by Brian Gunter
We live in a culture in which people typically view the Bible as a storybook, a collection of inspirational quotes, or a cryptic codebook of prophecies. While the Bible has some amazing stories, inspirational verses, and contains much prophetic truth, the Bible was not primarily intended to be any of those things. The Bible is so much more than all of these things. The Bible is the divinely-inspired Word of God. The Bible is God’s message to God’s people. There are three foundational truths which will correct our common misconceptions about the Bible: inerrancy, sufficiency, and perspicuity.
“Inerrant” literally means “without error.” When I say that the Bible is inerrant, I mean that the Bible is completely true, with nothing false in it whatsoever. The stories in the Bible are not merely stories; they are historical accounts of what actually took place in time and history. There was a real Adam and a real Eve, and they were the first man and the first woman to ever live. There was a real man named Jesus, who not only claimed to be the Son of God, but he proved that he is the Son of God by healing the sick, casting out demons, and even by raising himself from the dead.
Many liberal scholars will claim that the Bible is full of errors and is nothing more than an account of what ancient people once believed about God. However, the Bible claims inerrancy for itself: “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul” (Psalm 19:7). The term “law” which is translated here from the Hebrew “torah” is commonly used to refer to the Scripture itself. Psalm 19:7 actually says that the Bible is perfect, meaning that God’s Word is both true and complete. This brings us to our second foundational truth.
By “sufficient” I mean that the Bible is enough. When God gave us the Bible, he gave us all that we need in order to know him and follow him. We don’t need another source of prophecy or revelation outside of Scripture. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that the Bible is the very Word of God which has been breathed out by him, therefore, the Christian is “complete, equipped for every good work.”
This means that if you have a Bible, you have in your hands all that you need to accomplish every good work which God has called you to do. You don’t need The Book of Mormon, Jesus Calling, or The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven to reveal additional truths to you about God and his Kingdom. These books all claim to give us additional words from God or additional insights into the divine beyond what Scripture has revealed. However, you don’t need an extra-special source of revelation beyond the Bible. Your Bible is sufficient for all that you need to know concerning the Christian life. In fact, the apostle Peter said that it is better for you to have a Bible than to audibly hear God speak from heaven (2 Peter 2:19). In other words, put down Jesus Calling and pick up your Bible.
This does not mean that you should not read books or resources other than the Bible. Rather, this means that the Bible alone is divinely-inspired. You should read other books, and they may be helpful, but you must remember that the Bible is the only book with God as its author. These books do not reveal additional truths about God. Rather, they help you to better understand the truths found in the Bible.
This word is more difficult to pronounce than it is to understand. “Perspicuity” is a fancy theological word which means that the Bible is clear enough for the Christian to understand its message. This does not mean that all passages of Scripture are equally clear. The second half of the book of Daniel is certainly more difficult to interpret than 1 John. However, the core message of the Bible is sufficiently clear so that anyone who carefully reads God’s Word will be able to understand the gospel. As the 5th century theologian, Augustine, once remarked: “The Bible is shallow enough for a child not to drown, yet deep enough for an elephant to swim.”
Many church-going people today deny this critical doctrine. With good intentions, they say things like: “I just can’t understand the Bible, so I need someone else to explain it to me.” While there is great value in someone explaining the Bible to you in a sermon or biblical commentary, this does not mean that you are incapable of understanding the central message of the Bible. The church, your pastor, and all the insights of Christians throughout the years are available to help you better understand the Bible, but you are still capable of reading and understanding the Bible. On top of all this, God has given his children the promised Holy Spirit of whom Jesus says: “he will teach you all things,” and “he will guide you into all the truth” (John 14:26; 16:13).*
This blog is entitled “Making Wise the Simple” from the last part of Psalm 19:7: “The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.” The Bible is a sure guide to the “simple.” The word “simple” is not intended by the psalmist as an insult to our intelligence, but rather as a reassurance that if we are humble and diligent to apply ourselves to the study of Scripture, then we will become wise in all that we need to know for serving the Lord.
*Jesus originally gave these promises to his Eleven disciples (minus Judas) just before his crucifixion in order to assure them that they would be able carry out all of his commands with the help of the Holy Spirit.