Baptists have long proclaimed the Holy
Scriptures to be their authority for faith and practice. Of the importance
of the Holy Scriptures, the Apostle Paul wrote, “And that from a
child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee
wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture
is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for
reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of
God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2nd Timothy 3:15-17). God has chosen to reveal Himself and His truths in the
Holy Scriptures. Therefore, the Holy Bible is indeed the basis for all
you do and believe as a Christian.
The word “Bible” comes from a Greek word
which means “book.” While there are many great books in the world, this
book is the greatest of them all. Since God is its author, it is a
sacred book. God used more than forty men over a period of more than
fifteen hundred years to write the Bible, but He is the only author. The
words of this book are the very words of God. For this reason, the Bible
is often called the Word of God.
The study of the Bible is a crucial
doctrine. Since all other doctrines come from it, it must be a reliable
and accurate source of truth. It is the book which contains all the other
doctrines that we believe. Since your faith is founded upon the
Scriptures, it is important that you study about it. The study of the
Doctrine of the Bible is called Bibliology.
There are three major truths that will
help you to understand this crucial Bible doctrine. You will examine
these truths in this study of the Word of God.
I. The Revelation of the Bible
The first major truth that you will
examine is the revelation of the Bible. You will examine two
passages of Scripture about the subject of revelation. Concerning this
subject, Paul wrote, “For therein is the righteousness of God
revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, the just shall live
by faith. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven
against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the
truth in unrighteousness. Because that which may be known of God is
manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the
things of him . . . are clearly seen, being understood by the things
that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are
without excuse” (Romans 1:17-20). The key thought of this
passage is that God has chosen to reveal Himself to mankind. The second
passage on revelation was written by Paul in his letter to the Ephesians. In this passage, he wrote, “How that by revelation he made known
unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye
read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in
other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed
unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit” (Ephesians
3:3-5). Paul acknowledged that those things of which the holy apostles and
prophets wrote they received by revelation by the Holy Spirit.
It is this passage written by Paul from
which you will glean three facts about the subject of revelation.
A. Mystery of Revelation
The first fact gleaned from this passage
is the mystery of revelation. Paul wrote of this, “Which in other
ages was not made known unto the sons of men. . . .” These truths
revealed by revelation would have not been known if God had not chosen to
reveal them to those who would record them in the Word of God. The truths
found in the Bible are not the words or thoughts of men, but are those
given unto men by revelation.
B. Meaning of Revelation
The second fact found in this passage is
regarding the meaning of revelation. Of this meaning of revelation,
Paul wrote, “it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and
prophets. . . .” These truths, which were not known in other
ages, have been revealed to those who would pen the Holy Scriptures. Revelation is the revealing of otherwise unknown truths of God to those
who would record these truths for our benefit. The truths of the Bible
have come to us through the process of revelation.
C. Means of Revelation
The third fact about revelation contained
in this passage is the means of revelation. The key phrase concerning this
fact is “by the Spirit.” Concerning the means of revelation
by the Spirit, Peter wrote, “For the prophecy came not in old time
by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the
Holy Ghost” (2nd Peter 1:21). The means of revelation
is that it was given unto “holy men” by the Holy Spirit of
God. Revelation came from God and was given unto men by the means of God
the Spirit. They spake and wrote that which God had revealed unto them “by the Spirit.”
The Bible is the complete revelation of
God. There will be no further revelation until we gather in His presence
in Heaven. There is no need for further revelation, for He has revealed
all that we need to know in the Bible.
II. The Inspiration of the Bible
The second truth that you will examine
is the inspiration of the Bible. Concerning inspiration, Paul wrote,
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God . . .” (2nd Timothy 3:16). The inspiration of the Bible is one of the basic beliefs of
Bibliology. Without the truth of inspiration, the Bible is a book of
man’s opinions and ideas. Because the Bible has been given by inspiration,
it is the very Word of God.
To understand the inspiration of the
Bible, you should examine two facts about it.
A. Meaning of Inspiration
The first fact you will examine is the
meaning of inspiration. The word that is used in our text for inspiration
means “God-breathed.” Concerning the word inspiration, Hershel Hobbs
wrote, “It refers to the divine ‘inbreathing’ whereby God imparted his
revealed truth through human messengers to be declared and inscribed to
men.” God chose human writers to pen divine truths through inspiration. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is the Word of God. The words of
2nd Timothy 3:16 can be summarized in four words; these words are all
Scripture is inspired!
