I remember a woman in one of my Bible studies in Japan who approached me, puzzled, one day. She said, “I don’t know what to do with the Bible. It contains stories that are so remarkable that they can’t be true. But it’s not written like any of our legends or myths. It reads like a collection of eye-witness accounts and historical records. How am I supposed to read it?” She was actually asking a very profound question. Whether people read the Bible or reject it, they often do so without considering what the Bible says about what kind of book it is. The Bible makes the following five claims about itself.
1. Inerrancy: The Bible is without error in all that it intends to teach.
Proverbs 30:5 says, “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.” It is not just the gist of the Bible that is true but every word. Even as we drill down into the details of what God’s Word teaches, we can be confident that those details are true. In fact, Jesus claimed that the Bible is not merely true but in fact truth. In John 17:17, He said, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” In calling God’s Word truth, He claims that the Bible is the standard by which everything else is measured. The Bible defines truth.
2. Authority: To disregard or disobey the Bible is to disregard or disobey God Himself.
In calling the Bible, ‘the Word of God,’ the Scriptures claim the authority of God. So, in 1 Corinthians 14:37, Paul could say, “If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord.” Or in 2 Thessalonians he said, “If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed.” Often people will evaluate the Bible by their own standards, but the Bible claims to be the standard by which we should be evaluated.
3. Clarity: The Bible is clear enough to benefit everyone who reads it.
Even Peter found some of things in Paul’s letters “hard to understand” (2 Peter 3:16), but the Bible’s basic message is easy enough for anyone to grasp. Psalm 119:130 says, “The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.” Psalm 19:7 says, similarly that the Scriptures, “make wise the simple.” The point is that even people with little understanding can grow in wisdom by reading the Bible.
4. Necessity: The Bible is essential to come to a knowledge of salvation and grow in maturity.
The Bible claims to provide the knowledge needed, “to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). There are many things we can learn from observing God’s creation and even our own moral conscience, but these are not enough to bring us to faith. The Bible says that, “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).
5. Sufficiency: The Bible contains all we need for salvation and maturity in the Christian life.
The Scriptures don’t tell us everything we’d like to know but they do tell us all that we need to know. Deuteronomy 29:29 says, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” It’s saying that there are some things that God hasn’t chosen to reveal to us. But He has given us everything that we need to walk in the path that He desires for us.
A deeper and fuller understanding of the Bible was one of the first topics we covered in a course I’ve been running this summer I call, “Next Gen Theology Bootcamp.” It’s a course for youth and young adults who are looking for a challenge theologically and willing to put in some time for weekly homework. Each week, participants read two chapters from Wayne Grudem’s book, “Christian Beliefs: Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know,” and listen to two lectures, available as podcasts, from the same author. It’s so encouraging to see young people giving of themselves to grow in their faith and understanding of God’s Word. May God challenge all of us to keep growing!
In awe of Him,