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

Doctrine & Disciplines of the Bible, Part Six

Perfect Posture

Previously in the study, Doctrine & Disciplines of the Bible, a call to spiritual disciplines was presented, communicating both the importance of reading the Bible well, and the hard work of Bible study. God’s Word is so much more than printed words on paper; it has the power to sift and separate. God’s Word lifts, humbles, convicts, and soothes our souls. Even so, we have a selfish tendency to use every word to make ourselves the focus.

Nonetheless, is it not true we live in a time of rampant individualism? Today’s motto is It’s all about me: My life. My job. My family. My plans. My rights. My happiness. It’s me, me, me. This selfish attitude has crept into the church and into our Bible reading. Perfect posture for the reading of Scripture is Godward. Godward posture requires we also put God forefront in our Bible reading and study. Ephesians 2:10 reads that we were made to fit into God’s plan, not the other way: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” And, although the Word applies to us, it is not centered around us. It’s not just about us: It’s first about God.

What might individualism look like in your own life?

Why would your preconceived notions be important to acknowledge when coming to the Scriptures?

In light of this individualism, what should I feel about the Word of God? Kevin DeYoung writes, “We are all righteously indignant when someone else holds in little esteem what we know to be precious. Extreme delight in someone or something naturally leads to extreme disgust when others consider that person or thing not worthy of their delight. No one who truly delights in God’s word will be indifferent to the disregarding of it.” 

Christians are quick to make excuses of why we aren’t spending time in the Bible: Believing we don’t have the energy or see the necessity of why we should study, we lack motivation. Offering the excuse of little time due to being too busy, we have a problem with priorities. The excuse of not knowing how to read well or doing the hard work of Bible study reveals a problem of not learning technique. And when we simply don’t get around to it, we have a problem of preoccupation.

Many times in this series, we have considered the praise of God’s Word in the Psalms. In Psalm 119:17, we are reminded that in order to serve God rightly, we should seek to have our eyes opened to behold His truth and earnestly desire to understand it. In all honesty, would this be your own desire? Does your heart posture include humbling yourself enough to set aside agendas, opinions, and emotions? Are you giving the Spirit space to work?

  • Deuteronomy 6:6-7
  • Psalm 1:1-2
  • Psalm 119:17, 53, 119, 127, 139-140

Read Deuteronomy 6:6-7. God’s Word ought to occupy the mind of the Christian all the time. Is Bible reading and study something to be hurried?

Read Psalm 1:1-2. Do you see Bible reading as something we should do, over and over, “day and night,” repeatedly?

Are there times you come to the Bible with an ambivalent or indifferent attitude?

Do you come to God’s Word with delight and expectation?

The Bible is truly magnificent and awe-inspiring. Does your posture reflect this truth?

David Dockery sums up the need for a correct biblical posture: “Of course the Bible is the most relevant book on the planet, but its message is a God centered message, not a self-centered message. The Bible isn’t primarily about us; it is all about God! The Bible is about knowing and loving God as He wants to be known and loved, coming into His presence, having your mind renewed to think about life the way He does. Once you begin to understand the Bible is about God and not primarily about you, it takes on a whole different priority in your life – and a whole new relevance. If we are really God centered, it can make all the difference.”

With perfect posture, we as His children are supernaturally renewed moment by moment, day by day, as we read, hear, learn, and live out the Scriptures. Whether our posture be kneeling before God or standing before God, it is not the posture of our bodies but of our hearts that is important. Thus, as we apply our posture to Bible reading and study, we would do well to remember that God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble (ex. James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5, Proverbs 3:34).

  • 2 Chronicles 6:7-9 & 39
  • Psalm 44:21
  • Psalm 51:1-17
  • Proverbs 4:23
  • Proverbs 21:2
  • Jeremiah 17:10

In 2 Chronicles 6:7-9, we see God’s attention to the heart of David. What posture do you see in 2 Chronicles 6:39? Why was posture important in this context?

In Psalm 51:1-17, we see essential heart postures that can draw us closer to God. List them.

What would be the application of Proverbs 4:23 to our posture in Bible reading and study?

Charles Spurgeon penned, “I confess that the words of Scripture thrill my soul as nothing else ever can; they bear me aloft or dash me down, they tear me in pieces or they build me up after an unrivalled fashion. The words of God have more power over me than ever David’s fingers had over his harp strings. Is it not so with you?” The key to perfect posture is to have one toward God’s Word by which His Word is changing us in our current context, rather than our reshaping of the Word to fit our cultural tastes. The Bible, as read in the light of its various contexts, it can transform our own various contexts, as we explore further in Part Seven of this series. “It is not the book that is to be altered: our hearts want altering.” writes Spurgeon.

God’s Word is precise, not ambiguous. Are you guilty of superficial Bible study? Does your study consist of nothing more than, “I guess this verse means” or “What does this verse mean to you?” Why might this approach be incorrect posture?

We don’t want to merely admire the Bible. We need to understand it. Seeing the Bible as God’s Word, why is it crucial we gain understanding?

Why would reading books about the Bible, or devotional materials loosely based on it, not be a substitute for reading the Scriptures?

Wielded by the Holy Spirit, the Bible has the power to sort us out spiritually, growing us in relationship with our Lord. Our heart posture matters. If we are not being moved in heart, challenged, and moved to new places in life (new levels of obedience and service to God), we are not really reading the Bible the way God intended. Spiritual renewal and continued growth is always related to intake of God’s Word. In The Power of Surrender, Michael Catt writes, “The Word of God was never given to make our flesh feel good; it was given to confront us with our worldly and fleshly thinking. The Word takes us to the cross.” 

“The Holy Scriptures are the lifeline God throws us in order to ensure that he and we stay connected while the rescue is in progress.”- J.I. Packer

As we reject conformity to the world by the renewal of our minds, our Bible reading enables spiritual growth. We can know the truth, enabling us to think clearly about what God says is true and right. Therefore, Bible reading profits us to live well for God in this world and live out His will. In experiencing God’s freedom, his grace, peace, and hope, Bible reading brings us joy. With Bible intake, we guard ourselves from sin and error. Bible reading and Bible study equip Christians to handle the Word rightly as we represent our Lord in ministering to other Christ followers and evangelize the lost. Corporately, we are built up as a Christian community with others when hearing and reading the Bible.

