Bible Study, Doctrine & Disciplines of the Bible Series, Theological Study, Theology, Topical Study

Doctrine & Disciplines of the Bible, Part Three

Inspiration of the Scriptures

In Part Two, Trustworthiness of the Scriptures, emphasis was placed on theological integrity: We must place our trust in the Scriptures, just as the church has maintained over time. Approaching our reading and study of the Scriptures rightly comes first with an accurate understanding of doctrinal truths. Sound doctrine reflects in summary what the Word affirms and what the church is bound to believe. Good theology reflects sound doctrine and stands in direct contrast to false doctrine. Sound doctrine of the Word of God is the foundation of all good theology. 

God’s Word is trustworthy. It conveys what is true and demands what is right. Affirmation of the inspiration of the Bible furthers Christians’ maturity in their attitudes toward the Scriptures, the truthful voice of God. 

  • Deuteronomy 30:11-14
  • Psalm 33:6-9
  • Psalm 119:75, 89, 96, & 160
  • John 17:17
  • Acts 4:25 

In what way would the Doctrine of Inspiration of Scripture affirm the Bible’s trustworthiness?

If all Scripture (every book, chapter, line, and word) is breathed out, where is the source of Scripture’s inspiration from?

Affirmed in Acts 4:25, David was God’s mouthpiece. How do the Psalm 119 verses characterize God’s Word? List specifics.

God’s Word is holy, showing his lordship attributes. Using Psalm 33:6-9, how would you describe this?

What do we mean when we say, the Bible is inspired by God? “We do not mean that every sentence in it is inspiring. Many are; but some are also very mundane. Sometimes the apparently mundane turns out to be wonderfully inspiring. Read as it is meant to be, as the story of God’s plan unfolding from the time of Abraham until the coming of Christ, and it turns out to be a thrilling survey of God’s sovereign Lordship over history. But inspiration does not mean the Bible is inspiring like a beautiful and moving symphony or a deeply poignant poem. In fact when Paul wrote that all Scripture is ‘inspired by God,’ he was not thinking about its effect on us, but about its source in him,” Sinclair Ferguson explains. 

The term inspiration is drawn from the older English translations of 2 Timothy 3:16. For example the Geneva Bible of 1560 rendered Paul’s words, “The whole Scripture is given by inspiration of God.” In defining inspiration, Wayne Grudem writes that inspiration refers to, “the fact that the words of Scripture are spoken by God.” Theologian B. B. Warfield writes, “The Bible is the Word of God in such a way that when the Bible speaks, God speaks” (emphasis mine). Paul’s point in his writing is not that Scripture is inspiring to read (although, it can be), or that the authors were inspired (yet, they were), but that Scripture’s origin means it is the very Word of God.

“The Bible is the product of God’s own creative breath.” – Dr. Chuck Quarles

Have you found parts of Scripture to be inspiring at times?

We are not judges of God’s Word; God’s Word is contrarily judge of us. Have feelings of embarrassment caused you to ascribe to some portions of Scripture, but not to all? 

Is denial of the superintending work of the Holy Spirit in particular parts of the Bible a low view of divine action? Why or why not?

Consider the relationship of the Trinity to biblical inspiration. How would you define it?

Read Deuteronomy 30:11-14. What would be the benefits of spending time in the Word?

Historically, Christians have held to the view that God is the ultimate author of the Scriptures. Today, when a person breathes out their speech, it is in audible form. When God Almighty breathed out in speech long ago, His word was written down by the prophets and then the apostles. Inspiration extends to the writings, not merely the ideas — the words, not simply the word. It extends to the tenses of the verbs, the letters of the words, and the smallest parts of the letters. Summarized by the term verbal-plenary inspiration, it can be broken down into: verbal, meaning in its words, and plenary, meaning in its entirety. In relation to Scripture, Verbalemphasizes that the actual words are God-breathed, while Plenary emphasizes the fact that Scripture is equally God-breathed in all of its parts: Thus its inspiration is described as verbal-plenary.

  • Genesis 12:7
  • Exodus 3:6
  • Matthew 5:17-18; 22:31-32
  • John 10:35
  • Galatians 3:16

In your own words, what does verbal-plenary inspiration mean?

If someone’s view is denial of plenary (full) inspiration, what reliable criteria would decide which parts?

Do you see Jesus’ argument for the resurrection of the dead as a present-tense verb in Matthew 22:31-32, quoting Exodus 3:6?

Did you catch Paul’s argument in Galatians 3:16, in which he was quoting Genesis 12:7?

Does Scripture support itself concerning inspiration?

Paul Enns gives a description referencing the text itself inspired, and referring to quality of context, not the human author, “Inspiration may be defined as the Holy Spirit’s superintending over the writers to that while writing according to their own styles and personalities, the result was God’s Word written – authoritative, trustworthy, and free from error in the original autographs.”  In addition, Charles Spurgeon wrote, “You must accept the revelation as infallible, or you cannot unquestioningly believe in the God therein revealed. If you once give up inspiration, the foundations are removed, and all building is laborious trifling. How are the promises the support of faith if they are themselves questionable?” 

From Article VI of the Chicago Statement, “We affirm that the whole of Scripture in all its parts, down to the very words of the original, were given by divine inspiration. We deny that the inspiration of Scripture can rightly affirmed of the whole without the parts, or of some parts but not the whole.” 

  • Genesis 2:7
  • 2 Timothy 3:15-17
  • 2 Peter 3:16

Psalm 119 and 2 Timothy 3:15-17 run through the entirety of this series. In your own words, paraphrase 2 Timothy 3:15-17. 

In 1 Timothy 3:15-17, Paul is encouraging Timothy to continue in the teachings he has received. Paul makes the assumption that Timothy is familiar with the Scriptures and urges him to continue in them since they are divinely inspired. The impression here is that they are divinely produced, just as God breathed the breath of life into humans. Therefore, they carry value for building up the believer into maturity to be equipped for every good work. If we are to take Paul as our model for what it meant to be an apostle of Jesus Christ, then it would be fair to say that the New Testament (as well as the Old) is not merely from man but also from God. The writers of the Old Testament and the New Testament spoke as they were moved by the Spirit.

