This is the first lesson from our teaching series How to Study the Bible.
If someone were to ask you “what is the Bible?” How would you respond?
What scripture would you use?
What does the Bible say about itself?
What is the Bible?
The Bible is God’s Word. It is sufficient, clear, authoritative, necessary, and true.
2 Timothy 3: 16 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”
The Bible is from God. It is the very breath of God. What scripture says God says. Scripture is breathed out by God. It is his very words speaking to us. God wrote a book to reveal Himself to us.
The Bible is made up of 66 books. Why these 66 books and not others? These are the books inspired by God. The New Testament preserved the books written and declared to be canon the books written by the apostles.
2 Peter 1:19-21, “and we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
The written word was given to us from men who were moved by the Holy Spirit. The methods of writing were varied, where some communicated as some may write today gathering information such as John and Luke. Others were given direct revelation from God such as Moses. And others such as Daniel received visions from God.
- Sufficient – God’s Word is enough
- Clear – God’s Word is understandable
- Authoritative – God’s Word is Final
- Necessary – God’s Word is Necessary
- True – God’s Word is True
The Bible is sufficient- it contains everything we need for knowledge of salvation and godly living.
This is the attribute most quickly doubted among believers). Have you ever wondered if the Bible is REALLY able to help you with your deepest problems? Have you ever heard a specific “Word from the Lord”? Maybe for a job, relationship, big life decision?
“Scripture doesn’t tell us everything we may want to know about everything. It tells us everything we need to know about the most important things.” DeYoung
“Scripture is clear enough to make us responsible for carrying out our present responsibilities to God.” – Frame
Scripture attests to its sufficiency. Psalm 19:7-11 “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”
We need nothing else to help us in matters of faith and practice. The Bible contains everything we need to live a godly life. Believer, would you believe this, you need nothing else.
God’s word is sufficient because ultimately God is sufficient.
The Bible is clear – the message of salvation in Jesus Christ is plainly taught and able to be understood by all who hear or read.
The clarity of Scripture addresses our postmodern world. We can’t just argue “that’s just your interpretation” because the scriptures are clear. God is not a God of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33 For God is not a God of confusion.).
His Word is clear because it is His Word. If God does not cause confusion then His word will not cause confusion because it is clear. You and I are sinful and what is clear becomes unclear because of our sin. We need the help of the Holy Spirit to see how clear the meaning of Scripture is.
You and I should approach the BIble as Jesus did, as if it could be known and understood. As Alistair Begg says, “The plain things are the main things.”
The Bible is authoritative; it holds the final word. Not science, human experience, or human reasoning.
The Westminster Confession of Faith puts it this way, “The Authority of the Holy Scripture, for which has ought to be believed, and obeyed, depends not upon the testimony of any man, or church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received because it is the word of God.”
John Frame comments on this “Divine authorship is the ultimate reason why Scripture is authoritative. Its Authority is absolute because God’s Authority is absolute, and scripture is his personal word to us.”
The God who spoke the universe to life with his words speaks to us by the written scriptures
The Reformation called this Sola scriptura- The Bible is the sole infallible source of authority for Christian faith and practice.
The Bible is necessary- without the Word of God we would not know how to live, who Christ is and how to be saved.
We need God’s word for all of life. We cannot live without God’s word. Matthew 4 records Jesus’ wilderness temptation. In verse 4 He responds to Satan, “man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
We need God’s word for salvation (Jn. 17:17) and to grow in Christ-likeness (Jn. 17:17).
The Bible is universally true for everyone, not just for those who accept it to be true for themselves.
We see a problem among today’s United States population “The most consistent and concerning trend is the increasing rejection of the literal truth of Scripture among the U.S. population.” 41-48% of US adult respondents, “The Bible, like all sacred writings, contains helpful accounts of ancient myths but is not literally true.”- Ligonier Statement of Theology (2020)
Jesus’ prayer in John 17 teaches us this. Jesus asked the Father to sanctify His disciples in truth and then says your word is truth. The Father’s word cannot be the truth if it is not true.
Calvin taught that “The Bible is ‘self-authenticating.” It has to be this way, because the Bible cannot be “proved” to be God’s words by appeal to any higher authority. As Grudem says in his systematic theology, “if an appeal to some higher authority (say, historical accuracy or logical consistency) were used to prove that the Bible is God’s Word, then the Bible itself would not be our highest or absolute authority: it would be subordinate in authority to the thing to which we appealed to prove it to be God’s Word.”
It is not, human reason, logic, historical accuracy, or scientific truth that verifies the Bible as the Word of God, but the Bible itself carries the authority to verify its truth. As true authority always affects that which it sets out to do. (Like a king sending out orders)
As you read the Bible the Holy Spirit moves in you to confirm that what you are reading is true.
Not only did God speak these words and these words are recorded in the Bible, but God now presently speaks through these words to individuals. The same powerful Word that brought the universe to life is the same Word that spoke through the prophets and the apostles to give us the Bible and the same Word is still speaking to you today to mold you into God’s image.
James Montgomery Boice writes, “As individuals study the Bible God speaks to them in their study and transforms them by the truths they found there. There is a direct encounter of the individual believer with God”
We need the Holy Spirit to attest to the truthfulness of Scripture to us. John Calvin said, “The same Spirit, therefore, who has spoken through the mouths of the prophets must penetrate into our hearts to persuade us that they faithfully proclaimed what has been divinely commanded.”
Since God’s Word is true we can trust it and rely on it to help us grow.
The Bible is God’s Word. It is sufficient, clear, authoritative, necessary, and true.
The Bible is the very breath of God.
- It is sufficient- containing everything we need for knowledge of salvation and godly living
- It is clear- the message of salvation in Jesus Christ is plainly taught and able to be understood by all who hear or read.
- It is authoritative- holding the final word
- It is Necessary- without the Word of God we would not know how to live, who Christ is and how to be saved
- It is true– it is universally true for everyone, not just for those who accept it to be true for themselves
We are to be “the people of the book.” as Kevin DeYoung helpfully states “the word of God is more than enough to accomplish the work of God in the people of God.”
Questions for Reflection
- Which characteristic do you need to grow your understanding in the most?
- Why is it important that the Bible be true in order for its other characteristics to make sense?
- Discuss Psalm 19:7-11 focusing on the various truths the Psalm mentions about God’s Word. How can you apply these to your own life?
- Read 2 Timothy 3:16. Why is it important that Scripture finds its source in God? What happens if we lose this viewpoint?