  • Joshua 1:8
  • Psalm 26:2
  • Psalm 51:10
  • Acts 20:32
  • Romans 12:1-2
  • Ephesians 4:14-16, 6:11
  • 2 Timothy 3:15-17
  • 1 Peter 2:1-2
  • 2 Peter 2:1-2

In Joshua 1:8, Joshua’s courage and hope of victory in the quest for Canaan were made to depend on his firm and inflexible adherence to the law of God (Deuteronomy 17:18).  Why might you be tempted to look for hope elsewhere?

God sees straight through to the motives of the heart. A proper posture when coming to the Word would be Psalm 51:10. Why might that be?

Referencing 2 Peter 2:1-2, Peter’s constant prayer of grace and peace for his Christian friends is dependent on their deep knowledge of God and Jesus. How might you apply Peter’s prayer?

Would honest evaluation determine your Bible reading a joy, or has it become dread? Where is your zeal?

The marks of spiritual renewal in relation to God’s word are: the necessity of Bible intake, reverently hearing His word expounded and taught, and His people responding rightly. This is most clearly seen in the book of Nehemiah. In Nehemiah chapter eight, we can acknowledge that God’s people were hungry for the written word. Their posture toward the written Word, reverent anticipation and expectation, had no less zeal due to the Book of the Law of Moses having already been an ancient book, a thousand years old. Clearly, God’s people in Nehemiah’s day believed the Book to be authoritative. If we are God’s people, we read his Word with the same zeal. A proper view of scripture understands and trusts the Bible’s reliability.

  • Exodus 24:2, 7
  • 2 Chronicles 34:27
  • Nehemiah 8:1-5, 9-18
  • Psalm 19:10
  • Isaiah 66:2

When Moses read the newly written book of the Covenant to the people (Exodus 24), what was their response? What was the heart posture of the people in vs. 7? 

Reading Isaiah 66:2, consider that the spiritual temple of the heart is God’s favorite dwelling place. What heart posture is identified?

 “Scripture itself is alone competent to judge our doctrine of Scripture.” – J.I. Packer

By the working of the Word, the Holy Spirit produces outcomes in the life of the believer. Results from a Lifeway study show, when coupled with regularly attending church, Bible reading is the number one predictor of wisdom and maturity. George Muller wisely penned, “The vigor of our spiritual life will be in exact proportion to the place held by the Bible in our life and thoughts.” 

  • Deuteronomy 17:19-20
  • Matthew 22:37
  • Luke 10:26-28
  • Acts 8:30-34, 17:11-12

In Deuteronomy 17:19-20, which character traits and heart attitudes are mentioned? Why would these be vital in the daily reading?

Matthew 22:37 and Luke 10:26-28 command the whole man to use different ways of thinking (not different parts) in relation to God. Why would more than a superficial allegiance to God be beneficial in everyday Bible reading?

In their response to the gospel, the Jews were zealous to hear what Paul had to say (Acts 17:11-12). Scripture indicates they met with him daily, not accepting the truth uncritically but rather examining the scriptures for themselves. Their conversion involved intellect and was not merely emotional. Why might this be important for us to understand? How might this affect your attitude toward Bible reading and study?

As we have established, the Bible is, in fact, the voice of God; Christians innately know we should read it. We need enough space in our minds to routinely sit, read, and think about the Bible — We need space in our hearts to take it in and respond to it appropriately. Many of us don’t because we have a hard time staying on task to gain understanding of the text. The fact is, we are going to have to start tuning out distractions in order to make room in our lives and hearts to hear God’s voice. Correct posture involves the whole of life as we try to grasp and interact with the whole story of Scripture and find our place in that story.

“Apply yourself wholly to the Scriptures, and apply the Scriptures wholly to yourself.”– J.A. Bengel

  • Deuteronomy 33:3
  • 2 Chronicles 34:21
  • Nehemiah 8:6-8
  • Psalm 1:2, 119:17-18
  • Proverbs 2:1-6, 3:5

Have your eyes been opened to behold His truth? Do you earnestly desire to understand it (Psalm 119:17-18)?

Which words or phrases in Proverbs 2:1-6 might indicate the right perspective, prayer, and effort? 

What should I do with the Word of God? We have looked at Psalm 119 throughout this study and it is true that it illustrates the Spirit prompted uses for the word. Obediently, we are to sing the word, speak the word, study the word, and store up the word. The Christian should obey the word, praise God for the word, and pray the word. These are indicators of what we believe and feel about the Word.

Take notes for what you personally believe, practice, and feel about God’s Word as you read and reread the verses below.

  • Psalm 119:7-8, 11, 13, 15, 44, 46, 48-49, 57-58, 62, 93, 97, 121-123, 129, 141, 145-160, 164, 167-168, 171-172

Referring once again to Nehemiah: In God’s Word, Our Story, Nancy Guthrie writes in her summary of Nehemiah 7-8, “Coming Together Around God’s Word: The people gathered at the gate were not hungry for some sort of spiritual experience apart from God’s Word. They were not heading out to find places to be alone, where they might silence themselves and listen to hear a special word all about them spoken into their private thoughts. They were hungry to hear God speaking to them in such a way that they would know for sure it was his voice they were hearing.” In response to the reading, the people worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground (8:3-8). Rather than constantly posing the question, Isn’t life all about me?, may we be a generation of women who God would raise up to be hungry for the book!

Perfect posture positions the reader to be obedient to what the text plainly means instead of supporting the reader’s preconceived ideas. Slightly revised from Tim Keller’s book, It’s all about Jesus, this understanding positions the reader to acknowledge Jesus:

Jesus is the true and better Adam, who passed the test in the wilderness not the garden, and whose obedience is imputed to us. Jesus is the true and better Abel, who, though innocently slain by wicked hands, has blood that now cries out, not for our condemnation, but for our acquittal. Jesus is the true and better Ark of Noah, who carries us safely thru the wrath of God revealed from heaven and delivers us to a new earth. Jesus is the true and better Abraham, who answered the call of God to leave all that is comfortable and familiar and go out into the world not knowing where he went to create a new people of God.

Jesus is the true and better Isaac, who was not just offered up by his father on the mount but was truly sacrificed for us. And when God said to Abraham, “Now I know you love me because you did not withhold your son, your only son whom you love from me, “Now we know that you love us because you did not withhold your Son, your only Son, whom you love, from us.”