In the New Testament, a number of passages indicate that all of the Old Testament writings are thought of as God’s words. In his Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem references 2 Timothy 3:15-16, “Paul here affirms that all of the Old Testament writings are theopneustos, ‘breathed out by God.’ Since it is writings that are said to be ‘breathed out,’ this breathing must be understood as a metaphor for speaking the words of Scripture. This verse thus states in brief form what was evident in many passages in the Old Testament: the Old Testament writings are regarded as God’s Word in written form. For every word of the Old Testament, God is the one who spoke (and still speaks) it, although God used human agents to write these words down.”  

  • Isaiah 7:14
  • Matthew 1:22

By context, “all Scripture” in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 refers properly to the 39 books of the Old Testament. Wayne Grudem writes, “In the context of Jesus’ repeated citations from Deuteronomy to answer every temptation, the words that proceed ‘from the mouth of God’ are the written Scriptures of the Old Testament.” However, the New Testament writings are elsewhere included with the Old Testament as Scripture. Therefore, all Old and New Testament writings are viewed as Scripture and thus both are considered “God breathed.” In other words, the Old and New Testaments are equally inspired and equally authoritative. When we turn to the early church’s preaching, we find similar understand of the Old Testament. This fits well with the prophets’ own testimonies. Again and again, they declared “Thus says the Lord.”     

  • Matthew 4:4
  • 2 Peter 1:16-21
  • 2 Peter 3:13-16
  • Deuteronomy 25:4; Luke 10:7; Acts 3:18-21; 1 Corinthians 9:8-14; 1 Timothy 5:8

Referencing Matthew 4:4, what is meant by living by every word that comes from the mouth of God? Does this encourage you?

The prophetic word would have been prior to Peter’s own eyewitness account. Regarding 2 Peter 1:19-21, where did Peter place his confidence?

Did what was seen on the mountain by Peter, James, and John confirm the prophetic word?

What three different terms are used when Peter is referring to the word of God in these verses?

In the Old Testament, we read in Exodus 34:27, “The Lord said…The word of the Lord came to the prophet…saying…Write down these words.” In Hebrews 1:1, we read “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways…” We read Jesus’ use of the Old Testament in Matthew 1:22 citing Isaiah 7:14, in Matthew 4:4. Once again, Wayne Grudem reiterates, “the pattern of attributing to God the words of the Old Testament Scripture should be very clear.” 

  • Exodus 34:27
  • Isaiah 7:14
  • Deuteronomy 1:3
  • Matthew 1:22
  • Matthew 4:4
  • Matthew 5:17-18
  • John 10:35 (referring to Psalm 82:6)
  • Acts 4:24-26 (quoted Psalm 2:1-2)
  • Hebrews 1:1

The authors were divinely prepared to write God’s word in much the same way as the prophets were made ready to speak His word. Jesus himself gave the guarantee for what the apostles taught and wrote. Thus, promising the Holy Spirit for the New Testament writings in their truthful witness to him and his work. In the mechanics of inspiration, scripture is not a matter of the human author’s interpretation or explanation. Paul wrote some things difficult to understand. However, the rest of scriptures told us the letters are a part of the scriptures and the apostles recognized their authenticity. As we have established the very words of Scripture are God’s very words, the Bible is the word of God down to the smallest letter or even part of a letter.

  • John 14:26
  • Acts 4:21-26 (quoting Psalm 2:1-2)
  • 1 Corinthians 2:10-13
  • 1 Thessalonians 2:13 & 4:2

In the scriptures covered thus far, where do you find Old Testament evidence for the Doctrine of Inspiration of Scripture? New Testament evidence for this Doctrine?

Is inspiration uniform throughout the Bible or are there different degrees or differing levels of inspiration?  Support your answer.

Do you place emphasis on the red letter words of the Bible, seeing them as more fully inspired than the black? Why might this be an error?

The Book of Psalms slowly developed over an extended period of time and reflects the full spectrum of ordinary human experience and emotions. But it was under God’s loving superintendence the authors were given words by which to express every aspect of human experience. Inspiration is concursive– the Spirit and the human authors wrote together. Dr. Gregg Allison, Professor of Christian Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, adds, “The Spirit’s work was not just the influence of providential care or guidance that all Christians experience as they walk with God. Nor extend only to the thoughts or ideas in the minds of the human authors. This particular work of the Holy Spirit was unique to the prophets and Jesus considered that what Moses said, God himself said (Matthew 19:4-5. Quoting Moses’s comment about marriage [Genesis 2:24] and ascribing it to ‘he who created them’ that is, God).”

  • Genesis 2:24
  • Deuteronomy 1:3
  • Isaiah 8:11; 66:1
  • Jeremiah 30:4
  • Matthew 19:4-5
  • Acts 1:16
  • Acts 3:18, 21 & 4:25
  • 2 Samuel 23:2
  • Amos 3:1
  • Micah 4:4

Why can we not reduce the writing of Scripture to merely human work? 

Do you see Scripture’s own affirmation about itself being divinely inspired? List the verses.

In what ways does the Bible witness to its divine origins?

2 Peter 1, in verses 17-18 and 21, the word phero, is translated as “produced” in 21 or “borne” in 17 and 18. B.B. Warfield explains, “The term here used [for carried/borne] is a very specific one. It is not to be confounded with guiding, or directing, or controlling, or even leading in the full sense of that word. It goes beyond all such terms, in assigning the effect produced specifically to the active agent. What is ‘borne’ is taken up by the ‘bearer’ and conveyed by the ‘bearer’s’ power, not its own, to the ‘bearer’s goal, not its own. The men who spoke from God are here declared, therefore, to have been taken up by the Holy Spirit and brought by His power to the goal of His choosing. The things which they spoke under this operation of the Spirit were therefore His things, not theirs. And that is the reason which is assigned why ‘the prophetic word’ is so sure. Though spoken through the instrumentality of men, it is by virtue of the fact that these men spoke ‘as borne by the Holy Spirit,’ an immediately Divine word.”

  • Genesis 3:1-5
  • 2 Peter 1:17-21

Does the divine authorship of the Scriptures preclude the use of active human instrumentation?

Does human participation render the Scriptures any less perfect and divine?

In Genesis 3:1-5, Satan was the first to challenge God’s revelation. What challenges the Bible in your life?

