Pastor Dennis Smith
At Harvest Baptist Church, we have a high view of the Bible. We give it a prominent place in our services. We proclaim it and teach it as God’s truth. The Scriptures are the basis of our statement of faith, and they provide the background for our church constitution. We strive to be guided by the Bible in the life of the church. So, what are some qualities of the Scriptures that they should be so prominent in our thinking?
The first thing, I would say, is that the Bible is inspired. I’m sure we’ve all heard it described that way. By this, we mean that the writings are “God-breathed,” as though uttered by God himself even though he conveyed the words through chosen individuals. This way of describing the Bible is supported by the Bible itself as in 2 Timothy 3:16, where Paul says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God.” A plain, literal translation of the Greek here would be something like, “Every scripture is God-breathed.” The apostle Peter reinforces this notion when he says of prophecy, “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21). Peter here is saying that the writers of Scripture were being “carried along” or “borne along” by the Holy Spirit (as though upon waves or winds) as they labored with pen and ink.
And as we speak about biblical inspiration, we should clarify that we believe in verbal, plenary inspiration. This means first that the very words of the Bible were inspired by God (that’s the verbal part). This is opposed to views such as “concept inspiration,” which contends that the general principles or ideas in the Bible were inspired, but not the actual words used to convey them.
Then secondly, inspiration extends to every part of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation (that’s the plenary part). In all its literary forms, from prophecy to poetry to historical narrative, the words are from God.
So, divine inspiration is one quality that we ascribe to the Bible. Another that we will touch on here is the Bible’s authority. And the authority of Scripture is closely linked to its inspiration; they really go together. If the Bible is God’s word, and God is perfect in all his ways (as claimed in Deuteronomy 32:4), then it follows that the Bible is authoritative. The authority of Scripture might be defined in various ways, but I personally view it as meaning the Bible is inerrant and it is binding.
When we say the Bible is inerrant, we mean that it is true: it corresponds to reality in all its propositions. For example, the events described really did happen, and the Bible’s assertions about God and his dealings with his creation are factual. Psalm 12:6 describes God’s words as “pure,” the point being that there is no corrupting element contained in them.
Then when I say the Bible is binding, I mean that its message applies to every person. No one is exempt from the Bible’s precepts. All men will be judged in accordance with its decrees. The Bible is the record of the divine will and God’s dealings with man. It is the final rule and authority for determining proper belief and practice in all things, having priority over mere human wisdom, tradition, or any other source of knowledge or instruction.
So, I have claimed here that the Scriptures are divinely inspired and authoritative. My arguments by necessity have been brief; much more could be said in both of these areas. But I trust that these thoughts might refresh your appreciation of the Bible and its priority at Harvest and that they might spur your diligent, personal study of it.