Jesus is the true and better Jacob, who wrestled and took the blow of justice we deserved, so we, like Jacob, only receive the wounds of grace to wake us up and discipline us. Jesus is the true and better Joseph, who, at the right hand of the king, forgives those who betrayed him and sold him, and uses his new power to save them. Jesus is the true and better Moses, who stands in the gap between the people and the Lord and who mediates a new covenant. Jesus is the true and better Rock of Moses, who, struck with the rod of God’s justice, now gives us living water in the desert. Jesus is the true and better Joshua, who leads us into a land of eternal rest and heavenly blessing. Jesus is the true and better Ark of the Covenant, who topples and disarms idols of this world, going Himself into enemy territory, and making an open spectacle of them all. Jesus is the true and better Job, the truly innocent sufferer, who then intercedes for and saves his stupid friends. Jesus is the true and better David, whose victory becomes his people’s victory, though they never lifted a stone to accomplish it themselves.

Jesus is the true and better Esther, who didn’t just risk leaving an earthly palace but lost the ultimate and heavenly one, who didn’t just risk his life, but gave his life to save his people. Jesus is the true and better Daniel, who, having been lowered into a lion’s den of death, emerged early the next morning alive and vindicated by His God.

Jesus is the true and better Jonah, who was cast into the storm so that we safely could be brought in.

Jesus is the real Passover Lamb, innocent, perfect, helpless, slain, so the angel of death will pass over us. He’s the true temple, the true prophet, the true priest, the true king, the true sacrifice, the true lamb, the true light, and the true bread.

The Bible really is not about you is it? – It really is all about Him.

Application of the Scriptures flows out of our posture in Bible reading and study. Yielding a practical help for Bible reading and study, the five questions below are not only the main points of good hermeneutics (Bible interpretation), but are helpful with intentionality of good posture. Use these questions to redirect attention away from self and toward God.

  • What does this text teach me about God?
  • What does this text teach me about fallen humanity?
  • How does this text point to Christ?
  • What does God want me to know?
  • What does God want me to do?

Reflect on your posture when coming to the Bible.

  • My goals in posture when coming to the Bible are…
  • As a result of a proper view of Scripture, my hope is…
  • My prayer for posture in my personal Bible reading and study is…

All sources for this series are listed here:

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

Doctrine & Disciplines of the Bible, Part Five

Authority & Sufficiency of the Scriptures

In Doctrine & Disciplines of the Bible, Part Four – Inerrancy & Infallibility of the Scriptures, we determined that the Bible, as God’s voice, is true and reliable in all the matters it addresses. As we explore authority and sufficiency of Scripture, one must consider that not only does God speak through the Bible, but the Bible teaches that in His sufficient words, He has ultimate, comprehensive, final authority. Therefore, God has the right to command our thoughts, desires, beliefs, words, actions, and overall behavior.

Authority (n): The right to command behavior.

  • Leviticus 19:1-4; 1 Peter 1:15-16
  • Numbers 23:19
  • 2 Samuel 7:28
  • Psalm 12:6
  • Psalm 19:7-11
  • Matthew 28:18
  • 2 Timothy 3:15-17 
  • Jude 1:25

The will of God in the Old as well as the New Testament Church was communicated openly to the people. In referencing Leviticus 19:1-4 and 1 Peter 1:15-16, what reasons are given for God’s authority over human behavior?

Which words in the final note of Jude’s epistle (1:25) indicate the times of authority of Jesus Christ?

Are your desires and actions in line with Scripture? Do you submit to the authority of Scripture for rebuke and correction (2 Timothy 3:15-17)?

Is your behavior determined by emotions, or by God’s Word? 

There is a strong relationship between the scriptures and their authority. If God has all authority, and the scriptures are His inspired, inerrant, infallible Word, it follows that the Bible carries the intrinsic authority of God Himself. If the Bible really contains the very words of God, true and reliable in every matter it addresses, then it brings ultimate authority on every matter it addresses (since God has ultimate authority). 

The inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility of Scripture brings the conclusion that the Bible is the ultimate authority. The supremacy of Scripture qualifies it as a functional, instrumental, conferred, and traditional guidebook in every aspect of life. Affirming the authority of Scripture, the believer acknowledges the Bible’s property: It possesses the privilege to command what God’s people are to do, be, and believe. This affirmation also gives God the right to establish laws, give orders, demand obedience, and more. 

  • Proverbs 30:5
  • Psalm 119:140, 160
  • Isaiah 59:21
  • Matthew 22:29-33
  • John 16:13-15
  • 1 Corinthians 2:10-12
  • 1 Timothy 3:15
  • 1 John 2:20, 27

What benefits do you find in resting in the authority of Scripture? List them specifically from the above scriptures. (You should find many.)

Which specific words in the Psalms verses describe the Word as tried and true? 

In Matthew 22:29-33, the Sadducees only knew the Scriptures in a superficial sense. When this is the case in our own lives, can it lead to a failure of appreciation for what God can do?

What might be some examples where you have not placed confidence in God and appealed to different final authorities (other than God’s Word) for doctrine and life? What were the results and what might be the consequences?

If the Bible was fallible, it would obviously not be authoritative. In John 10:35, Jesus quotes Psalm 82:6. He viewed the Scriptures as authoritative and without error; this included, but was not limited to, His own teaching. Other biblical writers also considered the Scriptures authoritative: They were not just an authority, but the authority.

  • Psalm 82:6; John 10:35
  • Matthew 5:17-18, 22-44; 12:38-42; 19:4-5
  • Luke 4:1-13
  • Romans 10:11
  • James 2:23
  • 2 Peter 3:14-16

What is Jesus’ attitude toward the story of Jonah in Matthew 12:38-42? What is the general attitude toward this story today?

Are you quick to stand for truth in Scripture or does society’s low view of Scripture cause hesitation? How do Romans 10:11 and James 2:23 speak to this?

Kevin DeYoung writes, “Whether we realize it or not, we all give someone or something the last word – our parents, our culture, our community, our feelings, the government, peer-reviewed journals, opinion polls, impressions, or a holy book…For Christians, this authority is the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.”

What in your life has become an authority that competes with the Bible? How can you practically live out confidence in the Bible?

