The Doctrine of Scripture
Author: Pastor Paul Bartz
Note: Creation Moments exists to provide Biblically sound materials to the Church in the area of Bible and science relationships. This Bible study may be reproduced for group use.
The word “doctrine” simply means “teaching.” What does Scripture have to say about its own nature, its source, and how we are to understand it?
If Christians base their faith on the Bible, it is only consistent that they also accept what the Bible has to say about itself. The nature of the Bible’s message rests on the nature of the Bible Itself. If the Bible is an ancient collection of folk-myths, the value of its worldview is very different than if it is a supernatural revelation of the Creator. A folk-myth worldview would be of very little value, whereas a view of reality provided by its Creator would be priceless.
Vast sections of the Old Testament are expressly labeled the Word of God. Direct quotes of God’s speech are found already in Genesis 1:3, 6, 9, etc. Look up each of these instances and note that God’s Word is not a static thing, but active and powerful in the created world! Exodus 20:1 and following also directly presents God’s Word. How can these Commandments be said to be the powerful Word of God in the created world?
Direct claims of God’s Word in the Old Testament are even more numerous in the prophets. Examine Jeremiah 1:2, Ezra 1:1, Jeremiah 1:9, Daniel 9:2 and Hosea 1:1 as examples. Note some more important properties of the Word of God: it can be understood by human beings; it can be heard and written down; and it even remains God’s Word when repeated by human beings to one another. How do these claims of Scripture differ from the position taken by many modern church teachers?
John 1:1-3, 14 clearly identify the Word of God with both Scripture and the Person and Work of the Son of God in both creating and saving us. In John 15:3, Jesus makes it clear that the Word is able to cleanse us from sin so that we are no longer separated from God on account of sin. This is so, as Romans 10:17 states, because “Faith comes by hearing the Word of God.”
Many modern teachers separate the Bible and the Word of God. Do Christ and the Apostles connect them? In John 10:35, Jesus states directly that the Scripture has the same attribute as the Word of God in that it cannot be broken. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 2:13, points out that the Apostle’s teaching is the Holy Spirit’s teaching – the Word of God. Since the New Testament, too, is the Apostle’s teaching, it too is the Word of God. Although some modern teachers like to apply 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,” to the Old Testament only, we see here that this also clearly applies to the New Testament.
The Bible clearly claims that it is the Word of God. While the Bible is all the Word of God, is the Bible all the Word of God given to men? For the answer see John 21:25.
At the same time the Bible is the completely sufficient Word of God. 2 Timothy 3:15-17 outlines the purpose of the Word of God. Note that this text does not say that the parts of the Bible which do not seem to relate directly to the Gospel are not important. It does say that all of the Bible relates directly to the Gospel. And it applies to preaching, teaching, parenting, evangelism, missions, counseling—all activities which impact on the real material world in which we live.
This is crucial: The Bible does not claim to be offering truths relating to a higher, more spiritual level of reality or life. It does claim to relate directly to life on earth, for us living on earth.
2 Peter 1:16-21 clearly establishes the Bible as the Word of God which is not of human invention. Note that Peter says that its truth to us in the world is made more sure by the real world demonstration of God’s power in the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ. In how many ways is this different from the claims of individuals like Rogers and McKim that one cannot expect objective correlations of fact (that’s what science is) between what Scripture says and the material world?
The question of the inerrancy of the Bible is a question of this inspiration by which it was written. Some today would agree that the Word, as distinct from Scripture, is inerrant in its work in men’s hearts, making inerrancy a subjective effect of the Word rather than a statement of an objective fact of its very nature. This novel application of these words has no historical precedent, although few have ever contested that He accomplishes His purpose through His Word without fail.
Is it good for Bible-believing Christians to become aware of the positions of teachers in the church who deny the historic teachings of Scripture? For what reasons?
Why does the attack on the nature of the Word of God and its inerrancy usually come first, before attacks on specifics like miracles or finally, the Person and work of Christ?