Practical Theology 1: The Holy Scriptures
This is part of a series on the practical application of the theological truths contained in our doctrinal statement. See previous entries: Intro
1. The Holy Scriptures
We believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the verbally inspired Word of God, the final authority for faith and life, inerrant in the original writings, infallible and God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16,17; 2 Peter 1:20,21; Matthew 5:18; John 16:12,13).
No matter what any given individual might claim, every single person in the whole world that has ever or will ever exist submits to authority. Every single person looks to some authority for answers to the most basic questions of life. Though they might not be able to identify who or what that authority is, every person has an ultimate authority to which they look. Catholics look to the church; secularists look toward science, philosophy, reason, or politics; False religions have holy books and figureheads they follow; many simply look to themselves.
If the truth were to be told, every single person in the list above actually looks to the same thing as their final authority: man. Science, philosophy, politics and false religions all have their source in humanity. The trouble is humanity is terribly flawed. We make mistakes, and we make them constantly. For a while people thought philosophy was the answer but if you’ve ever read Ten Books that Screwed Up the World by Benjamin Wiker (highly recommended) it becomes immensely evident that philosophy has only damaged our world and our understanding of ourselves. Even science evolves and scientists can’t agree on the interpretation of the data. No, humanity can’t be our final authority. We’re simply too messed up.
What, then, is that final authority?
For the Christian, the answer is simple: The Scriptures. The Bible is our final authority. Why? Because it is the only book in the universe that is of divine origin. God wrote it. Yes, He used a human agent, but God oversaw the process.
The doctrinal statement reproduced above states that the Bible is “verbally inspired.” This means it was not just the ideas that were inspired, but every individual word was inspired. 2 Tim 3:16 says that “All Scripture is inspired by God” or, more literally “All Scripture is God-breathed” There are they very words of God.
The statement also says that the Bible is “inerrant” and “infallible”. This simply means that as the Scriptures were composed, they contained no mistakes (“inerrant” = without error”). The Bible is 100% true in all that it teaches. “Infallible” means that it is incapable of making mistakes. God is perfect, and as such He is incapable of making mistakes. His Word therefore, is incapable of making mistakes. So, the Scriptures are inerrant, free of error, and infallible, incapable of making error. Therefore, all that it teaches is true. Check out 2 Peter 2:19-21: “we have the prophetic word strongly confirmed. You will do well to pay attention to it, as to a lamp shining in a dismal place…No prophecy of Scripture comes from one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, men spoke from God as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
If indeed the Bible is the inerrant, infallible, inspired Word of God, then we ought to do as Peter wrote: “pay attention to it,” and not just for intellectual purposes, but as the source of all truth. We ought to look to the Lord as the final authority in our lives.
The implications of this are staggering. If the Bible is as true as it claims it is, then we all have the responsibility to…
1) Know what it says. Have you read through the entire Bible? Have you studied it? The Scripture says that to whom much is given, much will be required. I believe we will be held accountable for our lack of knowledge of God’s Word when it is so readily available today.
2) Obey it. Once you know what the Bible says, you must obey it. You must be able to understand, interpret, and apply the Bible. This is every Christian’s responsibility.
In the Christian life, there will be many situations where you may not know what to do or how to proceed. When you choose to live in submission to the Scriptures, you seek to orient yourself to the Scriptures so that when those times arise, you ask “What does the Bible say about this?” or “What biblical principles apply to this situation?” We should also examine areas of life that we normally do not give much thought to and routinely ask “am I doing the biblical thing here?”
If you do choose to submit to the Word of God as your final authority, you will notice several things. First, you will have stability in life because you will be standing on a stable foundation. The ideas of the world are constantly changing. God’s Word never changes because God never changes. Second, you will seldom, if ever, face true “gray” areas. The principles of the Bible govern every single possible area of life. This does not mean every decision will be easy or clear, but that answers may be found. Third, life lived under the authority of God’s Word as the only authority is a more fulfilling life. Jesus said he came that we may have life, and have it more abundantly (John 10:10). This can only be true if we are following what He has taught us in His Word. And finally, you can live life with confidence that you are pleasing the Lord to the degree to which you live in accordance with His word.
So is this theological statement practical? Absolutely. Without Scripture as our final authority, we are left to our own devices, and that is a very sorry prospect indeed. So unleash this theology in your life and stand on the unchanging Word of God. Read it. Study it. Live it.
Be blessed; be a blessing