LONGVIEW, Texas (BP) – One of the foundational beliefs we share as Southern Baptists concerns the nature of the Bible. Historic Christianity teaches that the origin of the Scriptures is not man, but God Himself. So when we hear the words of Scripture, we are hearing the voice of God.
That means the Bible is not merely a book that guides our faith; it is the book upon which our entire faith rests! Everything we believe about God, Jesus and salvation is revealed in it, and without this biblical foundation, Christianity has no substance.
Millard Erickson states: “By inspiration of Scripture we mean that supernatural influence of the Holy Spirit on the Scripture writers which rendered their writings an accurate record of the revelation or which resulted in what they wrote actually being the Word of God.” F.F. Bruce gives a more concise definition: “The inspiration of Scripture is that operation of the Holy Spirit as a result of which words spoken or written by men are also the Word of God.” In essence, the human authors of the Bible were being supernaturally influenced by the Holy Spirit as they wrote, which means they were writing the words of God. This has been the commonly held conviction since the birth of Christianity.
Justin Martyr in the second century referred to the Bible as “the very language of God.” Later, in the fourth century, Gregory Nyssa described the Scriptures as “the voice of the Holy Spirit.” This sentiment was reinforced in the 16th and 17th centuries by the Protestant reformers. It’s important to note that those convictions concerning the Scripture did not originate with these church leaders, but rather echoed what the apostles believed and what the Bible reveals about itself.
Two of the numerous passages that clearly reveal the divine inspiration of Scripture are 2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Peter 1:20-21. In the first, Paul refers to the Scriptures as “breathed out” by God. In the second, Peter describes the authors of Scripture as being “moved by the Holy Spirit” in their writing. The inspiration of the Scriptures leads to the logical conclusion that they are also authoritative. As John Feinberg says, “If God, the highest authority, has given us His Word, it must have authority over us.”
What does the authority of the Scriptures mean for us today? The answer is simple – obedience! If God’s Word is authoritative in nature, then it must be obeyed. Corneliu Constantineanu states it this way: “To live by the authority of Scripture means to allow ourselves to be permanently shaped and molded by the story of the Bible, especially as we are constantly tempted to think and to do as the world does! It is only the Scriptures that can judge and redeem our own actions and lives. That is why we should allow Scripture to teach us, to guide us, to bring us back to the biblical view of the purpose and meaning of life.”
The Bible is the source of truth that all other views and opinions are subservient to in our life. By the Spirit of God, the Word of God has a transformative effect on us. It is through the reading, obeying, and preaching of the Bible that the glory of God and the life He offers are revealed to humanity. God has given us this precious gift as the primary means by which we know Him, His will and His redemptive work through Jesus. Let us know it, love it, live it and proclaim it!
Todd Kaunitz is pastor of New Beginnings Baptist Church in Longview, Texas, and president of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. This article originally appeared in the Southern Baptist TEXAN.