Though God used men as His instruments to write Scripture, God is ultimately its author and source. The reason we call the Bible the Word of God is because it is, indeed, the very words that God wanted communicated. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 conveys the idea of God “breathing out” the Scriptures. Since the word for “breath” can also be translated “spirit,” we can easily see the work of the Holy Spirit as He superintended the writing. 

Point Two in the short statement of The Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrancy states that “Holy Scripture, being God’s own Word, written by men prepared and superintended by His Spirit, is of infallible divine authority in all matters upon which it touches: it is to be believed, as God’s instruction in all that it affirms; obeyed as God’s command, in all that it requires; embraced, as God’s pledge, in all that it promises.”

In Article VII of affirmation and denial, the Chicago Statement explains: “We affirm that the inspiration was the work in which God by His Spirit, through human writers, gave us His Word. The origin of Scripture is divine. The mode of divine inspiration remains largely a mystery to us. We deny that inspiration can be reduced to human insight, or to heightened states of consciousness of any kind.”

Why could the biblical authors not be passive, without any significant and willful participation in the writing process?

How is the denial of human authorship opposition to the present various personalities and writing styles?

Did the Holy Spirit protect the Word of God from human error? Why is it not plausible that God simply dictated the writing?

So to clarify, what part did the human authors play?

God supernaturally used human authors to pen the words of the Bible, without compromising the perfection, integrity, or purity of the finished product. It’s a case of dual-authorship. “God superintended the human authors so that, using their own individual personalities, they composed and recorded, without error, His revelation to man in the words of the original manuscripts,” states Charles Ryrie in his Basic Theology. Millard Erickson notes, “The Spirit was apparently very selective in what he inspired the biblical authors to report.” Though God used men as His instruments to write Scripture, God is ultimately its author and source. 

  • John 21:25
  • 1 Thessalonians 2:13
  • 2 Peter 1:21

In 2 Peter 1:21, Peter used a specific word picture to describe this arrangement when he wrote that men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. The word moved is the same word used to describe a ship moving along under the power of a blowing wind. The biblical writers were guided in their writing to go where God wanted them and to produce the exact content God wanted them to produce. 

Article VIII of the Chicago Statement reads: “We affirm that God in His Work of inspiration utilized the distinctive personalities and literary styles of the writers whom He had chosen and prepared. We deny that God, in causing these writers to use the very words that He chose, overrode their personalities.”

Without question, their personalities, writing styles, perspectives, and distinctives are reflected in their words. But their accounts are more than the words of men – they are the very Word of God. Warfield explained, “If God wished to give His people a series of letters like Paul’s, he prepared a Paul to write them, and the Paul He brought to the task was a Paul who spontaneously would write just such letters.”

Similar to Warfield’s explanation, Herman Bavnick writes, “…the Spirit’s actions in the Bible writers at the moment of the composition is the natural climax of a long process of the Spirit’s preparation of the writers through their birth, upbringing, natural gifts, research, memory, reflection, experience of life, revelation, etc.” It is clear from all this that the action of God referred to in this text cannot be translated to anything close to what is meant by the English word inspire.

Historical research lies behind Luke’s Gospel. The Spirit shaped Luke with gifts and opportunities to do this and also superintended his activity. We recognize the books of the Bible were composed in very different ways. Thus, if we want to know how any section came as God-breathed, we need to listen to the clues it gives us about the way in which it was actually written. For example, Luke 1:1-4 assumes that the writer undertook historical research, John 14:26, requires that the writer had a Spirit-assisted memory, 2 Corinthians 12:1-4 consists of miraculous revelation, the book of Ecclesiastes was written by observation of life, apocalyptic language in Revelation 2-3 was occasionally by dictation, 1 Corinthians 7:25-26 as well as 39-40 was formed with sound counsel.

  • Luke 1:1-4
  • John 14:26
  • 1 Corinthians 7:25-26 & 39-40
  • 2 Corinthians 12:1-4
  • Revelation 2-3

Considering the clues the Bible has given us about the way in which it was written, why is the truth of inspiration so important to the authority of Scripture? 

The Bible presents itself as both a divine and human book from beginning to end. “Because the Bible has been inspired, we can be confident of having divine instruction. The fact that we did not live when the revelatory events and teachings first came does not leave us spiritually or theologically deprived. We have a sure guide. And we are motivated to study it intensively, since its message is truly God’s Word to us.” Millard Erickson states in his Christian Theology. In the words of Charles Spurgeon, “A divine originality runs through it all; marks of the divine mind abound in every portion, and the Holy Spirit still inspires it all, and breathes it into the hearts of believing readers.” 

  • Exodus 34:1
  • Deuteronomy 29:29
  • Acts 17:10-11
  • 1 Corinthians 2:13
  • 2 Peter 1:21

The key distinction of inspiration/illumination is important to note. In his Pilgrim Theology, Dr. Michael Horton articulates that “Scripture is inspired – that is, God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16), whereas our interpretation is illumined by the Spirit. Thus, Scripture is infallible and inerrant where as our interpretations as churches and as individuals are always fallible and subject to revision in the light of Scripture.” The Bible was given by means of direct revelation, having been noted in Scripture by words or expressions nearly 4,000 times. The revelation of truth is sufficient in the Bible alone. And while revelation is the communication of God’s truth to humans, inspiration relates more to the relaying of that truth from the first recipients of it to other persons (whether then, or later). In other words, revelation might be thought of as a vertical action, but inspiration must be thought of as a horizontal action. In 1 Corinthians 2:13, Paul made the point that God’s revelation came to us in words. This counters what some might contend: Inspiration only relates to the thoughts that God wanted us to know.

  • Deuteronomy 30:11-14
  • Psalm 119:130
  • Romans 1:16-17

What do people usually mean by “revelation?” Explain some differences between an orthodox Christian view and rival accounts.

How would you explain the correlation of Scripture’s inspiration and Scripture’s authority? 

In reference to Romans 1:16-17, why is the Doctrine of Inspiration of Scripture foundational for the Christian faith? 

Read Deuteronomy 30:11-14 and Psalm 119:130. Is the Bible only for Pastors or Priests? Explain.

