Basic Theology: The Word of God Part 2 – DTS022
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God does not mislead us. He is always truthful. We have no evidence from scripture that His means of communication is ever one of deceit or deception of His people. If the Bible is truly God’s word, then it is reliable and infallible.
The inspiration of scripture by the Holy Spirit is confirmed by the Apostle Peter in 2 Peter 1:16-21 and by the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 3:14-17. Scripture itself is God-breathed. Without losing their personality or historical contexts, the authors were inspired by the Holy Spirit to write the exact words that they wrote. All scripture is profitable for training in righteousness, not just some of it.
If we are thinking about something truthfully, then we are thinking about it the way God thinks about it. We must both believe right and do right. If scripture is going to train us in righteousness, then it must train us to both believe right and do right. We cannot have one without the other. If scripture is going to train us in righteousness, then it cannot mislead us and cause us to believe incorrectly.
The New Testament writers constantly assume the reliability and inspired nature of the Old Testament scriptures. Two references have already been mentioned, but also read Acts 4:24-31 where verse 25 affirms that it was God speaking when David wrote his psalms. Read Acts 28:23-31 where verse 25 again affirms that it was the Holy Spirit speaking through the prophet Isaiah. New Testament writers always deal with the Old Testament in this way.
The New Testament speaks of its own inspiration, as well. Jesus tells the apostles in John 16:12-15 that the Spirit of Truth will come and guide them in all truth. The Holy Spirit took from God and made it known to the apostles who then gave it to us. Earlier in John 14:25-26, Jesus told them something similar. The Holy Spirit would come and remind them of all that Jesus had taught. The same method of inspiration that is described for the Old Testament is promised by Jesus for the New Testament.
There are numerous other examples: Galatians 1:11-12 – the gospel is a revelation from Jesus Christ; 1 John 1:5 – the message proclaimed is from God; 1 Corinthians 37-38 – if a man does not recognize Paul’s words as coming from God, then that man is not recognized; Ephesians 3:1-6 – what Paul writes was given to him by revelation; 2 Peter 3:14-16 – Peter recognizes Paul’s writings as having the same authority as the Old Testament scriptures.
Why should this fully human and fully divine nature of scripture bother us? Jesus was fully human and fully divine. It is His nature, and scripture is the word He revealed to His apostles through the Holy Spirit. This does not require some type of mechanical dictation. People are not machines and the apostles were not ancient typewriters on which God hammered out his essays.
If God intended a type of mechanical dictation, then why not just hand down golden tablets? Why have four gospels instead of just one? Why have personal references and greetings included since these don’t seem to be God’s requests and God’s greetings? But these things do not leave us with something purely human, either. Purely human authorship or mechanical dictation by God are not the only two options. The third option of inspiration of these human authors by the Holy Spirit exists.
This should not cause us to falter in what scripture teaches about itself. Does human authorship mean that the words must be faulty? Are humans never capable of being reliable? Even if that were so (though it is not), is God not capable of ensuring that reliability?
This does lead to a legitimate question, though. Why did God use a human author?
Someone had to write it. Either God had to write it Himself, or a human author had to write it. If God wrote it Himself, would we ever be tempted to worship the object on which he wrote? If God wrote it Himself, would we lose our dedication to historical study and understanding of the events in scripture as tied to reality, accepting it all instead in some abstract way? If God wrote it Himself, He would either have to write millions of copies Himself or a human author would still have to copy it. If God wrote on something impermanent, a human author would still be left to faithfully transmit it. Unless God wrote in some universal language, a human author would still need to translate it.
It seems that God chose human authors simply because that was the best way to do it. Did God’s best way leave us with a fallible message?
The Bible never claims infallibility for the authors apart from this written word that has been passed down. The men themselves were not infallible in all they did. Their sins are recorded in the Bible itself. But this does not mean it is impossible for God to communicate through them. Consider Isaiah 6:5-7. Isaiah has unclean lips, and he knows it. But God could cleanse his lips so that he could speak truthfully. God worked through Isaiah so that God’s message could be accurately known to His people.
Why are we willing to affirm this idea of infallibility an inerrancy of scripture when each and every statement cannot be archaeologically confirmed? Perhaps we could say that just because it is not scientifically confirmed does not mean that it is disproved, either. But a stronger reason is found when we look at the attitude that Jesus had toward Scripture.
Jesus used scripture as authoritative and eternal. In Matthew 4:1-11, Jesus answered Satan’s use of scripture with other quotes from scripture. Scripture was the final authority, interpreting itself. In Luke 16:19-31, Jesus tells the story of the rich man and Lazarus where the conclusion is that if people don’t believe scripture, they won’t believe a man rising from the dead either. Again, scripture is authoritative and sufficient. In the greatest trial and pain Jesus faced, His crucifixion, He quoted scripture: Mark 15:34 quoting Psalm 22:1, and Luke 23:46 quoting Psalm 31:5.
Jesus believed scripture was the word of God, a work of the Holy Spirit, and fully accurate when properly interpreted. The inspiration of the Bible is plenary – all of scripture is inspired, not just some of it. The Bible is literary – the words to be understood in their grammatical, historical context. The Bible is dynamic – written with human personality. The Bible is supernatural – the very words of God.
For more on Dr. Bush’s teaching on the nature of Scripture, read his books Understanding Biblical Inerrancy and Baptists and the Bible.
This is part 2 of the first lesson in a twelve part series on Basic Theology. Each part is broken into two half-hour sections. These recordings are part of a series called Theologoumenon. They were recorded by Dr. Bush so that people in the churches, not just in seminary classrooms, could have easy access to lessons in basic theology.
1. The Word of God (part 1 – part 2)
2. God the Creator (part 1 – part 2)
3. God the Redeemer (part 1 – part 2)
4. Redemption (part 1 – part 2)
5. The Holy Spirit and His Gifts (part 1 – part 2)
6. The Trinity (part 1 – part 2)
7. The Doctrine of Sin Part 1 (part 1 – part 2)
8. The Doctrine of Sin Part 2 (part 1 – part 2)
9. Salvation (part 1 – part 2)
10. Doctrine of the Church (part 1 – part 2)
11. Last Things (part 1 – part 2)
12. How to Recognize Heresy (part 1 – part 2)