(Lesson 01 on Bible Doctrines)
"Nobody ever outgrows Scripture; the Book widens and deepens with our years" – C.H. Spurgeon.
"If there is anything in my thoughts or style to commend, the credit is due to my parents for instilling in me an early love of the Scriptures. If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible, our country will go on prospering and to prosper; but if we and our posterity neglect the instructions and authority; no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury all our glory in profound obscurity" – Daniel Webster.
- THE BIBLE – ITS NAMES AND TITLES
- Our English word Bible comes from the Greek word biblos (Matt.1:1) and biblion (diminutive form, cf. Luke 4:17), which means "book." Ancient books were written upon the biblus or papyrus reed, and from this custom came the Greek word biblos and our English word "Bible" (cf. Mark 12:26; Luke 3:4; 20:42; Acts 1:20; 7:42).
- The Bible contains 39 books in the Old Testament (Covenant), which deals with the creation, the fall, the flood, the history of the nation of Israel, as well as hundreds of prophecies concerning both the first and second coming of Christ.
- The Bible contains 27 books in the New Testament (Covenant), which deals with the birth and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, stressing His vicarious death for the sins of the world and resurrection from the dead.
- The Bible is often referred to as "the Scriptures," meaning "sacred writings" (cf. Matt.22:29; Mark 12:10,24; 15:28; Luke 4:21; 24:27; John 2:22; 5:39; 7:38; 10:35; Acts 17:11; Rom.1:2; 4:3; Gal.4:30; II Tim.3:15; II Peter 1:20; 3:16).
- In Psalm 119, the Bible is called "the law of the LORD" (vs. 1), "his testimonies" (vs. 2), "thy precepts" (vs. 4), "thy statutes" (vs. 5), "thy commandments" (vs. 6), "thy righteous judgments" (vs. 8), "thy word" (vs. 9), etc.
- Of all the names given in the Bible, "the Word of God" is the most significant (cf. Mark 7:13; Rom.10:17; II Cor.2:17; Heb.4:12; I Thess.2:13). The Bible is not merely a book, but is THE BOOK, the very Word of God, inspired, inerrant, and infallible.
- THE BIBLE IS THE INSPIRED WORD OF GOD (II Tim.3:16; II Peter 1:21).
- "Inspiration is usually defined as a supernatural influence exerted on the sacred writers by the Spirit of God, by virtue of which their writings are given divine trustworthiness" – Benjamin B. Warfield (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia).
- When we speak of the inspiration of the Bible, we are not using the word the same way people use it to describe Shakespeare, Milton, Handel, et al.
- The word "inspired" literally means "God-breathed."
- When we say that the Bible is inspired, we are not saying that the authors were mere pens, passive instruments used by God to record word for word what He dictated to them. This "dictation theory" emphasizes divine authorship to the exclusion of human authorship. Consider:
- Luke’s style of expression – "not a few" (Acts 17:4,12), "no small stir" (Acts 12:18; 19:23; cf. 15:2; 19:24; 21:39; 27:20; 28:2).
- Paul’s unique personality comes through in his various epistles (cf. Rom.1:13; I Cor.10:1; 12:1; II Cor.1:8; 2:11; I Thess.4:13).
- John’s style of writing is easily identifiable (cf. John 3:16 with I John 4:9; John 1:1 with I John 5:7).
- We must also reject the "partial inspiration" or "dynamic theory." This view holds that the Bible is infallible in matters of faith and practice, but not necessarily in matters of geography, history, and science. This position is dishonoring to God. Fundamentalists believe in the plenary (full) inspiration of the Bible.
- Another error popularly taught by modernists, liberals, and other heretics is the "concept inspiration theory." According to this view, the concepts of the Bible are inspired but not the exact wording. But the apostle Paul states that he spoke "not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth" (I Cor.2:13). Therefore, we affirm the verbal inspiration of the Bible. C.I. Scofield wrote: "This implies neither mechanical dictation nor the effacement of the writer’s personality, but only that the Spirit infallibly guides in the choice of words from the writer’s own vocabulary" (Scofield Study Bible, p. 1213).
- Finally, we strenuously oppose the "neo-orthodox theory," propagated by the liberal Karl Barth (1886-1968), which teaches that the Bible "contains the Word of God." To Barth and his deluded followers, the Bible contains numerous mistakes but nevertheless becomes the Word of God when Christ speaks to us through it. In reality, the Bible is the inerrant Word of God.
- THE BIBLE IS THE INERRANT WORD OF GOD
- Historically, Christians have always believed in the inerrancy of the Bible. For example, John Wesley (1703-1791) wrote: "Nay, if there be any mistakes in the Bible there may well be a thousand. If there is one falsehood in that Book it did not come from the God of truth" (Journal, cited by Charles Ryrie, Basic Theology).
- Our Lord said that man shall live by "every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matt.4:4; cf. Deut.8:3).
- God’s Word is "settled in heaven" (Psalm 119:89).
- Liberals attack the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible), but Jesus affirmed it (Luke 24:44; John 5:46).
- Liberals ridicule the story of Jonah and the whale but our Lord declared it to be true (Matt.12:39-41).
- Liberals deny that Daniel wrote his prophecies but our Lord referred to "Daniel the prophet" (Matt.24:15).
- Many other examples could be given, including our Lord’s references to Adam and Eve (Matt.19:4), Noah and the flood (Luke 17:27), the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Luke 17:29), the personality of Satan (John 8:44), and the unity of Isaiah (liberals teach that there were three different "Isaiahs," cf. Matt.8:17).
IV. THE BIBLE IS THE COMPLETE WORD
- Baptists have always believed that the Bible is our only authority and that is the complete Word of God. However, most of the various Protestant groups which came out of Romanism tend to elevate their "creeds" and "confessions" above the Bible.
- Romanists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Seventh-Day Adventists and all cults add to the Bible. They do not accept the Bible as their final authority.
- Pentecostals and charismatics do not accept the authority of the Bible. They undermine its authority by adding their strange visions, dreams, prophecies, and tongues (cf. Rev.22:18,19). "I can hardly think that the Bible, which was transmitted through human beings, is totally perfect. I believe it to be the Word of God and a fully inspired book, but not perfection" – Pat Robertson (Answers, p. 71; cited in The Agony of Deceit, Michael Horton, editor, p. 65).
- Notice the double-talk coming from the host of the charismatic "700 Club" TV show, and the founder of the Christian Coalition, CBN University, "The Family Network," etc. How can the "fully inspired" Word of God be less than perfect? Cf. Ps.19:7; Pro.30:5,6. A perfect God has given us a perfect Bible.
- Furthermore, God has preserved His Word. "The King James Version is the Word of God in the English language. It has no errors in it because it carefully reflects the original language texts closest to the autographa (original autographs)" – Thomas M. Strouse, The Lord God Hath Spoken).
- THE IMPORTANCE OF THE BIBLE
- We are saved by the Word of God (I peter 1:23-25; Rom.10:17).
- We are changed by the Word of God (Ps.119:11; Heb.4:12).
- We are cleansed by the Word of God (Ps.119:9; John 15:3).
- We are guided by the Word of God (Ps.119:105,130; Josh.1:8).
- We have victory over the devil by the Word of God (Ps.17:4; Matt.4:4-10).
- We are built up by the Word of God (Acts 20:32).
- We should delight in the Word of God (Ps.1:2).
- God’s Word is magnified above His name (Ps.138:2).
CONCLUSION: Voltaire, the French infidel (died in 1778), boasted that within 100 years Christianity would be extinct. However, in 1878 his house was being used by the Geneva Bible Society to print Bibles (cf. Matthew 24:35).
Pastor James Barker