In the words of Augustine, “When we are wrong because we haven’t understood it, we leave it in the right. When we have gone wrong, we don’t make out Scripture to be wrong, but it continues to stand up straight and right, so that we may return to it for correction.”Therefore, our understanding of the orthodox teaching of inspiration of Scripture has vast implications for the way we read and study the Bible today. A properly Christian doctrine of inspiration must derive from the doctrines that Scripture itself teaches (*). The wisdom of God in Scripture is inexhaustible.

“…the authority of God’s word resides in the written text – the words, the sentences, the paragraphs – of Scripture, not merely in our existential experience of the truth in our hearts. Some people don’t like written texts and propositions because they imply a stable fixed meaning, and people don’t want truth to be fixed. They would rather have inspiration be more subjective, more internal, more experiential. But according to 2 Peter 1:19-21, the inspiration of holy Scripture is an objective reality outside of us.” – Keven DeYoung

  • Isaiah 55:10-11
  • Psalm 12:6; 19:7 
  • Psalm 119:16, 37, 50, 93, 99-100, 105, 107, 111, 142-143, 155 & 174
  • Romans 1:16; 4:20-21
  • Hebrews 6:18
  • 2 Peter 1:19-21

According to Psalm 119, God’s Word says what is true and right, providing what is good. Explain. 

Timothy Ward penned that “…because the Spirit himself is the living God, he also preserves Scripture providentially from one generation to the next…in the present he is the one who opens minds to comprehend and hearts to trust what God says in Scripture.” 

  • Hebrews 4:12

How would you define inspiration of Scripture and the relation of the Holy Spirit to that process?

Referring to Hebrews 4:12: Do you sometimes fall into the trap of believing that hearing audible words from God would be of greater importance than listening to His words penned in the Bible?

Do you believe your present response to the words of Scripture to be appropriate?

What positive steps can you take to create and maintain the type of attitude toward Scripture and hearing from God that He would desire you to have?

The Bible never leaves us the same; we hear it for better or for worse. Apply this principle to your own Bible reading, hearing, and study. Briefly explain.

The doctrine that emerges from Inspiration of the Scriptures is this: The Holy Spirit is the divine author of all of Scripture, the only true way to hear His voice. If this doctrine is true (and it is), then the implications are so profound that every part of our lives should be affected. 

Reflect on your understanding of Inspiration of Scripture.

  • My goals for application of the inspiration of the Scriptures in my Bible reading are…
  • As a result of better understanding of inspiration versus inspiring, I hope…
  • My prayer in regard to inspiration of Scripture is…

*For the purposes of this series, future posts will briefly view inerrancy and infallibility, as well as sufficiency and authority of Scripture. In addition to these, the individual should consider a study beyond what is provided in this context of perspicuity (clarity) and the transformative power of the Scriptures.

All sources for this series are listed here: https://debbieswindell.com/2019/05/30/excited-to-share/

Doctrine & Disciplines of the Bible Series, Theological Study, Theology, Uncategorized

Doctrine & Disciplines of the Bible, Part Two

Trustworthiness of the Scriptures

In Part One, Won’t You Join Me at The Table?, women were beckoned to hear, read, and study scripture. Rightly practicing the disciplines requires our consideration of the doctrine of the Word of God, as to understanding properly our reading of the Scriptures and applying appropriately our hearing and studies.In this post, we will take a mere glance at the church’s trusting attitudes toward the Bible over time.

  • Ephesians 4:14
  • 1 Timothy 1:9-10
  • 1 Timothy 3:16
  • 1 Timothy 4:6
  • 1 Timothy 6:3

Why is the doctrine of Scripture so foundational for the Christian faith?

How does good theology characterize maturing Christians and churches?

Why is Scripture’s trustworthiness vital to the Church?

For 2,000 years the Bible has taken hold of people’s lives, revealing our sin and God’s grace through faith. Single verses have convicted and converted important men of the faith: Romans 13:13 for Augustine, Romans 1:17 for Martin Luther, and 1 Timothy 1:17 for Jonathan Edwards, for example. It is important for Christians today to understand that through the Holy Spirit, the Bible has been drawing people to Christ and is still doing so through the working of the Scriptures. An existential society would have us to believe otherwise.

In our tendency to be relativists, nothing can be absolutely true in the sense of the word. Society would have us believe the Bible is no more than an old book left behind. However, in view of science, archaeology, and a vast amount of textual criticism, Scripture has in reality withstood the test. To be authoritative, the Bible must be trustworthy, that is, without error. Biblical inerrancy means without err – containing no mistakes or errors in the original autographs. The Bible bears witness to its own inerrancy, with the most powerful witness to the trustworthiness of Scripture to be Jesus Christ himself. Jesus emphasized that the actual written words of Scripture can be trusted, not just the ideas they contain.

  • Matthew 4:1-11
  • Matthew 5:17-18

Why is it important that Christians must view the Scriptures today as having the same trustworthiness as when they were originally penned?

If a Christian believes one passage of Scripture or one book of the Bible to be trustworthy but not another, how could one discern the difference? 

How would rejection of the Bible’s trustworthiness lead to a denial of God himself?

Beyond the Matthew passages, Jesus referred to portions of Scripture (throughout the gospels). His view of the Scriptures emphasized the actual written words can be trusted, not just the ideas, and he extends the reliability all the way to letters and even parts of the letters. Jesus gives no indication that he regarded them as less than reliable. Paul makes his view of sufficiency of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:15-17) and Peter’s view is 2 Peter 1:16-21. It is clear that Peter is affirming here that the prophecies of the Old Testament were not of human origin.

  • Luke 17: 29 & 32
  • Luke 11:51
  • Mark 12:26
  • John 6:31-51
  • Mark 7:13
  • Matthew 22:31-32
  • Galatians 3:16
  • 2 Timothy 3:15-17
  • 2 Peter 1:16-21

Paraphrase 2 Peter 1:16-21. Although the two are related, which of Peter’s accounts are we to pay most attention? Why might this be important to discern?

What importance do you see that the word myths was used in 2 Peter 1:16-21? 

How would you identify myths in today’s world?

Are there consequences of myths? In contrast, what hope does Christianity offer?

