In addition to being reliable, the Bible has many attributes or characteristics that bring us comfort as believers. It speaks with the authority of God (Luke 16:29). The Bible has a unified theme: It’s all about salvation in Jesus (Genesis 3:15; John 5:39). God promises that he is working through the Bible to convict us of sin and convert us through the gospel (Romans 1:16).
In this study, let’s focus on three other attributes.
The Bible is without error
What a comfort to know that we have the answer to the devil’s question in the Garden of Eden, “Did God really say?” If it’s in the Bible, then we can say, “Yes,” because the Bible is God’s Word, not man’s. The apostle Paul said, “We speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words” (1 Corinthians 2:13).
Read 2 Peter 1:21 and 2 Timothy 3:15-17.
Using these texts, how would you answer the following challenges to the inerrancy of Scripture on the basis of both Scripture and even reason?
- “If the possibility of error is excluded, the humanity of the writers would be destroyed.”
Yes, the writers are human but they “spoke from God” as Peter notes and they were “carried along by the Holy Spirit.” Paul tells Timothy that the words were “God breathed” or inspired. Each writer has a certain style and background but the Holy Spirit made sure that through those human characteristic the Word of God still came without error.
- “Inerrancy only pertains to the gospel and not to the ‘peripheral’ matters of the Bible.”
How would you define the “gospel” and “peripheral matters”? That definition might vary from person to person and from time to time. All of it is God’s Word because all the writers put down on their manuscripts arrive there because the writer was “carried along by the Holy Spirit.” We trust that God has the power, insight, and wisdom to insure that we have the truth he wants us to have.
- “The writers were truthful in what they wrote, but what they wrote was encased in fallible human words.”
See the responses above. Yes, the words are human. They communicate the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24) in human language so we could understand it. If God had not done that how would we know what to believe. If one questions whether human language can communicate what God wants us to know, then God is too powerful and wise for us to understand anything. He must use what we know to reveal what he wants us to know. Consider what Peter said about Paul’s letters (2 Peter 3:15-16). Although some distorted Paul’s words, yet Peter encourages his readers to read his letters because he “writes in the same way in all his letters.” Different styles, but the same message.
- “The Bible is infallible only in the sense that it always achieves its purpose, not that it’s without error.”
How do you avoid the word of Paul, “All Scripture is God-breathed.” In addition, there has always been and always will be controversy over the purpose of God’s revelation. The sinful human spirit resists the foolishness of the cross (1 Corinthians 1:23) and wants to turn the Bible and Jesus into a moral textbook or something else that avoids the reason Christ came.
The Bible is clear
God’s Word is like a flashlight clearly showing the way in the dark. “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path” (Psalm 119:105). The Bible has an outer clarity because its language is capable of being understood by people who hear it. The Bible also has an inner clarity because the Holy Spirit enlightens us to understand and believe it. This is not saying that everything in the Bible will be clear to every person.
Read 1 Corinthians 2:14; 2 Timothy 3:15; and 2 Peter 1:19.
How would you respond to someone who says, “The Bible is so confusing. I can’t understand it.”
The Bible is confusing without the work of the Holy Spirit. Paul talked about it being the foolishness of God to those who do not believe, but it is God’s wisdom to those called to faith by the Holy Spirit.
Even after we come to faith in Jesus and understand the central message of the Bible, we still have a challenge as we study and learn more and more. The Bible is simple enough for a child to understand, but it also a profound book that keeps scholars searching its wisdom.
The Bible is sufficient
The Bible’s goal is to give us the hope of heaven. “Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope” (Romans 15:4). The Bible is sufficient because it tells us all we need to know for faith and life, not because it gives us all the answers to every question we have in life.
Read John 20:31.
Brainstorm at least three reasons why God did not give us an “answer book” on life.
An answer to what? The problem of death and our status with God is central to the Bible’s message. Do we want answers to our retirement portfolio? How to diet? What career to choose? Or so many other things.
Along the way the Bible does give us directions for our path. It is a light, but its light all flows from the same source. We are children of God and we live in a temporary world longing for eternal life. As we take each and every step along the path to heaven, we trust in the guidance of the Bible.
If the Bible was an answer book it would soon be out of date. The challenges we face are different from those people of previous generations faced, but with one important exception. All people of all time need to hear that God loves us and has promised eternal life through Jesus (John 3:16).
If the Bible was an answer book we might lose the focus on forgiveness and eternal life and be satisfied with the affairs of this life. As the writer to the Hebrews reminds us, “Here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.” (Hebrews 13:14).
Author: David Scharf
Volume 108, Number 7
Issue: July 2021
- Q&A: Are there different interpretations of the Bible? - 2021/07/27
- Bible study: Interpretation practice - 2021/07/27
- Q&A: How can we be sure the Bible includes what God originally gave us? - 2021/06/29