The Doctrine Of The Bible

BY J. MARK JORDAN

 

Christians must be uncompromisingly committed to belief in the Bible. We preach it, teach it, study it, memorize it, quote it, and sing it. It governs the way we think, act, dress, talk, and live. It is extremely important, therefore, that we know what our actual doctrine or teaching is about this incomparable book itself. As we explore this teaching, we must keep in mind that while evidence abounds to confirm
the truth of the Bible, ultimately our belief in it must be grounded in a deeply held, personal faith. Such faith allows us to see external evidence as supportive, but not central. This chapter sets forth the principal reasons why we believe so strongly in the Bible.

The Bible is the Word of God

From cover to cover, the Bible is the Word of God. “But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you” (I Peter 1:25). This applies to Old and New Testament alike. It is not enough to say merely that the Bible contains the Word of God. Some people concede that God’s Word may be found in the Bible, but they deny that all of the Bible is His Word. The problem
with this approach is that it subjects the Bible to human screening. They accept or reject certain passages for superfluous or subjective reasons. What man can really set himself up to be the judge of God’s Word?

This does not mean, of course, that we should ignore the context of scriptural passages. Some passages, such as in Job and Ecclesiastes, are written to expose faulty human reasoning. A complete reading,
however, will clearly show the meaning of such passages.

The world generally accepts the Bible as a literary masterpiece. No literature class would be complete without referring to at least a few portions of Scripture. But while people may study the Bible literature, it is in a totally different class from the prose and poetry of the world. Aristotle’s incisive logic, Chaucer’s keen wit and Shakespeare’s brilliant English may all deserve applause. God’s Holy Word, however, demands not mere applause, but worship of its Author and obedience. The Word of God is dynamic and alive, whereas the literature of the world is only an expression of men’s thoughts. “The worlds were
framed by the word of God ” (Hebrews 11:3). No earthly author can claim such results of his work. At best, literature is only a shadow of truth. The Bible, on the other hand, is truth revealed (John 17:17).

The Bible was not written for purely literary reasons. In fact, Scripture itself declares that fables and doctrines of men are not a part of it. “Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men,
that turn from the truth ” (Titus 1:14). “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty”
(II Peter 1:16).

The Bible is not just a conglomeration of various religious writings. Even though it was written over a period of 1600 years by at least forty different human writers, it is remarkably unified. In fact, this unity serves as a major proof of its divine authorship. Examples of this unity are abundant. From Genesis to Revelation, we can trace the central theme of redemption by blood. Symbols and types of the Old
Testament interface with spiritual doctrines of the New Testament. Bible scholars who have studied the Tabernacle plan, the history of Israel, and the lives of the patriarchs and kings attest to a truly hand-in-glove relationship between the testaments. There are differences in the style, language and vocabulary of the two books and differences of environment, economic and social status, and time era of the writers, but the message is the same throughout.

Yes, the Bible is the Word of God. We must read it with the realization that God Himself is speaking to us. It tells us what His commandments to man are, it records His divine dealings with man, it shares His wisdom for man, and it reveals His plan for man. It demands both admiration and obedience, both respect and reverence. Within its pages is the route to eternal life.

Written by Divine Inspiration

In other words, the Bible was written by divine inspiration. God channeled His thoughts through the minds, abilities, circumstances, and languages of forty men, using them as instruments of His will. Their
motive for writing was not the composer’s itch or the desire to display talent, nor was it to churn out words for profit. “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God sake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost ” (II Peter 1:20-21).

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (II Timothy 3:16). The word inspiration comes from the Greek word theopneustos meaning “God-breathed.” It implies that the breath or the Spirit of God inundated the writer. While God used men who were limited or restricted to cultural bounds, innate abilities, and walks of life, the words they wrote were no less than the words of the Almighty Himself. God lifted these writers out of their realm of thinking into His own. Verbal Inspiration

Jesus said, “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one little shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18). This verse, among many others, teaches the doctrine of verbal inspiration. Verbal inspiration means that every word and every letter of the Bible is the true message of God.