Charles Spurgeon penned, “If we doubt God’s Word about one thing, we shall have small confidence in it upon another thing. Sincere faith in God must treat all God’s Word alike; for the faith which accepts one word of God and rejects another is evidently not faith in God, but faith in our own judgment, faith in our own taste.” Not only as His church but also as a believer, can I trust the Bible today?

Define trustworthiness. Could you explain to a nonbeliever the Bible’s trustworthiness?

If Christianity’s faith and practice is tied to the Word of God, is the church’s history (both recent and ancient) important to fully grasp the Bible’s reliability?

The issue of the Bible’s reliability is crucial. It is by way of the Scriptures that the church has historically claimed to understand all matters of faith and practice. If the Bible is unreliable in what it teaches about these things, we as the church are left to pure speculation of truth, and Christianity has nothing of value to speak to the world. In the 1970’s, the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy was formed for the purpose of affirming the historic Protestant position on the Scriptures. The result was the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. This statement takes a stand in the face of arguments against the inspiration, infallibility, and inerrancy of the Bible, declaring the Bible remains trustworthy. I encourage you to read it in its entirety here: 

http://www.danielakin.com/wp-content/uploads/old/Resource_545/Book%202,%20Sec%2023.pdf

In the Chicago Statement’s Articles of Affirmation and Denial, Article IX reads: “We affirm that inspiration, though not conferring omniscience, guaranteed true and trustworthy utterance on all matters of which the Biblical authors were moved to speak and write. We deny that the finitude or fallenness of these writers, but necessity or otherwise, introduced distortion or falsehood into God’s Word.”

Taking God at his Word requires trust and submission to his truth. God’s people instinctually believe the inspired Word and trust the author. Those who are truly regenerate come to the scriptures with the exact opposite of doubt. We work from belief the Bible is true, rather than the nonbelievers who work from doubt. 

  • John 10:35
  • John 17:17

Do you take God at his Word? To clarify, do you not only trust, but also submit to the Bible as truth? Why are both important?

List ways you see our society as a whole discounting the Bible’s trustworthiness? 

Statements, creeds, and confessions are helpful. How could they be useful and important in defense of the Bible?

The battle for the Bible continues to be forefront in our society. Therefore, it is more crucial than ever that believers understand what the Bible is and why they can trust it. Southern Baptists signed on to both the Chicago Statement of Inerrancy and Hermeneutics (*). Much the same is revealed in the scriptures referenced in this excerpt of The Scriptures section from the Baptist Faith and Message. You can read the Baptist Faith & Message in its entirety here:

http://www.sbc.net/bfm2000/bfm2000.asp

I. The Scriptures

The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation. 

  • Deuteronomy 4:1-2
  • Joshua 8:34
  • Psalm 19:7-10; 105; 119:11, 89, 140
  • Isaiah 34:16; 40:8
  • Jeremiah 15:16; 36
  • Matthew 5:17-18; 22:29
  • Luke 21:33; 24:44-46
  • John 5:39; 16:12-15; 17:17
  • Acts 2:16; 17:11
  • Romans 15:4; 16:25-26
  • 2 Timothy 3:15-17
  • Hebrews 1:1-2; 4:12
  • 1 Peter 1:25
  • 2 Peter 1:19-21

When we ask if the New Testament is really the word of God, did the apostles and their close associates experience divine inspiration as they wrote? The Christian church has always believed so. The earliest references to the latter portion of the Christian Scriptures as New Testament are in Greek-Clement of Alexandria (150-215)and in Latin-Tertullian of Carthage (160-220).

In Latin, the Greek term for covenant can be translated with either instrumentum (legal document) or testamentum (a will or testament). Tertullian, an early theologian and author, used both to refer to the Christian Scriptures and probably preferred the first of the two terms although the latter was more commonly used in his day. The terms indicate that Matthew through Revelation reveals the new covenant promised by Moses and the Prophets. 

  • Isaiah 8:11 
  • Jeremiah 30:4
  • Colossians 4:16
  • 2 Peter 3:15
  • Revelation 1:3

One among many unique features of the Bible is prophecy or prediction concerning future events. For a prediction to be fulfilled in the way and in the time foretold by the prophets is proof that God spoke through those prophets. The Bible’s claim to be inspired by the Holy Spirit is the only possible answer to the mystery of the foretelling of the future in accurate detail. And in the New Testament fulfillment of Jesus Christ, we can trust the Scriptures to be true.

Paul referred to Gospel tradition as Scripture. Peter referred to Paul’s letters as Scripture. The apostolic church treated the New Testament documents as Scripture by reading them in corporate worship. This high regard for the writings associated with the apostles continued among the apostolic fathers, leaders of the church in 2nd and 3rd generation Christianity.

In addition, the early church fathers regarded the New Testament as Scripture. Papias (early 2nd) mentions Matthew and Mark by name and writes a five volume commentary on the teachings of Jesus preserved in the Gospels. Clement of Rome (AD 96) quotes the Sermon on the Mount and ascribes divine inspiration to it. 2 Clement (AD 100-150) quotes Matthew repeatedly as “Scripture.” Epistle of Barnabas (early 2nd century) introduces quotes from Matthew with “as it is written.” Polycarp quotes Ephesians as “Scripture.” Basilides, an early gnostic leader contemporary with Polycarp, quotes Paul’s letters as “Scripture” and introduces quotes from Paul with “as it is written.” Hegesippus of Palestine (AD 165-75) reports that the Gospels (and probably other apostolic writings) were preached alongside the Old Testament in the churches everywhere. Justin Martyr (AD 150) ascribes inspiration to the writings of the Apostles, says they were read publicly in church, and uses “it is written” with New Testament quotations.

Why are these historic details important to us today? 

What evidence do you see in this history that supports the trustworthiness of the Old Testament and New Testament scriptures as a unit? 

“The Christian man requires, and, thank God has, a thoroughly trustworthy Bible to which he can go directly and at once in every time of need.”– Theologian B.B. Warfield

The church’s faithful handling of the Word is the instrument by which the Spirit works. Warfield adamantly assumes and affirms that the Bible is a divine gift, a means of grace to sinful humans. Warfield believed that God’s Word, as his speech, is a personal and intentional communication. Therefore, the Bible is God’s Word to God’s people.

