Wednesday, September 28, 2022

The Doctrine Of Scripture Series: Introducing The Old Testament Canon - Some Opening Thoughts


    I want to draw your attention to three New Testament texts that speak about the Old Testament. The first records the words of Jesus in Luke 24:37 

“Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” 

    The second passage records the Apostle Paul’s words about the value of the Old Testament Scriptures, Romans 15:4, 

“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” 

    The third, 2 Peter 3:14-18, shows the Old Testament, designated “The rest of the Scriptures”, alongside the letters of the Apostle Paul, with both understood together as “Scripture”,

“Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”

    All three New Testament texts speak on the Old Testament and the specific collection of books that comprise it, known as the “Old Testament Canon”. We could summarize these three as representing certain benefits that come with a better acquaintance with the Old Covenant or Old Testament Scriptures. Those three benefits are: knowing Jesus, having hope, and spiritual growth. Keep these three benefits in mind as we explore over the next couple of posts “The Old Testament Canon, its message, and why it matters”.

    Theologian Wayne Grudem in his “Systematic Theology – 2nd Edition”, page 39, offers this crisp definition of the term “canon”, “The canon of Scripture is the list of all the books that belong in the Bible.” As we just read, Jesus, the Apostle Paul, and Apostle Peter indicate the authority and message of the Old Testament. So, let us take each of those two headings (“authority” and “message”) and consider how we got our Old Testament and why it matters to you. Here is how we will develop this next .set of posts in our overall series we are calling "The Doctrine of Scripture". 

1. The Old Testament Canon (or, how we got 
   our Old Testament – recognizing its 

2. The Old Testament Canon’s Message.

3. The Old Testament Canon’s application, 
    (or, why it matters to you).

More next time....

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

The Doctrine Of Scripture Series: Scripture Is The By-Product of Divine Inspiration


    Our last two posts have devoted time to understanding what is meant when we talk about "Divine Inspiration". We noted in the first post how Divine revelation is the source of inspiration, which readers can review at the following link here We then devoted time in the last post on how Christ's work in His incarnation is the focus of the inspiration of the Scriptures, which readers can review here As a final introductory note, our working definition of "inspiration" in the last two posts has been as follows: God’s revelation is put into written form by the Holy Spirit as He operates through the personalities and writing styles of the Biblical authors. Put another way, “revelation, put into writing, equals inspiration”. As we round out our series of posts on the doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture, we will focus today on how the Scriptures themselves are the by-product of inspiration.

The Writing of Scripture - The By-product of Inspiration.

    In this final point, I want to first define more in detail what we mean by inspiration, then explain why we need the inspired Scriptures. Let me repeat yet again a simple definition of inspiration: revelation, put into writing, equals inspiration. In 2 Peter 1:12-21, Peter has prepared us for these last remaining verses. It merits us illustrating what we mean by “Divine inspiration”, attempting to explain how it works, followed by a practical application of this doctrine.

A. Illustrating Divine Inspiration.

    Peter writes in 2 Peter 1:20-21 

“Understanding this first, that no prophecy of scripture is made by private interpretation. 21 For prophecy came not by the will of man at any time: but the holy men of God spoke, inspired by the Holy Ghost.”

    I think of those bicycles you see now that have little motors. On one of our main roads coming out of our city, there is a long and steep bridge. Over the years, I’ve watched bicyclists ride up and down on that bridge. Most people will walk their bikes up the bridge, due to its steepness, and due to what they are able to do in their own strength. The riders of those bikes, and the bikes themselves, may illustrate the Biblical authors, and their situations, giftings, abilities, and authorship. But now I’ve noticed what happens whenever some of those same bike riders have those little motors attached to those bikes. The bike riders are still the same – no different. They still have bikes, which they can pedal. Yet they zoom up and down that steep bridge, attaining speeds of up to 30 mph! How so? That little motor is aiding, enabling, moving upon the rider and his bicycle. That motor enables the rider to attain feats they could not otherwise accomplish. 

    So, it is with the Biblical authors in the Spirit’s work of Divine inspiration. He moves, works, enables the human authors of Scripture to produce written works without error, incapable of error, and authoritative for all time.

