Most every systematic theology starts out, not with the doctrine of God (Theology Proper), or of Christ (Christology), or of salvation (Soteriology); but with the way that we know all of these things are true: Bibliology—the doctrine of the Bible.
The reason for this is an understanding of revelation, not the book that ends the Bible, but the act of God revealing things to humanity. Every person knows that God exists (Romans 1:18 – 20 & Psalm 14:1 – 3); this is called natural revelation. However, how do you know who this God is? Is He good and kind? Is He a he, or a she, or an it, or something else? Why did this God do what He did? What is the goal of creation? This requires special revelation, otherwise known as the Bible (Scripture).
The Baptist Faith & Message describes Scripture in this way:
The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.
This statement can be summed up by saying: the Bible is inspired, inerrant, and infallible; and sufficient for the Christian life.
Inspired means that while written by the hands of men, (over 40 of them) the power behind the words of Scripture is the Holy Spirit. These men chose the words, wording, and style of the writing of their work; but were guided and aided by the Holy Spirit throughout the process.
Because of this inspiration the Bible is inerrant; meaning, incapable of erring. This does not mean the Bible does not record erroneous things; people make mistakes and sin. It does mean that what the Bible records is accurate and truthful and what the authors teach and communicate can be trusted.
Infallible (a side-path of inerrant) means the Bible does not fail and cannot be disproven; what the Bible proclaims is right and true.
Finally sufficient: the Bible is all that is needed for faith and practice (2 Timothy 3:16 – 17). Is the Bible all that is needed for human life, no; you cannot learn nuclear physics, or open heart surgery, or how to build an ark from the Bible. But you can learn what the Bible intends to teach you: who God is, what He has done, who you are, what you need, and how these things go together.
So what?!?? You said this stuff was going to be important to my life!!!!!
And I meant every single word of it.
Because the Bible is inspired we can look deeply into it because of its Divine (Godly) authorship. So while we get a description or a teaching, we also get a deep abiding principle or application that requires us to study richly God’s Word.
Because the Bible is inerrant we can trust that what it communicates to us is true and accurate and valuable for daily living, discipleship, evangelism, knowledge of God, and a host of other things. We can trust our Bibles recounting and teaching; and build our lives upon it.
Because the Bible is infallible we can trust it not just in looking back, but in looking forward. With God as our ultimate author, confirming His past work and preparing for His future work; we can trust that what has not happened yet will in fact come to pass, because we can trust that God is true and good. This is directly applicable because we live in constant anticipation of the future fulfilment of God’s final work; His return.
Because the Bible is sufficient we need not worry about fads, new teachings, or any other newfangled mess that may or may not have any value. We can search the Scriptures and find and know Christ. We can rest upon the history and the promises. And we can know that God has not left us wanting. There is no other revelation of Himself to which we have need (thus Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormonism, Islam, and several other Christian “offshoots” are excluded from being true Christianity). He has given us everything we need for faith and practice and we can live our lives in love of the brethren and service to Him with full confidence.
See, I told you this was important.