The Word of God
I. Definition of the Word of God (John 1:1,14)
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1, 14 ESV)
(1) What is meant by the phrase, “The Word of God?”
(2) Sometimes the Bible refers to the Son of God as “The Word of God.” (Wayne Grudem)
(3) “It is especially God the Son who in his person and in his words has the role of communicating the character of God to us and of expressing the will of God for us.” (Wayne Grudem)
II. The Word of God in Scripture
God’s Decrees (Genesis 1:3)
(1) Sometimes God’s words take the form of powerful decrees that cause events to happen or even cause things to come into being.” (Wayne Grudem)
These decrees affect the unseen, spiritual realm and the influence of its power structure on human history and our cultural habits. They influence the behavior of angels and demons, setting limits on what spirits are allowed to do and to not do to people in this world.
God’s Words of Personal Address (Genesis 2:16-17)
(2) God sometimes communicates with people on earth by speaking directly to them.
God intends to have the kind of personal relationship with us that involves communication on a regular basis. God speak to us as individual people in order to influence the kind of decisions we make in life. God speaks, explaining what the best choice(s) are in our current situation and circumstances.
God’s Words in Speech Through Human Lips (Jeremiah 1:8)
(3) God also speaks to us through other people.
When God finds that the people he has spoken to as individuals are ignoring him, he will put the message he wanted to share into the mouth of another person who can be easier to recognize and harder to ignore.
Conclusion (Joshua 1:8, Psalm 1:1-2)
“Of all the forms of the Word of God, the focus of our study in systematic theology is God’s Word in written form, that is the Bible. This is the form of God’s word that is available for study, for public inspection, for repeated examination, and as a basis for mutual discussion.” (Wayne Grudem)
The Canon of Scripture
I. Definition of the Canon of Scripture
(1) “The Canon of Scripture is the list of all the books that belong in the Bible.” (Wayne Grudem)
(2) The Old Testament, A List of Books Written Before Jesus Was Born:
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.
(3) The New Testament, A List of Books Written After Jesus Was Born:
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude and the Revelation.
II. The Importance of the Canon of Scripture
(1) We must not underestimate the important of this question. The words of Scripture are words by which we nourish our spiritual lives. (Wayne Grudem)
(2) To add or subtract from God’s Word would be to prevent God’s people from obeying him fully, for commands that were subtracted would not be known to the people, and words that were added might require extra things of the people which God has not commanded.” (Wayne Grudem)
(3) The precise determination of the extent of the canon of Scripture is therefore of utmost importance. If we are to trust and obey God absolutely we must have a collection of words that we are certain are God’s own words to us. If there are any sections of Scripture about which we have doubts whether they are God’s words or not, we will not consider them to have absolute divine authority and we will not trust them as much as we would trust God himself.” (Wayne Grudem)
III. Quotes From Grudem Concerning The Old Testament Canon
(1) The earliest written collection of written words of God was the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments form the beginning of the Biblical Canon. (Exodus 32:16)
(2) After the death of Moses, Joshua also added to the collection of written words of God…that is especially surprising in light of the command not to add or to take away from the words which God gave the people through Moses. (see Joshua 24:26, Deuteronomy 4:2)
(3) After 435 BC, there were no further additions to the Old Testament Canon. The subsequent history of the Jewish people was recorded in other writings, such as the book of Maccabees, but these writings were not thought worthy to be included with the collection of God’s words from earlier years.
IV. Quotes From Grudem Concerning The New Testament Canon
(1) The development of the New Testament canon begins with the writings of the apostles. It should be remembered that the writing of Scripture primarily occurs in connection with God’s great acts in redemptive history.
(2) The next stage in redemptive history is the coming of the Messiah, and it not surprising that no further Scripture would be written until this next and greatest event in the history of redemption occurred. This is why the New Testament consists of the writings of the Apostles. It is primarily the Apostles who are given the ability from the Holy Spirit to recall accurately the words and deeds of Jesus and to interpret them rightly for subsequent generations.
The Authority of Scripture
I. Definition of the Authority of Scripture
(1) The authority of Scripture means that all the words in Scripture are God’s words in such a way that to disbelieve or disobey any word of Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God.” (Wayne Grudem)
(2) Most Christians would agree that the Bible is our authority in some sense. But in exactly what sense does the Bible claim to be our authority? And how do we become persuaded that the claims of Scripture to be God’s Word are true?
II. The Authority of the Old Testament Writings
(1) There are frequent claims in the Bible that all the words in Scripture are God’s words (as well as words that were written down by men). In the Old Testament, this is frequently seen in the introductory phrase, “Thus says the Lord,” which appears hundreds of times.
