Yours in Christ: Pastoral Letters from Resurrection, State College

The Bible Is … God’s Word (The Authority of Scripture)

Dear Resurrection,

In seminary they taught us to remember four “attributes” (essential characteristics) of the Bible using the acronym “S.N.A.P.” (so they’re a “snap” to remember, see?). That stands for Sufficiency, Necessity, Authority, and Perspicuity. Those are pretty heavy theological terms, so this month I’m going to break down each one and describe for you how “The Bible is God’s Word” (Authority), “The Bible is Indispensable” (Necessity), “The Bible Is Enough” (Sufficiency), and “The Bible Is Clear” (Perspicuity).

The first attribute (essential characteristic) of the Bible you need to know as a Christian is that the Bible is authoritative, and it has this authority because it is God’s word.

2 Timothy 3:16 says that “All Scripture is breathed out by God.” That phrase “breathed out by God” comes from the single Greek word theopneustos (theo- meaning “God” and “-pneustos” meaning “breathed-out”). In other words, God is the ultimate author of the Bible. Yes, God used human writers, and each one wrote with a unique personality and perspective. But each human writer was directed supernaturally by God so that the end product is God’s own word. As 2 Peter 1:21 says, “men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” We call this the “inspiration” of Scripture. The Bible isn’t merely a record of profound human reflections about God. What the Bible says, God says.

If the Bible is God’s word, that means that everything the Bible says is true. Why? Because God Himself is true—truth is one of the attributes of God. God “cannot lie” (Titus 1:2); that is “impossible” for him (Hebrews 6:18). That’s what the word infallible means—incapable of falsehood. Because God is infallible, the Bible is infallible—God will never deceive you, so neither will His written word. This is where the idea of inerrancy comes from. The description “inerrant” means that the Bible does not err (make mistakes). It only speaks the truth. Why? Because it is infallible. Why? Because it is the word of God, who cannot lie.

If the Bible is God’s word, that also means that people should believe everything it says and do everything it commands. This is what we mean when we say the Bible is “the rule of faith and life” (Westminster Confession of Faith 1.2). We know that we’re “to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever” (Westminster Shorter Catechism #1). But how? We learn that from the Bible, “the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him” (Westminster Shorter Catechism #2) by teaching us “what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man” (Westminster Shorter Catechism #3).

Grace-Based Action Point

The prophet Amos felt deeply the awesome responsibility of encountering the word of God. “The lion has roared; who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken; who can but prophesy?” (Amos 3:8). When you pick up your Bible and read it, God Himself is addressing you, telling you the truth about Himself, about yourself, and about the world, and calling you to faith and loyal obedience to everything He tells you. Is that the way you treat your Bible? Do you live your life under its authority? The lion has roared. The Lord God has spoken. What are you going to do about it?

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Simmons