The Nature of the Bible (pt. 2)

This continues the Tuesday series on Theology.  You can download a pdf. of these note here: Nature of bible (pt. 2)

B. The Bible is Inerrant

Because they are God’s words, the bible is without error. (i.e. inerrant)  The bible is truthful and accurate in everything to which it speaks. The heart of God could not be mistake or deceitful (Num 23:19, Tit 1:2).  In a number of places the bible confirms its own inerrancy.

John 17:17: Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

Proverbs 30:5: Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

Psalm 12:6: The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.

Inerrancy does not mean that every thing in the bible is true. It means that everything that the biblical authors affirm is guaranteed by God to be true. Thus, when the fool says in his heart there is no God that does not make it true just because it is in the bible. It should also be noted that the inerrancy of Scripture, like inspiration, applies formally to the original manuscripts written by the biblical authors (i.e. the autographs).

C. The Bible is Infallible

Because they are God’s words, the bible is reliable. (i.e. infallible) The bible is a trustworthy guide that will not lead you in the wrong direction. No matter how “unpragmatic” the bible might seem in our situation, as God’s people we must trust that the bible is the only eternally pragmatic guide.

Psalm 119:105: Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

The bible is the ultimate standard for faith and practice. This is true in all areas of life, especially corporate worship. God’s word infallibly regulates the specific elements of gathered worship to: preaching; scripture reading; prayer; singing (Eph 5:19); giving; sharing of the faith (Heb 10:25; Acts 2:42) communion; and baptism.

D. The Bible is Sufficient

Because they are God’s words, the bible is sufficient. The sufficiency of Scripture means that God’s word is not just an infallible standard for faith and practice; it is the only standard. It is relevant to deal with every conceivable situation. It may not specifically address every situation, but it does provide the principles by which we can faithfully follow God in every situation. Additionally, God’s word has been proven true. It always accomplishes it’s purpose (Isa 55:11). It is always effective for the work of ministry (2 Tim 3:16-17).

We don’t need more special revelation. We do not need anything else as God’s people for life & godliness than the bible.  This includes additional revelation, philosophical wisdom, or experiential helps.  God gave us what we need.  As the Westminster Confession of Faith states, “The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequences may be adduced from Scripture.” (1.4)

E. The Bible is Understandable

Because it is God’s revelation, the bible is understandable. This is frequently referred to as the perspicuity of Scripture. God did not provide this revelation to conceal the truth from his people.  He gave it to reveal the truth to his people.  This means that when studied with the help of the Holy Spirit all of God’s people can identity the plain meaning of scripture.  As Psalm 19:7 says,

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;

This does not mean that the scriptures are simplistic. Nor does it mean that every part of the bible is equally understandable. In this regard the Westminster Confession is again instructive:

All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all: yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them. (1:7)

The key phrase there is “ordinary means.” The point is that we don’t need additional revelation or church magisterium (i.e. catholic church) to understand scripture. God has revealed in such a way that we can study it and understand it.

III. The Testimony of the Bible

A. What does the Bible says about itself?

Since the Bible is the special revelation of God, the best way to learn about the Bible is to see what it says about itself. The Bible teaches that, among other things, it is:

  • Complete (Deut 4:2; Rev 22:18-19)
  • Perfect (Ps 12:6)
  • True (John 17:17)
  • Righteous (Ps 119:137-138)
  • Effective (Is 55:11)
  • Directive (Ps 119:105)
  • Valuable (Ps 19:10)
  • Authoritative (James 1:22)
  • Wonderful (Ps 119:129)
  • Helpful (Ps 119:9)
  • Nourishing (Jer 15:16; 1 Pt 2:2)
  • For all people (Rom 16:26)
  • Powerful (Luke 16:29-30)
  • A Means to Faith and Salvation (Rom 10:17)
  • Cleansing (James 1:21)
  • Inspired by God (2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pt 1:20-21)
  • Living and Active (Heb 4:12)
  • Purifying (Jer 23:29)
  • Reliable (Prove 30:5)
  • Like a Sword (Eph 6:17; Heb 4:12)
  • The Word of God (1 Thess 2:13)
  • A Good and Perfect Gift (James 1:17-18)
  • A Source of Wisdom (Ps 119:98)

B. What did Jesus say about the Bible?

Jesus said He came to fulfill the Old Testament.

Matthew 5:17: “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.

Jesus said the Old Testament pointed to His ministry.

John 5:39: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me…”

Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would come and inspire the writers of the NT.

John 16:13: “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.”