The Holy Scriptures

Content Author: 
Melton, Donnie
Lesson Five from
Those Things Most Surely Believed by Us
Text: 2 Timothy 3:15-17

Introduction

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.

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 invisible 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Quality Category

The first two concepts are classified under the quality category. These concepts reflect the quality of the method of inspiration.

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 own understanding.

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.

Quantity Category

The last two concepts are classified under the quantity category. These concepts reflect the quantity of the method of inspiration.

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 God.

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.

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, “But 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.

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.

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 Testament today.

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 Testament word-for-word.”

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.

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 Holy Scriptures.

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 rejected.

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.

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.

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.

Lesson Five

The Holy Scriptures

  1. The study of the Doctrine of the Bible is called _________________.
  2. These truths revealed by _____________ would have not been known if God not chosen to reveal them.
  3. _____________ is the revealing of otherwise unknown truths of God to those who would record these truths.
  4. The ______________ of the Bible is one of the basic beliefs of Bibliology.
  5. These four concepts can be classified into two categories which are the ______________ and __________________ categories.
  6. Because the Bible is the __________ ___________ inspired Word of God, it is trustworthy.
  7. Bible ___________ means that God has divinely intervened to preserve the Bible.
  8. Three ways that God has divinely intervened to preserve the Bible is through the _____________ of the Scriptures, the ______________ of the Scriptures, and the ______________  ______________of the Scriptures.
  9. The ____________-________ Text was compiled using the minority text, ignoring the majority of manuscript evidence.
  10. Therefore, modern versions of the Bible come (except the New KJV) from a ______________ text.
Donnie Melton

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 20:12

The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD hath made even both of them.