Our Basis Of Doctrine: Part 1 - The Holy Scriptures

  • 23 October 2013
This is the first in a series of blog posts in which we provide a brief overview of our church’s Basis of Doctrine as set out in the Church Constitution, by defining, explaining and proving from Scripture the various doctrines we hold. This is not meant be an exhaustive study, so there is much that won’t be stated or defended. Click here to view our Basis of Doctrine.
 
Part 1
The verbal inspiration and the all and sole sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as originally given.
 
DEFINITIONS
 
Verbal - it applies to the very words of Scripture and not just the concepts or ideas it contains.
 
Inspiration - comes from 2 Timothy 3:16, meaning  “God-breathed” or “inspired by God”. The word “inspired” (qeo/pneustov theopneustos) is coined from two Greek words, qeo/v theos (God) and pne/w pneo (to breathe; cf. pneu^ma pneuma, often “spirit or Spirit,” but can be “breath,” as in 2 Thess 2:8). The term actually can be better understood as “breathed out.”
 
Sole sufficiency - Scripture contains all the inspired words needed for salvation and obedience.
 
Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments - refers to the 66 books that make up the Bible, 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament.
 
Originally given - the verbal inspiration only applies to the original autographa, which exists within the multitude of ancient manuscripts which have been miraculously preserved.
 
 
EXPLANATION
Verbal Inspiration
 
When people speak of the Bible as inspired, they are referring to the fact that God divinely influenced the human authors of the Scriptures in such a way that what they wrote was the very Word of God. In the context of the Scriptures, the word “inspiration” simply means “God-breathed.” Inspiration means the Bible truly is the Word of God and makes the Bible unique among all other books.
 
While there are different views as to the extent to which the Bible is inspired, there can be no doubt that the Bible itself claims that every word in every part of the Bible comes from God (1 Corinthians 2:12-13; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). This view of the Scriptures is often referred to as “verbal plenary” inspiration. That means the inspiration extends to the very words themselves (verbal)—not just concepts or ideas—and that the inspiration extends to all parts of Scripture and all subject matters of Scripture (plenary). Some people believe only parts of the Bible are inspired or only the thoughts or concepts that deal with religion are inspired, but these views of inspiration fall short of the Bible’s claims about itself. Full verbal plenary inspiration is an essential characteristic of the Word of God.
 
The extent of inspiration can be clearly seen in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” This verse tells us that God inspired all Scripture and that it is profitable to us. It is not just the parts of the Bible that deal with religious doctrines that are inspired, but each and every word from Genesis to Revelation. Because it is inspired by God, the Scriptures are therefore authoritative when it comes to establishing doctrine, and sufficient for teaching man how to be in a right relationship with God. The Bible claims not only to be inspired by God, but also to have the supernatural ability to change us and make us “complete.” What more can we need?
 
Another verse that deals with the inspiration of the Scriptures is 2 Peter 1:21. This verse helps us to understand that even though God used men with their distinctive personalities and writing styles, God divinely inspired the very words they wrote. Jesus Himself confirmed the verbal plenary inspiration of the Scriptures when He said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law...” (Matthew 5:17-18). In these verses, Jesus is reinforcing the accuracy of the Scriptures down to the smallest detail and the slightest punctuation mark, because it is the very Word of God.
 
Because the Scriptures are the inspired Word of God, we can conclude that they are also inerrant and authoritative. A correct view of God will lead us to a correct view of His Word. Because God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and completely perfect, His Word will by its very nature have the same characteristics. The same verses that establish the inspiration of the Scriptures also establish that it is both inerrant and authoritative. Without a doubt the Bible is what it claims to be—the undeniable, authoritative, Word of God to humanity.
 
 
Sufficiency

The doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture is a fundamental tenet of the Christian faith. To say the Scriptures are sufficient means that the Bible is all we need to equip us for a life of faith and service. It provides a clear demonstration of God’s intention to restore the broken relationship between Himself and humanity through His son Jesus Christ, our Savior through the gift of faith, revealing their election and salvation as a result of His death and resurrection on the cross. No other writings are necessary for this good news to be understood, nor are any other writings required to equip us for a life of faith.
 

When discussing Scripture, Christians are referring to both Old and New Testaments. The Apostle Paul declared that the holy Scriptures “are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:15-17). If Scripture is “God-breathed,” then it is not man-breathed and, although it was penned by men, those “men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). No man-made writing is sufficient to equip us for every good work; only the Word of God can do that. Furthermore, if the Scriptures are sufficient to thoroughly equip us, then nothing more is needed.
 
Colossians 2 is a perfect example of the dangers a church faces when the sufficiency of Scripture is challenged and merged with non-biblical writings, full of ungodly theology and concepts. Paul warned the church at Colosse: “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8). Jude says it even more specifically when he writes “although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 1:3). Notice the phrase “once and for all.” This makes it clear that no other writings, no matter how godly the pastor, theologian or denominational church they may come from, are to be seen as equal to or completing the Word of God. The Bible contains all that is necessary for the believer to understand the character of God, the nature of man, and the doctrines of sin, heaven, hell, and salvation through Jesus Christ. Paul’s words to the Galatians indicate the seriousness of delivering a message outside the Bible: “If we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!” (Galatians 1:8).
 
Perhaps the strongest verses on the issue of sufficiency of the Bible come from the book of Psalms. In Psalm 19:7-14, David rejoices in God’s Word, declaring it to be perfect, trustworthy, right, radiant, enlightening, sure and altogether righteous. As such, being that the Bible is “perfect,” no other writings are necessary because it is inspired by God and all we need for salvation, life in Christ, and the building of the Kingdom.
 
The sufficiency of Scripture is under attack today and sadly, that attack comes far too often in our own churches. Management techniques, worldly methods of drawing crowds, entertainment, extra-biblical revelations, mysticism, and some forms of psychological counseling all declare that the Bible and its precepts are not adequate for the Christian life. But Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me” (John 10:27). His voice is all we need to hear and the Scriptures are His voice, completely and utterly sufficient.
 
 
SCRIPTURE
 
Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
(Proverbs 30:5 ESV)
 
The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.
(Psalm 12:6 ESV)
 
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 
(Matthew 5:17-18 ESV)
 
He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet”’?
(Matthew 22:43-44 ESV)
*Jesus, referring back to Psalm 110, says that David wrote the Scripture, ‘in the Spirit’.
 
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
(John 14:26 ESV)
 
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
(John 16:13-14 ESV)
 
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
(John 17:17 ESV)
 
And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
(1 Corinthians 2:13 ESV)
 
If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord.
(1 Corinthians 14:37 ESV)
 
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)
 
For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
(2 Peter 1:21 ESV)
 
...as he [Paul] does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.
(2 Peter 3:16 ESV)
*Peter recognises Paul’s writings as sacred scripture.
 
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