Why is it important that the believer look to the Scriptures with the same view as Jesus and the biblical writers?

How should your view of biblical doctrines differ from a nonbeliever? Because authority can be abused, would a nonbeliever see talking about sufficiency and authority dangerous?

Charles Spurgeon penned, “To me the Bible is not God, but it is God’s voice, and I do not hear it without awe.”The Bible is indeed the Word of God, God’s own speech to us. Confirmed when we read the Bible, God does speak to us today, and he speaks effectively. In his Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem writes, “it is important to realize that the final form in which Scripture remains authoritative is its written form…Truth is what God says, and we have what God says…in the Bible…Therefore, to disbelieve or disobey any word of Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God himself.” Scripture contains all the words of God that He intended his people to have at each stage of redemptive history. Now, it contains everything that we need God to tell us for salvation, trusting him perfectly, and obeying. God does not require us to believe anything about himself or his work that is not in the Scriptures.

  • Deuteronomy 29:29
  • 1 Corinthians 2:1-16

In reading 1 Corinthians 2:1-16, list some comparative sources of worldly wisdom today. What do you believe would be Paul’s response? What is your own? 

How does your view of the Doctrine of Authority and Sufficiency of the Scriptures affect your theology (living out truth in Scripture)?

“Sufficiency is an attribute of Scripture whereby it provides everything that people need to be saved and everything that Christians need to please God fully. Necessity is an attribute of Scripture whereby it is essential for knowing the way of salvation, for progressing in holiness, and for discerning God’s will.” – Dr. Gregg R. Allison

How is uncertainty prompted by your time and energy being spent consuming sources outside of Scripture?

If no other source is promised to us as God’s revelation, if God sufficiently reveals himself in the Bible, why would we spend our time elsewhere?

Do you have a tendency to place undue emphasis on the Spirit of God, causing neglection of the Word of God?

As a whole, Christians today have developed a preoccupation with mysticism regarding the Spirit of God, indirectly undermining the sufficiency of God’s Word. Claims of power in positivity and psychology are making inroads into the church. This is sometimes in subtle ways, but nonetheless, they make the statement that the Bible is to one degree or another inadequate. The Bible, energized by the Spirit, is sufficient for life and godliness. J.I. Packer writes, “Certainty about the great issues of Christian faith and conduct is lacking all along the line. The outside observer sees us as staggering on from a gimmick to gimmick and stunt to stunt like so many drunks in a fog, not knowing at all where we are or which way we should be going. Preaching is hazy. Heads are muddled, hearts fret, doubts drain strength, uncertainty paralyzes action…we lack certainty.” 

Similarly, John MacArthur writes, “The reason we lack certainty is because we have a sinful view of Scripture. We do not any longer seem to believe that the Bible is sufficient for the life and conduct of the church. That is a sin, a sin of monstrous proportions to deny the sufficiency of the Word of God.” In addition, Chapter One of the 1647 London Baptist Westminster Confession of faith emphasizes, “Under the name of holy Scripture, or the Word of God written, are now contained all the books of the Old and New Testaments…All which are given by inspiration of God, to be the rule of faith and life.”

  • Psalm 33:10
  • Proverbs 14:12
  • Isaiah 29:14
  • Luke 16:16, 29-31
  • 1 Corinthians 1:18-24
  • Ephesians 2:20
  • 2 Timothy 3:16

Considering Psalm 33:10, does God’s way stand in contrast of human wisdom?

Regarding Proverbs 14:12, would pride play a part in our lack of certainty?

In the Luke passage, Abraham points to the Scriptures. What significance is there to Moses’ writings and the “Prophets?”

How would 1 Corinthians 1:18-24 define a spiritual person? In contrast, how is a spiritual person defined today? What truth might be seen as folly? 

Read Ephesians 2:20. What is the significance of a cornerstone in permanence? 

In 2 Timothy 3:16, what rule of faith and life do you find?

When we read, sit, or study under “Christian” teaching, we should have a healthy skepticism —  If teaching is not solely by the Word of God, it may be error. Truth resides first in God, and men only know truth as they come to God’s revelation of Himself as the source of truth. Danny Akin of Southeastern Seminary states, “We must take our stand on the firm foundation of the inerrant and infallible Word of God affirming it’s sufficiency in all matters.” The sufficiency of Scripture means that the Bible is a comprehensive source of biblical truth, so that a believer has all she needs to glorify God in every situation. All the words in the Bible are God’s words: This is what Scripture claims for itself, and we are convinced by way of the Holy Spirit that Scripture is God’s Word as we read.

  • Matthew 5:17-18
  • John 10:35
  • Romans 1:18
  • 1 Corinthians 2:13-14
  • Titus 2:1-5
  • 2 Peter 1:2-4, 20-21; 2:13, 19-20

Does your reading and study begin with prayer or does it result in spiritual deadness, an overemphasis on printed words to the point of dismissal of the Spirit of God?

What warning is given in Matthew 5:17-18?

Referencing Romans 1:18, where might you see the truth suppressed in today’s world? Be specific. 

We learn sound doctrine in the Scriptures. As the church, we pass on what is taught by the Spirit. Worldly wisdom is not our measure of Truth (1 Corinthians 2:13-14). Are you able to discern false teachers?

Do you guard your heart and mind in your hearing, reading, and study? Are you attune to sound doctrine (Titus 2:1-5)?

What would be the “promises” in 2 Peter 1:2-4?

In his Systematic Theology, John Frame writes, “Scripture is God’s testimony to the redemption he has accomplished for us. Once that redemption is finished, and the apostolic testimony to it is finished, the Scriptures are complete, and we should expect no more additions to them.”

  • Deuteronomy 4:2
  • Proverbs 30:6

Do you recognize the completeness of the Scriptures as indicated in Deuteronomy 4:2? 

Referencing Deuteronomy 4:2 and Proverbs 30:6, what would be one way to identify a false teacher? 

Explain how your belief and living out sufficiency of Scripture might look different from that of a nonbeliever confronted with life’s problems.