The doctrine of verbal inspiration has particular reference to the autographs (original manuscripts) of Scripture. Later copies or translations could have variances or corruptions, for there is no divine promise of verbal inspiration for each person who copies or translates Scripture. Nevertheless since God wanted to give His Word to all mankind, we can have confidence that He has preserved His Word for all generations. By careful study and comparison of various copies it is still possible to ascertain God’s Word today.

The doctrine of verbal inspiration states that the Bible, in its original form, is without error. Any concession to error in the autographs would make the very process of divine inspiration suspect. First, if God had ignorantly transmitted error to the writers of the Bible, then He would not be the Almighty, the all-knowing One. Second, He could not have knowingly transmitted error. “God is not a man, that he should lie” (Numbers 23:19).

Verbal inspiration is the only doctrine that makes the Bible consistent with itself. I Corinthians 2:13 teaches the significance of its words: “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s
wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth. ” Also we can easily see that any change of individual words could very well reverse the meanings of a passage of Scripture. Christ’s challenge to the Pharisees points up the importance of verbal inspiration: “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39).

Without Error

The Bible has survived many attacks by its critics over the years. They have charged it with contradictions, scientific errors and historical inaccuracies. Yet, the Scriptures, rightly divided are cleared of such charges every time.

Let us briefly look at three major areas.

With respect to itself, the Bible is error-free. It does not contain self-contradictions, as some have thought, pointing to the two genealogies of Christ, the two accounts of the Sermon on the Mount, and so on. A study of context and purpose, attention to detail, and attention to each word always show the passage in question to be correct. Sometimes two different accounts are involved; sometimes the same account is told from a different perspective.

With respect to natural science, the Bible is not in error. A number of scholars such as Peter Stoner, Henry Morris, Kelly Seagraves and others have written books, tracts and magazine articles and have even produced films to show the harmony between natural science and the Bible. Ironically, the Bible has been correct even when prevailing scientific ideas were wrong. One fascinating book that has brought this
fact to prominence is None Of These Diseases. It discloses in great detail that much of today’s scientific research has only confirmed Scripture.

With respect to history and archeology, the Bible is without error. Decades ago, before a number of major breakthroughs in archeology, it was popular to ridicule the Bible. As research progressed, however, it confirmed the Bible’s credibility again and again. Now, archeologists often use the Scriptures as a beginning point for research. Such monumental finds as the Dead Sea Scrolls and the ancient walls of Jericho have heralded the triumph of God’s Word around the world.

The inerrancy of the Bible is a compelling reason for us to place our faith in it. If it is without error, then we can believe it. If we can believe it, then the message of heaven, hell, death, judgment, and eternity and all other scriptural teachings are true. Total Reliability

One of the remarkable features of Scripture is its foretelling of events. Many prophecies in the Bible were given long before their fulfillment. Daniel 2 and 7 foretold the rise and fall of the empires of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome, which in some cases was hundreds of years before the actual occurrence in world history. In chapter 9, Daniel’s prophecy of sixty-nine weeks (of years) from the decree for the rebuilding of Jerusalem until the passion of Christ is accurate–according to some calculations, even to the very day! The Bible foretold the fates of the cities of Tyre and Sidon in great detail long before they were destroyed.

The most astounding example of Bible prophecy is the long list of Messianic prophecies fulfilled in our Lord Jesus Christ. His lineage, parentage, time and place of birth, ministry, betrayal, death (in great
detail), burial and resurrection were all woven into ancient utterances of Hebrew prophets. In the theory of probability, the chance of one man fulfilling all these prophecies approaches the impossible.

The promises of the Bible have come to pass many times in the lives of individuals, further underscoring the reliability of the Word of God. The uncounted answers to prayer, the blessings of peace, joy and comfort to those who believe on the Lord with all their hearts, and the guidance and direction that believers receive in life all testify to the truth of the Bible. Perhaps the greatest personal example
someone can point to is the baptism of the Holy Ghost with evidence of speaking in other tongues. Millions have received this experience, in the same manner as the Bible has promised.

Many principles of the Bible have also proven true throughout the centuries. The Ten Commandments have been the recognized standard of morality among many nations. Millions have followed the wise advice in Solomon’s writings, and with great success; even today it is very relevant for life in general. Of course, the matchless teachings of our Lord continue to impart life and meaning. His discourses on love, turning the other cheek, the Golden Rule, the Good Samaritan, and so on are truly classics both in and out of the church. All of these facts substantiate the Bible as a reliable book.