    Peter’s description of Divine inspiration is illustrative. In his day he would have witnessed sailing vessels on the sea of Galilee. Peter and his companions were often portrayed in simple little row boats, casting their nets for fish. They would row, and row, and row. But now, whenever they saw a boat with a sail, I can imagine their desiring to have a sail to get them across the Sea of Galilee. This imagery of wind filling a sail is what Peter uses to describe the act of Divine inspiration. The boat remained a boat. The sailors remained sailors. Yet, the wind in the sail enabled them to attain speeds they otherwise could not had achieved by mere rowing. Divine inspiration is the Spirit’s work of operating in and through the Biblical authors without divesting them of their personalities or writing styles. What resulted were documents free from error, and incapable of failure. They wrote as they did with natural pens, natural personalities, and natural situations. However, the Holy Spirit came alongside them, worked in them, through their personalities, and writing styles. The result? Supernatural documents. This is what makes the sixty-six books of the Bible unique.

B. What happened in Divine inspiration?

    I had mentioned at the beginning of this series on Divine inspiration that the doctrine  is found in two key tests in the New Testament. We’ve observed one of them – 2 Peter 1:19-21. Now we consider the second – 2 Timothy 3:15-17. Paul writes these words in 2 Timothy 3:15-17 

“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. 16 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.(ESV). 

    I chose the ESV translation due to its accurate rendering of the word we typically see translated “inspiration”. The underlying Greek word is “theopneustos”, a word crafted by Paul to describe God’s “outbreathing” of His words through the Biblical authors to produce the Scriptures. Just as a musician exhales to bring forth music from a woodwind instrument, God “exhaled” as-it-were through the writing styles, personalities, and words of the Biblical authors to bring forth Scripture.

    As I’ve stated already, revelation put into writing equals inspiration. We can define it. But can we explain it? Several minds, greater than my own, have attempted. Norman Geisler notes, 

“Inspiration is that mysterious process by which the Divine causality worked through the human prophets without destroying their individual personalities and styles to produce divinely authoritative and inerrant writings.” (A General Introduction to the Bible, pg 39).

    What is Geisler meaning here? To state it plainly, if God wanted sweeping narrative and history, he raised up a Moses, an Ezra, or a Luke. If God decided to convey His words through gripping poetry, he would work through the pen of a David or a Solomon. If God chose to foretell future events which had yet to occur, He would utilize the stately imagery of an Isaiah, the simple prose of a farmer named Amos, or the vivid imagination of an Ezekiel or a John. What if God decided to lay out His revelation of salvation in an airtight form of correspondence, complete with logic and exhortation to godliness? He would raise up a scholarly Paul or a zealous fisherman named Peter.

    Herman Bavinck notes this about inspiration, 

“Inspiration was always an action of God’s Spirit in the consciousness and was intended to guarantee the content of Scripture.” 

    B.B Warfield gives this clear explanation of what occurs in inspiration, 

“The Biblical writers do not conceive of the Scriptures as a human product breathed into by the Holy Spirit, and thus heightened in its qualities or endowed with new qualities; but as a Divine product, produced through the instrumentality of man.”

C. Applying the truth of Biblical inspiration.

    Look at 2 Timothy 3:16-17 again, "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." (ESV)

    Why does it matter if the Bible is inspired? Divine inspiration is the only act that guarantees the Bible’s capability of carrying on its authority, its power to convert sinners and keep the saints. Notice….

*it is profitable for teaching, that tells me what is right. 

*it is profitable for reproof, that tells me that I need to get right.

*it is profitable for correction, that tells me when I am not right. 

*it is profitable for training in righteousness, that tells me how to remain right.

*then verse 17 reminds me that this quality about the Bible gives me the power I need to live right.


    As we have considered this important doctrine of Divine inspiration in these last three posts, we have looked at it from three important considerations:

1. Revelation is the source of inspiration. 
   2 Peter 1:12-15

2. Incarnation of the Son, the supreme focus 
    of inspiration. 2 Peter 1:16-18

3. Writing of Scripture, the by-product of 
    inspiration. 2 Peter 1:19-20

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

The Doctrine of Scripture Series: How Christ's Incarnation Is The Focus Of Divine Inspiration


    In our last post we began to discuss the doctrine of Divine inspiration here We noted how Divine inspiration is rooted in Divine revelation. Revelation, if you will recall, is when God makes known what was previously unknown. When we speak of "Divine inspiration", we refer to how revelation, when put into writing, equals inspiration. 

    We continue on looking at the second main thought associated with our exploration of the Divine inspiration of Scripture - namely that Christ's incarnation is its focus. Let us begin with some words from the Apostle Peter.