Wayne Grudem states, “The biblical teaching about the sufficiency of Scripture gives us confidence that we will be able to find what God requires us to think or to do in [hundreds of moral and doctrinal] areas.” When Paul was meeting with the Ephesian elders, he “kept back nothing that was profitable unto [them].” Though life’s issues might’ve looked differently or called by a different name, biblical characters all had the same struggles we have; they had all the spiritual needs we have. There is no need to add to Scripture to meet today’s challenges, or to subtract from it to mesh with today’s worldly, man-centered ideals. The Word itself is profitable and will strengthen the believer and the church.  It is perfect and complete; in Christ, revelation is complete. Scripture emphasizes its completeness and forbids addition or subtraction from itself.

Recently deceased, David Powlison (counselor and past Executive Director for CCEF), wrote much on Scripture’s sufficiency: “But when people with crammed Bibles speak of Scripture’s sufficiency they mean…Something living and active, inexhaustibly rich, comprehensive and relevant, is sufficient for a very complex job…I am persuaded that the Bible teaches us how to go about practical, face-to-face ministry with people. Scripture is filled to overflowing with God’s face and presence, with insight, explanations, stories, instructions, promises, and implications…God is in the business of weather, anxiety, politics, heartache, money, inter-personal conflict, what you do on your day off, and how you react to suffering!”

  • John 14:26; 16:13-15
  • Acts 20:20-32
  • 2 Timothy 3:16-17
  • Revelation 22:18-19

Beyond the obvious and referencing John 14:26, why is it vital that we spend time in the Word?

John 16:13-15 confirms who receives glory from the Spirit of Truth. Explain why this might be important to remember.

In your own words, summarize the Acts passage where Paul is speaking to the Ephesian elders. Why would his words be important for us today?

What warning is found in Revelation 22:18-19? How serious is this offense?

Grudem refers again to sufficiency, “…does mean that when we are facing a problem of genuine importance to our Christian life, we can approach Scripture with confidence that from it God will provide us with guidance for that problem.” MacArthur writes, “Scripture is the manual for all soul work and is so comprehensive in the diagnosis and treatment of every spiritual matter that, energized by the Holy Spirit in the believer, it leads to making one like Jesus Christ. This is the process of biblical sanctification.”

Paul taught the Colossians to be encouraged by the understanding and knowledge of God’s mystery in Christ. In this mystery are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. We are rooted in Him, and we are going to be built up in Him. As Paul tells the Galatians, we are “complete” in Him.

  • Psalm 19:7-11
  • Colossians 2:2-3
  • 2 Timothy 1:13-14
  • 2 Peter 1:3

What reward do you find in Psalm 19:7-11? Explain.

Referencing Colossians 2:2-3, how might you avoid delusion by plausible arguments?

What is the “deposit” to which we’ve been entrusted (2 Timothy 1:13-14)?

“There is no situation in which we as men of God are placed, no demand that arises for which Scripture as the deposit of the manifold wisdom of God is not adequate and sufficient,” concludes John Murray. We have a preference for-and have become used to-the immediate, but the key is to believe the Bible, obey Scripture, and study the Word. It takes time.

What about extrabiblical writings between the testaments, or in addition to them? Again from the Westminster Confession, “The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the Canon of the Scripture; and therefore are of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings…The authority of the holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man or church, but wholly upon God (who is truth itself), the Author thereof; and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.” 

And from article six of the Belgic confession, regarding the difference between the canonical and apocryphal books: “We distinguish between these holy books and the apocryphal ones, which are the third and fourth books of Esdras; the books of Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Jesus Sirach, Baruch; what was added to the Story of Esther; the Song of the Three Children in the Furnace; the Story of Susannah; the Story of Bell and the Dragon; the Prayer of Manasseh; and the two books of Maccabees. The church may certainly read these books and learn from them as far as they agree with the canonical books. But they do not have such power and virtue that one could confirm from their testimony any point of faith or of the Christian religion. Much less can they detract from the authority of the other holy books.” 

Protestants simply cannot accept innovations like papal infallibility, purgatory, and such doctrines not found in the Word of God, which contradict what is revealed in the canon of Scripture, though we still must respect our Catholic friends and be thankful for some aspects of their faith. In our unwavering allegiance to Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone)we affirm the implicit understanding of sufficiency. 

  • Luke 24:27 & 44
  • Romans 3:2
  • 1 Thessalonians 2:13
  • 2 Timothy 3:16
  • 2 Peter 1:19-21; 3:15-18
  • 1 John 5:9-12

How do Luke 24:27 and 44 recognize the Old Testament pointing to Jesus? 

In Romans 3:2, who would be included in “much in every way?” Why is this important to  note?

Whether by hearing or reading, 1 Thessalonians 2:13 is a reminder that the Scriptures are not merely the words of men. Why is this significant to understand, regarding the importance in both the early church and today?

When Peter speaks of the “prophetic word” in 2 Peter 1:19-21, what writings does he refer to? 

Referring to 2 Peter 3:15-18, why is it essential that we grow in grace and knowledge? Explain how Peter directs us regarding things “hard to understand.”

The canon of Scripture consists of sixty-six books. Are you confident in the closed canon of Scripture? 

What attitude do you have toward the Apocrypha, or even other books deemed holy?

If the Bible is the sufficient voice of God and the canon is closed, what place does prophecy or personal revelation deserve?

Should your attitude warrant further study of the Doctrine of the Canonicity of Scripture? If so, consider not only the historical process, the criteria of the canon, as well as the Holy Spirit’s activity in helping the church navigate the process.

Scripture itself is the most effective means for support of our confidence in the Bible as the closed canon of Scripture. Kevin DeYoung aptly writes, “You can’t establish the supreme authority of your supreme authority by going to some other lesser authority. Yes, the logic is circular [referring to what the Bible says about the Bible], but no more so than the secularist defending reason by reason or the scientist touting the authority of science based on science.”

“Scripture itself is alone competent to judge our doctrine of Scripture.” – J.I. Packer

The sufficiency of Scripture means that the Bible is a comprehensive source of biblical truth such that a believer has all that he needs to glorify God in every situation. We can rest assured that the Scripture is “God-breathed, profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness”. Scripture prepares us for every good work and makes us ready for service.

How are doctrinal standards upheld by the church through the ages lived out in your personal life?

Do you recognize Scripture at the heart of every ministry of the church?

How does doctrine serve as framework for your belief, practice, and service?

