God and fully man, that He lived a sinless life and is the only name by which any person can be saved. The Bible reveals that Christians have a responsibility to share their faith in Christ with others and finally, the Bible itself reveals accuracy, sufficiency, and authority in all of its teaching.
Biblical authority shapes our worldview, our perspective on all reality—what is true, what is good, what is right. A biblical worldview is where absolute moral truths exist and that such truth is defined by the Bible. In this day of utter confusion on all fronts, we trust the authority of the scripture because in it we find God’s revelation of Himself and when we submit to the Bible’s authority, we are submitting to God. Only the truth can nurture our devoted heart, our courageous mind, and our purposeful soul. Only the truth can teach us a moral vocabulary—words like sin, redemption, virtue, grace mercy and love. You see, truth matters! Why does society today feel so free to reject it? The truth is a boy who believes himself to be a girl trapped in a boy’s body is still not a girl. How did we get to a point where it makes sense for doctors to amputate healthy body parts in order to satisfy unhealthy minds? And perhaps more importantly, why have we enacted public policy that forces everyone to participate in the delusion of a few? How did this ever become the definition of compassion? We simply do not value truth, that’s how. Entertainment as replaced truth. Celebrity-ism has replaced virtue. When it comes to truth and authority, our culture believes that truth is, at best, unknowable and that authority resides with the individual. Truth has become subject to the opinion of the individual.
We stand today at one of the most crucial turning points in human history. The five generations now living have witnessed a complete explosion of information, the collapse of distance (globalization), and the rising and falling of countries and alliances. Cultures and societies have been radically transformed and expansive wealth has brought great material comfort even as the most basic structures of society are undermined. Families are fractured, lawlessness abounds, violence invades our communities, and media brings a constant stream of chaos into our lives. Faith, family, and freedom are all under attack. Truth has become relative in a society that believes our most basic problems are rooted in a lack of self-esteem. Lacking objective truths and shared beliefs, our culture is crumbling under a mentality that exalts individual and group rights above all else.
Only God’s authoritative Word offers an accurate perspective on who we are, where we come from, why we exist, what went wrong, the source of evil and suffering, and how the world can be set right again. It is our true north, “Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.” The ultimate measure of excellence is the life and example of Jesus, who boldly claimed in John 14:6, “I am the Way (that’s a moral course of action), the Truth (that’s the source of what can be known), the Life (that’s the key to a meaningful life).” Jesus is the Living Word. True and full wisdom is revealed through Him and “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to [Him]” (Matthew 28:18). C.S. Lewis, a British novelist, academic, and Christian apologist who lived from 1898 to 1963 once said, “I believe that Christianity is true just as I believe the sun rises. Not only because I see it, but because by it, I see everything else.” That is why, Proverbs 22:28 warns, “Do not move the ancient landmark that your fathers have set.” During Old Testament times, landmarks were not only used to mark property boundaries between neighbors, but also to mark the God-given inheritance of land distributed between the 12 tribes of Israel. These were set in stone and were not to be removed. To do so meant you were committing fraud and deceit.
It is good and healthy for societies to have solid, immovable boundaries, not only to delineate space between neighbors, but also to determine a high standard of moral conduct. Yet today absolute, immovable boundaries within our society are a thing of the past. May it not be so with Trinity College of Florida! While the pendulum of change appears to be swinging in our culture, we have no pendulum; we have a plumb line—the Word of God. The biggest danger we face in the Church is not misunderstanding the doctrine of the authority of Scripture, but rather forgetting it. In this day of competing truths, the Church must lead and stand on biblical authority by preaching the Scriptures—ALL the Scriptures, not just the parts we prefer or that we think people will want to hear. Why do we have a seven-day week? Why is this the year 2022? Why do we use printed books? Why is the average Westerner literate at all? The answer to all of these is ‘the Bible.’ Without reading the Bible, you could never comprehend works of art like the Sistine Chapel, the Pieta, or the Last Supper. You will never fully grasp Dante, Milton, or Bach. Indeed, many great masterpieces wouldn’t exist if religious patrons hadn’t paid artists and composers to celebrate the message of the Bible.
If you don’t have a working knowledge of the Bible, most of Shakespeare’s allusions will be opaque to you. You’ll not understand why the first European colonists came to New England, you’ll miss what motivated the abolition of slavery, and you will find Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’ unintelligible. That is a drop in the bucket of the Bible’s influence. The Bible, and the Judeo-Christian tradition it represents, are the reason why we value women equally with men, why we don’t think it’s okay to leave newborns to die outside, why we think mercy is admirable, and even why we believe history had a beginning and will someday come to an end. Simply put, if you don’t understand the Bible, you won’t understand who you are and why you think the way you do.”
The Bible contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. We read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct us, food to support us, and comfort to cheer us. It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s charter. Here Paradise is restored, Heaven opened, and the gates of Hell disclosed. Christ is its grand subject, our good the design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill our memory, rule our heart, and guide our feet. Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. It is given to us in life, will be opened at the judgment, and be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labor, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents and deny its divine authority.
May we together say as the psalmist wrote in Psalm 119:103 “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104 Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. 105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Thank God for Trinity College of Florida teaching world view commitments and strengthening the understanding of what it means for the Christian faith to undergird and shape both teaching and learning, creating a theologically informed approach to distinctive Christian education. Without apology, Trinity College of Florida is committed to the divine nature and full authority of God’s written word, a heartfelt confession of the Holy Trinity, the deity and humanity of Jesus Christ and the uniqueness of the gospel message that salvation is found only in Him and His vicarious death, resurrection and ascension on behalf of sinners, the enabling and life giving work of God’s Spirit, salvation by grace through faith alone, the importance of the church and the people of God, the hope of Christ’s return, as well as the sacredness of life, marriage, and human sexuality, together with the importance of religious liberty and racial reconciliation. That is precisely why your graduates will reflect a faithful Christian witness that exemplifies commitments to the gospel, scripture, cultural engagement and the renewal of the social order all with authentic kindness, a loving spirit, which can be seen by a watching world.
Truth matters. Truth never changes. Truth is worth investing in. “The Bible is firmly fixed in heaven” Psalm 119:89.