Doctrines Related to the Bible

by | Mar 25, 2024 | Poimenas

The doctrine of Scripture is vitally important to all Christians, for it is through the instrumentality of the Word (preached and read) that God delivers the truth about the Savior who can save us from our sins. It is through the Word (preached and read and obeyed) that the Holy Spirit causes us to grow in the grace of Jesus Christ. Only through the Scriptures do we have the knowledge of God in Jesus Christ. His truthful, authoritative, written revelation is the Holy Bible. It is the only book that God has given. God must reveal Himself to us or else He will never be known. He has revealed His glory in creation (Psalm 19:1-6; Romans 1:20). He has revealed His words in the Bible (Hebrews 1:1). He has revealed Himself fully in His Son (Hebrews 1:2). This article addresses some of the doctrines related to the Bible, God’s written revelation. Regarding the Scripture, there is a difference between revelation, inspiration, and illumination. Revelation is from God to man (by the power of the Holy Spirit a man receives what God wants him to know). Inspiration is from man to writing (by the power of the Holy Spirit a man writes that which God wants written). Illumination is from writing to heart (by the power of the Holy Spirit a man understands that which God has written). But what more can be said about some of the doctrines related to the Scriptures?


The word “inspired” in 2 Timothy 3:16 is from the Greek word theopneustos and literally means “God-breathed.” God breathed out the Holy Scriptures as His Word and as such, the Bible is guaranteed to be His truthful, accurate revelation. Inspiration has to do with the guarantee of the truthfulness of the Bible. Inspiration establishes that the Bible is a divine product. In other words, Scripture is divinely inspired in that God actively worked through the process and had His hand in the outcome of what Scripture would say. Inspiration is verbal. This means that every word of the autographs (the original manuscripts) is inspired. This affirms the idea that inspiration extends to the very words the writers chose. This is so of necessity, for God’s written revelation consists of propositions that are communicated by means of words. Inspiration is plenary. The word plenary means “full” or “complete.” This asserts that God inspired the complete text of the Bible, including historical and doctrinal details. This means that all parts of the Bible are equally inspired, from Genesis to Revelation. There are no different qualities or levels of inspiration (as if Christ’s words in the Gospels are more inspired than Leviticus). All parts may not at first seem to be of equal value for edification, but all parts are equally inspired. Inspiration is organic. God used humans to write Scripture but not mechanically (as we might use a typewriter) or in a dictated fashion. God used men with individual gifts and abilities to write the Bible as they were “carried along” by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). This verse tells us how the Scriptures were produced: the apostles and prophets (with their God-given talents and styles) wrote under the inspiration of the Spirit.


The original manuscripts of the Bible are without error. “Inerrancy is the view that when all the facts become known, they will demonstrate that the Bible in its original autographs and correctly interpreted is entirely true and never false in all it affirms, whether that relates to doctrines or ethics or to the social, physical, or life sciences.” 1 The conservative stance on inerrancy was most recently and thoroughly articulated in 1978 in the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. 2 This statement was formulated by approximately 300 scholars and leaders at a conference sponsored by the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, held in Chicago. It was designed to defend the position of Biblical inerrancy against trends toward liberal concepts of Scripture and higher biblical criticism. The International Council on Biblical Inerrancy produced three major statements: one on biblical inerrancy in 1978, one on biblical hermeneutics in 1982, and one on biblical application in 1986. It formally disbanded in 1988. According to the Chicago Statement and general agreement among biblical theologians, strict inerrancy applies only to the original autographs (i.e. the very first manuscripts written). This leads to the conclusion that, “no present manuscript or copy of Scripture, no matter how accurate, can be called inerrant.” 3 Nonetheless, we should not worry, for when we understand the reliability of the Old and New Testaments, we may have confidence that our current Bibles are accurate, and no major doctrine is affected by the manuscript variants. Likewise, the Bible has proved itself reliable through prophecy, historical events, archaeology, and in many other areas. All of this must be so since the Bible is the revelation of God whereby the God of heaven revealed Himself in written form. It is an affront to His character to think that He could make a mistake, and an affront to His veracity that He could tell a lie (Titus 1:2). Also, the Bible claims to be perfect (Ps. 19:7). Jesus, who Himself was the truth (John 14:6) and told no lies, said “Thy word is truth” (John 17:17). Jesus affirmed the inerrancy of Scripture.


The Bible is the written voice of the God who sits upon the throne of the universe. It is the final rule for what we must believe and how we must live (2 Timothy 3:15-17; Psalm 19:7-9). The Bible is the authoritative Word of God. Isaiah 1:2 declares, “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken.” The authority of God is repeatedly seen in the declaration: “Thus saith the Lord,” and Christ’s words: “Verily, I say unto you.” That the Bible is of divine authority is seen by the finality with which Christ quoted Scripture. The Lord Jesus used the Scriptures as authoritative. He continually said, “It is written” (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10; 21:13; 26:31; Mark 7:6; 9:13; John 6:31, 45; 10:34), and so did the apostles (Acts 1:20; 7:42; 15:15; 23:5; I Cor. 1:19; 1 Peter 1:16). The words of Scripture are God’s words possessing the authority of God Himself.


