Catechetical Refresher - The Inspiration Of Scripture
The Inspiration of Scripture
Christ Lutheran Church
October 9, 2018
It is the Christian faith that the Bible is not a human production though written by men, but that it is God’s very Word. God’s self revelation. Therefore when we hear Scripture we are hearing the voice of God and the truth of God.
Some verses that teach of Scripture’s inspiration are:
2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”
2 Peter 1:21 “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
Being the very Word of God the Bible is source of all divine truth for us. Everything the church believes, teaches and confesses comes from Scripture. It is the final arbiter of all questions of Christian faith and life.
Scripture’s chief teaching is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the written Word about the Word Made Flesh, Jesus Christ. (John 1:14) It contains God’s promise to redeem the world from sin (Old Testament); and the fulfillment of that promise in the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (New Testament). Everything in Scripture points to this, glorifies this, proclaims this and teaches us how to worship God who has given us this great salvation!
When you luxuriate in the light, rays and warmth of the sun you are interacting with the sun itself though it be 93 million miles away. Even so when you hear Sacred Scripture you are interacting with the Living God, the Father Son and Holy Spirit. You are hearing his voice, his truth, his life, his love and by faith obtaining a share of it, and participating in it.
A few words about what Scripture is and is not are also in order. Though the Bible contains rules it is not a rule book. Though it contains history, it is not a history text. But it is, first and foremost, the church’s book. God gave it TO the church to be used IN the church, BY the church and FOR the church. It is first a liturgical book by which the redeemed “worship the Father in Spirit and Truth.” (John 4:24) The church is the home of Scripture, the place where it resides and from which it sheds its light abroad.
Can the Bible be used in the academy, the home, the mission field and for personal devotion? Yes. But all those are meant to lead men to the church. To bring them to the altar where God is rightly worshiped; where Christ is corporeally present in the Sacrament; and from whence he dispenses his very good gifts to men: forgiveness of sins, unending life and glorious salvation. Whatever you need for body or soul, time or eternity, God gives it to you there!
But Scripture also needs to be interpreted. Its best interpreter is liturgy, followed by the church’s ancient creeds. In addition many enlightened Fathers of the church have left their writings and hymns so that we might learn to interpret Scripture correctly. Men like: Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, Cyprian of Carthage, Cyril of Alexandria, Augustine, Ambrose, St. Ephrem the Syrian (known as “the harp of the Holy Spirit), the Cappadocian Fathers (Basil and the Gregory’s), the Venerable Bede, Martin Luther and countless others.
For Lutherans the Book of Concord is the authoritative interpreter on the doctrines that it treats.
Are we to take Scripture literally? Yes, wherever it wants to be taken literally, and that is matter of interpretation. On the one hand Lutherans believe the six day creation of Genesis chapter one. They believe in the Lord’s bodily resurrection and that all his miracles factually occurred: however much liberal Christianity objects. On the other hand they do not believe that a person should literally “pluck out his right eye” (Mark 5:29) if it causes him to sin. It’s not easy to interpret the Bible. Your pastor is your best helper.
It is good to read Scripture, to learn it, memorize it and to become thoroughly familiar with its content and contours. But it’s just as important to hear Scripture read aloud – if possible without following the printed text. This is not a rule but try it and you will gain a new perspective from it. Close your eyes and listen, and you will hear wonderful things that will make your head swim.
One of the battle cries of the Reformation was “Sola Scriptura”, “Scripture alone”, by which is meant that the church is led only by Scripture and rejects the traditions of men as binding. The abuses of the medieval Roman Church, without doubt, made such a cry necessary, but it makes little sense. The church has always relied on tradition, provided of course that it did not contradict Scripture.
While tradition cannot be placed above Scripture it plays a vital role the church. A positive example of tradition is the celebration of Lent, Holy Week, and Easter. These are not commanded in Scripture but no Lutheran would give these up for any reason. There is no command to pray the Lord’s Prayer in liturgy but no Lutheran would allow it to drop from use without a very hot fight.
On the negative side RC and EO tradition teaches its people to pray to and through the Blessed Virgin Mary though Scripture forbids such prayers. That is a case where tradition contradicts Scripture.
Much more could be said but in closing let us glorify God that he deigns to reveal himself to us in this way; and that by knowing Scripture we learn to know the living God, Father Son and Holy Spirit. The one, true God who has redeemed us from sin, death and the devil, and given us a share in his own divine life through holy baptism.
God be praised!