Chapter 26 - The Nature of Scripture
God's Word is inspired. A few parts of it were dictated (Ex 34:27; Jer 36:4; Rev 2-3), but for the most part we call it organic inspiration. The peculiarities of human writers are retained, but they wrote what God wanted. Inpiration is plenary (all of it, not just parts) and verbal (the words, not just the thoughts/ideas).
God's Word is inerrant (without error) and infallible (incapable of error). God never deceives or makes a mistake. Qualities of scripture that don't violate inerrancy: lack of scientific precision, language that is ordinary rather than technical, unrefined grammar, narrative out of chronological order, round numbers, paraphrased quotations, unscientific and imprecise descriptions.
Apparent difficulties with God's Word shouldn't give us any more trouble than they gave Abraham when He was called to sacrifice Isaac (Romans 4:17-21). We cannot set ourselves up as judges of Scripture, demanding all its issues be resolved to our satisfaction before we accept it. Our finitude and our sin lead us to have problems with the Bible.
Clarity of Scripture: it isn't equally clear in every part, but it is for everyone. It is gives us enough to carry out our obligations.
Necessity of Scripture: we need it to know the way of salvation. This comes through words!
Comprehensiveness of Scripture: it "addresses all of human life.... calendar, holidays, diet, clothing, economy, employment practices, education, marriage and divorce, and civil government, as well as their prayers and priestly sacrifices" (616). Not just areas of "spirituality" or salvation!
Sufficiency of Scripture: it has everything "needed for any aspect of human life" (618). Logic aids in this. Nothing may be added to the Bible, by new revelation or tradition. The Spirit is still needed to illuminate the Bible for us. Common sense is still needed in specific areas - "Scripture doesn't speak specifically to every detail of human life" (621). But it equips us for EVERY good work (2 Tim. 3:17). Scripture was sufficient at every point of redemptive history (Noah and David each had enough to follow God), and it will not be added to now that Christ's redemption is complete (Hebrews 1:1-4). 2 Peter 1:3 summarizes this doctrine.
Challenges to sufficiency
- Soft charismatic view: prophecy is ongoing, but not on a scriptural level. But why would the operation of prophecy change from OT to NT?
- Doesn't general revelation continue, in creation? Yes, but special revelation has ceased.
- Don't we need Scripture applied to us today? Yes, not by bare Bible reading or "fresh revelation of the Spirit" but by the eyes of faith perceiving, a la Eph. 1:17 (627).
- Preaching of the Word is an extension of revelation.
- Protestant traditions: fundamentalism's insistence on abstinence from alcohol, Reformed insistence of strict subscription to confessions without freedom to "rethink the confessions" (628), and worship style - each elevated to the level of Scripture.