“The Doctrine of Scripture”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
The Bible is referred to as the best-selling book of all time. I haven’t checked the statistics lately, but, I’m fairly certain that statement still holds true. Witnesses swear on the Bible. Our government leaders make oaths while laying their hand on the Bible.
The Bible also holds prominence in being the most misrepresented and attacked document in history. We live in an age where personal interpretation of the Bible is common place. Some in churches teach that there is no “right” interpretation of the Bible. Some say that the Old Testament contradicts the New Testament. Liberal Christianity teaches that the Bible is an old book; ancient man’s book about God.
However, the Bible declares itself to be God’s word to Man. The Apostle Paul said that all Scripture is God-breathed, speaking of the Old Testament. And the Apostle Peter equated Paul’s writing with the whole of Scripture. God warned His people in Deuteronomy and Revelation not to add to or subtract from His word. The Psalmist declared that all of God’s words are true.
The Apostle Paul and the Psalmist wrote that Creation testifies to the existence of God. The Bible, however, gives saving knowledge of God. It is the Bible that declares God established a plan to redeem His people. It is the Bible that declares God will re-create the world and make all things new. It is the Bible that teaches that God will crush evil finally and eternally. It is the Bible which declares God’s promise of heaven to His people and man’s desperate need for a Savior.
The Bible is more than a book. In fact, it is a collection of 66 books. Each one was written by a human author under the inspiration of God, the Holy Spirit. The Bible has been called 66 love letters from God to His people.
There are four words used to describe the Bible: inerrant, infallible, perspicuous, and sufficient. Each word points to the nature and essence of its ultimate author, God.
First, the Bible is inerrant because God is truth and He has revealed the truth. The church has understood that the Bible is without error in the original autographs. The autographs were the actual writings of the human authors in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Skeptics say at this point, “We don’t have any of the original autographs.” True, but we have thousands of ancient manuscripts for the New Testament and the extremely precise oral tradition copied by Hebrew scribes. The Dead Sea Scrolls supported the oral tradition almost exactly. By using all that is available, the original texts of the Bible are reconstructed.
The next word, infallibility, is connected to inerrancy. The Bible is infallible in that it is always reliable. Everything taught in the Bible can be relied upon to give good guidance for life. This doctrine of infallibility rests upon the previous doctrine of inerrancy. We can have confidence in the reliability of the Bible to guide us in the right path.
Third, the Bible is called perspicuous. Perspicuity is an unusual word, even hard to pronounce. But its meaning is simple. Perspicuous means clear. The Protestant Reformers recaptured the ancient church’s doctrine that light is shed upon the hard parts of Scripture by the clearer parts. In other words, because the Bible is perspicuous, it interprets itself. As the doctrine of inerrancy and infallibility rest upon the character of God, so too does the Bible’s perspicuity. God, the one true God, is a God of revelation. He gave us the Bible so that we might come to know Him. No man can know all of God. He is infinite and we are finite. But, we can know what God wants us to know.
Finally, the most assailed doctrine of Scripture is called its sufficiency. The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, that it was the Scriptures that would make him and every Christian complete, 2Timothy 3:17. Evangelical churches hold to the first three doctrines of Scripture. Yet, by the tremendous and unending list of church programs, the insufficiency of Scripture is demonstrated. Christians seem to be more concerned with meeting “felt needs” in particular life-situations than learning to apply the Bible so as to live wisely. I believe that now more than ever, we need to major on the sufficiency of the Bible, learning sound doctrine for God’s glory and our enjoyment of Him.