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The Scriptures

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For Adult Sunday School Classes at WCBC

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Special Revelation

As the Word of God, the Scriptures play a foundational role in God’s special revelation. That is, God’s self-disclosure in Scripture enables us to understand His nature and character more fully, establishes a record and standard of our sinfulness, lays before us the sovereign purposes of His grace toward us that leads to faith and our justification and thereby, our salvation, as well as His holy desires for the bride, the church.

1. Inspiration

What it is:
All Scripture, despite it’s human authorship, is breathed out by God (). That is to say that the human authors, while speaking with their own style and personality, were divinely inspired God, speaking as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (). We can therefore affirm with confidence that the Bible is the Word of God.
Where we find it:

16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

“The term here used [for carried/borne regarding the inspiration of Scripture in ] is a very specific one. It is not to be confounded with guiding, or directing, or controlling, or even leading in the full sense of that word. It goes beyond all such terms, in assigning the effect produced specifically to the active agent. What is “borne” is taken up by the “bearer” and conveyed by the “bearer’s” power, not its own, to the “bearer’s”goal, not its own. The men who spoke from God are here declared, therefore, to have been taken up by the Holy Spirit and brought by His power to the goal of His choosing. The things which they spoke under this operation of the Spirit were therefore His things, not theirs. And that is the reason which is assigned why “the prophetic word” is so sure. Though spoken through the instrumentality of men, it is, by virtue of the fact that these men spoke “as borne by the Holy Spirit,” an immediately Divine word.”
-B. B. Warfield, The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible
What it means:
Scripture is the Word of God to us, and it therefore:
communicates God’s purposes and plans to us, that we may know what is pleasing to Him ().
contains all God would have us know necessary for godly living (, , )
is not constrained by the time in history when it was written, but remains living and active, convicting us of our sin and our need for God even today ().
Common Questions to Consider:
When Paul says in that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” he is likely referring to the Old Testament. How do we know that the New Testament is actually inspired?
How can it be true that God
The apostles state that they write and speak by the authority of the Holy Spirit (, ), they confirmed the divine revelation of the gospel they had received (), curse those who would depart from this gospel (), and that those who would corrupt their words face calamity ().
The apostle Peter explicitly affirms Paul’s writings as part of Scripture (), and says that those who would distort Paul’s writings do so to their own destruction.
For these, as well as numerous other reasons, the church has canonized (to accept as authoritative and beyond reproach) the New Testament as sacred Scripture, and therefor fully inspired.
If we affirm the doctrine that all Scripture is inspired by God, then what do we do with , verses 12 and 25, where Paul states multiple times while discussing marriage and the unmarried/widows that he is speaking on his own, without a direct command from the Lord? Isn’t Paul himself offering a disclaimer that this text is not inspired?
Paul is in no way undermining the authority of the inspiration of the Spirit by which He writes, for at the end of the chapter, in verse 40, he defends the rightness of his judgement on these matters by stating: “I also have the Spirit of God.”
Instead, Paul would appear to be saying that he is now about to speak about an issue on which Christ, when He spoke of marriage, was silent. Paul has no words directly from Christ’s teaching to impart to the Corinthians, but now, by the Spirit of God (), and as one who Christ uniquely imparted apostolic authority (), Paul is giving an additional word from God of wisdom on these matters.
Commenting on these passages, John MacArthur stated that Paul’s statements are:
“Not a denial of inspiration or an indication that Paul is giving a human opinion, but simply a way of saying that Jesus had not spoken on this situation and God had not previously given revelation on the matter, as Paul was then writing.”
Additional resources for further study:
Basic Theology, Charles Ryrie, ch. 10, The Biblical Doctrine of Inspiration
Taking God at His Word, Kevin DeYoung, ch. 2, Something More Sure