As His people, we come to the Scriptures expecting God to speak truth. Presumption of the truth means God’s people know we are subject to its instruction, while living and looking toward the appearing of our Lord and Savior.

Old Testament Scholar Walter Kaiser aptly writes, “The Church and the Scripture stand or fall together. Either the Church will be nourished and strengthened by the bold proclamation of her Biblical texts or her health will be severely impaired…Should the ministry of the [word] fail, one might just as well conclude that all the supporting ministries of Christian education, counseling, community involvement, yes, even missionary and society outreach, will likewise soon dwindle, if not collapse.” 

How is the Bible uniquely relevant to us today? Make a list from the above paragraph, adding your own thoughts.

How does the Bible enable us to discover the will of God for our lives? If you are unsure what this means, you can revisit this post for help: 

https://debbieswindell.com/2019/05/24/seeking-gods-will-in-decision-making-a-topical-study/

The Bible is the Word of God and therefore it is trustworthy, authoritative, and without error. It is imperative that the Christian place confidence in the Bible as the voice of God. Andy Bannister of Zacharias Trust gives pertinent words:

“…there are very good reasons to trust the Bible. And thus very good reasons to approach it with an open mind, willing to take what it says seriously and weigh its claims seriously. So why read the Bible? Because from a historian’s perspective, we have a good reason to trust it. Why read the Bible? Because only by reading it can you draw your own conclusions, rather than uncritically swallow somebody else’s second-hand skepticism. Why read the Bible? Because through the pages of the four biographies in the New Testament, the gospels, one encounters a historical figure – Jesus of Nazareth – whose powerful personality continues to resonate and impact lives two thousand years on.”

The issue of whether the Bible can be trusted is vital to our understanding of God’s revelation of himself. Because of who God is, and because of what God has done to preserve his Word, we have confidence the events described in Scripture are accurate and historical. This is important because Christianity, unique among world religions, depends on historical events of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Ultimately, we find meaning and purpose in the grand narrative of redemptive history. So maybe more than anything, this is why millions of people have concluded the Bible is not only trustworthy but it is sufficiently the means God uses to speak to the church.

How would you defend the claim that the Bible is God’s word?

How is neglect of the doctrines of the Bible a denial of theological wisdom?

What is the relationship between Scripture and tradition?

In what ways does Christians’ rejection of this doctrine cripple the church?

What is the relationship between Scripture and reason, experience, and culture?

Comprehension of the doctrine of the Word as trustworthy and reliable solidifies the believer’s posture toward the Bible, necessary for Christ-centered reading and study. As the Scriptures are fully trustworthy, they are also inspired. 

Reflect on your trust in the Bible.

  • My goals for fully trusting the Bible are…
  • As a result of the church’s confidence in the Scriptures, I hope…
  • My prayer for living and leaving a legacy of belief in the Bible’s trustworthiness is…

*In future posts, we will continue to reference the Chicago Statement. Also referenced are both the London Baptist Confession of Faith and the Belgic Confession. In our day of confusion (perhaps not like any before) it is important we turn to clear and concise statements, confessions, and creeds, articulating what has historically defined “Christianity.” As a framework for our commitments that mold our biblical posture, Southern Baptists turn to the Baptist Faith and Message but we need not limit articulating beliefs to that document. From its beginning, the church has held the tradition of transmitting its faith (what it believes) which believers in turn live out. This is an important way the church teaches sound doctrine and passes on a legacy of faith.

All sources for this series are listed here: https://debbieswindell.com/2019/05/30/excited-to-share/

Bible Study, Doctrine & Disciplines of the Bible Series, Theological Study, Theology, Uncategorized

Doctrine & Disciplines of the Bible, Part One

Won’t You Join Me at The Table?

God invites us to:

Believe Him.

Trust Him.

Fear Him.

Obey Him.

Worship Him.

But most importantly…

Enjoy Him.

Before every Christian is the invitation to delight in God and things of God. The invitation of spiritual disciplines is extended to all in whom the Spirit of God dwells, to taste the joy and contentment found in a Christ-centered lifestyle. Whether it be spending time in Scripture, prayer, worship, evangelism, serving, stewardship, fasting, or learning, spiritual disciplines are practices. Although they are things we do, the goal of any given discipline is not so much about the doing as it is about the being: Being like and abiding with Jesus Christ. The ultimate purpose of the disciplines is godliness; the purpose is to become a better reflection of Christ. 

Make a list of spiritual disciplines (from the paragraph above) you recurrently practice.

Godliness is both closeness to Christ and conformity to Christ, inward and outward. Growth in holiness is a gift from God. However, we are not to sit still with our hands folded as we await our Savior’s return. Action is an immense part in our side of the equation. God-given spiritual disciplines are for our good, providing a pathway for us to receive His grace. Ultimately, the goal of Christian disciplines is not for our own transformation but to know and enjoy Jesus Christ.

  • John 17:17
  • 1 Corinthians 15:10
  • Philippians 2:12-13
  • Colossians 1:29
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:23
  • 1 Timothy 4:7-8
  • Hebrews 2:11
  • Hebrews 12:12-13

The essence of the Christian life,’ writes John Piper, ‘is learning to fight for joy in a way that does not replace grace.’ We cannot earn God’s grace or make it flow apart from his free gift. But we can position ourselves to go on getting as he keeps on giving. We can ‘fight to walk in the paths where he has promised his blessings.’We can ready ourselves to remain receivers along his regular routes, sometimes called ‘the spiritual disciplines,’or even better, ‘the means of grace,” David Mathis writes. 

  • Hosea 6:3
  • Matthew 4:4
  • Luke 18:35-43
  • Luke 19:1-10
  • John 1:16-17
  • John 17:3
  • Acts 18:27
  • Romans 11:5-6
  • Ephesians 2:4-10
  • Philippians 2:12-13
  • Philippians 3:7-9
  • 2 Timothy 1:9
  • 2 Timothy 2:22
  • Hebrews 4:16
  • 1 Peter 1:13-16
  • Jude 21

You cannot control or manipulate the grace of God through habits and actions. Recall the grace God has already shown to you. 

How does your response to God’s grace, having been given freely, make a difference in the practice of spiritual disciplines?

How would you define Matthew 4:4? What does it mean to live by every word?