Faith in Christ and Faith in the Bible Are Inseparable

Proof by association is always powerful evidence. When we see the confidence Jesus Christ displayed in the Bible, we know it keeps good company. Robert Sabin has studied and lectured on this phase of the
inerrancy of the Bible. His findings demonstrate that the New Testament is inextricably interwoven with the Old Testament, particularly Genesis. For example, Ephesians 3:9 says, “And to make all men see what
is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ. ” Other New Testament passages show that Christ and the apostles endorsed many principles instituted in Genesis.

As Sabin has shown, Jesus believed in the Old Testament and taught it as true. Jesus believed in a literal Adam and Eve (Matthew 19:4-5). He believed in the story of Cain and Abel (Luke 11:51). He believed in Noah and the flood (Matthew 24:37-39). He believed in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Luke 17:28-32). He believed in manna, Jonah and the whale, the brazen serpent, and many other people and events of the Old Testament.

Jesus actually gave the entire Old Testament His full sanction (Matthew 5:18). He commissioned His apostles to preach and teach His Word to all nations, and the result was the inspired New Testament.

Saving faith in Christ is impossible without faith in the message of the Bible. Romans 10:17 teaches us that ‘ faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. ” When a person accepts Christ, he necessarily accepts the Bible as his guidebook and creed. We cannot isolate faith in Jesus from faith in the written Word of God.

An Unchanging Book

No one should tamper with the text of the Bible. “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89). It needs no revisions, no deletions, no additions, nothing that will altar its true meaning. The Bible warns against adding to or taking away from its texts and specifies sanctions against those who do so (Revelation 22:18-19).

An Indispensable Resource for the Christian

It is mainly through ingesting the Word of God into the mind and heart that the Christian can really experience growth. The Bible must occupy a central place in his life. He should read it, study it, analyze it, meditate on it, consult it, obey it, revere it and love it, for it performs the following important works in a Christian’s life.

It judges the heart (Hebrews 4:12).
It illuminates the pathway (Psalm 119:105).
It reveals the true image (James 1:23-25).
It assists in cleansing moral imperfections (Ephesians 5:26).
It nourishes the soul. It is like milk (I Corinthians 3:2), bread  (Isaiah 55:1-2), meat (Hebrews 5:12-14), and honey (Psalm 119:103).
It enriches life (Psalm 19:10).
It shatters deception (Jeremiah 23:29).
It reveals the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).
It builds faith (Romans 10:17).

No amount of prayer, good deeds, spiritual experience or revelation can replace the Word of God in the life of any Christian. We gain or lose God’s approval to the ex tent that we know, believe and obey His Word. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15). Jesus commanded the Pharisees to search the Scriptures to find eternal life (John 5:39). The Christian must learn to use the Bible skillfully, wisely, earnestly, and faithfully in his individual life and ministry.

Charles W. Slemming in his book, The Bible Digest, quoted the following:

It has been said that if we were to put together the Magna Charta, the history of Plato, the songs of Wesley, the writings of Karl Marx, the religion of Buddha, the theories of George Bernard Shaw, the prophecies
of Mother Shipton, they would make a volume of utter confusion; yet, in one volume called the Bible, we have the law of Moses, the history of Israel, the psalms of David, the writings of the prophets, the gospel
of Jesus, the theology of Paul, the revelation of John; and together they make for perfect harmony and accord! The Bible is indeed the Word of God!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

J. Mark Jordan, raised in Jackson, Michigan attended Texas Bible College. Later he received a B.S. in Human Relations from the University of Toledo. He and his wife Sandy evangelized several years before he became Associate Pastor to First Apostolic Church, Toledo, OH. In 1978 he founded Apostolic Christian Academy. He served the Ohio District as Youth President, UPCI, from 1977 to 1983. Since 1983 he has
pastored First Apostolic Church, Toledo, OH. He has written numerous articles for Pentecostal publications. He now resides with his wife Sandy and three children in suburban

 

THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY WORD AFLAMED PRESS, 1987, PAGES 73-83. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.

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