Intermediate Bible Studies
09. What About "The Bible"?
What About "The Bible"?
What do you really believe about the Bible? Do you believe that it is truly the Word of God? In what way do you believe that Scripture is the Word of God? You see, your answer to this question is critical! There are many who believe that while the Scripture is the Word of God, Scripture alone is not the Word of God. There are some who believe that the Word of God is found in Scripture and something else, something beyond the Bible. And there are others who believe that the Bible is not the Word of God at all. For many if not most, authority can be realized from one or more of these three basic views:
- On-going Revelation – The Charismatic Position
- Church History and Tradition – The Catholic Position
- Rationalism – The Carnal Position of Liberal Protestantism
Apart from the Word of God and Scripture alone we are left with only these three principle methodologies in seeking truth and finding authority … if they can be found at all. (It must be realized that all three of the above views ultimately lead to a dead end of contradictions and utter hopelessness.) But, there is another way to determine matters of truth and authority and that way is found in the very process of revelation itself.
God Has Spoken
In the past, God has spoken through human agents – the Prophets. In these last days God has specifically spoken to us through his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. See Hebrews 1:1-3. And Christ is the very living Word of God! See John 1:1-5,14. Finally Christ has spoken through the Apostles, who together with the Prophets form the very foundation of the house of God. See Matthew 16:19; 18:18 and John 14:14-20,25,26; 15:26,27; 16:5-16; 20:21-23 and Ephesians 2:19-22; 3:2-6; 4:7-16. We still have Apostles and Prophets! They are the same ones that we have always had. It is the truth that they have revealed and handed down that serves as the basis of all authority in faith and religion. The church of the Lord thus is to be the pillar and foundation of the Truth as we uphold the teaching of Christ and his Apostles. Consider I Timothy 3:14-4:6. The doctrine of Christ and the Apostles forms the basis of our Tradition (i.e., “that which is handed down with authority”). See Acts 2:41-42 and I Corinthians 11:2,23; 15:1-3; I Thessalonians 2:13; II Thessalonians 2:13-15. What was revealed by the Spirit and written down by the Apostles is authoritative Scripture. Consider the words of Paul in I Corinthians 14:37; Ephesians 3:2-5; Galatians 1:1-12; the words of Peter in I Peter 5:12; II Peter 3:1-2; and the words of John in John 20:30,31; 21:24; I John 1:1-5; 5:13; etc.
God Has Spoken In Scripture
No one believes that every last word that God or his Prophets have ever spoken has been written down in Scripture. In fact, before there was the written Word of God there was the spoken Word of God. However, it is abundantly clear that the Word of God is, nevertheless contained in Scripture. The Old Testament sets the precedent for the “inscripturazation” of the Word of God. See Romans 15:4; II Peter 1:19-21 and especially II Timothy 3:14-4:4 (theopneustos – literally means “God breathed out”). God saw to it that his very words and thoughts were carefully written down and preserved. See Romans 3:1-2. We need to realize that Jesus recognized the absolute authority of this Scripture. See John 10:35. What was true of the Old Testament Scripture is certainly true for the New Testament Scripture. The term “Scripture” is, in fact, used of the New Testament writings. See I Timothy 5:18 (Deuteronomy 25:4 and Luke 10:7) and II Peter 3:15-16. The New Testament Scripture, like the Old Testament, contains the very Mind of God. See I Corinthians 2:6-16.
God Everywhere Assumes That We Can Understand His Word
One of the interesting things about the Bible is that it nowhere attempts to give full and systematic proof of itself. Rather it simply stands as self-evident. One of the interesting things about God is that he never really attempts to present a full and systematic proof of himself (i.e., his existence) either. Rather he simply stands as self-evident. See Romans 1:18-32 (Acts 14:8-18; 17:16-34). Now, if you think about it why should God have to “prove” himself to anyone, especially us? But, it is not as though he gives no evidence of himself or his Word. It’s just that he does not anywhere seek to give a complete systematic proof of himself or his Word. Certainly we can find evidence of the existence of God and his Word. And all of the proof centers on the historical reality of the Lord Jesus Christ and his resurrection. See I Corinthians 15:12-19. But, what we really have to admit, whether we like it or not, is that at some point or another, we are still going to have to accept the existence of God and the truth of the Bible being the Word of God – by faith! Perhaps this point cannot be stressed enough. (The fact is, some people will be convinced by more evidence, some by less, and some not at all. Why? Because it is first, last, and always a matter of faith. And while some choose to believe, others choose not to believe. The choice of unbelief is not because there is not sufficient evidence – there is. The choice of unbelief is because of the problem of the sinful willful flesh.)
Therefore, just as God nowhere attempts to give a systematic proof of himself or his Word, so nowhere does he lay out a definitive system of interpretation (i.e., hermeneutic) of his Word. But, it is not as if we cannot understand Scripture, rather, it is everywhere assumed that we can by the very fact that God speaks to us expecting to be understood. See Matthew 15:1-20 (10); Mark 7:1-23 (14). If there is a “hermeneutic” when it comes to interpreting and understanding the Bible then that “hermeneutic” is found within the common sense of a good and honest heart. Consider Isaiah 6:1-13; 8:11-22; 28:1-30:33; etc. … Matthew 13:1-52; Mark 4:1-34; Luke 8:1-21; John 12:37-50; Acts 28:17-31. (Remember, the only reason someone cannot understand the Word of God is because of sinful willful unbelief! Consider John 5:36-47 cf. Hebrews 3:1-4:13.) Thus, our Lord Jesus not only demands that we understand the Word of God, he also demonstrates one of the greatest lessons on how to interpret Scripture in Luke 10:25-37! And, in the life of the early church we find a perfect example of the common sense hermeneutic in Acts 17:11. The fact is, everywhere in Scripture we see those who would understand the Word of God and those who would not. And, everywhere revealed is the difference of either belief or unbelief.
Summary & Conclusion
Is the Word of God equal to Scripture? Well, yes and no. The Word of God is more than simply words in a Book. The Word of God it is ultimately Christ himself, the Living Word (John 1:1-18); it is Truth (John 17:17); it is living and powerful (Hebrews 4:12-13); it is the Word of faith (Romans 10:4-17 cf. Jude 1:3) … but the power of the message of the Gospel has been “breathed-out” in Scripture, the Word of God!
Perhaps one of the most refreshing descriptions of the power of the Word of God is found in II Corinthians 4:1-17! This passage speaks of the divine inspiration of Scripture, the human dimension involved in revelation, and the role of God's empowering Spirit of grace. Maybe this is all we really need to know about the doctrine of "revelation and inspiration." When all is said and done, all of the imponderables of Scripture must never be allowed to keep us from coming face to fact with Jesus. See Philippians 3:8-4:1! (And, yes, I said imponderables! There are some questions [i.e., difficulties] in and about the Bible that we may never be able to fully figure out. But, that is not what faith is all about! Faith is about being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." See Hebrews 11:1. How much do we have to know before we are convinced? Do we have to know absolutely everything?)
So, what do you really believe about "The Bible" and its place in your life? Do you take the Scripture and the Scripture alone as the authority for your life of faith? Or do you look for truth and authority in faith and religion in other places – like supposed ongoing spirit revelations or man-made doctrines and traditions of church history? Do you believe that the Bible and the Bible alone is the very Word of God and that nothing else can take its place in faith and religion? Or, do you choose to disbelieve God by disbelieving his Scripture – like many of the modern liberal Protestant denominations who don't really believe in God anyway? The choice is, after all, up to you.