What I Believe: The Scriptures

Consise statement: The Bible is, in its entirety, the verbally inspired and totally infallible Word of God.

Key ideas:

  • Plenary verbal inspiration: The Bible is verbally inspired in its entirety by God, down to the very letter in the original text. (John 16:12-13,  Acts 1:16, 1 Corinthians 2:13,  2 Timothy 3:15-17, 2 Peter 1:20-21, 2 Peter 3:16)
  • Infallible and inerrant: The text is totally free of any errors of any kind. (Proverbs 30:5, Matthew 5:18, Matthew 24:35, John 17:17)
  • Biblical study through the Holy Spirit: We are commanded to learn and study the Bible, and the work of the Holy Spirit is required for proper understanding. (Luke 4:4, Romans 15:4, 1 Corinthians 2:12-16)

I believe that God the Holy Spirit supernaturally guided the fallible human authors of Scripture in such a way that his message was recorded perfectly and completely, without interfering with the free will, literary style, or personal perspective of the author. It is key to note that this inerrancy applies to the original text only, and not necessarily the further copies and translations; when the most accurate answer is being sought in study, it may be necessary to refer to the original texts for further information or insight.

This is not simple dictation, or any similar process in which the human author’s mind was not actively engaged in the writing. The personality, culture, style, and outlook of the authors comes through without distorting the message in any way, and is not reflective of any lack of control over the text on God’s part, but rather an evidence that God did not coerce the free will of his followers in the writing of these texts.

Some professed Christians propose that the Bible is only partially inspired, usually suggesting that there are historical errors or inconsistencies due to the authors’ mistakes, and it is only the doctrinal principles that are inerrant. This view is inherently flawed and has never been evidenced; archaeology has never contradicted a biblical reference and has only proven time and time again that the Bible is correct in its accounts, even giving discovery where previously there was no corroborating evidence  for the events recorded. By suggesting that the Bible contains historical errors, they reject the Scriptures as an entirely trustworthy source and seek to filter what they want to agree with through a fallible lens.

We are therefore to study the Bible with the knowledge that it is the wholly perfect and God-breathed word to us, being mindful of our own limitations and biases as well as our sinful nature, in order to discover the commands and intentions of God, which can only be revealed to us through the sanctification of the Holy Spirit.

Bible Study: Acts 1-2

The question: in Acts 1-2, what are the apostles feeling and fearing now that Jesus is gone? How do they react?  This is a long one, so I’ve hidden some of it behind a “more” tag.

The initial reaction to Christ’s resurrection seems to be that the political victory they have desired has now come (1:6) but instead they are told that the political power was not yet coming (1:7) – instead, they would receive the Holy Spirit and become the witnesses of Christ to the world (1:8).   We can see that m any of Christ’s followers, while seeing him as a teacher, also saw him as their (potential) political and military leader as well, expecting him to restore Israel to its former power and glory, expelling Rome and its armies, and freeing the nation.

For many then, this must have come as a huge disappointment, perhaps disillusioning them to the other teachings of Christ. And so the initial fallout starts – first with the political zealots who saw Christ as a purely political leader. Those who remained at this point had to shift their focus away from all of that onto the spiritual implications of what they were told. They were to receive power, this Holy Spirit, and they would use this power to bear witness of his deeds and words to the world. Of note is that Christ immediately covers all ground here – he starts with Jerusalem and Judea, the provinces near where he was, where many of his followers had been or came from. He starts by saying in your own houses and neighborhoods, then goes to Samaria – geographically close, but culturally very different – and then adds “and to the end of the earth.”

He has just taken these people out of their comfort zones. He’s said that the power they now have will take them to places they’ve never been, to places they don’t want to go, but would still be there and working even in their own homes.  This would have different effects on different people, and thus I suspect that the apostles and his other followers all reacted differently to the news. Someone like Thomas was probably trying to process what it meant, what he would have to do, while Peter was thinking of where he would go. But what’s interesting here is that the first thing they do after hearing this news is not to talk about it, or immediately go act on it – instead, they return to the place where they have been staying, about a mile away, near Jerusalem, and the remaining apostles (along with about a hundred other Christ followers) meet in an upper room and elect a new apostle.

Continue reading Bible Study: Acts 1-2

John 8:1-11

1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them.
3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst
4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery.
5 Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?”
6 This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.
7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”
8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground.
9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.
10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

Jesus here is teaching. He is in a position of authority when the Pharisees show up to pose their question. They refer to the command in Deuteronomy 22:24, referenced again in Ezekiel 16. Jesus does not respond to them directly, but instead bends down and writes on the ground. We don’t know what he wrote, or why. It appears from the next line that it did not answer their question, however, as they “continued to ask him.”

At this point he stands up (ceasing his writing) and gives his answer. He does not (directly) challenge the law cited, nor the guilt of the prisoner. He also ignores the obvious duplicity of the Pharisees. He says, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her,” and then bends down and continues writing. I think this is really interesting. First his passive-aggressive approach to the presentation; he does not say the law is correct or incorrect, does not challenge it, but instead challenges those who supposedly seek to uphold it. Presumably, he’s speaking only to the Pharisees when he says “among you,” as it later says they all left but there’s still someone around to record the event. His challenge, then, of saying that only the one without sin among the judges may condemn is very interesting. After they leave, he is left standing “alone” with the woman (presumably not entirely alone – rather still in his position of authority, with his followers watching) and he then tells the woman he does not condemn her, and tells her to sin no more. This is an acknowledgment of Christ’s sinless nature, as he did not walk away with the Pharisees, or move on, but instead took the responsibility of resolving the situation into his own hands after the other authorities had left, being unworthy.

This idea shapes a lot of my interactions with those outside the church, and I hope will further shape it in the future. I have always had the idea that if someone does not claim the doctrines and teachings of scripture, it is unreasonable to expect they will follow the teachings. It would be like a member of the basketball team being upset with a member of the chess club for not showing up to morning practices in the gym.

Note that this is not moral relativism I am suggesting here: the truths and morals laid out by Scripture are not compromised. I instead suggest that those who reject the Word will obviously reject its morals and teachings. It is not our place to judge them, for we are no more sinless than the Pharisees above. Rather, I have chosen to merely make the person aware of my beliefs and let it rest. Again, my job is not to judge. My job is to act as an emissary of the Gospel. An emissary, “someone sent on a mission to represent the interests of someone else.” I [should] represent Christ through my actions and lifestyle, constant preaching or judging is not only counterproductive but inappropriate. Even Christ, when he absolves the woman, simply says “sin no more.” We don’t know what happened to her. She may have gone right back to her sinful lifestyle. Christ has done his work. He has told the woman what she must do. It is up to her to follow. Similarly, my non-believing friends know that I am a Christ-follower. They, I hope, see some glimpse of his purpose in my life. I represent him to them. It is up to them to follow.

…I’m also really curious about what he wrote.