W.A. Criswell once said, “Possibly the most theologically accurate, intellectually deep, morally inspiring song ever penned by the hands of men goes like this-”
Jesus loves me this I know, For the bible tells me so…
How can you believe that the world was created out of nothing? The Bible tells me so.
How can you believe in a Flood that destroyed the old earth? The Bible tells me so.
How can you believe that forgiveness is possible and available? The Bible tells me so.
How can you believe that after you die, you will see God? The Bible tells me so.
In a day where Moral Ambiguity, Situational Ethics and Relativistic truth seem to be the rule of the day – nothing can be more culturally out of step than to begin a sentence with, “The Bible says” or to open a lecture with the request, “If you have your bibles, please open them”. Yet that is how we begin every service. The most important defining characteristic of any church, or of any christian is what the believe about God’s word. And by the way – what you do, IS what you believe.
The Bible is a collection of 66 documents (39 OT and 27 NT) written over the span of 1,600 years by over 40 authors on 3 different continents (Asia, Africa, and Europe) in 3 different languages (Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic) that reveals one unified, progressing and unfolding message – which we call the Gospel.
Authors of the Bible include kings, peasants, philosophers, fishermen, poets, statement, doctors, and scholars. The books of the bible fall into various genres or categories like history, sermons, letters, songs, poems, apocalyptic literature, prophecy, each of which contains their own interpretive norms.
The shifting genres are the main reason that people have a difficult time reading the bible. They read from book to book without taking into account the shifting genre. Imagine switching from reading a newspaper to watching StarWars. You have moved from non-fiction to fiction, from a print media to a video media. Both authors are trying to communicate something, but if you don’t take into account the shifting genre and media type you will be a very confused person.
The same thing can happen when reading the bible. For example, the interpretive norms shift majorly from reading Proverbs (short pithy wisdom literature), to 1 Corinthians (which is a letter), to reading Revelation (which is an apocalyptic discourse). One of the reasons there are so many weird interpretations of scripture is because people don’t learn how to read the Bible properly.
The OT was written on papyrus – a form of paper made out of reeds. The NT was written on parchment – prepared animal skins. The ink was typically made from Charcoal. Because these types of documents degrade so easily many copies were made of each book by meticulous scribes. Our modern translations are made from these ancient manuscript copies.
What do Christians Believe about the Bible? Broadly speaking – we believe it is the Word of God. But what each particular Christian, Church, or Denomination believes about the Bible varies widely.
There are 5 words used to describe our view of scripture. They are as follows:
- The Bible is Inspired
- The Bible is Inerrant and Infallible
- The Bible is Authoritative
- The Bible is Sufficient
Let’s break down each one of those statements:
- The Bible is Inspired –
The word inspiration in this context means more than how one might say, “Shakespeare was an inspired playwright” or this person wrote and inspired song. We believe in the verbal plenary inspiration of scripture – that is, not only are the ideas of scripture inspired, but the very words are inspired of God. In other words, the human authors wrote down exactly what the Divine Author wanted.
That does not mean that the human authors like Paul and Peter were dictating as God spoke. (Incidentally, that is what Muslims believe about the Koran). The Bible’s writing is filled with the human author’s personality and perspective – the same way a letter you write may be. However, the Holy Spirit was using them as his pen to convey the very words he wanted to speak to his people.
2 Timothy 3:16–17 (ESV) All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
The Phrase, “Thus says the LORD” occurs over 400 in the bible. “God said” occurs 46 times. So the we believe that the Bible is the word God wanted to give humanity
2. The Bible is Inerrant and Infallible
That is to say that the scriptures are true and accurate without any mixture of error. REMEMBER: The first question Satan raised was – “Did God REALLY say?” He perpetually raises that question over God’s word again and again. Typically Inerrancy has reference to the individual words and Infallible has reference to the scripture as a whole.
Psalm 12:6 (ESV) The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.
The definition in simple terms just means that the Bible always tells the truth and that it always tells the truth concerning everything it talks about. This definition does not mean that the Bible tells us every fact there is to know about any one subject, but it affirms that what it does say about any subject is true.
3. The Bible is Authoritative
Bernard Ramm describes authority this way, “Authority itself means that right or power to command action or compliance, or to determine belief or custom, expecting obedience from those under authority, and in turn giving responsible account for the claim to right or power.” The bible has such authority.
To say that the bible is authoritative is to say that ONLY the bible is authoritative in the ultimate sense.
4. The Bible is Sufficient
That is to say, The Bible is sufficient in all the areas it claims sufficiency. Wayne Gruden write, “We can define the sufficiency of Scripture as follows: The sufficiency of Scripture means that Scripture contained all the words of God he intended his people to have at each stage of redemptive history, and that it now contains everything we need God to tell us for salvation, for trusting him perfectly, and for obeying him perfectly”.
2 Timothy 3:15 (ESV) and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
So you don’t need the Bible plus some other book to be pleasing to God. It is sufficient. Friend you will find that when another authority or book tries to speak to the issues that scripture addresses it will inevitably contradict or repeat what the Bible has said. If it repeats scripture – we don’t need it. If it contradicts scripture – we don’t want it.
CONCLUSION: What do you believe about the Bible?
Do you read it?
Do you study it?
Do you meditate on it and memorize it?
Do you hide it in your heart?
Why don’t you recommit yourself like never before to being a student of the inerrant, inspired, infallible, authoritative and sufficient word of the Living God?