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The Core: The Bible

Posted by Colby Kinser on


We believe that God has spoken in the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, through the words of human authors. As the verbally inspired Word of God, the Bible is without error in the original writings, the complete revelation of His will for salvation, and the ultimate authority by which every realm of human knowledge and endeavor should be judged. Therefore, it is to be believed in all that it teaches, obeyed in all that it requires, and trusted in all that it promises.

God has chosen to reveal some of His nature to humankind. Creation is His general revelation, displaying His awesome power and intent (Psa 19:1-6; Rm 1:19-20). However, we need the special revelation of His Word to know of salvation in Christ (Jn 14:6, 11). The Bible reveals His nature (Lv 11:45), His instructions for living (Dt 29:29; 2 Tim 3:16), and the Gospel as the sole means of salvation (Rm 10:13-17). God’s greatest self-revelation is Jesus (Jn 1:1; Heb 1:1-2) and the Bible is ultimately about Him. God revealed His Word progressively (Mt 13:17).

God initiated the writing of Scripture, speaking through people (Jer 37:2) flawlessly. The Bible is “God-breathed” (2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pe 1:19-21) through human authors who wrote exactly what God intended, down to the word (Mt 5:18), while maintaining the authors’ individual writing styles (2 Cor 10:1; 2 Pe 3:15-16). The Bible is God’s Word incarnated through the words of men, verbally inspired. God communicated to us by various means (Heb 1:1), including dictation (Eze 13:2-3), research (Lk 1:1-4), vision reports (Rv 1:10-11), and the Spirit’s leading (2 Pe 1:21).

The Bible carries the authority of God (Dt 18:19) over humankind (1 Cor 14:37; 2 Pe 3:2). Whatever conflicts with it is subject to it. Scripture does not address every contingency, but it is sufficient for salvation (Rm 1:16), life, and godliness (2 Pe 1:3; Psa 119:105).

The Holy Spirit illumines the words He inspired, aiding us to incorporate Scripture into our lives (1 Cor 2:14). However, this does not mean our interpretation of the inerrant Bible is itself inerrant (1 Cor 3:1-3). We are accountable to approach the Bible with humility and discipline (Jms 4:6). On the other hand, the main message of Scripture is clear (Psa 19:7) and remains accessible to all (1 Pe 2:5-9; Dt 6:6-9). Even Satan understands Scripture without affirming it (Mt 4:1-11), but it is more readily understood when approached with honest receptivity (Jn 5:39-40).

God speaks inerrantly, so His Word is also inerrant (Jn 17:17) in the original autographs. Therefore, all that it says is true (Prv 30:5), often using literary devices (e.g., poetry and hyperbole, Mt 23:24). We do not possess any original autographs, but the preponderance of evidence indicates that we likely possess a copy of every original verse and that we have reconstructed those originals with over 99% accuracy, with no pivotal statements of doctrine remaining in doubt. It is inadequate to say the Bible is “infallible” (i.e., reliable for faith and practice, but not necessarily for history and science) because the Bible integrates history and scientific claims with matters of faith and practice. Furthermore, Jesus affirms the historical and factual claims of the Old Testament (Mt 19:4-5). If the Bible is infallible but not inerrant, then we are relying on our reason more than the Bible.

All of these statements apply only to the historic Protestant canon of Scripture – 39 books of the Old Testament and 27 books of the New. This canon was recognized, not created, by the Church, and is now closed. Criteria for canonization included an author’s relationship to an apostle and harmony with apostolic teaching. There are, of course, ancient, non-canonical Christian books valuable to history and discipleship, but they are not afforded the same credence as the Bible.

Because God’s Word is inerrant, sufficient, and authoritative, it is the primary text for the Church for study and teaching, requiring disciplined exegesis and hermeneutics. It is also the foundation for pastoral counseling (not necessarily nouthetic) as it accurately describes the human condition and God’s restorative involvement in our lives. Leaders and future leaders must be able to rightly handle the text (2 Tim 2:2, 15) because there is no power for transformation in discipleship other than the power of the Word and the Holy Spirit working together (Heb 4:12).

Tags: bible, theology