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: http://www.danielakin.com/wp-content/uploads/old/Resource_545/Book%202,%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: https://debbieswindell.com/2019/05/30/excited-to-share/

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

Doctrine & Disciplines of the Bible, Part Two

Trustworthiness of the Scriptures

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

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

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

How does good theology characterize maturing Christians and churches?

Why is Scripture’s trustworthiness vital to the Church?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How would you identify myths in today’s world?

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

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

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

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

The issue of the Bible’s reliability is crucial. It is by way of the Scriptures that the church has historically claimed to understand all matters of faith and practice. If the Bible is unreliable in what it teaches about these things, we as the church are left to pure speculation of truth, and Christianity has nothing of value to speak to the world. In the 1970’s, the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy was formed for the purpose of affirming the historic Protestant position on the Scriptures. The result was the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. This statement takes a stand in the face of arguments against the inspiration, infallibility, and inerrancy of the Bible, declaring the Bible remains trustworthy. I encourage you to read it in its entirety here:  http://www.danielakin.com/wp-content/uploads/old/Resource_545/Book%202,%20Sec%2023.pdf

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

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

  • John 10:35
  • John 17:17

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

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

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

The battle for the Bible continues to be forefront in our society. Therefore, it is more crucial than ever that believers understand what the Bible is and why they can trust it. Southern Baptists signed on to both the Chicago Statement of Inerrancy and Hermeneutics (*). Much the same is revealed in the scriptures referenced in this excerpt of The Scriptures section from the Baptist Faith and Message. You can read the Baptist Faith & Message in its entirety here: http://www.sbc.net/bfm2000/bfm2000.asp

I. The Scriptures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why are these historic details important to us today? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is the relationship between Scripture and tradition?

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

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

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

Reflect on your trust in the Bible.

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

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

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

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

Doctrine & Disciplines of the Bible, Part One

Won’t You Join Me at The Table?

God invites us to:

Believe Him.

Trust Him.

Fear Him.

Obey Him.

Worship Him.

But most importantly…

Enjoy Him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Psalm 1:1-2
  • 2 Timothy 3:16-17

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What captures your idle thoughts? 

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

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

How is frequent Bible study essential to hearing from God?

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

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

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

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

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

What internal or external influences hinder you from Bible intake?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which practices (corporate or private) came to mind? 

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

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

Reflect on your reasons for doing this study.

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

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

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

Excited to Share

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

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

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

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

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

A preface to these posts, 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

Uncategorized

Reflections

It’s been a week of ups and downs and some days felt as if they were circling round and round. God blessed with personal ministry opportunities, as well as time for reading and writing. I’m wrapping up the week reflecting on my takeaway from my pastor’s sermon. I’ve had these on my desk since Sunday:

Am I content?

Do I have a servant’s heart?

Do I rest and rely on God?

Just this morning, I ran across a John Broadus quote that I believe drove home these three questions, “An unthankful and complaining spirit is an abiding sin against God, and a cause of almost continual unhappiness; and yet how common such a spirit is. How prone we seem to be to forget the good that life knows, and remember and brood over its evil – to forget its joys, and think only of its sorrows – to forget thankfulness, and remember only to complain.” May we cherish the moments God has given and may He find me resting in his grace, with a grateful heart, fully reliant on Him.