The doctrine of Scripture is of the utmost importance to those who pursue Christ. It is by means of the written Word (preached and read) that God reveals salvation to us and then causes us to mature in the grace that it is in the Incarnate Word of God, Christ Jesus.

  • If the written Word of God lacks authority, so must the Incarnate Word of God.
  • If the written Word of God is riddled with errors, God is untrustworthy.
  • If only Bible Scholars can comprehend Scripture, who would be saved?
  • If the Scriptures are unnecessary, where else would we find knowledge of salvation?
  • If the Scriptures are insufficient, our knowledge of Christ is insufficient for salvation.
  • If the belief in the Scriptures is not actually valid, your faith is invalid.

Scripture is Authoritative

All the words in the Bible are God’s words in such a way that to disbelieve or disobey any word of Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God. Scripture itself claims, and proclaims, this authority. Consider the introductory phrase “Thus says the Lord,” a quick search through my English Standard Version reveals that it is used 421 times. We can demonstrate many more instances of the Bible claiming it is God’s word, however, given the space allowed, it seems that 421 instances should be sufficient to demonstrate the point.

While we affirm that the Bible claims to be authoritative, we still need to be convinced that it actually is. This will only occur when the Holy Spirit speaks to our hearts in and through the words of Scripture providing assurance that these are the words of our Creator speaking to us. Without the Spirit’s counseling and teaching, an individual will not receive spiritual truths and in particular will not receive or accept the truth that words of Scripture are, in fact, the words of God. I Corinthians 2:14, English Standard Version [ESV]

Scripture is Inerrant

Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact. God cannot lie or speak falsely. Titus 1:2, ESV All the words of Scripture are completely true Proverbs 30:5, ESV, and God’s word is the ultimate, authoritative standard of truth. Jesus’ words in John 17:17, ESV, demonstrate this. Christ does not simply say “your word is true (adjective)” but rather, “your word is truth (noun)”.

The Bible can be inerrant and speak in everyday language such as “the rising of the sun”, though we know the sun does not “rise” but rather the earth rotates on its axis eventually bringing the sun into and out of view. The same can be seen with numbers and measurements, consider the statement “3,000 soldiers fought in the battle” or “I live 8 miles from our church” – we are not implying that we counted every single soldier, perhaps there were 2,999 or 3,001 and in all likelihood one does not live precisely 8 miles from the church, a more precise scientific instrument might measure it to 8 miles, 5 yards, 2 feet, and 1 inch. We see that a statement can be vague or imprecise without being false.

The Scripture can also contain quotations wherein the quote itself is a false statement or the quote might be loose or free. My wife often calls my daughter and says, “I’ll be home in 3 minutes.” and my daughter will relay that to me as “Mom said she will be home soon.” Finally, it is consistent with our view of inerrancy that unusual or uncommon grammatical constructions may exist without making it errant, ain’t it?

Scripture is Clear

The Bible is written such that it’s teachings are able to be understood by all who will read it seeking God’s assistance and desiring to follow it. Upon beginning to study the bible, one quickly realizes that some things are easily understood while other parts appear puzzling. This can be seen to be true of most anything that builds upon itself, take arithmetic for example.

If one does not know how to count, adding and subtracting are puzzling. If one does not get addition and subtraction, then multiplication and division are puzzling. Without a grasp of these basics, algebra and geometry are mind boggling. Let us not mention attempting calculus, because many who do get the basics do not grasp it. Yet it is extremely clear, albeit complex. Scripture is the same; many doctrines simply require an understanding of more basic doctrines, which can be taught to children. Deuteronomy 6:6-7, ESV

Scripture is Necessary

The Bible is required to know the gospel, maintain spiritual life, and know God’s will; but not necessary for knowing that God exists or for knowing something of God’s character and moral laws. You cannot believe in what you are ignorant of, and we require salvation to be communicated to us in an authoritative, inerrant, and clear manner; therefore, Scripture is necessary to know the gospel. In Matthew 4:4, ESV we see Christ affirm that our spiritual life is maintained by the nourishment of Scripture much as the physical life is maintained by bread. Deuteronomy 29:29, ESV demonstrates scripture reveals what nature and conscience lacks in knowledge of God’s will.

Scripture is Sufficient

Scripture contained all the words of God He intended His people to have at each stage of redemptive history, and it now contains all the words of God we need for salvation, trusting in Him perfectly, and obeying Him perfectly. 2 Timothy 3:15, ESV shows that Scripture is sufficient and able to make one wise for salvation. Furthermore, scripture provides us everything God has spoken and sufficiently answers our questions.

We have nothing to add to scripture, God requires nothing of us that is not found in scripture, there is naught else to be placed on equal footing with Scriptural authority, nothing is sin that is not forbidden explicitly or by implication in Scripture; therefore, we emphasize what God through Scripture emphasizes, and are content with what God is telling us through His written word.


