Summary: The Word of God is the foundation for faith and practise. We have received it as inerrant and infallible. Therefore, when we read this Word, we are reading the very words God intended for our benefit.
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”
For the past several weeks, the distinctive doctrines defining a Baptist congregation have been the focus of our studies in the Word. What are the beliefs that have historically defined Baptists as a people of God? In a sense, if we are true to the Baptist Faith, each time we worship, the message presented and the hymns of praise offered up will be an affirmation of Baptist doctrine.
At the outset, I should confess that the text before us today has become most precious for me. It has provided stability in the midst of a volatile and unpredictable world. The text speaks of the revelation of God through His Word, the Bible. The Bible, which is declared to be the Word of God, is the focus of this day’s message. The source of Scripture and the value of the Word and the purpose of God’s communication are considered. As Christians, we need to know what God says concerning His Word so that we will be able to understand His will and so that we will know the truths He considers to be important, even vital, for our well-being.
Peter attests of those who wrote the Scriptures and especially of what they wrote, “no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” [2 PETER 1:21]. As Baptists, we accept the Bible to be God’s Word, divinely communicated for our benefit and for God’s glory. We believe that the Bible was given by God, communicating through men who were superintended by the Holy Spirit in order to reveal God’s Person and His will to all mankind. In saying this, we acknowledge that we are obligated both to know God as He has revealed Himself, and to make Him known.
I invite you to open your Bible to this familiar and vital statement from the pen of the Apostle Paul. Together, let’s discover God’s purpose in delivering His Word to us. Learning this crucial truth, we will perhaps have a clearer understanding of the purpose for which the Bible has been given and we will learn to esteem this Word.
THE SOURCE OF THE WORD OF GOD — “All Scripture is breathed out by God”—theopneustos, God-breathed. According to the Word, “Every word of God proves true” [PROVERBS 30:5]. One popular translation commonly used by evangelicals, translates that verse, “Every word of God is flawless” [PROVERBS 30:5, NIV]. The text pointedly teaches that every word of Scripture as originally written is the very word God intended to be written. To put the matter another way, the doctrine of “verbal inspiration” of Scripture is that the very words of Scripture—the words themselves and not just the general ideas—are “God breathed.” Therefore, when you read the Bible, you are reading the very words of God. We do not worship the Bible as though it was a god, but we do receive its words as the very words of God breathed out for our benefit.
I realise that every religion claims divine origin for the words they hold sacred. Mormons claim that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon from golden plates he found buried in New York State. Smith claimed that he was guided to the plates by the angel Maroni. He would place a “peep stone” in the crown of a hat, and covering his face with the hat he would spell out the words that were in turn written down by Hiram Page. He “translated” these plates without even having the plates in front of him because he claimed they remained buried! That would certainly qualify as a claim for divine origin.
Muslims claim that an illiterate Arab named Muhammad received a series of revelations from the angel Gabriel that were in turn written down on “ribs of palm leaves and tablets of white stone” to become the Quran. It is not a problem for Islamic “scholars” that the palm leaves and tablets of white stone are not found and that the first written efforts at what would become the Quran were not produced for hundreds of years. Buddhists and Hindus make similar claims of divine origin for their sacred writings.
Christians make a claim that proponents of any religion would make. How can we know that the Bible is the Word of God? Why can we be so confident of this claim? First, understand that the Bible was written by over forty different writers. Each claimed to have been guided by the Spirit of God, just as Peter asserted in the verse we saw earlier [see 2 PETER 1:21]. The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, Daniel and the various Minor Prophets repeatedly claim that the Lord spoke to them, and that they were writing down the very words that God spoke. The Apostles likewise claimed that God spoke through the prophets [see ACTS 3:21].