A popular children’s song at church goes, “The B-I-B-L-E, yes that’s the book for me, I stand alone, on the Word of God, the B-I-B-L-E!” What is the Bible? Is it reliable? Can I trust it?
God chose to reveal Himself to man in a variety of ways. In one sense, the heavens declare the glory of God, and He is seen by the work of His hand in creation. He also reveals Himself by speaking, first through the prophets and now by His Son, Jesus. Finally, He is revealed through His Word, in the Bible, as Paul said to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16, “all Scripture is God-breathed.” In this manner, the Bible is the verbally inspired Word of God, wherein God revealed Himself by speaking to and through the Old and New Testament writers. The authors “were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21) and wrote down God’s word. God gave His Word to human authors through illumination, and God continues to teach, speak, and lead His people through His Word. It is “a lamp unto my feet, a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). Because the Bible is the Word of God, it is the ultimate authority for all practices; to be “believed, obeyed, and trusted” in all matters.
One word used to describe the Bible is “inerrant.” By this we mean that God has spoken and all that He speaks in the Scriptures is true and without error. If the Bible were only written by man, it could be subject to error, but because it is the Word of God and of divine origin, it is kept from error and without fault. God, who is perfect and without error, gave us His Word, which must be without error as well, as He is. Being inerrant further means it must be properly read and interpreted, considering the genres and human use of language; for example, when Jesus says, “the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed”, we understand that is a simile and not literally “the kingdom of heaven is a mustard seed.” The Bible is inerrant and it will achieve the purpose God has, to reveal Himself and to correct, train, teach, rebuke, convict, and comfort mankind.
But what is the Bible? Also called “the canon of Scripture,” the Bible is a library of 66 separate books, both the Old and New Testaments. We can know the Bible is accurate and true because there is archaeological evidence and study of original sources to support the people, places, dates, and events of the Bible. There is “inter-corroboration linguistic study,” a fancy way to say that the Bible does not contradict itself, and any apparent contradictions can be easily understood or explained and not truly contradicting. It also is “in-sync” with outside sources, such as ancient works of literature and history. When the Bible is studied along these lines, it can be defended as a unique book, given by God, originally written in three languages, by 40 authors on three continents, over a time period of 2,000 years, yet unified in message and purpose.
Since the Bible is inerrant, infallible, and authoritative, it is the basis and source for preaching, teaching, counseling, leadership, and practical issues involving all areas of life. It informs us on marriage, parenting, business practices and relationships with others. It drives our decision-making in use of time and money. It guides our speaking and thinking. It is to be believed in all that it teaches, obeyed in all that it requires, and trusted in all that it promises. We can be comforted in hard times and hopeful of the promises to come that are in the Bible.