In addition, the doctrine of Sola Scriptura teaches us that the Bible is the final authority for our beliefs and practices. The aforementioned is more thoroughly explained in the Belgic Confession (among the oldest of doctrinal standards): “We believe that this Holy Scripture contains the will of God completely and that everything one must believe to be saved is sufficiently taught in it. For since the entire manner of service which God requires of us is described in it at great length, no one– even an apostle or an angel from heaven, as Paul says– ought to teach other than what the Holy Scriptures have already taught us. For since it is forbidden to add to or subtract from the Word of God, this plainly demonstrates that the teaching is perfect and complete in all respects. Therefore we must not consider human writings– no matter how holy their authors may have been– equal to the divine writings; nor may we put custom, nor the majority, nor age, nor the passage of time or persons, nor councils, decrees, or official decisions above the truth of God, for truth is above everything else.” 

  • Deuteronomy 12:32
  • Galatians 1:6-10
  • 1 John 4:1
  • 2 John 10-11
  • Revelation 22:18-19

What are the consequences of wrong doing found in Deuteronomy 12:32 and Revelation 22:18-19?

What does Galatians 1:6-10 remind us in guarding the truth of the gospel? How does the gospel we believe identify us?

Of what (or who) must we beware in 1 John 4:1 and 2 John 10 & 11? Does this pertain to us today?

However, sufficiency means the Bible is comprehensive…not exhaustive. Sufficiency also does not mean that application of Scripture requires no additional knowledge. Sinclair Ferguson explains, “The Scriptures do not tell us everything about everything. They provide no instruction about computer programming, or how best to organize a library, the correct way to swing a golf club, or how to play chess. They do not tell us how far away the sun is from the earth, what DNA is, how best to remove an appendix surgically, the best coffee to drink, or the name of the person we should marry…Scripture is sufficient to give me a rational ground for thinking about anything and everything on the assumption that this world and everything in it make sense. Further, no matter what my calling or abilities, the Scriptures are sufficient to teach me principles that will enable me to think and act in a God-honouring way when I am engaged in any activity or vocation.” We discover God’s will in areas nonspecific to the Bible by the careful and ongoing application of the principles, commands, and illustrations we find in Scripture to the life situations in which we find ourselves. Biblical wisdom makes us strong and stable.

  • Deuteronomy 29:29
  • Romans 12:1-2; 13:1
  • 2 Corinthians 11:14

In an exhortation to obedience and recorded history of God’s dealings with Israel, what are the “secret things” in Deuteronomy 29?  

Read Romans 12:1-2. Explain how biblical wisdom makes us strong and stable.

Read Romans 13:1. What should the Christian understand regarding secular authorities? Who is the ultimate authority to whom we are to have submission? How would acting in this manner be God-honoring?

God has provided a safe pathway for us in the sufficiency of his written word. Are you mature enough to know how to distinguish the work of the Spirit from the influence of the enemy who might appear as an “angel of light,” 2 Corinthians 11:14?

Sufficiency does not mean that extrabiblical knowledge is never helpful, and does not mean that the Bible is a textbook of facts.The biblical view is a lens through which we must understand and interpret life, people, problems, and solutions, as each situation intersects with the God who made all things. 

Scripture is not only sufficient, it is necessary. “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” – Jerome (early church father) rightly observed. Faith in Christ comes from knowing the gospel. Progress in faith requires nourishing oneself on the Word of God. We need the Bible to develop maturity and service. We need the Bible because it is totally reliable and useful for all of life. Truth from the Word can bring us blessings of life in every dimension. 

  • John 17:14-17
  • Romans 10:13-17
  • 1 Peter 2:1-3
  • 2 Peter 3:16-17

As with the disciples (John 17:14-17), would it not be God’s desire that we should be distinguished from the world by our attitudes and acceptance of God’s word?

Considering Romans 10:13-17, what is the focus and goal of the sufficient Scriptures?

In reading 1 Peter 2:1-3, how can you be nourished by the Lord?

In reading 2 Peter 3:16-17, is all of Scripture equally understandable? Should a believer strive to develop better understanding of the difficult passages?

If Scripture is the final authority, exactly how reliable is it as authority on which we should base the whole of our lives?

In addition to authority and sufficiency, the Doctrines of Clarity and Necessity of Scripture pave the way for reading and study in such a way that the Bible is able to be understood by all who will read and are seeking God’s will to follow it (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). The Bible is necessary for knowledge of the gospel and maintaining spiritual life and certain knowledge of God’s will (Matthew 4:4). Because the way of salvation is found only in the Bible, we must know the Scriptures to appreciate and properly communicate the gospel.

“What if I say the Bible is God’s holy Word, complete, inspired without a flaw? But let its pages stay unread from day to day and fail to learn there from God’s law. What if I go not there to seek the truth of which I glibly speak for guidance in this earthly way? Does it matter what I say?” – Maude Frazier Jackson

Reflect on your attitudes and beliefs regarding the Doctrine of Authority and Sufficiency of Scripture.

  • My goal in recognizing the authority and sufficiency of Scripture is…
  • As a result of the closed canon, I hope to make adjustments in my life that would be…
  • My prayer concerning these doctrines is…

All sources for this series are listed here:

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

Doctrine & Disciplines of the Bible, Part Four

Inerrancy & Infallibility of the Scriptures

In Inspiration of the Scriptures, part three of Doctrines & Disciplines of the Bible, we established the importance of a right theology, affirming trustworthiness of the Bible by way of its divine inspiration. Proper understanding of this doctrine demands affirmation of inerrancy and infallibility. If we claim our Lord and Savior to be Jesus Christ, and that Jesus himself affirmed the inerrancy of Scripture, we must accordingly embrace the Scriptures as true and right.

The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy was ultimately produced by the meeting of three hundred preeminent evangelical leaders. This council’s purpose was to bring awareness of the battle for the Bible and to take a stand on the issue whose problem became prevalent even within evangelical Christianity. I refer you back to that statement here:,%20Sec%2023.pdf

How would you define biblical inerrancy? Why is biblical inerrancy so critical to our walk with Christ?

Is the issue of biblical inerrancy today equally as important to the world as it was in 1978? How might you see this battle for the Bible continue?

If we, as fallible human beings, penned the Bible, how can this book be free from error?

Why should doctrine of inerrancy and infallibility matter to me right now? How might a prideful attitude towards inerrancy and infallibility present itself in our habitual Bible reading and studies?

