Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth (God’s Word: Bibliology)

“Holy Bible, Book Divine”

Holy Bible, book divine,

Precious treasure, thou art mine;

Mine to tell me whence I came;

Mine to teach me what I am.

Mine to chide me when I rove;

Mine to show a Savior’s love;

Mine thou art to guide and guard;

Mine to punish or reward.

Mine to comfort in distress;

Suff’ring in this wilderness;

Mine to show, by living faith,

Man can triumph over death.

Mine to tell of joys to come,

And the rebel sinner’s doom:

O thou Holy Book divine,

Precious treasure, thou art mine. Amen.

~John Burton (1773–1822)

Major Subjects Covered in Chapter 2  
Inspiration of Scripture  
Authority of Scripture  
Inerrancy of Scripture  
Preservation of Scripture  
Teaching and Preaching of Scripture  
Obligation to Scripture  

The doctrine of Scripture is absolutely fundamental and essential because it identifies the only true source for all Christian truth. Scripture repeatedly claims to be the Word of God. The prophets appealed to it as the foundation for God’s promises and judgments. Christ and his apostles based the whole of Christian doctrine on the Scriptures. Over 2,500 times in the Old Testament alone the Bible asserts that God spoke what is written within its pages (Isa. 1:2). From the beginning (Gen. 1:3) to the end (Mal. 4:3) and continually throughout, this is what the Old Testament claims.

The phrase “the word of God” occurs over forty times in the New Testament. It is equated with the Old Testament (Mark 7:13). It was what Jesus preached (Luke 5:1). It was the message the apostles taught (Acts 4:31; 6:2). It was the word the Samaritans received (Acts 8:14) as given by the apostles (Acts 8:25). It was the message the Gentiles received as preached by Peter (Acts 11:1). It was the word Paul preached on his first missionary journey (Acts 13:5, 7, 44, 48–49; 15:35–36), his second missionary journey (Acts 16:32; 17:13; 18:11), and his third missionary journey (Acts 19:10). It was the focus of Luke in the book of Acts, who recounted its wide and rapid spread (Acts 6:7; 12:24; 19:20). Paul was also careful to tell the Corinthians that he spoke the word as it was given from God, that it had not been adulterated, and that it was a manifestation of the truth (2 Cor. 2:17; 4:2). And Paul acknowledged it as the source of his preaching (Col. 1:25; 1 Thess. 2:13).

Psalms 19 and 119 and Proverbs 30:5–6 make powerful statements about God’s Word, setting it apart from any other religious writing or instruction in the history of mankind. These passages make the case for the Bible being called “sacred” (2 Tim. 3:15) and “holy” (Rom. 1:2).

The Bible claims ultimate spiritual authority in doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness because it represents the inspired Word of almighty God (2 Tim. 3:16–17). Scripture asserts its spiritual sufficiency, so much that it claims exclusivity for its teaching (see Isa. 55:11; 2 Pet. 1:3–4).

God’s Word declares that it is inerrant (Pss. 12:6; 119:140; Prov. 30:5; John 10:35) and infallible (2 Tim. 3:16–17). In other words, since it is absolutely true, it is therefore totally trustworthy. All these qualities are dependent on the fact that Scripture is God-given (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:20–21), which guarantees its quality at the source and at its original writing.

In Scripture, the person of God and the Word of God are everywhere interrelated, so much so that whatever is true about the character of God is true about the nature of God’s Word. God is true, impeccable, and reliable; therefore, so is his Word. What a person thinks about God’s Word in reality reflects what a person thinks about God.

The Bible possesses many important and unique characteristics that set it apart from and immeasurably beyond any literature written by mankind. Seven of its most significant features portray it as (1) active (1 Thess. 2:13; Heb. 4:12); (2) certain (Isa. 55:10–11; Luke 16:17); (3) powerful (Rom. 1:16–17; 1 Cor. 1:18); (4) living (John 6:63; Heb. 4:12; 1 Pet. 1:23); (5) cleansing (Eph. 5:26); (6) nourishing (1 Pet. 2:2); and (7) sanctifying (John 17:17–19). Table 2.1 outlines the various symbols that Scripture uses to represent a variety of spiritual truths concerning God’s Word.[1]

[1] MacArthur, J., & Mayhue, R., eds. (2017). Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth (pp. 69–70). Crossway.