|The unique way it was written - by God, through men - gives the Bible a number of unique qualities (or attributes as they are sometimes called). The most important of these is the Bible's unique authority. The other three qualities we consider on this page all spring from this one fundamental attribute.|
God has - indeed he is - absolute authority. The Bible testifies to this in many places and in many different ways. Here are just a few of them:
Because of God's absolute authority, it follows that any revelation he may choose to give also carries the same absolute authority. Since, as we have already seen, the Bible has its origin with God himself we may, therefore, confidently affirm that the Bible is:
The Bible is Infallible
When we say the Bible is infallible we mean that it can never be rescinded or superseded because it is found to be lacking or wanting in some way. Since God himself does not change (Malachi 3:6 and James 1:17 (NIV)), his Word stands firm for all time as his only, complete and definitive written revelation to mankind of both his nature and his purposes (Psalm 119:89-91).
It also means that, since the Bible originates from a God who is himself a God of truth (Psalm 31:5 (NIV)), it cannot mislead us, and therefore can never fail to be a sure and certain guide in all the perplexities and problems of life, and bring us safely to our heavenly destination (Psalm 43:3).
The Bible is Inerrant
The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy
Between 1978 and 1988, an international group of leading biblical scholars, concerned at prevailing attitudes towards the Scriptures, met together as the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy. The council produced three statements. The first was The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. This is available on a number of websites, including the Internet Christian Library, which may be accessed via our Links to Other Websites. We commend it to you as a representative summary of the Protestant doctrine of Scripture.
The subsequent Chicago Statements dealt with Biblical Hermeneutics and Biblical Application.
(For a simplilfied explanation of hermeneutics please see our marginal article on Hermeneutics & Exegesis).
When we say that the Bible is inerrant we mean that, because God can neither lie nor change his mind (Numbers 23:19 and 1 Samuel 15:29), the Bible is absolutely true, and completely free from all falsehood, fraud and deceit, in every matter it deals with, whether spiritual, historical, cosmological or personal. This guarantees that the Bible is completely and eternally reliable in everything with which it deals.
The Bible's inerrancy also guarantees that it is, indeed, God's authentic Word as regards both, our salvation (Ephesians 1:13 and James 1:21 (NIV), and also our daily life (Psalm 32:8-9 and Psalm 143:8).
We can, therefore, place our entire confidence in the Bible's every word, because every word it contains is the very Word of God (Psalm 33:4 and Proverbs 30:5).
The Bible is Sufficient
By saying that the Bible is sufficient we mean that the Bible contains everything we need to know for our faith in God and knowledge of the revelation of his purposes and, above all, it fully explains the means of salvation and the way of sanctification. In other words, because the Bible tells us all we need to know in order to be saved and lead a live which is pleasing to God, it provides a sufficient basis for our belief (1 Corinthians 15:2). The Scriptures are also our all-sufficient illumination for every step along life's pathway (Psalm 119.105).
Article 6 of the Articles of Religion of the Church of England succinctly summarises the Protestant understanding of the sufficiency of Scripture when it says that, Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of faith. Or, as the nineteenth century Baptist preacher, C H Spurgeon, put it in a nutshell, The Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible, is the religion of Christ's church.
|We may be quite certain that we do not have to believe - or do - anything that is not in the Bible in order to be saved.|
It may seem to some visitors that the matters dealt with on this page are purely academic and have nothing to do with real life. May we assure you this most certainly is not the case! As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, what we think about the Bible, the way we read it, and - most important of all - what we do as a result of reading it, profoundly affects the way we live our lives. For it is the words of Christ, in all their richness and not the words of men, no matter how shrewd or perceptive they may be, that we are to allow to live in our hearts and to make us wise and use to instruct others (Colossians 3:16).
Both the practical and spiritual implications - and the reward - of accepting and acting on the teachings of Jesus as revealed in the Scriptures is summarised by the apostle Peter in the first chapter of his second letter. (He appears to have written this letter towards the end of his life as a way of passing on the baton to the next generation.) We quote the passage in full so you may read and reflect on it:
As we know Jesus better, his divine power gives us everything we need for living a godly life. He has called us to receive his own glory and goodness! And by that same mighty power, he has given us all of his rich and wonderful promises. He has promised that you will escape the decadence all around you caused by evil desires and that you will share in his divine nature.
So make every effort to apply the benefits of these promises to your life. Then your faith will produce a life of moral excellence. A life of moral excellence leads to knowing God better. Knowing God leads to self-control. Self-control leads to patient endurance, and patient endurance leads to godliness. Godliness leads to love for other Christians, and finally you will grow to have genuine love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more you will become productive and useful in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop these virtues are blind or, at least, very shortsighted. They have already forgotten that God has cleansed them from their old life of sin.
So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Doing this, you will never stumble or fall away. And God will open wide the gates of heaven for you to enter into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
I plan to keep on reminding you of these things - even though you already know them and are standing firm in the truth. Yes, I believe I should keep on reminding you of these things as long as I live. But the Lord Jesus Christ has shown me that my days here on earth are numbered and I am soon to die. So I will work hard to make these things clear to you. I want you to remember them long after I am gone.
For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the power of our Lord Jesus Christ and his coming again. We have seen his majestic splendour with our own eyes. And he received honour and glory from God the Father when Godís glorious, majestic voice called down from heaven, This is my beloved Son; I am fully pleased with him. We ourselves heard the voice when we were there with him on the holy mountain.
Because of that, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. Pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a light shining in a dark place - until the day Christ appears and his brilliant light shines in your hearts.
(To see this passage in a variety of other versions click on the reference: 2 Peter 1:3-19.)
There's Still More...The Bible's unique qualities of infallibility, inerrancy and sufficiency, arising from its unique and absolute authority, combine to make yet a further case for placing every Confidence in the Word.
But that is far from being the end of the story! The way in which Scripture confirms itself, or, as we have termed it, the unity of Scripture, is yet one more reason why we may be certain the Bible is the Word of God, as we explain on our next page.
|The Unity of Scripture|
|The Writers' Witness|
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