(2) In the world of the Old Testament, the phrase would have been recognized as identical in form to the phrase “Thus says king…,” which was used to preface the edict of a king to his subjects, an edict that could not be challenged or questioned but that simply had to be obeyed. (see Romans 3:23)
(3) Paul affirms that all of the Old Testament writings are “theopnustos,” breathed out by God.” Since it is writings that are said to be “breathed out,” this breathing must be understood as a metaphor for speaking the words of Scripture. (2 Timothy 3:15-16)
III. The Authority of New Testament Writings
(1) At two places in the New Testament we see New Testament writings also being called “Scripture” along with the Old Testament writings…in 2 Peter 3:16, Peter shows not only an awareness of the existence of written epistles from Paul, but also a clear willingness to classify “all of Paul’s epistles” with “the other scriptures.”
(2) Similarly in 1 Timothy 5:18, Paul quotes from Jesus’ words found in Luke 10:7 and calls Scripture.
(3) In 1 Corinthians 14:37, Paul says “If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that what I am writing to you is a command of the Lord.” …He seems to imply here that his considered judgments were able to be placed on the same authoritative level as words of Jesus.
It is important to realize that final form in which Scripture remains authoritative is its final form. Paul said the things that are written are “breathed out by God” and useful for teaching, correcting, rebuking and training in righteousness that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)
The Inerrancy of Scripture
I. Definition of the Inerrancy of Scripture
Psalm 12:6, Proverbs 30:5
(1) The Inerrancy of Scripture means that Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact. The definition in simple terms just means that the Bible always tells the truth, and that it always tells the truth concerning everything it talks about.” (Wayne Grudem)
II. Quotations and The Inerrancy of Scripture
(1) The method by which one person quotes the words of another person is a procedure that in large part varies from culture to culture. In contemporary American and British culture we are used to quoting a person’s exact words when we enclose the statement with quotation marks (this is called direction quotation).
(2) But when we use indirect quotation (quotation with no quotation marks) we expect only an accurate report of the substance of a statement.
(3) Written Greek at the time of the New Testament had no quotation marks or equivalent kinds of punctuation, and an accurate citation of another person needed to include only a correct representation of the content of what the person said (rather like our indirect quotations): it was not expected to cite each word exactly. Thus, Inerrancy is consistent with loose or free quotations of the Old Testament or of the words of Jesus, for example, as long as the content is not false to what was originally said.
III. The Purpose of Inerrancy in Scripture
(1) The Bible does not make any restriction on the kinds of subjects on which it speaks truthfully…it seems that the New Testament authors are willing to cite and affirm as true every detail of the Old Testament.
Numbers 23:19, Titus 1:2
Once we become convinced that God has spoken falsely to us in some minor matters in Scripture, then we realize that God is capable of speaking falsely to us. This will have a detrimental effect on our ability to take God at his word and trust him completely or obey him fully in the rest of Scripture.
The Clarity of Scripture
I. Introduction to the Clarity of Scripture
(1) “Anyone who has begun to read the Bible seriously will realize that some parts can be understood very easily while other parts seem puzzling. In fact, very early in the history of the church Peter reminded his readers that some parts of Paul’s epistles were difficult to understand:
“So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures” (2 Peter 3:15-16). We must admit therefore that not all parts of Scripture are able to be understood easily.” (Wayne Grudem)
II. The Key to Understanding Scripture
(1) The New Testament writers frequently state that the ability to understand Scripture rightly is more a moral and spiritual than intellectual ability; “The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts (literally “things”) of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” (Grudem, 1 Corinthians 2:14)
(2) Scripture is able to be understood…because…the Holy Spirit is at work overcoming the effects of sin, which otherwise make the truth appear to be foolish.” (Wayne Grudem)
III. The Definition of the Clarity of Scripture
(1) The Clarity of Scripture means that the Bible is written in such a way that its teachings are able to be understood by all who will read it seeking God’s help and being willing to follow it.” (Wayne Grudem)
(2) Once we have stated this, however, we must also recognize that many people, even God’s people, do in fact misunderstand Scripture.” (Wayne Grudem)
Conclusion – Why Do People Misunderstand Scripture?
(1) “During Jesus’ lifetime, his own disciples at times failed to understand the Old Testament and Jesus’ own teachings (see Matthew 15:16). Although sometimes this was due to the fact that they simply needed to wait for further events in the history of redemption, and especially in the life of Christ himself, there were also times when this was due to their own lack of faith or hardness of heart” (Grudem, Luke 24:25).
(2) The Bible was written in a different culture and language, and when these difference go unrecognized by modern audiences, they create misunderstandings of the message in our minds that we strive to be loyal to, and expect others to live in obedience to as well.