From the time the canon of Scripture was closed in the first century, God’s Word is, and always has been, the means by which God speaks to the church. In the times of the Old Testament, God spoke to his people in various ways. On occasion, He spoke to people directly. God primarily communicated to the people of Israel through prophets: Human beings just like us, who received their information from God. A common phrase heard from these prophets was, “Thus says the Lord.” 

The counterpart to the Old Testament prophet was the New Testament Apostle. The apostle received a direct call by Christ; the term apostle itself means one who is sent or commissioned with the authority of the one doing the sending. They are Christ’s emissaries, given His authority to speak on his behalf. Knowing the backstory plays an important role in gaining full understanding of how the Bible functions today. 

  • Mark 3:14
  • John 14:26; 16:13-14; 17:17
  • Acts 5:29-32

Read Jonah 3:1-5, then read Matthew 10:40-41 and 12:39-41. What is the “something greater than Jonah” in these passages? Why is this Old Testament/New Testament connection significant?

Which word or words in John 5:45-47 give Jesus’ own credibility to the writings of Moses?

In Ephesians 2:19-21, what part does Jesus Christ play in the “whole structure?” Who would be the “foundation?” Why would this be critical?

Read Romans 1:1-5 and 1 Corinthians 1:1. Why was it essential that Paul be identified as an apostle?

Al Mohler, distinguished president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, states, “Inerrancy is nothing less than the affirmation that the Bible, as the Word of God written, is totally true and totally trustworthy. When the Bible speaks, God speaks. This is the Bible’s own testimony about itself, and it is the historic faith of the Christian church.” As the Bride of Christ, we are called to trust everything Scripture affirms.

  • Psalm 12:6; 18:30; 19:8
  • Proverbs 30:5
  • John 10:35; 14:26; 16:13-14
  • Hebrews 6:18

We are a fickle people, but God is not like us. In Numbers 23:19 we find the counsels and promises of God respecting Israel are unchangeable. How are you reminded of your calling to Truth in Numbers 23:19? How is God not like us in regard to Truth?

What unique qualities of God’s words are described in the Psalms verses? List them.

In reference to Proverbs 30:5 as well as the John passages, what way might you benefit from God’s Truth?

What aspect of God’s character do you find in Hebrews 6:18? Why is this pointed out?

The reliability of the Word confronts our tendency to be relativists – our culture would have us believe nothing is true in an absolute sense. As stated in the Chicago Statement, “Inerrant signifies the quality of being free from all falsehood or mistake and so safeguards the truth that the Holy Scripture is entirely true and trustworthy in all its assertions.”  Inerrancy means the Bible is without error in the original manuscripts. Infallibility means that the Bible is “true and reliable in all the matters it addresses…Infallible signifies the quality of neither misleading nor being misled and so safeguards in categorical terms the truth that Holy Scripture is a sure, safe, and reliable rule and guide in all matters.” Infallibility logically flows from inerrancy. Since the Bible is without error (inerrancy), it is reliable (infallible) in all that it teaches. It cannot fail or be inaccurate. In common practice, the terms inerrancy and infallibility are often used synonymously.

How do you see the correlation between the Doctrine of Inspiration of Scripture and the Doctrine of Inerrancy and infallibility?

Does your view of inerrancy reserve a high view of divine action among human beings, as seen in the superintending action in the writings of Scripture?

How can we affirm inerrancy of the Bible in a world claiming it to be full of errors? How can Christians become more certain of biblical inerrancy?

Since the Bible is God’s voice, literally God breathed revelation (inspiration), and God cannot lie, the conclusion would be that the Bible is without error. “God is true; the Scriptures were breathed out by God; therefore, the Scriptures are true (since they came from the breath of God who is true)” writes Charles Ryrie. The Bible declares itself to be inerrant. Jesus noted that the whole of Scripture (“law”), down to even a portion of one letter, would not pass away until all was accomplished.”

  • Psalm 19:7
  • Matthew 5:18; 22:29
  • Romans 3:4
  • Titus 1:1-3

As God’s testimony for the truth, what function(s) of His Word is described in Psalm 19:7?

What are the dangers of not believing the Bible to be inerrant? Refer to Matthew 22:29.

What is the contrast of God and man seen in Romans 3:4?

Where is the Christian hope rooted (Titus 1:1-3)?

Author Timothy Ward writes, “The idea that the Bible is ‘infallible’ means that it does not deceive. To say that the Bible is ‘inerrant’ is to make the additional claim that it does not assert any errors of fact: whether the Bible refers to events in the life of Christ, or to other details of history and geography, what it asserts is true.” A classic statement of the inerrant view would be in the Chicago Statement’s twelfth article: “We affirm that Scripture in its entirety is inerrant, being free from all falsehood, fraud, or deceit. We deny that biblical infallibility or inerrancy are limited to spiritual, religious or redemptive themes, exclusive of assertions in the field of history and science.”

How does the Bible correspond with reality?

Do you trust everything the Scriptures affirm, beginning with creation?

Critics of inerrancy often misunderstand the concept when applied to the Bible. Scripture employs ordinary speech and everyday language. Loose quotations are at times paraphrased, summarized, or alluded to. The Bible can be inerrant and still include loose or free quotations.

  • Genesis 1:16-18
  • Numbers 12:7
  • Psalm 104:4
  • Hebrew 1:7 & 3:2 

Other things to consider would be the fact that Jesus taught in Aramaic, and the New Testament is written in Greek. We find a different ordering of events, not necessarily chronological, though events recorded are the same. Variant accounts relate the same event in the Gospels but often present with significant differences. Inerrancy is consistent with these variations. Inerrancy still allows for variety in style, variety in details in explaining the same event, and does not insist on the verbatim reporting of events. To the contrary, inerrancy requires that the account does not teach error or contradiction. 

  • Matthew 4:1-11; 8:5-13; 27:1-10
  • Luke 4:1-13; 7:1-10  
  • Acts 1:15-19 (note the parenthesis)

Comparison with the Luke and Matthew accounts does not indicate clear contradiction. What are your observations on the variety in details of the same events?

The awkwardness of the parenthesis in the acts passage noted the number in Jewish law required to establish community and thus, an interruption in the story. Should the reader see this as added information or pertinent to the text?