The Bible was written over a period of 1600 years, by forty individuals with diverse abilities, backgrounds, and intellectual capacities. From such a milieu one would expect to find a disjointed work, totally lacking in balance and continuity of thought.  Such is not the case. Unity of thought, theme and purpose prevails throughout the Bible. This fact alone makes the Bible a most amazing book! Moses, David, the Prophets, Peter, Paul and John wrote of the same God (Hebrews 12:29; Deuteronomy 4:24) and of the same way of salvation (Romans 4). Thus Christ could say, “in the volume of the book it is written of me” (Psalm 40:7 with Hebrews 10:7) and “the Scriptures … are they which testify of me” (John 5:39). Today we can see the one Christ in all of the Bible.


The God of heaven has specially preserved His book which records the truth of salvation through His Son (John 20:31). Christ declared, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33). From the preaching of Christ we see that the Old Testament text in common use among the Jews during Christ’s earthly ministry was entirely trustworthy. Jesus referred to the Hebrew text when he said, “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18). “And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than for one tittle of the law to fail” (Luke 16:17). A “jot” refers to the Hebrew word yodh, which is the tenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The Hebrew letter yodh (י) is the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet. A “tittle” is a small distinguishing mark, such as the dot on a lowercase i or j in the English language. A tittle represents the small vowel points in Hebrew or the small decorative spur or point on the upper edge of the yodh. Imagine a tiny letter with a slightly visible decorative mark… that’s a tittle. The meaning of Jesus’ words is very clear. Not even the smallest letter or even its decorative spur will ever disappear from the “God Breathed” Word until all is fulfilled. The God of heaven has specially preserved His book. Further evidence that God has wondrously preserved His written Word is seen in the  hundreds of surviving ancient Hebrew manuscripts (including the Dead Sea Scrolls) and 5800 surviving ancient Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. In addition to these, a multitude of ancient versions and a wealth of Scripture quotations from the ancient church fathers are available to the present day Bible translator. No book from the ancient world is as well attested as the Bible. Some present day literal translations are reliable in setting forth the original meaning of the God-breathed text in the English language. Great care, however, must be taken in the use of some modern versions that have appeared in recent years. Paraphrases, amplifications, and modern English editions may be helpful at times, but should be carefully scrutinized as to their doctrinal purity and faithfulness to the original text. Many of them are to be seen more as commentaries than completely authoritative translations of Scripture.


The Bible is eternal. The Scriptures were written during definite historical periods, but they had their origin in the eternal mind of God. “Forever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89). The Bible is relevant to every age and people. The Bible is perspicuous. This means that the Scriptures are clear and are able to be understood; they are clearly expressed and presented. The Bible is not obscure or ambiguous or difficult to comprehend. The Scriptures are compared to light (Psalm 119:105) and they can be understood even by children (2 Timothy 3:15). This does not mean the Bible is without difficult parts to understand (2 Peter 3:16). But this does mean that Scripture’s meaning may be comprehended by people who read it normally, by ordinary means. The Bible is purifying. The Scriptures, as the pure Word of God, have a purifying effect on Christians. They are the means by which God purifies the church. Accordingly Christ prays, “Sanctify them by thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17). No book in the long history of mankind has had the beneficial impact upon the individual, society, government and nations as the Bible. To take the Bible seriously is to have it affect your life for good. The Bible is fresh. The Bible invites and sustains a ceaseless reading and rereading for the believer. It never grows stale no matter how often one searches its pages for truth. No book of mere human origin could prove itself so refreshing (Psalm 19:7-10). The Bible is indestructible. Because it claims to be God’s Word and because it brings light into this dark world, no book has been so maligned in history as the Bible. From the earliest days of Christianity when Roman Emperor Diocletian (who lived about A.D. 236-316) tried to destroy Christianity and the Bible, through the attacks of certain modern-day non-Christian governments, and the attacks of unbelieving critical scholarship and hosts of agnostics and atheists, many have tried to put an end to the Bible’s influence.  All have failed. “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13). How we praise God for giving to us His Word!


1 P. D. Feinberg, “Bible, Inerrancy and Infallibility of” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 2nd ed., edited by Walter A. Elwell (Baker Academic, 2001), p. 156.

2 This excellent statement is well worth your careful review. You may access all the records of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy and all three of their landmark statements at <>

3 Feinberg, p. 157

Dr. Les Lofquist is Assistant Professor of Practical Theology and Director of Church Relations at Shepherds Theological Seminary. He also serves on the pastoral staff of The Shepherd’s Church and is Editor of Poimenas. Previously he served as Executive Director of IFCA International, a position he held for twenty years.

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