The Attributes of Scripture

“These writings (Old and New Testaments) alone constitute the verbally inspired Word of God, which is utterly authoritative and without error in the original writings, complete in its revelation of his will for salvation, sufficient for all that God requires us to believe and do, and final in its authority over every domain of knowledge to which it speaks.  We confess that both our finitude and sinfulness preclude the possibility of knowing God’s truth exhaustively, but we affirm that, enlightened by the Spirt of God, we can know God’s revealed truth truly.  The Bible is to be believed, as God’s instruction, in all that it teaches; obeyed, as God’s command, in all that it requires; and trusted, as God’s pledge, in all that it promises.  As God’s people hear, believe, and do the Word, they are equipped as disciples of Christ and witnesses to the gospel.”

We said before that God makes Himself known through creation and through His Word.  This post focuses more specifically on our confession that the Bible is the inspired Word of God.  When we say “inspired,” we don’t mean that the text is merely a product of humans who were inspired to write, much like an artist might be inspired to paint, or an athlete might make an inspired play.  Rather, we mean that the original writings are inspired in the sense that God Himself spoke through human instruments in order to record what He wanted to say (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21).  So, as mysterious as it may be, there are, in a certain sense, two authors of every biblical text: the human author and the divine author.  This means, for example, that Paul wrote the letter to the Romans as the Holy Spirit spoke through him to write what God intended. 

Since we confess that the Bible is the Word of God, it follows that the Bible is completely without error in the original languages.  God is a God of truth, and Jesus says that God’s Word is “truth” (John 17:17).  This means that there cannot possibly be errors or contradictions in the written text of the Bible.  Though there may appear to be contradictions on the surface, nevertheless we confess that when the Bible is rightly interpreted and understood, it will be shown that there are no contradictions at all. 

Moreover, since the Bible is the Word of God, we confess that it is our final authority for life and godliness.  When we read the Bible, we are not reading just any book; we are reading the very words of God to us.  This means that the Bible, and the Bible alone, is our final authority.  It has the final say on what we are to believe and what we are to do.  The teachings of the church may be helpful for us in understanding the Bible, but our consciences can only be bound by the Bible itself, since it is the Word of God. 

This also means that the Bible is authoritative over every domain of knowledge to which it speaks.  It is more accurate than history textbooks.  It is more relevant than daily news broadcasts.  It is more substantial and meaningful than social media posts.  It is more valuable than all other literary classics put together.  If the Bible really is truth, and we confess that it is, then every other truth or factual claim is subject to what it teaches.  All scientific theories, all philosophical findings, and all religious claims are subject to the authority of the Bible. 

We also confess that the Bible is sufficient for all that God requires us to believe and do.  When God speaks to us in His Word, He tells us everything we need to know, not just about salvation, but also about the Christian life.  This means that we do not need to wait for God to reveal another word to us.  Here’s how Peter explains it: “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3).  We don’t need to wait for visions or dreams or signs before we have all things pertaining to life and godliness.  God has already revealed to us everything that we need to know.

Finally, we confess that the Holy Spirit enlightens our minds to understand the meaning of the Bible as we read it.  Because we are finite human beings, we will never be able to fully understand God’s Word.  And because we are fallen human beings, we very frequently reject (and even hate) the true meaning of God’s Word.  Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit works in us to convince us that the Bible is God’s Word and to illumine the true meaning of the text as we read it.  This is not a mystical or magical experience, but it is miraculous.  The Spirit works with and in the Word, not over against it, to open our minds to understand what is written there. 

This part of our confession shapes our heads, hearts, and hands by informing us that our God is a speaking God who does not leave us in the dark concerning His will for our lives.  But, and this is crucial, this does not mean that God is going to reveal every little detail for our lives.  That is not the point of God’s revelation.  When God speaks to us, He does so not so that we will come to know every detail for our lives, but so that we will come to know Him.  Therefore, let us rest on the solid ground of God’s Word.

Thanks for reading. Have a question or comment? Leave it below!

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