(3) The ministry of the Teacher is given to help us understand when we are being confused by the cultural and language differences, so that we can understand the concerns of the original authors and then begin to learn obedience to them.
The Necessity of Scripture
Definition of the Necessity of Scripture
(1) The Necessity of Scripture may be defined as follows: The Necessity of Scripture means that the Bible is necessary for knowing the Gospel, for maintaining spiritual life, and for knowing God’s will, but is not necessary for knowing that God exists or for knowing something about God’s character and moral laws.” (Wayne Grudem)
I. The Bible is Necessary for Knowledge of the Gospel
(1) Romans 10:13-17
(2) Hebrews 11:6
II. The Bible is Necessary for Maintaining Spiritual Life (Matthew 4:4, Deuteronomy 8:3)
(1) Here Jesus indicates that our spiritual life is maintained by daily nourishment with the Word of God. To neglect regular reading of God’s Word is as detrimental to the health of our souls as the neglect of physical food is detrimental to the health of our bodies.” (Wayne Grudem)
(2) I suggest reading is not enough. We must work on understanding what we are reading. We need to hear what God is saying in the words we are reading. There must be an impression made on our minds when God explains to us what we are reading.
III. The Bible is Necessary for Certain Knowledge of God’s Will
(1) In the Bible, however, we have clear and definite statements about God’s will. God has not revealed all things to us, but he has revealed enough for us to know his will: “The secret things belong to the LORD our God; but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” (Wayne Grudem and Deuteronomy 29:29)
(2) “…the Christian who takes the Bible as God’s Word escapes from philosophical skepticism about the possibility of attaining certain knowledge with our finite minds. Using theological terms that we will define below, we can say that we need special revelation to interpret general revelation.” (Wayne Grudem)
“How the holiness and justice of God can ever be reconciled with his willingness to forgive sins is a mystery that has never been solved by any religion apart from the Bible…Furthermore, even if an adherent of a primitive religion could think God somehow must have himself paid the penalty for our sins, such a thought would only be an extraordinary speculation. The Bible never views human speculation apart from the Word of God as a sufficient basis on which to rest saving faith, such saving faith, according to Scripture, is always confidence or trust in God that rests on the truthfulness of God’s own words.” (Wayne Grudem)
The Sufficiency of Scripture
I. The Definition of the Sufficiency of Scripture
(1) “We can define the Sufficiency of Scripture as follows: The Sufficiency of Scripture means that Scripture contained all the words of God he intended his people to have at each stage of redemptive history, and that it now contains all the words of God we need for salvation, for trusting him perfectly, and for obeying him perfectly.” (Wayne Grudem)
II. The Importance of the Sufficiency of Scripture
(1) To be morally perfect in God’s sight, then, what must we do in addition to what God commands us in Scripture? Nothing! Nothing at all! If we simply keep the words of Scripture we will be “blameless” and we will be doing “every good work” (2 Timothy 3:15-16) that God expects of us.” (Wayne Grudem)
(2) At this point we differ from Roman Catholic theologians, who would say that we have not found all that God says to us about any particular subject until we have also listened to the official teaching of the Church through its history. We would respond that although the history of the church may help us to understand what God says to in the Bible, never in church history has God added anything he requires us to believe or to do.” (Wayne Grudem)
(3) At this point we also differ from non evangelical theologians who are not convinced that the Bible is God’s Word in any unique or absolutely authoritative sense, and who would therefore search not only the Bible but also many other early Christian writings in an attempt to find out not so much what God said to mankind but rather what many early Christians experienced in their relationship with God. They would not expect to arrive at a single, unified conclusion about what God wants us to think or do…”
III. The Application of the Sufficiency of Scripture
(1) The Sufficiency of Scripture shows us that no modern revelations from God are to be placed on a level equal to Scripture in authority. At various times through the history of the church, and particularly in the modern charismatic movement, people have claimed God has given revelations through them for the benefit of the church. However we evaluate such claims, we must be careful never to allow (in theory or in practice) the placing of such revelation on a level equal with Scripture.”
(2) With regard to living the Christian life, the Sufficiency of Scripture reminds us that nothing is sin that is not forbidden by Scripture either explicitly or by implication. To walk in the law of the Lord is to be blameless (Psalm 119:1). Therefore we are not to add prohibitions to those already stated in Scripture.
“It is characteristic of many cults that they emphasis obscure portions or teachings of Scripture (one thinks of the Mormon emphasis on baptism for the dead, a subject that is mentioned in only one verse of the Bible (1 Corinthians 15:29), in a phrase whose exact meaning is apparently impossible now to determine with certainty).
P.S. – I found a book written by Josh McDowell that can help you understand more about how Scripture was written, and I wanted to recommend it here to those who are interested helping others explore the meaning of these lessons about Scripture.