2 Peter 1:16-18 "For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”— 18 and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.”

    Peter undeniably centers on the Person of Christ in his discussion of the inspiration of the Scripture. By "incarnation", we mean that act, whereby the Divine person of the Son became united to true humanity, to become the God-man, Jesus Christ (See Matthew 1:21-23; John 1:14).

    As Peter harkens back to Matthew 17 and Mark 9, he still is gripped by that glorious revelation of Christ’s deity through the veil of His humanity. As I noted earlier, God the Father made known Himself in theophany to speak about the Son. But notice how the voice of the Father works in concert with this pinnacle revelation of God the Son in the flesh. Hebrews 1:1-2 attests, “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.”

    Remember, revelation, put into writing, equals inspiration. Jesus Himself stated in Luke 24:44-47 “Now He said to them, ‘These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ 45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”

    Let me say here that the Divine act of the inspiration of the Scriptures is due to what theologians call "the super-intendance of the Holy Spirit". His main job is to shine the spotlight on Jesus Christ. Jesus says of the Holy Spirit’s work in John 16:14 “He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.”

    Think of how Christ-focused the Divinely inspired Scriptures are in the realm of predictive prophecy. J. Barton Payne’s reference work “The Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy” lists over 700 Biblical prophecies. To grasp how much material this covers, we are talking about between 20-25% of the Biblical text devoted to this unique literary type. Of those nearly 800 prophecies, over a third - some 330 prophecies - center upon the Lord Jesus Christ. Whatever the remainder of those prophecies talk about, they are indirectly related to supporting those prophecies which pertain to our Lord. Over 100 were fulfilled in His first coming.  Over 200 awaiting fulfillment at His soon return.

    Why these statistics? To prove just how “Son-centered” Scripture is. All Peter is doing is following the lead of the Holy Spirit in centering his writing of Scripture upon the Person of the Son. 

Closing thoughts for today

    Let's review what we have covered today and in our last post. First, we’ve seen that God’s act of revelation is the source of inspiration. Today, we discovered that Jesus Christ the Son is the focus of inspiration. In our next post we will focus on our third main point about Divine inspiration - that its by-product is Scripture itself.

Monday, September 19, 2022

The Doctrine of Scripture Series: How Revelation Is The Source Of Divine Inspiration


    Last time we introduced this series on the  doctrine of Scripture, which readers may review here  I recently began to preach a series by the same topic, which readers can link to here 

    The doctrines of Scripture are like a fleet of ships, carrying the gold of Heaven, the pearl of great price in the Gospel, and the glory of Jesus Christ. In this post, we want to start considering the flagship truth of the doctrine of Scripture - “The Divine Inspiration of Scripture”. Our text will come from 2 Peter 1:12-21. This text, along with 2 Timothy 3:15-17, comprise the two greatest texts in all the Bible for establishing the doctrine of Scripture in general, and Divine inspiration in particular. 

    When I say “inspiration”, I mean God’s revelation put in written form by the Holy Spirit operating through the personalities and writing styles of the Biblical authors. To shorten this definition, we could plainly say “revelation, put into writing, equals inspiration”. In this section of 2 Peter 1:12-21, the beloved apostle lays out this wonderful doctrine of Divine inspiration. We will follow his train of thought by noting three truths, with today's post focusing upon the first.

1. Revelation is the source of inspiration. 2 Peter 1:12-15

2. Incarnation of the Son, the focus of inspiration. 2 Peter 1:16-18

3. Writing of Scripture, the by-product of inspiration. 2 Peter 1:19-20

    With those three headings before us, let us begin. First…..

1. Revelation is the source of inspiration. 2 Peter 1:12-15

    2 Peter 1:12-15 “Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. 13 I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind.”

A. Defining the term “revelation”.

    When we say “revelation”, we mean “unveiling, making known what was previously unknown”. In this first point we see that underlined word “made clear” refers to God making plain, clear, what was otherwise obscure and unclear. This verb is one of the words used in the Bible to describe what is called “God’s act of revelation”. The first time we see God revealing anything to human beings is in the opening act of their creation (Genesis 1:26-28; Genesis 2:16-17).