Luke sheds further light on the meaning
of inspiration as he wrote, “Men and brethren, this scripture must
needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David
spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus” and
“For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be
desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and His bishoprick let another
take” (Acts 1:16, 20). The words which David wrote in Psalms were
the words he was given by the Holy Ghost. God in-breathed His words,
through the Holy Spirit, into those whom He had chosen to write them.
B. Method of Inspiration
The second fact you will examine is the
method of inspiration. It is essential to understand properly the concept
of inspiration in order to have a correct understanding of the method of
inspiration. While there are four concepts concerning the method of
inspiration that have been taught, only one has a biblical basis. These
four concepts can be classified into two categories.
1. Quality Category
The first two concepts are classified
under the quality category. These concepts reflect the quality of the
method of inspiration.
a. Thought Inspiration
The first concept is thought inspiration.
Some believe that God gave His revealed truth through men by thought
inspiration. Those who espouse this method claim God gave His thoughts to
men. These men were free to express these inspired thoughts in whatever
words they chose.
The problem with this method is that the
thoughts of an infinite God far exceed the understanding of finite men. Therefore, men could never express the thoughts of God in words of their
b. Word or Verbal Inspiration
The second concept is word or verbal
inspiration. This method is more commonly accepted by conservative
Believers. Those who endorse this method believe that the very words of
God were given to men. These men penned the words of God as they
wrote down the words of the Bible.
2. Quantity Category
The last two concepts are classified
under the quantity category. These concepts reflect the quantity of the
method of inspiration.
a. Partial Inspiration
The third concept is partial
inspiration. Some believe only some or part of the Scriptures were given
under inspiration. The problem with this concept is no one seems to
know which part of the Bible is the inspired part and which part is
not. Those who teach that the Bible is partially inspired often say
the Bible contains the words of God rather than it is the Word of
b. Plenary or Full Inspiration
The fourth concept is plenary or full
inspiration. Those who accept the plenary or full inspiration of the
Scriptures believe every word of the Bible was given by inspiration. They
teach that from Genesis to Revelation the Bible is the Word of God. They
do not believe it merely contains the words of God, but that it is the
Word of God.
Conservative Baptists believe that the
Bible is given by verbal plenary inspiration. They take 2nd Timothy 3:16 literally to read, “All [every]
Scripture [written word] is given by inspiration
[inspired] of God. . . .” The Bible teaches the plenary (every)
verbal (written word) method of the inspiration of the Bible.
Because God is the author of every word
of the Bible, two words are aptly used to describe it. The first word is
inerrant. This means the Bible is free from error. Since every
word of the Bible is from God, you can rest assured that it is without
error. Therefore, it is inerrant. The second word is infallible. This word is often used to describe the Word of God. This means it is
dependable or trustworthy. Because the Bible is the verbal plenary
inspired Word of God, it is trustworthy as the authority for all matters
of faith and practice. This is the historic position of the Baptist Faith.
III. Preservation of the Bible
The third truth that you will examine
is the preservation of the Bible. Bible preservation means that God has
divinely intervened to preserve the Bible for each subsequent generation. God, who gave the Bible word-for-word, has preserved it word-for-word. It
is only logical that the God who gave His words would preserve them! The
result of preservation is that you have a Bible which is still as inerrant
and as infallible as the original writings penned under inspiration.
The question arises regarding which
version of the Bible is the best to use. Those who teach modern versions
of the Bible are the best do not believe that God has preserved the Bible
word-for-word. Rather, they believe that the major teachings of the Bible
have been preserved, but not the words. In fact, they state that they
believe that the “original autographs” were inerrant and infallible. The
“original autographs” were those writings which were penned by the
original writers of the Bible. These original writings do not exist
today. While some believe that the major truths of the Bible have been
preserved, they reject the idea that God has preserved the Holy Scriptures
word-for-word. In contrast, those who use only the King James Bible do so
because they believe that it is the word-for-word preserved Bible for the
English-speaking people today. They believe that the King James Bible is
from Genesis to Revelation the preserved Word of God. Therefore, they
believe that the preserved word-for-word Bible is still the
inerrant, infallible Word of God!
