by Bill Mounce
There are four things that followers of Jesus believe about the Bible. I don’t have time to cover them in detail, but let me mention them and I’ll give you a website where you can learn more if you want.
This is really important material. The Bible wants to become your guide, and you have to decide whether you will believe it or not.
We believe that the Bible is “inspired.” This is not the idea that the Bible is inspiring, like a good novel or comic strip depending on your reading tastes. The Bible is inspiring, but that’s not the point. The doctrine of inspiration has to do with its source. Inspiration is the belief that the Bible came from the very mouth of God, that it contains his very words. Paul is encouraging his friend Timothy to persevere in his preaching, and writes this.
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, ESV).
“Breathed out” is a helpful translation. There was not a word in the Greek language to describe what Paul wanted to say, so Paul did what Greek allows him to do — he made up a word. He took the word “God” and the word “breathed” and put them together. Scripture is God-breathed; the words came from his very mouth.
Peter says the same thing using the imagery of being “carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
“No prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s 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 Peter 1:20-21).
We believe in the “authority” of the Bible. Because the words come from God’s very mouth, they carry his authority. That is the flow of logic in Paul’s verse above. Because all of Scripture is breathed out by God, it is therefore profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and for training a person in righteousness. This is how Timothy, the man of God, can be made competent, to be equipped to do his ministry.
We believe in the process of “canonicity.” This means we believe God superintended the process of the church deciding what books belong in the Bible. This process took place over 400 years, and we believe God’s Spirit made sure we got it right. The sixty-six books we have are the right ones, and all the other books that were left out deserved to be left out because God did not write them.
We believe the Bible is “trustworthy.” This ultimately is the issue for us. Because we believe God is true, we also believe that his words are true and can be trusted. We believe the Bible we have today accurately records Jesus words and deeds, and that the later writers like Paul, and the earlier writers like Moses, got it right. And so we look to the Bible to hear God’s authoritative word delivered to us.
I am sorry to have covered these points so quickly, but it is important that you as a new follower be aware of them. If you want to learn more them, please visit the “Discipleship” link and then “Track 3,” and attend my “New Testament” class. There are 3-4 hours of my lectures on these four topics.