Thursday, July 19, 2007

Theology 101 Notes: Doctrine of the Bible

Here are the notes from the second week of Theology 101:


The Bible is the Inspired Word of God. The Old and New Testament are verbally inspired by God, the only written revelation from God to man. The Bible is infallible and the authoritative rule of faith and conduct for mankind (II Timothy 3:15-17, I Thessalonians 2:13 & Peter 1:21).
- From National Community Church Statement of Beliefs

The Authority of the Bible
“The authority of Scripture means that all the words in Scripture are God’s words in such a way that to disbelieve or disobey any word of Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God.” (Grudem, Bible Doctrine)

Authority of the Old Testament
  • The religion of ancient Israel was founded upon the written words of the Old Testament.
  • The concept of written revelation may have derived from God’s inscribing of the Ten Commandments.
  • Hundreds of Old Testament writings begin with “Thus says the Lord” (examples: Exodus 4:22, Joshua 24:2, 1 Samuel 10:18, Isaiah 10:24).
  • Old Testament writings often indicate that God spoke through prophets (1 Kings 4:18, Jeremiah 37:2, Zechariah 7:7)
  • Jesus viewed the Old Testament Scriptures as authoritative (Matthew 19:5, Luke 24:25, John 5:45-47)
  • 2 Timothy 3:16: All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness. (The word Scripture comes from the Greek word, graphe, which occurs in the New Testament 51 times. In each instance, it refers to the Old Testament writings.)

Authority of the New Testament
  • 1 Timothy 5:18: For the Scripture says, "(a)You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing," and "(b)The laborer is worthy of his wages."
  • (a) is from Deuteronomy 25:4
  • (b) is from Luke 10:7
  • Both are referred to as “Scripture”
  • 2 Peter 3:16: and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.
  • Peter speaks of Scripture and Paul’s letters
  • Peter shows a willingness here to classify Paul’s letters as Scripture
  • 1 Corinthians 14:37: If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord's commandment.
  • This verse is evidence that some New Testament writers were aware that their own writings were the words of God. It seems that there was a general awareness that “additions” were being made to Scripture during the writing of the New Testament.
  • See also 2 Peter 3:2, 1 Thessalonians 4:15

Two Considerations:

(1) The Holy Spirit convinces us that Scripture is authoritative. The Westminster Confession of Faith includes the following:

We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the Church to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scripture. And the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is, to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man's salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it does abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God: yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.
(bold mine)

(2) Are we making a circular argument?

The Three “In” Words


Inspiration: Refers to the fact that the words of Scripture are spoken by God. (Grudem, Bible Doctrine)

Inspiration: A supernatural influence of the Holy Spirit upon divinely chosen men in consequence of which their writings become trustworthy and authoritative. (Evangelical Dictionary of Theology)

The word “inspired” comes from the Greek word “theopneustos,” which literally means “God-breathed.”

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16)

For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe. (1 Thessalonians 2:13)

For no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. (2 Peter 1:21)

What was the method?
  • In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways (Hebrews 1:1)
  • God spoke directly to the writer (Revelation 2)
  • Author research (Luke 1:1-3)
  • The Holy Spirit reminded the writer of events (John 14:26)

What are other views?
  • Schleiermacher
  • Karl Barth

“As it is wholly trustworthy regarding its truth, so must it be wholly reliable regarding its facts. And because it is both, it is our divine authority in all things that pertain to life and godliness.” (Evangelical Dictionary of Theology)

Infallibility: The idea that Scripture is not able to lead us astray in matters of faith and practice. (Grudem, Bible Doctrine)

Sanctify them in the truth; your word it truth. (John 17:17). The word Jesus uses here is the noun aletheia and not the adjective alethes (“true”), to say that God’s Word is not just true but the truth.

Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. (Proverbs 30:5, NIV)

Inerrancy: the view that when all the facts become known, they will demonstrate the Bible in its original autographs and correctly interpreted is entirely true and never false in all it affirms, whether that relates to doctrine or ethics or to the social, physical, or life sciences. (Evangelical Dictionary of Theology)

Inerrancy: the idea that Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact. (Grudem, Bible Doctrine)

Inerrancy emphasizes truthfulness. Infallibility emphasizes trustworthiness.

God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent; has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? (Numbers 23:19)

So that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. (Hebrews 6:18)

The hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, (Titus 1:2)

Other Views
  • Pluralism
  • Postmodernism
  • Authoritative only for faith and practice
  • Inerrancy is a poor term
  • There are no inerrant manuscripts
  • There are some clear errors in the Bible

Characteristics of Scripture

Clarity: the clarity of Scripture means that the Bible is written in such a way that its teachings are able to be understood by all who will read it seeking God’s help and being willing to follow it. (Grudem, Bible Doctrine)

The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. (Psalm 19:7)

The unfolding of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. (Psalm 119:130)

But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. (1 Corinthians 2:14)

The doctrine of clarity does not mean that all believers everywhere will agree in their interpretations of the teachings of Scripture (Acts 15:7, Galatians 2:11-15). However, the doctrine does tell us that the problem lies not with Scripture itself, but within ourselves.

The doctrine of clarity also affirms that the writings of Scripture will not be clear to those who are unwilling to receive them or obey them (1 Corinthians 1:18-25, James 1:5-6)

Questions to Consider When Faced With Interpretation Differences:
  • Am I trying to make a statement on an issue where Scripture is silent?
  • Have I made a mistake in interpretation?
  • Is there a personal inadequacy (moral, sin, or personality issue) or a lack of prayerful study?

Necessity: the necessity of the Scripture means that the Bible is necessary for knowledge of the gospel, for maintaining spiritual life, and for certain knowledge of God’s will, but it is not necessary for knowing that God exists or for knowing something about God’s character and moral laws. (Grudem, Bible Doctrine)

For “Whoever will call on thename of the Lord will be saved." How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things! However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believe our report?" So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Romans 10:13-17)

General Revelation vs. Special Revelation
  • General Revelation- knowledge of God from general observations (Romans 1:18-20) of nature or from one’s own conscience (Romans 2:14).
  • Special Revelation- God’s words addressed to a specific people, Scripture

The Tension
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. (John 14:6)

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)

Other Views:
  • Inclusivism- it is possible to be saved through Christ’s work if one is sincerely following the religion they know.
  • Universalism- God will eventually save everyone.

Sufficiency: the sufficiency of Scripture means that Scripture contained all the words of God he intended his people to have at each stage of redemptive history, and that it now contains everything we need God to tell us for salvation, trusting him perfectly, and for obeying him perfectly. (Grudem, Bible Doctrine)

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word. (Psalm 119:9)

  • Reading- devotional reading allows us to grasp the big picture of the Biblical story by reading large chunks of Scripture in one sitting.
  • Study- the systematic dissection of Scripture through a process of observation, interpretation, and application.
  • Meditation- is the process by which we allow Scripture to dissect us as we let God’s word soak into our imaginations. It is not a process of emptying the mind but filling it with the God’s truth.
  • Memorization- enables the Word to become a living and active part of our lives, and we grow closer to God as we internalize his truth.

Read and meditate on Psalm 119 each day. What does this chapter say about the authority, inspiration, infallibility, inerrancy, clarity, necessity, and sufficiency of Scripture?


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