Thursday, September 25, 2008

What is The Bible - A Study

Below is the first in a series of studies we are doing in my Cell Group taken from the Following book Wayne Grudem - Christian Beliefs 'twenty basics every christian should know':

What is the Bible?

If we are looking at any single Christian belief it should be based on what God says about the subject. So as we start the series on some basic Christian beliefs it makes sense to start with the basis for those beliefs, God’s word, the Bible.

Q: What are your views of scripture? What is it?

Q: Why is it important that the Bible be the basis for our beliefs?

The Bible speaks thoroughly about itself and it tells us what God thinks about his very words. This can be broken down into four general categories: Authority, Clarity, Necessity and Sufficiency.

The Authority of the Bible

All the words in the Bible are God’s words. Therefore to disbelieve them or disobey them is to disbelieve or disobey God himself.

Many passages in scripture begin with “Thus says the Lord” (Exodus 4:22, Joshua 24:2, 1 Samuel 10:18). This was understood to be like the command of a King, to be followed without question or challenge.

Paul believed the scriptures to be all God’s words not just direct quotes from God.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16)

He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:16)

Here Peter refers to Paul’s writings as one part of the scriptures. Thereby placing them on the same level as the Old Testament. Therefore Paul’s words were considered to be God’s words.

If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord's command.(1 Corinthians 14:37)

So the Bible is made up of God speaking directly to the Author, on interviews and research like Luke, or by the Holy Spirits prompting of people’s memories. So as much as the words are extensions of their personalities, skills and backgrounds they are also exactly the words God wanted them to write.

As God’s very word the Bible is more than simply true, it is truth itself.

Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth (John 17:17)

So anything that conforms to scripture is true and anything that doesn’t is not true.

The truth of scripture does not demand that it report events with exact scientific detail nor does it require that it tells us everything we need to know or could ever know about a subject. In its original form it does not affirm or claim anything contrary to fact. So by seeking to understand the words of God in scripture we seek to understand God himself.

To believe the Bible affirms something false would be to disbelieve God himself and place yourself as a higher authority than God.

Clarity of Scripture

As we know some passages of the Bible are easier to understand than others. However it is written in a way that all things necessary to become a Christian, live and grow as a Christian are clear.

There are some mysteries in scripture but they need not overwhelm us.

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. (Psalm 19:7)

The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. (Psalm 119:130)

Understanding scripture is more to do with a person’s spiritual condition rather than their intellect. But every misunderstanding of the Bible is not necessarily due to a person’s spiritual condition.

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14)

However it is easily possible to misunderstand and disagree on the meaning of what is written. But misunderstanding is not the problem of scripture but lies within us and our interpretation of it. We need to prayerfully read the Bible asking God to reveal its truth.


Without the Bible we could not know how to become, live or grow as a Christian. To know God personally, to know sins forgiven and to know what God wants us to do we need to know what is in the Bible.

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? (Romans 10:14)

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)

So if no one preaches the word, no one is saved.

and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:15)

But we don’t just start out our Christian lives with/from scripture it is required for us to continue our walk and to spiritually thrive .

Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.' (Matthew 4:4)

The word is our spiritual food, without it the health of our soul suffers.

The Bible is our only source of clear and definitive statements about God’s will. However it is not needed to know some things about God.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.(Psalm 19:1)

since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them (Romans 1:19)

So the unsaved can know of God and about God and in their minds know something of God’s moral law. This is known as General Revelation as it is given to all people in general, seen through nature, History and at some level an inner sense that is in everyone. By contrast the Bible is known as special revelation, given to specific people.

The Sufficiency of Scripture

The Bible tells us everything required to become, live and grow as a Christian.

Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD.(Psalm 119:1)

It equips us for ‘every good work’ that he wants us to do.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

So it is sufficient. Everything God wants to tell all his people for all time about that kind of issue or situation will be found in the pages of the Bible. It might not answer everything but will provide guidance ‘for every good work’.

If specific answers are not found we are not free to add to the commands of scripture things we have found to be pragmatically correct. We can certainly get daily guidance in particular situations but any modern revelation, leadings or other forms of guidance we believe is from God must not be placed on a par with scripture. We should not seek to impose such guidance on other Christians as we can be wrong about such things.

So we cannot impose what is not explicit in scripture. Similarly nothing is sin that is not explicitly or by implication forbidden in scripture so we mustn’t impose prohibitions where there are none.

The Bible is sufficient for all doctrinal, ethical and moral teaching.

Many issues we often argue over or have differences in are often issues the Bible places little emphasis on. So a humble approach is required rather than bashing others with our own viewpoint where it is not explicitly supported.

Q: What is one issue that the Bible speaks clearly on? What is one issue that the Bible does not speak clearly on? How does this affect the emphasis you should place on the issue?

Useful Links - About the Bible - Great Apologetics site on many subjects - Good articles on some controversial issues


John said...

Well said. You should have a wonderful study of the Truth.

Anonymous said...

well Bible guided me in tough times