B. Revelation by language drives the inspiration of Scripture.

    God used varied forms of revelation throughout the history of His dealings with His people. Notice what Peter writes again in 2 Peter 1:14 "as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me." That same word behind the phrase “made clear to me” is found in Hebrews 9:8, wherein we read “The Holy Ghost signifying this, that the way into the holies was not yet made manifest, whilst the former tabernacle was yet standing.” We see that when God reveals something, as Peter describes it here in our main text, it is identical to saying God is “signifying something”, as stated by the writer of Hebrews.

    Now as we look back at what Peter is saying here, it is evident he is receiving revelation from God. It is by words that God speaks through the Apostle. Theologians describe God’s revelation through words as “propositional revelation”. This gets to the heart of understanding how revelation is the source of inspiration. A “proposition” refers to the truth content of a declarative sentence. If I say to you “It is sunny outside”, what I just stated to you is a proposition. That is, there is actual content in the statement that corresponds with something true. Furthermore, whether I convey that proposition in English, or in another language, it makes no difference.

    To illustrate, propositions are what makes a little child’s first words so important. A little one may convey what they feel in grunts, cries, symbolism, and in body language, with the meaning at times still a mystery. But once that little one begins to use words, the thoughts of their minds connect with our minds. The little toddler says “momma”, or “dadda” or “milk”. The mystery of the little one’s mind is removed, and thus “revealed”. This is why a child’s first words are such a milestone. We finally can unlock what is going on inside that little one’s mind. 

    This aspect of our physical and material make-up is due to God Himself being revelatory. His preferred manner of interacting with us is by words. Many theologians have compared God’s revelation in words to that of a mother speaking baby-talk to a little one. More could be said, but for now, let me offer a simple definition of inspiration that is tied to our first point of “revelation”. That is: revelation, put into writing, equals inspiration. 

We will look at our second thought about the focus of Divine inspiration in our next post....

Thursday, September 15, 2022

The Doctrine of Scripture, An Overview Part Two: The Necessity, Sufficiency, and Inspiration of Scripture


    In the last post, I began doing an overview of the doctrine of Scripture. Readers may review the last post by clicking here,  In my last post, I mentioned three ideas that summarize the first three headings of the doctrine of Scripture.

1. Clarity of God’s words – their communication.

2. Authority of God’s words – that’s revelation.

3. Inerrancy and infallibility of God’s words – their information.

    In today's post, we shall consider the last three remaining headings that comprise the doctrine of Scripture.

1. Necessity of God’s words – the foundation.

2. Sufficiency of God’s words – life application.

3. The writing down of God’s words – that’s inspiration.

Let us first look at what is known as "The necessity of Scripture".

1. Necessity of God’s words for a foundation. Genesis 3:2-5

    What is meant by “the necessity of God’s words?” Simply put, it is necessary for there to be the articulation of Scripture and someone hearing it for the Spirit of God to bring forth salvation and continual Christian growth. In the general revelation of creation and the conscience, I can know about God and my responsibility to Him. However, I need the Bible to know this God and His plan of salvation, revealed in Jesus Christ, and His coming Kingdom. That is necessity. I will make two remarks that bear on this scene in Genesis 3:1 and in our own day. 

    First, if we did not have God’s inerrant and infallible word revealed, and then written down under Divine inspiration in the Bible, we would have no foundation for our faith. In the landmark book by Harold Lindsell entitled “The Battle for the Bible”, he opens with this quote: “Of all the doctrines connected with the Christian faith, none is more important than the one that has to do with the basis of our religious knowledge.” Lindsell then goes on to point out that the basis for accurate understanding of God, humanity, life, and eternity “for the Christian at least always comes full circle to the Bible.”

    Secondly, the need for God’s revelation is written form is demonstrated by how Adam and his wife responded to the serpent. Genesis 3:2-5

“The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” 4 The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! 5 For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

    Notice how Satan twisted the information content of God’s words spoken to Adam, and through Adam to his wife. Satan does what I call “twisted math”. He subtracts God from the origination of these words – thus denying their authority. Then, the woman in response adds to what God had said, claiming God said not to eat “nor touch” the fruit. This undermines the clarity of God’s words, since what she said does not match what He said in comparison to the original words spoken to Adam in Genesis 2:16-17. Then lastly, the Serpent divides the meaning of God’s words from their truth by expressing the exact opposite message – which ultimately denies Biblical necessity!

