Recently, I joined an early morning men’s group with guys from our adult community’s class. The focus of the discussion has been on improving our foundational skills and the basics of theology. One of the main books that have been used is called Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem. The leaders decided that instead of going through this big textbook, that we would try to use the edited version called, “Christian Beliefs (20 basics every Christian should know)”.
It has been a great reminder of all the fundamental parts of our Christian faith. At the same time, it has helped by strengthening our beliefs. As we have started going through this book, I really want to share with you some of the key or important parts of the text in hopes of it reminding and strengthening your faith or its foundation.
For the next while, I am just going to let Wayne and Elliot Grudem talk to you from their book. All credit is theirs. The first chapter of the book focuses on the Bible. While this world tries to discredit our faith and the Bible, Grudem gives us some facts on the Bible and why we need it in our lives.
“…the Bible tells us what God thinks about his very words. God’s opinion of his words can be broken down into four general categories: authority, clarity, necessity and sufficiency.” I personally never thought about breaking down God’s opinion about the Bible into different categories but I like how he lays it out on where we are going and on why the Bible has authority and it is all sufficient for our nourishment.
The Authority of the Bible
“All the words in the Bible are God’s words. Therefore, to disbelieve or disobey them is to disbelieve or disobey God himself.”
One thing I really appreciate is how the book points to how in the Bible, specifically the New Testament, it “affirms…the very words of God.” It gives reference to a small passage in 2 Peter 3:16 about the early church and the teachings of Paul. It shows us how Paul used the Old Testament writings and the very early writings that would later become the New Testament.
“…Peter, and the early church, considered Paul’s writings to be in the same category as the Old Testament writings. Therefore, they considered Paul’s writings to be the very words of God.”
Paul quotes from both the Old Testament and the New Testament in 1 Timothy 5:18 “calling them both ‘Scripture’”. (The quote regarding the ox is from Deut. 25:4, and also from Luke 10:7 regarding the wages of a worker.)
How did the words of God get written down, Grudem goes on to explain there are “many ways” taken from Hebrews 1:1. But specifically, he mentions three ways:
“Sometimes God spoke directly to the author” (Rev. 2:1, 8, 12)
“…other times the author based much of his writings on interviews and research.” (Luke 1:1-3)
“At other times, the Holy Spirit brought to mind things that Jesus taught” (John 14:26)
But regardless of how the words came to be written down or given to the author, Grudem reminds us of the main idea about the authority of Scripture:
“…the words they put down were an extensions of them [the authors] – their personalities, skills, backgrounds, and training. But they were also exactly the words God wanted them to write – the very words that God claimed as his own.”
Again, the book reminds us who God is and what authority He has and why the authority of Scripture is above reproach, “For what authority could be higher than God? So, Scripture ultimately gains its authority from itself.” Why can it do that? Because the words written down in Scripture are the very words of God and God claims that they are his own.
But here is the beautiful reminder that causes us to think about our faith. He asks us why we believe that Scripture is true. He wants us to question ourselves and also humble ourselves in the realization that the main reason Scripture is true and we believe that the claims God makes about Scripture are not because of us or any work we have done. It is all through “the work of the Holy Spirit in an individual’s heart.” The work the Holy Spirit does is not changing the words of the Bible or makes them become the words of God, “He does, however, change the reader of Scripture.” There are other arguments or reasons why to believe the claims of Scripture, but we must not lesson the work of what the Holy Spirit does.
As to the truth of Scripture, we are reminded in John 17:17 that the “word is truth.” Nothing will ever contradict Scripture.
“…because it was written by ordinary men in an ordinary language with an ordinary style, it does contain loos or free quotations and some uncommon and unusual forms of grammar or spelling. But there are not matters of truthfulness. The Bible does not, in its original form, affirm anything contrary to fact.”
Then one of my favorite parts of the section:
“If the Bible does not affirm something contrary to fact, then it cannot be trusted. And if the Bible cannot be trusted, then God himself cannot be trusted. To believe that the Bible affirms something false would be to disbelieve God himself. To disbelieve God himself is to place yourself as a higher authority with a deeper, more developed understanding on a topic or topics than God himself.”
But how many times do we still somehow say we know better than God or hear about people who say the Bible doesn’t apply to today; in our disobedience we place ourselves higher than God. We say we know best to the all-knowing God.
Lastly, we read Scripture because we want to know God. We want to have a personal relationship with Him. The only way to know God is not turn to man but turn to His very Word. As we seek God, He will reveal many marvelous mysteries of Him. As we read, we read to understand, to trust and to obey. The only way to know more of God is to seek Him. We must turn to His Word and be reminded of its amazing truthfulness. The authority of Scripture and we must let the Bible have authority in our lives.