Thesis: The Bible claims to be the Word of God, and is thus without error.
1. In 1988 a Gallup Poll on religion asked the following question--"Which statement do you feel best describes your understanding of the Bible?
a. In a moment I'm going to show these statements on the overhead.
b. As I do, I'd like you to decide how you would answer that question.
c. I'll give the percentages when we've looked at all the possibilities.
2. The Bible is ... < overhead #1 >
a. Actual word of God to be taken literally, word for word (31%).
b. Inspired word of God; it contains no errors, but some verses are to taken symbolically rather than literally (25%).
c. Inspired word of God--may contain historical & scientific errors (22%).
d. Ancient book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts (10%).
e. Not inspired by God--represents man's best understanding of God (7%).
f. No opinion (6%).
I. VARIOUS VIEWS OF THE BIBLE.
A. From this simple survey it is clear that not everyone looks at the Bible the same way.
1. Time was when nearly everyone (in/out of church!) considered the Bible to be the Word of God.
a. People testifying in courts used to "swear on the Bible."
b. Not anymore!
2. Even in many churches there is not agreement on the nature of the Bible.
a. Someone (J. Sidlow Baxter) has said: "The biggest division between Christians is no longer between one denomination and another, but between those who accept the Bible as the inspired Word of God and those who do not."
b. The six possibilities above could be found in virtually any religious group today!
c. Illust. This is a very confusing situation! The following comment is from a popular study Bible and sums up the situation quite well: "Not many years ago all one had to say to affirm his belief in the full inspiration of the Bible was that he believed it was `the Word of God.' Then it became necessary to add `the inspired Word of God.' Later he had to include `the verbally inspired Word of God.' Then came the necessity to say `the plenary, verbally, infallible, inspired Word of God.' Today one has to say `the plenary, verbally, infallible, inspired, and inerrant-in-the-original manuscripts Word of God.' And even then, he may not communicate clearly!"
B. How can you view the Bible? What are the possibilities?
1. The Bible contains the Word of God (Liberal).
a. The WOG is embedded in the Bible.
b. There are historical & scientific errors.
2. The Bible becomes the Word of God (Neo-Liberal).
a. The Bible can function as WOG to you.
b. The fact that there are errors is immaterial.
3. The Bible is the Word of God (Conservative).
a. The Bible and the WOG are one and the same.
b. Since the Bible is the WOG it is inerrant.
II. WHAT DOES THE BIBLE CLAIM FOR ITSELF? < Two important texts >
1. This passage speaks of all Scripture as being inspired.
a. OT is in view in these verses.
b. NT is also called "Scripture" (see 2 Peter 3:16; 1 Tim. 5:18).
2. "All Scripture is God-breathed." What does that mean?
a. Word is used only here in all the New Testament.
b. Idea of "breath of God" is common (see Ps. 33:6; Job 33:4).
c. It means God is the source of Scripture--He created it! Scripture is ultimately God's doing, not man's!
B. 2 Peter 1:19-21.
1. This passage stresses that Scripture originates with God.
a. "Interpretation" (v. 20) does not mean what we usually mean.
b. It means "origin" as the very next verse illustrates.
2. While men are involved in the production of Scripture, God is still very much in control of the final product.
a. Illust. The picture in v. 21 is that of men being "carried along" by the Spirit much like a ship is "carried along" by the wind. The one at the helm has some control, but is really at the whim and mercy of the wind. Similarly, the authors of Scripture were guided along by the Holy Spirit in producing Scripture.
b. Illust. J.W. McGarvey, a famous Restoration preacher of a century ago, compared inspiration to driving a well-trained horse. You pull the rope to the left or right as you see the horse needs guidance; you slow him down when he goes too fast; you speed him up when he goes too slow, but most of the time you just let him go on his way. Your hand is always on the rope and the pressure of your hand is always felt by the horse.
C. These passages teach that God, not man, is ultimately responsible for Scripture. That's what it means to say the Bible is the WOG!