2. Inerrancy

What it is:
Because of the ultimately divine authorship of the Scripture, we are assured that the Word of God is trustworthy, and without error (). God is omniscient (), and therefore there can be no fault of knowledge or understanding in His revelation. He is the judge of all things () so when He states that His word is sufficient for our equipping in righteousness (), we need not fear an error of omission. Finally, because of the integrity of His immutable character (), we can boldly affirm the absolute truthfulness of His word (). Upon this foundation the doctrine of biblical inerrancy is firmly established.
“Nothing false can underlie the literal sense of Scripture.”
~ Thomas Aquinas
“The Scriptures have never erred.”
~ Martin Luther
Where we find it:
, , , ,
Additionally consider the number of prophecy’s that have been fulfilled—the Word of God is without error.
What it means:
Because Scripture is without error:
we have a reliable foundation upon which to fix our faith.
> Were the doctrine of inerrancy false, we would have no sure means of determining which parts of Scripture were true, and which parts were erroneous, and therefore left entirely at the mercy of any interpretation of the text.
“The most disastrous consequences must follow upon our believing that anything false is found in the sacred books. That is to say that the men by whom the Scriptures has been given to us and committed to writing put down in these books anything false. If you once admit into such a high sanctuary or authority one false statement, there will not be left a single sentence of these books, which, if appearing to anyone difficult in practice or hard to believe, may to by the same fatal rule be explained away as a statement in which intentionally, the author declared what was not true.”
-Augustine
“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.”
-John Wesley
we may have confidence that it provides all we need for life and godliness.
> God’s word is without error, not only in what it says, but it is also without error in what it omits. In other words, God has not left anything out that it will prove necessary for us to know ().
>Therefore, both the inspiration and the inerrancy of Scripture help to establish the sufficiency of Scripture.
> Further still, to seek sources of special revelation apart from the Word of God, or to insist that the Scriptures do not, in any way, speak to an issue of of vital spiritual significance, is to accuse God of making a grievous error—inadequacy in his revelation!
we must not make the mistake of choosing to ignore those doctrines in Scripture which seem socially inconvenient, on the the fallacious basis that they are merely doctrines of ancient men, and therefore subject to scrutiny and suspicion.
>Currently, many of the doctrines the Apostle Paul lays out in his epistles (i.e. marriage, women in ministry, etc) are under cultural attack on the basis of his flawed humanity and his cultural prejudices.
>Issues related to denying inerrancy include:
“1) A loose view of the seriousness of adultery.
2) A loose view of the seriousness of homosexuality.
3) A loose view of divorce and remarriage.
4) ‘Cultural’ reinterpretation of the teachings of the Bible (e.g., teaching on women, teaching on civil obedience).
5) A tendency to view the Bible through a modern psychological grid.”
-Charles Ryrie, Basic Theology
Common questions to consider:
How do you reconcile the doctrine of biblical inerrancy against the reality that there are numerous errors and inconsistencies in the various source texts and manuscripts that serve as the backbone for modern bible translations?
This is a remarkably common question from young people (high school and college students) and atheists.
At its core, this turns out to be a question that really isn’t about inerrancy. The doctrine of inerrancy does not state that throughout the process of transcribing and translating the Scriptures, that fallen human scribes and copiers, who by nature make mistakes, would produce immaculate copies.
Instead, the doctrine of inerrancy affirms that God, through the agency of men by the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit, has provided us with a self-revelation that is free of error in its substance and content, and whose truthfulness and trustworthiness is attested to by God himself ().
This really is more of a question about the preservation of the Scripture throughout history. While a little outside the scope of this lesson, the reality is that while there are numerous grammatical errors in many subject texts, they are almost universally minor scribal errors that in no way effect textual meaning, and are often resolved by other comparisons with other source text without such errors.
As this is such a common concern people have, it may be worth watching this brief, but excellent video, in the event a discussion on this topic develops in your class as a result of this lesson. https://vimeo.com/240867411
Additional resources for further study:
Basic Theology, Charles Ryrie, ch. 12, The Inerrancy of the Bible
Taking God at His Word, Kevin DeYoung, ch. 2, Something More Sure

