Doctrine of Scripture: Brief Explanation of, and Scriptural Warrant for Doctrinal Subheadings
When looking at the doctrine of scripture through the lens of scripture itself and the historic confessions certain themes and attributes shine through. Here is a brief explanation of the attributes and issues:
Authority- When we speak of the authority of scripture we are saying that scripture’s words are God’s words and to obey or disobey scripture is to obey or disobey God Himself.1 The Old Testament is saturated with the phrase “Thus says the LORD” (כה אמר יהוה)which appears 158 times in the prophetic literature to accentuate the fact that the words that they spoke were not the words of man, but the word of God. God used various means to inspire or illumine the authors of the bible through immediate revelation, as the Ten Commandments written by “the finger of God” (31:18),mediated verbally, as to Moses concerning various laws (Exodus 33:11), or through extraordinary works of the Spirit such as visions(Jer. 1:11-19, Isa. 6, Eze. 37, etc.)
In the New Testament writings, we see, not only the reaffirmation of the Old testament as scripture, but also, the affirmation of the New Testament as the written word of God. (2Tim. 3:16, 2 Peter 1:21,1 Peter 3:15-16)
Sufficiency- In speaking of the sufficiency of scripture we are speaking of the fact that scripture alone is everything we need to know about God’s provision for salvation, a life of obedience, and a life of faith.2(2 Tim. 3:15, James 1:18, 2 Peter 1:23)
There is no need or ever will be any need for new revelations concerning salvation since redemptive history has culminated in the coming of the Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ.(Heb. 1:1-2, John 1:45, Acts 3:24)
Clarity- The doctrine of the Clarity is affirming that the things necessary for salvation can be clearly understood and deduced from the reading and hearing of scripture, without external human intervention, by the aid and illumination of the Holy Spirit.(Ps. 119:30) The general assumption by the Old and New Testament authors is that when scripture was read or heard it could be understood.(Deut. 6:6-7, Rom: 4:1-25, 15:4, 1 Cor. 10:1 -11, 2 Tim. 3:16-17) This does not exclude the necessity of teacher for not all scripture is easy to understand and God has gifted the church with teachers for the purpose of clarity and exhortation.(2 Peter 3:15-16)
Necessity- Although there is enough evidence in nature that there is a God and that His divine attributes are clearly represented and manifested in the world(Rom. 1:19-20,Ps.19:1), nature does not reveal the way of salvation, how to please God, nor does it reveal his will.3 Scripture is necessary for understanding salvation through the gospel(Rom.10-14-15,Tim. 3:15), living a godly life(Deut.6:4-8), and receiving his prescriptive will(Rom.12:2,1 John 5:3).
Inerrancy – The issue of inerrancy states that God has spoken in scripture therefore whenever scripture deals with any subject, historical narrative, and theological issue it always speaks truthfully on these issues based on the character and nature of God Himself.(Ps. 18:30, 19:7, 33:4,6, Heb. 6:18)
Inspiration- Inspiration is logically connected to the attribute of authority by the fact that “all scripture is God-breathed”(πᾶσα γραφὴ θεόπνευστος )(2 Tim.316).
Self-attestation- When we speak of the self-attestation of scripture, we are referring to the way that scripture declares itself to be the word of God (Luke 24:44,1 Peter 1:21,1 Tim. 5:18, Luke 24:27).
Inward Illumination by the Holy Spirit- Although there are many arguments for the historical reliability of scripture, the remarkable consistency of all the authors and other compelling facts that can bolster support for the authority of scripture, the Holy Spirit alone is responsible for our assurance.(1 Cor. 2:10-14)
Canon- When dealing with the issue of the canon, we want to assert with the reformers that the Old and New Testaments have their authenticity and authority not on the grounds of the church or any council, but by God Himself.
Natural Revelation- Our God has reveals Himself in three ways: through nature, through scripture, and most fully and perfectly in Christ (Heb. 1:1,Col. 1:16,19). When we speak of natural revelation we are talking of the manifold ways that God has revealed Himself in His creation and created order. God has created man in His own image (Gen 1:26) and the heavens and earth to display His Glory and that the perfection of His attributes would be proclaimed(Ps. 19:1, Rom. 1:20-21)