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  1. “You cannot believe in what you are ignorant of, and we require salvation to be communicated to us in an authoritative, inerrant, and clear manner; therefore, Scripture is necessary to know the gospel.”

    YES! Exactly.

    This highlights one of my primary frustrations with theological pursuits and that is that they are, for the most part, created in an echo chamber of like minded people for the consumption of like minded people. In short, for theologist and not the general population. That’s not to say that theological pursuits aren’t worthy. In fact, they are required because without those that understand higher math we’ll eventually all degrade to counting with sticks. The point is that sometimes, many times, we forget who the audience is and that’s when we start to have issues. If you’re teaching calculus to grade schoolers you’re wasting your time.

    In our Sunday school classes for children we break things down to the simplest concepts possible but in our adult classes we too often forget that not everyone has been to grade school. We revel in the beauty of scripture in near ogasmic pleasure while those without training… sometimes without faith… are left wandering lost until they decide that this whole church thing just isn’t for them. We always, always, always must remain precise and exacting in teaching scripture but we should remember that clarity is also one of the three requirements for understanding.

    Just to snatch a random word from this article, “Doctrine”. We know what it means but does the average person know? How often do we use the word “doctrine” in everyday conversation? How often does the mailman? The grocery store clerk? The word, in most uses is “authoritative”. It is “inerrant” in meaning. Is it clear? What happens to those folks when I use the word? Will they ask for clarity or just nod along and pretend to understand?

    My thought is that rather than teaching scripture we need to teach the meaning of scripture. We need to teach an understanding of scripture. Perhaps that’s the same thing. Perhaps not. We must always be careful of this even with simple words. What does “grace” mean? Ask (nearly) anyone what Gods Grace means and they’ll tell you that it means that He’s nice. If they don’t do that then they’ll chatter off some by-rote memorization of the definition learned in Sunday school with no obvious understanding of the meaning.

    We’ve discussed this before in the difference between “saying grace” and “saying a blessing” at mealtimes. If I ask someone to provide one or the other, I expect the result to be different. Very different. You’re well aware that this is rarely the case. That means that, to most, I need to explain what grace is… do we? Maybe in one Sunday school class every couple of years? What happens if I missed that week? Or that month? Or that decade?

    When sharing scripture we must remember to teach to the level of the user. We must remember that in order to teach scripture we must first understand the person that we’re trying to teach. Not based on age or social standing or any other standard but based on their most basic understanding of scripture. Most of all though, we must not teach or allow to be taught faulty understanding. Must is a good word to use there. It is authoritative, inerrant, and clear. Scripture demands it.

  2. Thanks Rob. pardon my tardy comment. I particularly would pick up on the first thesis: “If the written Word of God lacks authority, so must the Incarnate Word of God.” The analogy between the written Word and Christ is a very profitable for nuancing the doctrine of inspiration.

    For example; in your paragraph “Scripture is Clear” I wonder if you would mind extending the caveats. In Matthew 13:10-16 Jesus quotes Isaiah to explain why he speaks in parables: precisely so people WON’T understand. This is a biblical principle of revelation; just as Christ, the Son of God was veiled in human flesh so that he was recognized only by faith as a gift of God, so the written Word reveals truth, but veiled, so that only those who are given the spirit can understand.

    Could we perhaps extend the your principle of the Spirit’s enlightening in the second paragraph under “Scripture is Authoritative” in light of Matthew 13? Could we perhaps say that even believers understand scripture only to the extent that the Spirit allows. Thus levels of comprehension of scripture are not only a matter of education, as is the case in mathematics, but a gift of the Holy Spirit from first to last?

  3. Pardon the late comment on this post. I particularly appreciate your first point: “If the written Word of God lacks authority, so must the Incarnate Word of God.” I might carry the analogy further. In Matthew 13:10-16 Jesus quotes Isaiah to explain that the reason he speaks in parables is precisely so that people DO NOT understand the truth. Would you perhaps nuance the paragraph on “Scripture is Clear” to say that just as Christ the Son of God was veiled in human flesh and not recognized by most, so the scriptures are often veiled and require the Spirit to make its meaning clear? Or even more, might not the understanding of the scriptures in the Christian community depend not only on education, as is the case in mathematics, but also on the enlightening of the Holy Spirit? For even the disciples who believed in him often did not understand what he said.

  4. I concur completely Nathanael. For what it is worth, the original was written for print and constrained to a space of one printed (front & back) page, so there was/is a necessity to trim down as much as possible. There is also a tension with regard to the target audience that specifically requests me to not draw too heavily an analogy between the written and the incarnate.

    Perhaps it is less profitable to simply post the the paper on the blog out of the context of the teaching, but I reckon it is profitable none the less. Given more time, space, and freedom to pursue my own agenda – I’d likely end up with a small book and have drawn the analogy so tightly that people would be asking me if I didn’t need to back off of it.

    Regardless, I appreciate your reading and encouragement. Perhaps I will take each point and follow up with a blog dedicated to the individual bullets here.

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