    The record of Adam, the creation, and fall were passed along to Moses in a written format, as expressed ten times in Genesis by the phrase “these are the records of”. The words of God, the Bible, are authoritative because of their revelation. The words of God are inerrant and infallible touching their information. They are necessary for our foundation. So, we’ve considered the clarity, authority, inerrancy/infallibility and necessity of God’s Words. Let us move onto the next key quality.

2. The Sufficiency of God’s Words – their application. Genesis 3:15

    So, we’ve witnessed how the clarity of God’s Word deals with its communication. The authority of God’s words relate to its revelation. The inerrancy and infallibility of God’s Words handles it information. The necessity of God’s words speaks to its foundation. But what is meant by the sufficiency of God’s words? The sufficiency of God’s words simply means that they are enough for faith, for life, for practice, and for getting us to the Savior in Heaven. Genesis 3:15 occurs after the pronouncement of curse upon the Serpent. 

    In Genesis 3:15 we read, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; he shall crush thy head, and thou shalt crush his heel.” This text is called by theologians “the protoevangelium” or “the first mention of the Gospel”. This one verse functions as sufficient for promising all that is needed for the salvation for Adam, Eve, and anyone that trusts in the promise of salvation contained within it. This point of the sufficiency of God’s Words is perhaps no better stated than by Jesus Himself in Matthew 4:4, quoting Deuteronomy 8:3 “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”

    When the Reformation of the 16th century recaptured the nearly forgotten Gospel, a term was coined to define the sufficiency of the Bible in all matters of faith and practice – sola scriptura. This statement, translated “Scripture alone”, affirms the sufficiency of the Bible to provide what is needed for faith and practice. Adam and Eve had no other human being upon whom they could appeal. Government, the Church, Educational institutions did not exist. They had to rely upon God’s words. So, let us remind ourselves of the first five qualities of God’s words. 

1. Clarity of God’s words – their communication.
2. Authority of God’s words – that’s revelation.
3. Inerrancy and infallibility of God’s words – their information.
4. Necessity of God’s words – the foundation.
5. Sufficiency of God’s words – life application.

Our final quality or heading when considering the doctrine of Scripture deals with....  

3. The writing down of God’s words – that’s inspiration.

    One may wonder where do we see reference to the writing down of God’s words in Genesis 1-3? As mentioned already, a seemingly unimportant phrase, starting in Genesis 2:4, occurs ten times throughout the book of Genesis – “these are the generations of”. That phrase is just as easily translated “these are the records of”. In ancient documents of the locale in which the Book of Genesis was composed (called “The Ancient near East”, stretching from Mesopotamia down to Egypt), they would sometimes be divided into segments called “colophons”. A “colophon” functioned as a subject heading to indicate the source of the information it covered. Ancient records were often copied on tablets of clay or stone.

    We have already defined revelation as God making known what was previously unknown. As we consider all the other qualities covered in this message about God’s words, we can apply those to the written Scripture. Whenever we take God’s revelation, and put it into writing, we have inspiration.

So why would God have His revelation to be written down? 

    What advantage does this form of Divine revelation have over the other methods we’ve discussed? Wayne Grudem in the 2nd edition of his Systematic Theology, page 34, notes three benefits of having inspired Scripture.

    First, there is a much more accurate preservation of God’s words for subsequent generations – what we could call the “preservation principle”. I’m reminded of what Jesus said of Mary of Bethany that anointed him in preparation for what would be his burial in Matthew 26:12 “Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.” We can read of her act today, even though it occurred over 2,000 years ago.

    Grudem then observes a second reason, “the opportunity for repeated inspection of words that are written down permits careful study and discussion, which leads to better understand and more complete obedience.” We could call this the “faithfulness principle”. I have found this to be always true. If I can “chapter and verse” any truth of the Christian life, it tends to stick with me more than even if I heard it from a secondhand source. As one hymn entitled “Wonderful Words of Life” says in its lyrics “words of life and beauty, teach me faith and duty”.

    So, in addition to a preservation principle and faithfulness principle, there is a third benefit for God preserving His revelation in inspired Scripture. Grudem notes once more, “God’s words in writing are accessible to many more people than they are when preserved merely through memory and oral repetition.” We can call this third reason the “passing-down principle”. Imagine what would have happened if God had not inspired His Word beginning with Moses? We would not have the account of Genesis, let alone Exodus through Deuteronomy. Paul illustrates this “passing down principle” in 1 Corinthians 15:1 “Now I make known unto you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you have received, and wherein you stand.” Furthermore, the remaining books of the Bible that would follow would not have come about through the remaining Biblical authors. We would have no ability to know who Jesus was. The certainty of salvation would have been an impossibility.