The biblical way in growing to be more like Jesus is the rightly motivated doing of the biblical spiritual disciplines. “If we would know God and be godly, we must know the Word of God.” Don Whitney so aptly puts. Scripture reminds us that self-control is a necessary precursor to godliness and when it comes to Bible reading, discipline is not developed in a single reading. Christlikeness is the result of a lifetime of consistency. 

  • Psalm 34:8
  • Psalm 37:4
  • Psalm 42:1-2
  • Psalm 63:5
  • Psalm 107:9
  • Ezekiel 36:37
  • Matthew 10:38
  • Matthew 11:29
  • Luke 9:23
  • John 6:35
  • John 16:14
  • 2 Corinthians 3:18
  • Galatians 5:22-23
  • 2 Peter 1:5-8

In the words of Charles Spurgeon, “How instructive to us is this great truth that the Incarnate Word lived on the Inspired Word! It was food to him, as it is to us; and, brothers and sisters, if Christ thus lived upon the Word of God, should not you and I do the same? He, in some respects, did not need this book as much as we do. The Spirit of God rested upon him without measure, yet he loved the Scripture, and he went to it, and studied it, and used its expressions continually.” The power and perfection of God’s Word is eternal. It gives life and has no limits. Intake of Scripture feeds the heart, mind, and soul. To eat God’s words means that we take them in by hearing, reading, or study. God’s Word in itself is as essential to the soul as eating and breathing for the body.With consistency, hearing, reading, and studying Scripture, God’s voice becomes a joy and delight. 

  • Psalm 119:89-96
  • Jeremiah 15:16
  • Philippians 2:14-16

Paraphrase Psalm 119:89-96 in your own words.

The easiest of disciplines is related to hearing the Word. If unintentional, this might only take place when we feel like it, or never at all. If we are not disciplined, we may only hear accidentally and unintentionally. Vance Havner writes, “The alternative to discipline is disaster.” Sadly, George Guthrie’s study shows USA Today reports that only 11 percent of Americans read the Bible every day and more than half read it less than once a month or never at all. Prothero Research Group concludes that with evangelicals only 18 percent read the Bible regularly, with a shocking 23 percent not reading the Word of God at all.

  • Psalm 1:1-2
  • 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Whether daily, weekly, or monthly, what regular rhythms and practices do you currently see yourself using to engage with God’s Word?

Which of these habits is most important to you? What is one new habit you might develop?

In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, for what uses would we find Bible knowledge? List these.

With these percentages reported in secular sources, it is important to consider the results of a study done jointly by Lifeway and Ligonier Ministries. As they partnered to find out about God, salvation, ethics, and the Bible, these are the startling results on the fundamental convictions that shape our society: https://thestateoftheology.comI urge you to read and share this recent report. 

Are you committed to the Bible as the Word of God? How often do you read the Bible?

Do you have a Bible reading plan and if so, has it become a checklist among your other daily duties?

What danger do you face if the focus in your Bible reading is to complete a task?

“Ours is an undisciplined age. The old disciplines are breaking down…Above all, the discipline of divine grace is derided as legalism or is entirely unknown to a generation that is largely illiterate in the Scriptures. We need the rugged strength of Christian character that can come only from discipline.” writes V. Raymond Edman. Even within the Christian community, it seems obvious we’ve lost direction. Although, discipline without direction is not helpful.

Jesus himself assumed that those claiming to be the people of God would have read the very Word of God. He and others in the Bible often asked questions about the people’s understanding of the Scriptures, sometimes beginning with the words, “Have you not read…?” or “It is written…”

  • Matthew 4:4, 7 & 10 
  • Matthew 19:4  
  • Mark 12:10 
  • 1 Corinthians 10:11
  • Colossians 3:16-17
  • 1 Timothy 4:13

Our biblical illiteracy hurts us personally, hurts our churches, and hurts our witness. Therefore, it hurts the advancement of the gospel across the globe. Regarding our distraction from and inattention to the scriptures, Randy Alcorn writes, “It was God—not Satan—who made us learners. God doesn’t want us to stop learning. He wants us to stop what prevents us from learning.

  • Luke 2:40 & 52
  • Luke 24:45-47
  • John 15:9-10
  • 2 Timothy 2:7
  • 2 Peter 3:18

What are your daily distractions from reading, hearing, and learning God’s Word? 

What captures your idle thoughts? 

What do you get passionate about? What captures your awe? 

Do you continually make excuses for not spending time in Bible reading and study?

How is frequent Bible study essential to hearing from God?

God has revealed himself in act, word, and person. The Bible is record of this revelation; its purpose is to make us wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Confirmed from Genesis 3 to Revelation 22, Christ himself is the ultimate vehicle of the self-disclosure of God. Only in the Son do we meet the fullness of the revelation of the Father and only in the Scriptures can we meet and commune with our Savior. 

In reference to the shape of the history of God’s revelatory and redemptive activity in the world, “It is focused initially on his covenant people of Israel, and then comes to a climax in the birth, death, resurrection and ascension of his Son, the Word made flesh, before spreading out to the whole world through the outpouring of the Bible is the Word of God must be explicitly related to God’s speech and actions in history.” writes  Timothy Ward. Scripture primarily reports God’s great acts in redemptive history. The ability from the Holy Spirit gave the apostles the ability to recall accurately the words and deeds of Jesus and to record and interpret them rightly.

  • Luke 24:25-27
  • John 1:1
  • John 14:26
  • John 16:13-14

The Bible’s own story line still speaks today despite the rejection and rebellion of sinners. Yet, there is even more to the Bible than this. Ultimately, we should agree that Christianity is based on knowledge that comes to us from God himself. His truth is far superior to anything we gain from our worldly analysis of situations, our own introspection, or observation of circumstances and the world around us. Christians follow the light of the Word as our guide. We can trust the Word to give us life and delight in it until the very end of our days.

  • Psalm 119:105-112
  • Romans 1:18-23
  • Hebrews 1:1-2

What internal or external influences hinder you from Bible intake?

Are you listening to a voice that is not God’s?

Do you place secular voices above God’s authoritative Word?