The second question arises as to whether
the Bible teaches the preservation of the Scriptures. There are four
passages which teach the preservation of the Bible. In the first passage,
Isaiah wrote, “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word
of our God shall stand for ever” (Isaiah 40:8). In the second
passage, the Psalmist wrote, “The words of the LORD are pure words:
as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt
keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever”
(Psalms 12:6-7). In the third passage, Peter wrote,
the Word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the
gospel is preached unto you” (1st Peter 1:25). In the
fourth passage, Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but
my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). The Bible teaches
clearly the preservation of the Scriptures.
There are four areas which relate
to Bible preservation you will examine in this section.
A. Copying of the Scriptures
The first area you will examine is the
copying of the Scriptures. Though the original autographs no longer
exist, exact copies of them do exist. In order to understand how God
preserved His Word by copying, you will examine how God preserved both the
Old and New Testaments.
1. Old Testament Preservation
The first area you will examine is Old
Testament Preservation. The Masoretic scribes were used to copy the Old
Testament writings. Believing they had been given the very words of God,
these scribes used extreme diligence in copying the Old Testament
Scriptures. The text they copied again and again became known as the Masoretic Text. It contained the thirty-nine books that make up our Old
Of the diligence they exercised in
copying the writings of the Old Testament, Donald Clarke wrote, “In making
copies of Hebrew manuscripts which are the precious heritage of the Church
today, the Jewish scribes exercised the greatest care . . . counting, not
only the words, but every letter, noting how many times each particular
letter occurred, and destroying at once the sheet on which a mistake was
detected, in their anxiety to avoid the introduction of the least error in
the sacred Scriptures, which they prized so highly and held in such awe.
Moreover, each new copy had to be made from an approved manuscript,
written with a special kind of ink, upon sheets made from the skin of a
‘clean’ animal. The writers also had to pronounce each word before writing
it, and on no account was a single word to be written from memory. They
were to reverently wipe their pen before writing the name of God in any
form and to wash their whole body before writing ‘Jehovah,’ lest that holy
name be tainted in the writing. The new copy was carefully examined with
the original almost immediately; and it is said that if only one incorrect
letter was discovered the whole copy was rejected.” It was through the
extreme diligence of the Masoretic scribes that God preserved the Old
2. New Testament Preservation
The second area you will examine is New
Testament preservation. Having been familiar with the diligence used to
preserve the Old Testament writings, those who would copy the sacred
writings of the New Testament would exercise equal care. Of the reverence
held for the writings of the New Testament, Paul wrote, “How that by
revelation he made known to me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few
words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the
mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of
men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the
Spirit” (Ephesians 3:3-5). Paul acknowledged that he believed the
writings revealed in the New Testament should be highly esteemed as a
revelation from God.
As God divinely intervened, the New
Testament was preserved word-for-word as the early Believers made copies
of the original writings from which our New Testament comes. Copy after
copy was made of these writings, preserving them for future generations.
It was through the copying of the
Scriptures that God preserved both the Old and the New Testament writings.
B. Canon of the Scriptures
The second area you will examine is the
canon of the Scriptures. A problem occurred which made the canon of the
Scriptures become a necessary part of Bible preservation. False writings
appeared on the scene, which had the appearance of the sacred writings but
were not. Through divine guidance, the early Church established
guidelines or standards which writings had to pass to be recognized as
sacred. In fact, the word “canon” refers to a measuring line or a rule. Only those writings which passed these guidelines would be included in the
Concerning the canon of the Scriptures,
Donald Clarke gave three rules the early Church used to guide them in
collecting the sacred books together.
1. The Holy Scripture would guide them in
matters of truth. John 16:13
2. The truth is the Word. “Thy Word
is truth” (John 17:17b).
3. The true New Testament Scriptures were
those that glorified Christ. “He shall glorify me . . .” (John 16:14).
Of the three rules, the one of paramount
importance was whether or not a writing glorified Christ. Those writings
that were accepted must glorify Christ. Those that failed this test were
It was through these rules or measuring
lines that the twenty-seven books of the New Testament were recognized as
sacred writings. They were included in the canon of the Scriptures which
you have today. Not only did God preserve His word through the copying of
the Scriptures, but He also used the canon of Scriptures to collect only
those writings which were sacred.