    As I close, it is important to realize the fact “that God hath said”. We have observed the following in these last two posts.

1. Clarity of God’s words – their communication.
2. Authority of God’s words – that’s revelation.
3. Inerrancy and infallibility of God’s words – their information.
4. Necessity of God’s words – the foundation.
5. Sufficiency of God’s words – life application.
6. The writing down of God’s words – that’s inspiration.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

The Doctrine of Scripture, An Overview: Clarity, Authority, Inerrancy & Infallibility of Scripture


    In the last post I introduced what I hope will be a series of posts on "The Doctrine of Scripture" here

    In my former post, I ended with six qualities of the Bible as Divine Revelation that provide headings that trace out for us an overview of the Doctrine of Scripture - otherwise known as "Bibliology". 

1. Clarity of God’s words – their

2. Authority of God’s words – that’s

3. Inerrancy and infallibility of God’s words –
    their information.

4. Necessity of God’s words – the foundation.

5. Sufficiency of God’s words – life

6. The writing down of God’s words – that’s

    In today's post, we will explore the first three of these.

1. Clarity of God’s words – their communication. Genesis 1:26-27

    For this point, let’s turn back to Genesis 1:26-27 

"Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' 27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” 

    Human beings were designed to communicate with one another and with their Maker. The term “image” speaks of “capability” in the human species to give and receive whatever thoughts are in their minds. That term “likeness” refers to the “ability” of human beings to communicate within themselves.

    Wherever God is speaking forth His revelation, He always intends clarity. The clarity of Scripture speaks to its ability to provide meaning, because in each verse there is one ultimate meaning. Psalm 119:105 tells us “thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” (KJV). Or again, 2 Peter 1:19 “So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts” (NASB). So, already we understand this first quality of God’s Word pertains to its communication or “clarity”. Now notice a second quality.

2. Authority of God’s words – that’s revelation. Genesis 2:23-25

    The first three chapters center upon God as the talking, living God. We already considered Jesus’ citation of Genesis 2:23-25, attributing it as being God’s words. So, let’s look Genesis 2:23-25 

"The man said, 'This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.' 24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” 

    So, who is expressing these words? The Genesis text tells us that “Adam said”. Now, take how Jesus quotes this same text in Matthew 19:4-5 

"And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?" 

    Whom does Jesus credit saying these same words? God. So, which is it? Was it Adam who spoke? Was it God who spoke? Is it God’s words conveyed through Adam’s words? B.B. Warfield helps us answer this from wrote a wonderful essay entitled “It says:” “Scripture says:” Warfield explains, 

“In one of these classes of passages the Scriptures are spoken of as if they were God; in the other, God is spoken of as if He were the Scriptures: in the two together, God and the Scriptures are brought into such a conjunction that….no distinction was made between them” (regarding authority). (B.B. Warfield, Inspiration and Authority of the Bible, page 299),

    In other words, what we see here is a demonstration of this Biblical quality of “authority”. Wayne Grudem in pages 32-34 of His Systematic Theology, 2nd edition (pages 47-51 in the 1st edition) describes God’s activity in these opening chapters through what he calls “The Word of God as speech by God”. God’s activity is nothing less than Him acting and speaking forth His authority as God.

    Why are these words so authoritative? God is exercising His most fundamental act of communication in the opening chapters – revelation. Revelation is when God makes known what was otherwise unknown. Once God has revealed His words – those words bear the stamp of His authority. To put it another way, the words of God act in such a way as if God Himself was there in front of us. The Author of those words conveys His authority through such words – hence why we call the Bible “The Word of God”. So, we’ve noticed Scripture’s clarity in its communication, as well as its authority in its revelation. Now let’s note a third trait….

3. Inerrancy and infallibility of God’s words – their information. Genesis 3:1

    As we turn again to these opening chapters of Genesis, we come to that tragic scene in Genesis 3:1 which records the first ever question in the Bible, as well as the basis for the title of this message, 

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” 

    What was Satan questioning? The truthfulness and trustworthiness of the words of God spoken to Adam (and which in turn were supposed to had been taught accurately by Adam to his wife). When we say “truthfulness”, we speak of what theologians call “inerrancy” of God’s words. When we talk of “trustworthiness”, we refer to what theologians call the “infallibility of God’s words”. Now I won’t go any further into detail about these two terms, since future posts are devoted to them. What I will say next relates to the inerrancy and infallibility of God’s words by considering a fourth quality in our next post – the necessity of God’s words as the foundation.