3. Authority

What it is:
Because we affirm that Scripture is the inspired Word of God (), and that it is inerrant (), we are therefore compelled to believe that it is authoritative. No wisdom of man, no source of knowledge, no cultural interpretation of truth may ever rise above the reality that God has spoken (), and that His word ought to compel our ready belief and obedience. We are bound by Scripture because it is the living and active word of the sovereign God () who sustains all things by the word of His power ().
Because we affirm that Scripture is the inspired Word of God (), and that it is inerrant (), we are therefore compelled to believe that it is authoritative. No wisdom of man, no source of knowledge, no cultural interpretation of truth may ever rise above the reality that God has spoken (), and that His word ought to compel our ready belief and obedience. We are bound by Scripture because it is the living and active word of the sovereign God () who sustains all things by the word of His power ().
When we affirm the authority of the Word of God, we are making a statement that assumes two things:
Because we affirm that Scripture is the inspired Word of God (), and that it is inerrant (), we are therefore compelled to believe that it is authoritative. No wisdom of man, no source of knowledge, no cultural interpretation of truth may ever rise above the reality that God has spoken (), and that His word ought to compel our ready belief and obedience. We are bound by Scripture because it is the living and active word of the sovereign God () who sustains all things by the word of His power (). The legitimate authority of Scripture is derived from its divine inspiration. The veracity of its authority is decided by its inerrancy. The scope of its authority is defined by its sufficiency. The power of its authority comes because it remains living and active, and cuts us to the marrow of our being. In short, it is authoritative, because it comes from God Himself. Who can question any of His words?
That Scripture is in fact the word of God, by means of His inspiration, and can therefore be reliably believed to be inerrant.
That God has revealed himself as one to be believed, trusted, and obeyed, and that his sovereign power over all things, as well as his righteous will for all things, inescapably means that His word posses undeniable authority against which there must be no obstruction.
The legitimate authority of Scripture is derived from its divine inspiration.  The veracity of its authority is decided by its inerrancy. The scope of its authority is defined by its sufficiency. The power of its authority comes because it remains living and active, and cuts us to the marrow of our being. In short, it is authoritative, because it comes from God himself. Who can question any of His words?
The legitimate authority of Scripture is derived from its divine inspiration. The veracity of its authority is decided by its inerrancy. The scope of its authority is defined by its sufficiency. The power of its authority comes because it remains living and active, and cuts us to the marrow of our being. In short, it is authoritative, because it comes from God himself. Who can question any of His words?The legitimate authority of Scripture is derived from its divine inspiration. The veracity of its authority is decided by its inerrancy. The scope of its authority is defined by its sufficiency. The power of its authority comes because it remains living and active, and cuts us to the marrow of our being. In short, it is authoritative, because it comes from God himself. Who can question any of His words?
“Since then Your Majesty and your lordships desire a simple reply, I will answer without horns and without teeth. Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason—I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other—my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.” -Martin Luther
Where we find it:
The doctrine of biblical authority stands on the shoulders of the doctrines outlined above, principally those of inspiration and inerrancy.
In essence this means that because the Bible is breathed out by God, and is therefore His word (, ), and because the Bible is therefore without error (), it thus stands apart from the fallen philosophies and claims of man as the sole source of unqualified, unimpeachable truth ().
In his epistles, Paul is so concerned with the authority of the Scripture in the life of the church that he insists:
that Scripture is necessary for right doctrine, correction, and righteousness ()
that ministers of the gospel preach the word ()
that we must hold to this form of sound words ()
that those teaching another gospel should be accursed ()
What it means:
-B. B. Warfield, The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible
The authority of Scripture means that all other sources of human knowledge, perspectives of truth, cultural concepts of morality, etc. are all to be secondary to the simple rule of Scripture over all thoughts and beliefs in the life of the believer.
Cultural redefinitions on key moral questions such as marriage, gender identity, life, marriage, parenting, even popular movies, songs and forms of entertainment, are to be evaluated by the light of Scripture, not on the basis of social convention.
The question for us: are our opinions of truth, of good and evil, too easily shaped by the influential voices in our culture, or are the thoughts and convictions of our hearts truly bound by the authority of the Word of God?
The authority of Scripture should dispel among believers, any sense of validity in the cultural notion that that there is no objective truth, and that everyone is a moral law unto themselves.
The Bible is emphatically clear, God is the single source of absolute truth (, , , ), and His word therefore is to be held above all others.
Secular notions of personal, subjective truth constitute nothing more than prideful man asserting his independence from the will of God. The Bible clearly warns against such evil and commands that we subject ourselves to the will of God (, ,
Common questions to consider:
Additional resources for further study:
Concise Theology, J.I. Packer, ch. Authority
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