Do you trust the Apostle Paul? Do you believe that he once persecuted Christians, was radically and permanently transformed by the risen Lord Jesus and called to be an Apostle or sent one? Do you believe that he then spoke, wrote and preached in the power and authority of his Master?
If yes, then reason would say that we must accept Paul’s testimony about Scripture. Paul was a Pharisee before he was a Christian. He was saturated and steeped in the Hebrew Bible. Without a doubt he had large sections of it memorized. He certainly knew his way around Genesis to Malachi, though he had been blinded to God’s saving grace and promised Suffering Servant in these very writings. The point is, even before his conversion to Christ, Paul had accepted the authority and inspiration of “the sacred writings”. He knew from Moses and the Prophets, that what Scripture says, God says. After the scales fell off, he could then see that these sacred writings were able to give wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Once he had received the Holy Spirit, the resident truth Teacher, Paul could understand and finally properly interpret and apply his own Hebrew Bible.
So when Paul writes Timothy these monumental words of 2 Timothy 3:16-17, he was not writing anything new. Timothy had known this his whole life, being brought up by a godly mother and grandmother. Paul had known this his whole life. This is one preacher reminding another preacher of what is the foundation for all life and ministry:
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
What is Scripture? It is a product of God Himself, God-breathed or exhaled. All of it. Every word is God-exhaled and the Bible as a whole, in its totality is God-exhaled. This is known as plenary, verbal inspiration. Not the ideas or concepts merely. Not inspired because I’m inspired when I read it (what would that say when a person isn’t inspired by the Bible as millions aren’t?). But rather God is the Source and Author and therefore Scripture, the “sacred writings,” are the product or result of inspiration. This doesn’t mean that everything Paul or Peter wrote was Scripture or considered inspired. It doesn’t mean that these men, as occasional instruments of Scripture, were infallible in themselves. It means that all Scripture, all that qualifies as the inspired word of God, all that would make up the canon, is a product ultimately of His mind and character, through human instrument. In three Greek words, Paul destroys any concept or theory of partial inspiration.
That’s good because there are many such ideas that need destroying. So many want a Bible that only speaks to matters of faith and spiritual life but can have endless errors in other matters upon which it touches, like geography, history, names, matters of science, etc. This is loaded with logical and practical problems. First, if we can’t trust the incidental details that deliver the spiritual truths, how can we trust the spiritual truths? If Jonah wasn’t swallowed by a large fish and lived to tell about, how can we even believe Jonah existed? Preached repentance? Saw a city turn to the living God? How can we trust Jesus when He refers to Jonah when a sign was demanded of Him? Second, who gets to decide what is inspired and what isn’t? Who becomes the chief editor of the Bible? Does mere man, fallen and easily deceived, get to sit in judgment of the very words of God? As soon as we crack the door to a theory of partial inspiration, we walk out onto a slippery slope that takes us sliding into theological liberalism, then agnosticism and eventually atheism.
What Scripture says, God says.
Because it is inspired, it resonates with four intrinsic qualities: All Scripture is inerrant, infallible, authoritative and sufficient. Like the God who inspired it.
For a more full understanding of inspiration, inerrancy and authority, I commend to you the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy that can be found at www.bible-researcher.com/chicago1.html. Before you reject inerrancy, know what you are rejecting and understand what the inevitable consequences will be to your faith and life. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ.”
Unless otherwise noted, all posts are written by Pastor Chris McKnight