In his Pilgrim Theology, Michael Horton writes, “Inerrancy does not mean that the human authors were exhaustive or exact. God spoke to his people at different times, in their own context, and according to their ordinary capacities. We should not impose modern standards of exactitude on ancient texts. There are discrepancies in reports, which one would expect of any series of witnesses in a courtroom, but these are due to different perspectives (as in witnessing a traffic accident) rather than to error.”

The Bible is uniquely infallible. The church historically confirms that out of all the written literature in history, the Bible alone is seen as infallible. It has not yet failed, and will not ever fail due to God’s character. It is “that which cannot fail.” Infallible means that something is incapable of making a mistake. Truthfulness, inerrancy, and infallibility is seen in the high view of Scripture in the Old Testament and the New. 

  • Psalm 18:30
  • Isaiah 55:11
  • Matthew 19:3-6; 24:36-39
  • John 5:45-47; 10:35; 14:26; 16:13 & 17:17
  • 1 Corinthians 2:10-13

Use Hebrews 6:18 and Titus 1:2 for clarifying that it is impossible for God to lie.

Referencing Psalm 18:30, in trusting the Scriptures, are we trusting God himself?

Jesus used historical events in the Old Testament in a manner that showed total confidence in their facts. He acknowledged that in creation, Adam and Eve were two living human beings, not merely symbols of man and woman who acted in specific ways. He verified and authenticated Noah’s flood, and on more than one occasion, the destruction of Sodom. Jesus accepted the story of Jonah as truth, and accepted historicity of Isaiah, Elijah, Daniel, Abel, Zechariah, David, Moses and his writings, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Christ’s authentication of these events should serve us well in our own trusting, even including many of these controversial passages. If our Lord felt he had a reliable Bible, we too can have confidence it is historically true and every word is reliable.

  • Matthew 8:4; John 5:46
  • Matthew 8:11; John 8:39-41 
  • Matthew 10:15; Luke 17:28-29
  • Matthew 12:17 & 40
  • Matthew 17:11-12
  • Matthew 19:3-5; Mark 10:6-8
  • Matthew 22:45
  • Matthew 23:35
  • Matthew 24:15
  • Matthew 24:38-39; Luke 17:26-27

As you work through the verses, note verification and authenticity of their historicity.

Where do you see correlation in the Matthew passages to the paired writings in the other Gospels?

In your own words, how can we have greater confidence in reliability of the Scriptures from reading and believing the above passages?

Every Christian doctrine is drawn from the Bible. In the words of R.C. Sproul, “When we say the Bible is the only rule of faith and practice, it is because we believe this rule has been delegated by the Lord, whose rule it is. Therefore, we say that the Bible is inerrant and infallible.” God always speaks the truth. Not only does he not lie, but he cannot lie. “The Bible is the Word of God, and God cannot err. So, to deny inerrancy, rightly understood, is to attack the very character of God. Those who deny inerrancy, soon enter the dangerous terrain of denying all Scriptural authority for both doctrine and practice,” writes Ravi Zacharias. 

Therefore, the Bible speaks accurately in all its statements. Paul Enns writes in The Moody Handbook of Theology, “Inerrancy is reflected in translations. Interestingly, through the science of textual critics (collating some 5,700 ancient Greek manuscripts), we have what is essentially the original reading of the Scriptures, and we can authoritatively use our translations in proclaiming the Word of God.”

  • Numbers 23:19
  • 2 Timothy 3:16

Why is the Doctrine of Inerrancy and Infallibility foundational for the Christian faith?

How does the church affirm the Bible’s infallibility?

Can a mature Christian really believe the Bible contains error?

How might you use Matthew 4:1-11 in defense of inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible?

How do Matthew 4:4 and 2 Timothy 3:16 support the fact that God is true, God breathed out the Bible, and the Bible is true?

In his Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem writes, “The problems that come with a denial of biblical inerrancy are not insignificant, and when we understand the magnitude of these problems it gives us further encouragement not only to affirm inerrancy but also to affirm its importance for the church.” One of the problems Grudem lists worth noting is, “If we deny inerrancy, we essentially make our own human minds a higher standard of truth than God’s Word itself…this is in effect to say that we know truth more certainly and more accurately than God’s Word does (or than God does), at least in these areas. Such a procedure, making our own minds to be a higher standard of truth than God’s Word, is the root of all intellectual sin.”

“Inerrancy means that we have a Bible that is completely trustworthy, reliable, and without error in its original form. As we study it, we can eagerly anticipate answers to the questions that are essential.” writes DTS Professor Howard Hendricks.

In what ways does the infallibility of Scripture urge the church to be hopeful while we patiently wait?

How does inerrancy of the Scriptures urge believers to communicate the gospel?

“The claim that the Bible is inerrant is a conclusion drawn directly from what Scripture says about God, and about itself in relation to God. Scripture says that is breathed out by God, as his own words. In addition, in Scripture God states with great clarity that his character is such that he cannot lie, and that he alone is utterly truthful and trustworthy. The conclusion that the Bible is inerrant is essentially derived from linking these two related truths closely together,” writes Ward. God has chosen to tie Scripture to himself (see Hebrews 6:17-18). Upholding the Doctrine of Inerrancy and Infallibility, we can stand with the church in trusting all Scripture. 

As a result of inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility, all of Scripture is trustworthy. The Bible can be inerrant and still speak the ordinary language of our everyday speech. In human language through His Scriptures, God has spoken. Like a father talking to his children, God has humbled himself by using frail mortals to communicate this infallible word. Realizing this, when we open the text, we should humbly bow before the Lord and pray that through it we will hear as God is speaking through the working of the Word.

“To demonstrate trust in the inerrant Word of God is to exhibit faith in the One who spoke life into existence. History and human nature prove the truth of the Bible every day, but the greatest evidence is seen in changed lives that cannot be denied. This infallible Book is its own great commentary: ‘The entirety of Your word, Lord is truth’ (Psalm 119:160).” – Franklin Graham.

Reflect on the Doctrine of Inerrancy and Infallibility of Scripture.

  • My goals for informing my theology with the reality of inerrancy and infallibility are…
  • As a result of hope for the church, resting in infallibility of Scripture, I hope…
  • My prayer regarding the Doctrine of Inerrancy and Infallibility of God’s Word in relation to the gospel is…

All sources for this series are listed here:

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:

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:,%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:

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:

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:

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:

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, 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