WHAT WE BELIEVE – SCRIPTURE
Several years ago, near the end of his life, an interviewer asked Billy Graham what his number one regret in the ministry was. Without hesitation, he replied that his number one regret in the ministry, in fact his number one regret as a Christian, was that he didn’t feel like he read his Bible enough. He said if he could go back and change anything, he would spend more time in the Word of God. We need the Scriptures; we need to be people of the Scriptures.
Our statement of faith says this about what we believe concerning the Bible: “We believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God without any error, true and reliable in all it affirms, the sole authority for life and faith.”
The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 says the same thing in a little more detail: “The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.”
Revelation is God’s manifestation of himself to humanity. It is the supernatural self-disclosure of God to humanity through some form of communication. There are two types of revelation: general and special. General revelation happens through nature, history, and human nature being made in the image of God (e.g., Psalm 19:1; Romans 1:18-20). While general revelation tells us true things about God, it only prepares the way for special revelation, it does not reveal the gospel in and of itself.
This is why God reveals himself to us, why he speaks and acts, that we may know him. The most complete and full revelation of God is the incarnation of Jesus Christ (e.g., Hebrews 1:1-4). We know God most fully from who Jesus Christ is, from what he said, and from what he did. However, we only know Jesus through the Word of God written and preserved for us. The Bible is God’s revelation of himself in Christ, the gospel, so that we might be saved (2 Timothy 3:15-17; Hebrews 4:12; 1 John 5:13).
When we say that the Bible is inspired, we mean that it is breathed out by God, that the Holy Spirit of God enabled human authors to record what God desired to have written down for us in his Scriptures, through a variety of processes (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Pet 1:19-21). Inspiration is plenary, which means that all the Scriptures (and not just some of the Scriptures) are completely inspired (Matt 5:18; Ps 119:89, 160). Inspiration is verbal, which means the very words of the original autographs were inspired (Matt 22:32; John 10:35; Gal 3:16).
Therefore, the Bible is our authority. God is our ultimate authority, and he has breathed-out the Bible as the expression of his will for us. This means the Bible is God’s Word, and therefore possesses the right supremely to define what we are to believe and how we are to conduct ourselves today (Psalm 119). The Holy Spirit works in each person and church as they read and hear the word to assist us in interpreting, understanding, and obeying the Scriptures as God’s Word (John 16:12-15; 1 Cor 2:10-16).
As God’s authoritative word, the Bible is infallible, inerrant, and sufficient. God’s word always accomplishes God’s purposes (Isaiah 55:11). God’s Word never affirms anything that is contrary to fact and is truthful in all its teachings, as Jesus himself testified (Matthew 24:35; Luke 24:25; John 17:17). All of the words in the Bible are God’s words, and as God cannot lie (Numbers 23:19; Titus 1:2), this means that all the words of Scripture are true. To say that the Scripture is sufficient means that we have all the words of God we need for salvation, for trusting him perfectly, and for obeying him perfectly. We don’t need any other revelation to understand and live out the gospel to his glory (Deut 4:2).
Praise God for his Word, and that his truth endures forever (1 Peter 1:24-25)!