C. Common Language of the Scriptures
The third way God preserved His Word is
through the common language of the Scriptures. In order to preserve His
Word, God allowed the Holy Scriptures to be recorded in the common
language of the people. You will examine two of these common languages
through which God preserved His Word.
The first common language God used to
preserve the Holy Scriptures was Koine Greek. Though the Roman Empire
controlled things politically, the Greek culture dominated things
culturally. Throughout the Roman Empire, the common people used Koine
Greek to communicate. It was this language that those who penned the Holy
Scriptures used to record what God gave them. Therefore, these original
autographs were written in Koine Greek. Consequently, these writings were
copied and recopied for use by the common people of that day. Since the
Scriptures were in the common man’s language, it could be understood as it
circulated throughout the Roman Empire.
The second common language God used to
preserve the Holy Scriptures was the English language. At the time the
Bible was translated into English, the British Empire boasted that the
“sun never set on the British Empire.” So extensive was their
colonization, that the majority of the world came under their domination
and control. As the result of this colonization, the English language
became the language of the common people of the worldwide empire.
Therefore, this worldwide language became the language into which the Holy
Scriptures were translated.
Concerning those individuals authorized
by the King of England to translate the Scriptures, there are two things
which distinguished them. First, they were distinguished by their
outstanding scholarship. Those chosen for this work of translation were
gifted linguists. Surely, this group of men was some of the world’s
greatest scholars. Secondly, the reverence that these men had
for the Holy Scriptures that they were to translate distinguished
them. These men understood well that they were responsible for
translating the words of God into the common language of their day.
Understanding the sacredness of their
task, these scholars examined the many texts available. They chose a text
known as the Textus Receptus or the Majority Text because they believed it
to be the most accurate. This text was the one that was in agreement with
ninety-five percent of the Greek manuscripts available. The remaining
Greek manuscripts, known as the minority text, were not in agreement with
the ninety-five percent or majority of manuscript evidence. In fact, the
remaining five percent did not agree even with each other. Having chosen
the text which they believed was the preserved Word of God, they
translated it into the English Bible known as the King James Bible.
To accomplish this work of translation,
these scholarly men divided into six groups. Each committee or group was
assigned specific portions of the Holy Scriptures to translate. Each man
of a group was given a portion of the Scriptures that were assigned to his
group. After each man completed his work, it was carefully reviewed by
each member of his group. As each group finished the Scriptures assigned
to them, their work was reviewed by the other committees. The completed
work was then reviewed by those chosen from the committees for the final
review. Their goal was to translate the Holy Scriptures accurately from
its original languages into the English language. Because of the
differences in the original languages and the English language, they had
to add words sometimes for clarity that had not been in the original. In
order that you might know that these words were not found in the original
text, they italicized these words. Such was their reverence for the Holy
Scriptures which they translated!
Through the use of common languages,
Almighty God preserved the Holy Scriptures so that the common man might
have a trustworthy and reliable Bible in his own language. As a result
of the translation work of 1611, the King James Bible became the preserved
Word of God for those who speak English today.
D. Corruption of the Scriptures
The final area you will examine is the
corruption of the Scriptures. Of this corruption, the Apostle Paul warned,
“For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God . . .” (2nd Corinthians 2:17a) This warning came at the time of the
writing of the New Testament. Of this corruption, Donald Clarke quoted
from the Introduction to the New Testament, stating, “that the
worst corruptions to which the New Testament has ever been subjected,
originated within a hundred years after it was composed. . . . ”
Yet, those who promote modern versions try to convince you that the oldest
manuscripts are the best. However, the fact that some manuscripts are
more ancient than others do not make them more reliable manuscripts!
It was from two of the more ancient
manuscripts that a revision committee lead by Westscott and Hort compiled
their revised version of the Bible. The text used by the revision
committee became known as the Westscott-Hort Text. The Westscott-Hort
Text was compiled using the minority text, ignoring the majority of
manuscript evidence. Remember, this minority text does not even agree with
itself. This text is the source of the modern versions (excluding the New
King James Version) of the Bible. Therefore, modern versions of the Bible
come from a corrupt text.
God has preserved His Word which He gave
by inspiration. The King James Bible is as much of a preserved, inerrant,
and infallible Word of God as the original writings which were penned
under divine inspiration. You have a trustworthy Bible upon which to base
your faith and practice.