The study of Divine things in general is termed “Theology,” from the Gk. Theos, “God,” and logos or logia, “word, study or doctrine of.” The doctrine of man is called “Anthropology,” from the Gk. anthropos. Literally everything is determined by one’s doctrine of God as revealed through Scripture. It is of the utmost importance to be both scriptural and prayerful in such study.
Quest. 1: What is the only inspired, infallible and inerrant truth for man?
Ans: The only inspired, infallible and inerrant truth for man is the inscripturated Word of God, the Bible.
2 Tim. 3:16–17. 16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
Matt. 4:4. …It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
See also: Gen. 2:17–19; 3:1–12; Deut. 8:3; Heb. 1:1–3; 2 Pet. 1:20–21; 3:15–16.
Some catechisms and works on theology begin with God and then reason to the Scriptures as a necessary revelation of and from God. This is a philosophical approach. We must begin with the Scriptures. The Bible alone is objective, inscripturated truth (2 Tim. 3:16–17). This should ensure that our thinking will remain scriptural rather than philosophical in both consistency and in our approach to Divine realities.
The Bible is our sole rule of both faith [belief, doctrine] and practice [life]. The Scripture is our one objective source of truth and knowledge, and our standard for proper living because it is the very Word of God inscripturated [written down]. See Questions 7, 9 and 10. It is through the Scriptures that we have a true knowledge of God, ourselves and universe about us. We may know much about God from his creation (Rom. 1:18–20) and from our own instinctive thought–process, as we have been created in God’s image and likeness [natural revelation]. But God’s moral self–consistency [his absolutely righteous character], his redemptive love, his grace and mercy, and other necessary moral characteristics can be known only through the redemptive history inscripturated in his Word [special revelation]. See Question 5. It is in the Scriptures alone that we find salvation from sin, hope of deliverance in the active and passive obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ; true, objective reconciliation with God, and the certainty of hope for the future. Nature may cheer us with its beauties and wonders; we may have high and lofty thoughts in our imaginations, but only in the Scriptures do we find the heart of God revealed and discover the glory and sweetness of the gospel.
Further, we must understand that the Fall has affected the thought–processes of man, and his perception of spiritual realities is either very limited or distorted by sin [the noetic effects of sin, from the Gk. noeō, “to perceive, understand.” Fallen man’s intellectual and moral thought–process and judgment have been crippled by the Fall. Cf. Rom. 1:21–25; 1 Cor. 2:14; Eph. 4:17–19]. See Questions 37 and 38. Thus, natural revelation [God revealed through his creation] becomes distorted through a fallen and sinful perspective. Finally, what truth man does know through natural revelation to any extent [sufficient to hold him inexcusable], he seeks to suppress, as it aggravates his mind, convicts his conscience and sets itself against his natural and sinful presuppositions (Rom. 1:18–20). See Question 10. The Scripture does not reveal everything (Deut. 29:29), but it does reveal sufficiently what we need to know: that we are sinners before God, how to have forgiveness of sins, how be reconciled to God through the Lord Jesus Christ, how to live acceptably before him in this life and prepare ourselves for eternity. It is through the Scriptures alone that we have a consistent Theistic Christian world–and–life view, a valid Christian experience and a transcendent, yet practical faith. See Question 121.
Believing that the Bible is the very Word of God inscripturated is not merely theoretical or abstract. It is the substance of a living faith which rests in the truth of God’s Word regardless of circumstances. Such belief is not mere fideism [a bare irrational faith]. Our faith is grounded in the rational Word of an intelligent, self–revealing God. The witness of the Holy Spirit authenticates this Word to the mind, heart and soul of the believer. Its commandments, prophecies, warnings and promises are wholly and infallibly true. The Scriptures are therefore to form the very fabric of our lives. See Question 10.
Many may disavow Christianity because they cannot believe in the miraculous, or presume that there are inconsistencies in the Christian system. These object to the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Virgin Birth, the vicarious nature of our Lord’s death or to the resurrection, etc. These are thought to be unreasonable, i.e., contrary to reason. Such realities are never the real issue. The primary issue is that God has spoken plainly and with absolute authority to man (Heb. 1:1–2), and this record has been inscripturated. This Divine revelation in written form continues with full authority [the meaning of “it is written” (Gk. gegraptai, perfect tense) is “It stands written with undiminishing authority”]. The real issue is ever the veracity of God in and through the Bible. The Scriptures are his Word, and we are either obedient or disobedient to him and to them. See Part II.
Do the Scriptures have their proper place in our lives? Do our lives reflect their guidance and transforming power? Do we love and obey God as revealed in his Word?
By Dr. W.R. Downing