More later....

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Introducing the Doctrine of Scripture - What is meant when we say "The Holy Bible"?


    For quite a while I have had this series about “The Doctrine of Scripture" on my mind. In this introductory post, I want to give you a general survey of the “Doctrine of Scripture”, otherwise known as “Bibliology”. Before we do that survey, let me first introduce the Bible itself.

What is "The Holy Bible"?
    Whenever we think of the doctrine of Scripture, what comes to mind? Let me draw your attention to some opening thoughts.

1. To begin, we think of course about our Bibles. Most Bibles still have written on their spines on front covers “Holy Bible”. That term “holy” speaks of a uniqueness, a “set-apart” quality that makes the Bible different from any other book.

2. Then, when we see that second term “Bible”, we encounter an English word, transliterated from the Latin “biblia”, which in turn is a carryover from the Greek term “biblos”, meaning “Book”. Hence, to say “Holy Bible” means “a set-apart Book”.

3. Now, once you begin to study the Bible, you discover it is composed of sixty-six individual books, sub-divided into two main sections – Old Testament and New Testament. The term "testament" derives from a Latin term that our English Translations have used for centuries to describe our two major sections of the Bible. The term "testamentum", was translated from a Hebrew term ("berith") and a Greek term ("diatheke"), both of which mean  "covenant". 
    In other words, we have what is called "The Old Covenant" and what is called "The New Covenant" Scriptures. "Testament", though more familiar to us, describes a document that goes into effect upon a person's death (i.e. "Last Will and Testament"). God of course is the Living God, which is why the term "Covenant" captures for us what the Bible is all about. "Covenant" refers to a commitment made between the living God and His people. 

    Whether "Old Covenant Scriptures" or "New Covenant Scriptures", the term "Covenant" reminds us that the Bible never goes out of style. It is in written form the voice of the living God Himself, conveyed to us by He as the Third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. In turn, the Holy Spirit of God, through these words of God, directs our attention to the Son of God - Jesus Christ.
4. The Old Testament (or Covenant) portion contains 39 books, originally written in Hebrew and some Aramaic, comprising over 400,000 words in those languages. These 39 books record the history of God's covenantal dealings with His people, Israel, and how He used Israel to prepare for the coming of Jesus.

5. The New Testament (or "Covenant") consists of 27 books, originally composed in Koine Greek, containing over 138,000 words. Everyone of these words are classified together by the simple term “Scripture”, meaning “that which is written”. Jesus certainly came to ratify the "New Covenant", a better covenant, with His blood, which He shed on the cross as man (see Hebrews 9:16-17). What makes the 27 books the "New Covenant Scriptures" is in how Jesus Christ, being also truly God, demonstrated Himself forever alive by His physical resurrection from the dead, remaining truly man - and thus being forever God and man. 

6. The Bible, comprising Old and New Covenant Scriptures, is the Living God's testimony of Himself to His people whom He calls by faith, and to a world in need of the Savior. This Triune God makes Himself known through the pages of the Bible.

The Bible is a library of Divinely inspired books

    Now these introductory remarks serve to tell you what is inside your Bibles, and why they are called “The Holy Bible”. We see a Divinely inspired library of books, all expressing a unity of message, ranging over 1500 years, through 40 authors, in three languages, displaying all sorts of literary types such as narrative, poetry, letters, and prophecy.

    There are over 700 prophecies, many of which have demonstrated fulfillment in history. No other book in the world, secular or religious, boasts such features. Physical description alone would draw the conclusion that the Bible is a most remarkable book.

    However, in talking about the Bible, I'm not content to just say the Bible is a “remarkable book” (though it most certainly is  remarkable!) Rather, in exploring the doctrine of Scripture, we will discover that this most remarkable book is a “revealed book”. When I talk of "The Doctrine of Scripture", I mean the following qualities or headings.

1. Clarity of God’s words – their

2. Authority of God’s words – that’s

3. Inerrancy and infallibility of God’s words –
    their information.

4. Necessity of God’s words – the foundation.

5. Sufficiency of God’s words – life

6. The writing down of God’s words – that’s

In the next post, we will begin to explain what each of these characteristics mean, and why they matter today.