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Survey of Bible Doctrine: The Bible

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I. Inspiration – How did God produce the Bible?

    A. Definition: God’s superintending of human authors so that, using their own individual personalities, they composed and recorded without error in the words of the original autographs His revelation to man (Ryrie).

    B. Theories of Inspiration

      1. Natural inspiration – There is no supernatural element. The Bible was written by great men, who often erred.

      2. Partial inspiration – The Bible contains God’s words but must be sorted out (“demythologized”) to find them. Other parts are purely human and may be in error

      3. Conceptual inspiration – The thoughts of scripture are inspired but the actual words used are not. There is factual and scientific error.

      4. Dictation theory of inspiration – The writers passively recorded God’s words without any participation of their own styles or personalities.

      5. Verbal, plenary inspiration – All of the actual words of the Bible are inspired and without error (see definition). This fits the Bible’s description.

    C. Defense for verbal, plenary inspiration

      1. The Bible claims it (2 Tim.3:16)

      2. The Bible describes it.

        a. “God-breathed writings (2 Tim.3:16)

        b. “Spirit-enabled” writings (2 Pet.1:20,21)

        c. God-superintended the writers and writings (2 Pet. 1:21)

        d. Scripture describes the “God-Spirit-Man” interaction

          1) Zech.7:12 – “The words which the Lord of Hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets.”

          2) Acts 4:24,25 – “God…who by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of our father David…did say.”

      3. God used several methods of inspiration.

        a. Direct dictation (Deut. 9:10)

        b. Superintending human research (Luke 1:1-4)

        c. Spoken revelation (Gal.1:12)

      4. Inspiration is “verbal.” The very words are inspired. (1 Cor.2:12,13; Gal.3:16; Matt.22:31-32).

II. Inerrancy – How do we know the Bible is completely true?

    A. Definition: “Scripture is without error. It tells the truth.”

    B. The problem

      1. Inerrancy is an issue because some religious “scholars” have repeatedly redefined such terms as “infallible” to mean the Bible could still have factual historical errors.

      2. When inerrancy is not held, one by one certain Bible doctrines (deity of Christ, etc.), historical facts (such as the literal creation), and other biblical views (on issues such as homosexuality or women’s roles) are denied.

    C. The Bible claims inerrancy

      1. Logical reasoning

        a. The Bible is God’s word (Matt.4:4-11).

        b. God is always truthful (Titus 1:2; Heb.6:18).

        c. Therefore the Bible is completely true (inerrancy).

      2. The teachings of Christ

        a. Matt.4:4 – “every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

        b. Matt.5:18 – “the smallest letter or stroke shall not pass away from the law until all is fulfilled.”

        c. John 10:35 – “scripture cannot be broken.”

    D. Clarification of Inerrancy

      1. Inerrancy still allows for approximation, free quotations, figures of speech, language of appearances (“the sun set,” etc.) and different (but not contradictory) accounts of the same event.

      2. As inerrantists we acknowledge that there are sometimes “apparent” contradictions but we affirm that with further knowledge the seeming discrepancy would disappear. This is continually the case as archaeology, etc. repeatedly confirms Bible statements. For brief explanations on some “apparent” contradictions see Charles Ryrie, Basic Theology, pp. 95-104.

III. Illumination – How does Scripture change lives?

    A. Definition: The ministry of the Holy Spirit helping the believer to understand and apply the truth of the Bible (Ryrie).

    B. Description:

      1. Illumination is the work of the Spirit (John 16:12-15; 1 Cor.2:10; 1 John 2:27).

      2. Illumination is the Holy Spirit’s work in believers (1 Cor.2:12-15; Eph.1:18) and not in some mystical function of the words of scripture.

      3. In illumination the Holy Spirit will use our study and meditation to not only help us understand scripture but to apply it to our lives.

      4. The Bible reader’s accuracy, honesty and spiritual life can all affect the Spirit’s ministry of illumination (1 Cor.3:1-3).

      5. The Spirit uses those with the gift of teaching/exhortation to aid in illumination (Eph.4:11-13; Rom.12:7).

IV. Canonicity – How do we know the right books are in the Bible?

    A. Definition: The collection of 66 books were properly recognized by the early church as the complete authoritative scriptures not to be added to or subtracted from.

    B. Tests of Canonicity

      1. Is it authoritative (“Thus saith the Lord”)?

      2. Is it prophetic (“a man of God” 2 Peter 1:20)? A book in the Bible must have the authority of a spiritual leader of Israel (O.T. – prophet, king, judge, scribe) or an apostle of the church (N.T. – It must be based on the testimony of an original apostle).

      3. Is it authentic (consistent with other revelation of truth)?

      4. Is it dynamic (life-changing)?

      5. Is it received (accepted and used by believers)? (Norman L. Geisler & William Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible, pp. 137-144)

    C. Formation of the Canon

      1. How the Old Testament books were determined.

        a. The New Testament refers to Old Testament books as “scripture” (Matt.21:42, etc.).

        b. The Council of Jamnia (A.D. 90) recognized our 39 books.

        c. Josephus (A.D. 95) indicated that the 39 books were recognized a authoritative.

      2. How the New Testament books were determined.

        a. The apostles claimed authority for their writings (1 Thess.5:27)

        b. The apostle’s writings were equated with O.T. Scriptures (2 Pet.3:2,15,16).

        c. The Council of Athenasius (A.D. 367) and the Council of Carthage (A.D. 397) recognized the 27 books in our N.T. today as inspired.

    D. The Apocrypha (other books included in the Catholic Bible) is not Scripture.

      1. The Apocrypha is never quoted as authoritative in scriptures.

      2. Matthew 23:35 – Jesus mentioned that the close of Old Testament historical scripture was the death of Zechariah (400 B.C.) This excludes any books written after Malachi and before the New Testament.

Related Topics: Bibliology (The Written Word)