There are only two options when it comes to knowledge of a divine Creator: revelation or speculation. Either he speaks, or we guess.
And he has spoken. The God of heaven and earth has forfeited his own personal privacy to reveal himself to usto befriend usthrough a book.Scripture is like an all-access pass into the revealed mind andwill of God.
By virtually any account theBibleis the most influential book of all time. No shortage of ink has been spilled on writings about it, whether in favor or against.
But what claims does the Bible make about itself? Here are eight.
1. The Bible Is Inspired
When Christians claim Scripture is inspired, what do they mean? Inspiration is about the relationship between God and the Bibles authors. These men werent inspired in the way we typically use the word todayits not as if the apostle Paul saw a gorgeous sunset and then wrote Galatians. Nor does it mean he would enter some catatonic state, recite a bunch of words to a friend, then pick up the parchment and say, Lets see what God wrote!
First and foremost, inspiration has to do with the fact that the Bibles ultimate author is God.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:1617)
The entirety of the Bible is God-breathedexhaledfrom God. No wonder it’s commonly referred to as Gods Word.
If God authored it, though, then what were Moses and David and Paul and John and all the rest doing? Werent they writing Holy Scripture, too? Exactly. The Bible was written by Godandhumansor, more precisely, by Godthroughhumans. The apostle Peter explains it this way:
Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophets own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Pet. 1:2021)
In other words, God made sure the human authors wrote exactly what he wanted them to writeno more, no less.
These authors werent passive robots, however. God didnt erase their personalities or commandeer their minds. They wrote as thinking, feeling human beings. God worked through their unique personalities and educations and backgrounds and experiences to enableto inspirethem to write divine truth. Theologian Robert Plummer summarizes it well: Each word in the Bible is the word of a conscious human author and at the same time the exact word that God intends for the revelation of himself.
The Creator of the universe has spokenin human history, in human language, through human beings. So, who wrote the Biblehumans or God? The Bible itself answers, Yes.
2. The Bible Is True
Okay, so Scripture is completely inspired. But is it completely true?
Gods Word is true because Gods character is true. He is not a liar; the God of truth cannot speak false words. To doubt the truthfulness of Gods Word is to doubt the truthfulness of God himself.
Some people think that while the Bibles spiritual concepts are true enough, much of the other content (say, historical or geographical details) probably isnt. But this assumption is false, for Scripture doesnt make any restriction on the kinds of subjects to which it speaks truthfully. Besides, if the Bible isnt fullyreliableat every point, how can we be certain its fully reliable at any point?
If the Bible isnt fullyreliableat every point, how can we be certain its fully reliable at any point?
Looking to Scripture itself, we find numerous claims to pervasive truthfulness (e.g., Pss. 12:6; 19:79; 119:160; Prov. 30:56; John 10:35; 17:17). Every word is described as flawless (Ps. 12:6; Prov. 30:5), eternal (Ps. 119:89; Isa. 40:8; Matt. 24:35), unbreakable (John 10:35), boundless in perfection (Ps. 119:96), and completely reliable (2 Pet. 1:19). Jesus affirmed it concisely: [Gods] word is truth (John 17:17). Scriptures truthfulness is so comprehensively assumed, in fact, that entire arguments can hinge on appeals to a single word (Matt. 22:45), the number of a noun (Gal. 3:16), even the tense of a verb (Matt. 22:32).
When properly interpreted, the Bible will never mislead you. What it says, God says.
3. The Bible Is Authoritative
God owns the universe he verbalized into existence. And his loving authority, intended for our good, is exercised through his Word. In fact, God has so identified himself with Scripture that to disbelieve or disobeyitis to disbelieve or disobeyhim.
True, the Bible isnt the only authority. There are other rightful authorities, such as parents (Eph. 6:12), pastors (Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet. 5:5), and government officials (Rom. 13:17; 1 Pet. 2:1314). None, however, is above Gods Word. The Bible is the supreme court. This means the correctness of every belief, value, opinion, statement, and sermon is finally settled by the question: what does the Bible say? Regarding Christs own view of the Bible, its been observed that [Jesus] appeals to Scripture, to each part of Scripture, and to each element of Scripture as to an unimpeachable authority.
Kings dont give advice; they give orders. Obedience to the Word of God, therefore, is not optional. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves, the apostle James writes. Do what it says (James 1:22).
As countercultural and counterintuitive as it may feel, submission to Gods Word is where true life and freedom are found.
As J. I. Packer observes, True Christians are people who acknowledge and live under the Word of God. They submit without reserve to [it], believing the teaching, trusting the promises, following the commands. Their eyes are upon the God of the Bible as their Father and the Christ of the Bible as their Savior. A Christian, in other words, hears the voice of Jesus in Scripture and gladly follows him (John 10:27).
J. C. Ryle remarked, Happy is the man who possesses Bible! Happier still is he who reads it! Happiest of all is he who not only reads it but obeys it. As countercultural and counterintuitive as it may feel, submission to Gods Word is where true life and freedom are found.
