A Brief Doctrine of Scripture

In summarizing a Doctrine of Scripture, it’s vital to note what this summary is, and what it is not. This is not a summary of the teachings within scripture, but it is a summary of what those teachings say about scripture.

Can the Bible prove the Bible?

Some would say that using Scripture to prove Scripture is circular logic, but this is akin to saying, “You can’t appeal to reason to explain the principles of reason.”

Below, we will walk through several elements to this important Doctrine of Scripture. I will first list, and then briefly explain.

Is the Bible Inspired by God? An Overview of Inspiration

In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NASB), we read, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

The term used here for “inspired” literally translates as “God-breathed.” Let’s take a few steps back…all the way to Creation. We see this same concept in the Garden of Eden when God “breathed” the breath of life into Adam and then Adam became a living soul. Keeping this picture in mind as we read Paul’s letter to Timothy, we understand that God “breathed” His truth into human writers and the result was inspired Scripture—the living Word.

God “breathed” His truth into human writers and the result was inspired Scripture. Click To Tweet

Definition of Inspiration

In Millard J. Erikson’s book, Christian Theology: 3rd Edition, Mr. Erikson defines inspiration as, “The supernatural influence of the Holy Spirit on the Scripture writers that rendered their writings an accurate record of the revelation or that resulted in what they wrote being the Word of God.” (Erikson, 2013, p.169)

Mr. Erikson goes on to explain that this is simply a preliminary definition that requires amplification. It is essential, concerning inspiration of Scripture, to understand the New Testament writers believed that they themselves were writing Scripture. Let’s take a look at an example.

Authors of Scripture

In 1 Timothy 5:18, Paul writes to Timothy, saying, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” What is interesting is that he is not quoting the Old Testament here. In actuality, he is quoting Jesus as recorded by Luke in Luke 10:7.

To further support the argument that New Testament writers believed they were writing Scripture, we will take a look at 2 Peter 3:15-16. In this passage, Peter is defending the Apostle Paul and says (in summary) that “ignorant and unstable people twist Paul’s words to their own destruction as they do the OTHER scriptures.” (emphasis mine)

It’s my view that a correct understanding of inspiration necessarily speaks to the authority of Scripture. As we saw in 1 Timothy 3, Scripture is inspired, “God-breathed” and is therefore useful for correction and training in righteousness.

The Scriptures can, and do, correct and train us because of their authority to do so. They possess this authority because they are inspired.

A correct understanding of inspiration necessarily speaks to the authority of Scripture Click To Tweet

Is the Bible Infallible? An Overview of Scripture’s Inerrancy & Infallibility

At the basic level, when we say “inerrancy,” we mean that the Bible is valid in all that it teaches. This is closely connected with infallibility, which is roughly understood in the idea that Scripture is incapable of erring because God cannot lie.

We’ve touched on Paul, Peter, and Luke. Now let’s take a look at John. In John 17:17 (NASB) we read John’s record of Jesus’s prayer. As Jesus prays in the Garden, he says, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.”

Now, in conjunction with the case made for inerrancy, we see from John’s gospel that God’s word is truth. The Psalmist also adds his voice to this concept when he sings, “The sum of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.” —Psalms 119:160 (NASB)

Not only in these verses but in many more—in Numbers, Titus, and Hebrews—we continually read the truth that God cannot lie. Let us put all of these verses together for a comprehensive view of God’s revelation, which is without error and true in all that it teaches.

Let’s Talk

Have you struggled with questions about the Inspiration, Inerrancy, or Infallibility of Scripture? Do you have a moment when God solidified the answers in your life? I’d love to hear about it in the comment section below. Do you still struggle with questions? Let’s continue the conversation at nathan@nathanfranckhauser.com.

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