By man’s sin nature, we are spiritually blind and spiritually dead. The light of God’s word comes to us in our spiritual sickness and blindness. We have spiritual illness, according to the Bible. Scripture therefore provides God’s prescription for this spiritual illness. As Ward emphasizes, “…The words of the Bible are a significant aspect of God’s action in the world. The relationship between God and the Bible is at heart to do with the actions God uses the Bible to perform. The word of God is, after all, living and active.” 

  • 1 Corinthians 2:7-13
  • Ephesians 1:13
  • Ephesians 2:1-5
  • Ephesians 6:17
  • Hebrews 4:12
  • 1 Peter 2:2-3

Do you know someone who actually lives by the Word of God? Is his/her life one characterized by day-to-day consistency? If so, how would you say this person is living out 1 Corinthians 2:7-13? How does this encourage you?

Where is the evidence in your own life that you are living out your salvation?

Therefore, sin-sick souls are extended the invitation to feast on God’s Word. Scripture works by way of the Spirit over the heart and mind, time and time again. It changes our attitude, outlook, and conduct. When we settle for poor intake of God’s Word (hearing, reading, and studying), we diminish the main corridor of God’s communication. 

  • Romans 12:2
  • Philippians 1:9-10
  • Colossians 1:9-10

If the Spirit strengthens the soul as we engage in the hearing, reading, and study of God’s Word, have you become weak? 

Specifically, if you were to gauge your strength in numbers, where would it fall between 1-10?

Do you understand the big story of the Bible, it’s overarching theme?

Can you recall a situation or circumstance when the Bible has been instrumental in a life decision?

The Bible really is at the center of providing an orientation to life, which directs us in all we do and helps us face the challenges of life. The believer should shape her life with the Word of Life. “We see God’s faithfulness and consistency as He has worked in the lives of our spiritual ancestors in the Bible. We see how people of the Bible responded in different situations, so when we’re going through times of discouragement, we can respond accordingly.” explains Bible scholar David Dockery. 

  • Psalm 1:2
  • Acts 20:32
  • Romans 15:4
  • James 1:22-25

Do your thoughts about direction in discipline and orientation toward a Christ-centered life motivate you to implement practices that will shape your life with God’s Word?

Which practices (corporate or private) came to mind? 

Do you foresee these practices turning into God-honoring lifestyle habits? Why or why not?

Finally, as Christians, we read the Bible for breadth and study the Bible for depth. Maturity is characterized by good theology and at least, in part is measured by the embrace of sound doctrine and the rejection of false doctrine (Ephesians 4:14).  Accordingly, it is the Christian belief that involves not just our head, but our whole being: Mind, emotions, will, motivations, attitudes, intentions, behavior, and words. Therefore, for all these things, Christians should have a robust appetite for the Word. Won’t you join me at the table? 

Reflect on your reasons for doing this study.

  • My goals for this study are…
  • As a result of my studies, I hope…
  • My prayer for this study is…

All sources for this series are listed here: https://debbieswindell.com/2019/05/30/excited-to-share/

Bible Study, Doctrine & Disciplines of the Bible Series, Intro, Theological Study, Theology, Topical Study, Uncategorized

Excited to Share

I am excited to share with you about an upcoming series reflective of my teaching from fall 2018. My objective with this series is to call women to the reading and study of God’s Word, provide support for sound doctrine, and dispel theological confusion in those disciplines and doctrines. When we do not know and understand good theology, we risk living out bad theology. 

Women need theology; the study of God is not merely for our good but for the glory of God himself. Doctrine of the Word of God is the very foundation of theology, Christian belief based on Scripture. In its four applications, doctrine is believed, practiced, confessed, and taught. It is Christian belief that involves not just our head but our whole being. “For nearly 2000 years, the church has constructed sound theology based on Scripture. Because Scripture is the written Word of God and, as such, the ultimate authority for what the church is to believe and how it is to live, it is the foundation for good theology.” Writes Professor of theology, Dr. Gregg Allison.

Within this series, Doctrine & Disciplines of the Bible, our study will glance at inspiration of Scripture, inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture, and Scripture’s authority and sufficiency. With a correct posture, the reader will be invited to read the Bible well and do the hard work of Bible study while handling the Word of God rightly. Although the study will not be exhaustive in this online context, I believe the average reader will find it informative. In a sense, we will be getting back to the basics.

As a reminder, the studies are more than a devotional, yet less than a Bible study. However, the reader will need to open her Bible and read through the indicated scriptures (biblical support) to fully benefit from the content. Some in-depth posts in this particular series will require more than one sitting to work through. Appropriately, the studies will post once weekly.

Recreated for the purpose of supplementing my teaching and discipleship, this series is meant to be more than information transfer. Confronting the reader with doctrinal truths, heart application will manifest as theological adjustments, discerning attitudes, and  putting into practice the spiritual disciplines. It is my heartfelt prayer that the reader might come to know Christ and enjoy his Word in a greater way. And as in all things, that God himself might receive glory for any fruit of my humble efforts. 

A preface to these posts in June and July, I would be remiss if I did not list my sources for Doctrine and Disciplines of the Bible:

Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology

Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology

Millard Erickson, Christian Theology

Charles Ryrie, Basic Theology

John Frame, Systematic Theology

Michael Horton, Pilgrim Theology

Gregg R. Allison, 50 Core Truths of the Christian Faith

The Baptist Faith & Message 2000

The Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrancy

The London Baptist Confession of Faith

Danny Akin, Charles Quarles; SEBTS Class Notes

George Guthrie, Read the Bible for Life

Howard and William D. Hendricks, Living By the Book

R.C. Sproul, Can I trust the Bible?

Donald Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life

David Mathis, Habits of Grace

Kevin DeYoung, Taking God at His Word

Sinclair Ferguson, From the Mouth of God

David Garner, Did God Really Say?

Carson and Nielson, God’s Word, Our Story

Michael Catt, The Power of Surrender

Tim Keller, It’s All About Jesus

R.C. Sproul, 5 Things Every Christian Needs to Grow

Jason Allen, Sola: How the Five Solas are Still Reforming the Church

John Mac Arthur, The Sufficiency of Scripture Part One

Heath Lambert, Sufficiency

D.A. Carson, R.T. France, J. Alec Motyer, Gordon J. Wenham, The New Bible Commentary