4. The Bible Is Clear
The Bible is an ancient document. It can feel foreign. Some parts are confusing (2 Pet. 3:16). Nevertheless, the Bible is clear enough. As the psalmist says, The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple (Ps.119:130). God commands parents to teach the Bible to their children (Deut. 6:67).
Ive heard it said that Scripture is shallow enough for a child to wade, but deep enough for an elephant to swim. I think thats profoundly right.
Sometimes Scripture is difficult to understand because its talking about complicated things. Often, however, its hard to grasp because we simply dont like what it says. As Mark Twain famously quipped, It aint those parts of the Bible I cant understand that bother me; its the parts I do understand. Often its not that the Bible is unclear, but that were unreceptive.
5. The Bible Is Sufficient
Scripture contains all the words from God that we need in order toknowhim truly, trust him fully, obey him perfectly, and enjoy him abundantly. Peter says God has given us everything we need for a godly life through the knowledge available in the Scriptures (2 Pet. 1:3, emphasis added). Likewise, Paul says, the Bible is so complete that through it we can be thoroughly equipped for every good workthoroughly and every, not partly and most (2 Tim. 3:16). It doesnt get any more comprehensive.
While the Bible may not tell us everything wewantto know, it does tell us everything weneedto know. Its truth isnt exhaustive, but it is enough (Deut. 29:29; Prov. 25:2).It contains all we need to know in order to be saved (2 Tim. 3:15; James 1:18, 21; 1 Pet. 1:23)and to obey God in faith (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:34; 1921). No wonder severe warnings accompany adding to or removing any of its words (Deut. 4:2, 12:32; Prov. 30:56).
While the Bible may not tell us everything wewantto know, it does tell us everything weneedto know. Its truth isnt exhaustive, but it is enough.
The case can be made that every corruption of biblical Christianity begins by compromising the principle of sufficiency, one author observed. Every deviation from Christianity established by Christ and the apostles begins by adding to the Bible or by taking away from it. Every deviation is the Bible plus or minus something.
6. The Bible Is Powerful
Since the Bibles ultimate author isGod, it is a book of unparalleled power. Its words are strong enough to melt hearts (Jer. 23:29) and change lives (John 17:17; cf. Rom. 1:16; 1 Thess 1:45). The book of Hebrews states:
The word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Heb. 4:12)
Saying the Bible is powerful is another way of saying itseffective. TheHoly Spirituses it to accomplish his plans (Isa. 55:1011). The book is an instrument of action in Gods all-powerful hand. Do not put yourself at odds with the Word of God, Swiss Reformer Ulrich Zwingli once remarked. One can perhaps dam it up for awhile, but it is impossible to stop it.
It is crucial to realize that God intends his Word not simply to engage our minds, but also to change our hearts. As one person put it, The Bible was not written to satisfy your curiosity; it was written to transform your life.
7. The Bible Is Christ-Centered
Contrary to popular belief, the Bible is not simply a collection of ethical principles, moral platitudes, or abstract life lessons. It is a thrilling story.
And the story is not ultimately about you and me. In Luke 24, the resurrected Savior appears to two followers on the road to Emmaus. Luke recounts what happened:
[Jesus] said to them, How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory? And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. (Luke 24:2527)
Later, after appearing to his 11 disciples, Jesus says to them:
This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms. Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. (Luke 24:4445)
It wasnt just after hisresurrectionthat Jesus spoke this way, however. During his earthly ministry he explained to the Bible experts of the day his central place in the great story:
You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. . . . If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. (John 5:3940, 46)
Its been rightly noted that the Old Testament is Jesus Christ concealed, and the New Testament is Jesus Christ revealed. From beginning to endGenesis to Revelationthe plotline of Scripture anticipates, spotlights, and finds its ultimate resolution in Gods redeeming Son. And perhaps the most stunning thing about this story is that the central character loves us back.
8. The Bible Is Precious
The Bible is the most valuable treasure in the universe. Its our food (Jer. 15:16),our life (Deut. 32:4647),our comfort (Ps. 119:50), our strength (Ps. 119:28),our guidance (Ps. 119:105), our desire (Ps. 119:20),our hope (Ps. 130:5),our love (Ps. 119:97),our joy (John 15:11),and our treasure (Ps. 119:72).
Did you know that even Leviticus and Chronicles and Obadiah were written to encourage you? Thats what the Bible says, anyway:
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. (Rom. 15:4)
Everything. Paul is going so far as to claim the entirety of the Old Testament was written foryouto instruct you, to encourage you, to help you endure,and to flood your heart with hope.
And while we must avoid bibliolatrytreasuring Scripture more than its Authorits striking to note how inseparably connected Gods Word is with God himself (Ps. 56:4;119:48).Indeed, to abandon it is to abandon him.Until Jesus returns and our faith becomes sight, we must live in the age of the ear.For now, Augustine said, treat the Scripture of God as the face of God. Melt in its presence. As one great preacher remarked, To me the Bible is not God, but it is Gods voice, and I do not hear it without awe.
The Bible is a bottomless treasure chest of beauty and wonder. It claims to be inspired, true, authoritative, clear, sufficient, powerful, Christ-centered, and precious. May God help us to treat it as such.