The Doctrine of Scripture

By Matt Raley

Our declaration of hope starts with the Bible. The physical world (or general revelation) reveals a lot about God (Ps 19:1-2; Ro 1:19-20). But it is only in the Bible (or special revelation) that we learn how God will save us from sin and death.

Here are some important words we use to describe the Bible.

Scripture means “writings.” This is how the biblical authors refer to their work in the Old and New Testaments. Spoken words can disappear from memory, but written words are permanent (Mt 5:17-18). We can recover them. That’s why one of Jesus’s favorite phrases is, “It stands written.”

The biblical authors describe Scripture as inspired. God “exhaled” or “breathed out” all the words of the Bible through the human authors (2 Tim 3:16-17; 2 Pe 1:21). The writings have human qualities, but their ultimate source is God himself. He makes Scripture powerful (Heb 4:12-13).

Today, we describe the Scriptures as inerrant. In the original writings, there were no errors. Of course, it is simpler to say that God’s words are true, as Jesus does (Jn 17:17). But in the last two centuries, people have played games with the word “true.” They often want to edit the parts of the Bible they think have errors. The games people play with the Bible’s words are endless! But the foundation of our hope is that God does not lie (Ja 1:12-15).

One of our most important words to describe the Bible is sufficient. What God says is powerful to change us. People seem to want more than what God says. They would rather follow their favorite theory, politician, or teacher. But what every person needs most is the power that comes from receiving God’s Word (Ja 1:19-21). No other writings have this power.

We say, lastly, that Scripture has authority. If God inspired the writings, and if they are inerrant and sufficient, then the Bible is the judge over all our ideas, plans, and actions. Christians often say that we need to stand on the Bible. I disagree. We need to stand under it.