When the Bible Speaks, God Speaks
Christian history has been carried by men and women with deep and abiding appreciation for the inspiration of Scripture. With them we rejoice in the authority, sufficiency, necessity, and clarity of Scripture. God has spoken. He has told us what we need to know. We know him precisely because he has revealed himself in his word. And as he has spoken, he has done so clearly. God has not stuttered.
We thank God for authors who, rather than tweeting unclear statements about Scripture, help us to dig our roots deep into the God-breathed word, including Kevin DeYoung’s Taking God At His Word, Michael Kruger’s Canon Revisited, and others. But the convictions surrounding the inerrancy of Scripture go deeper than Kruger and DeYoung. These convictions pass beyond B.B. Warfield’s seminal work The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible and beyond Martin Luther’s bold declarations at the Diet of Worms in 1521 (“Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason…” and “My conscience is captive to the Word of God”).
We take our stand with Peter who referred to Paul’s letters as ‘scripture’ as much as other recognized scriptures which we know as the Old Testament. (2 Peter 3:16). We stand with Paul who recognized that the very written words of the Old Testament were breathed by God (2 Timothy 3:16). We stand with Jesus who quoted Genesis 2:24 with the explanatory phrase, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said…” (Matthew 19:4-5). God did not audibly speak in Genesis 2:24. Moses wrote Genesis 2:24. Yet Jesus refers to Moses’ written words as God’s spoken word. Wayne Grudem thus concludes, “This suggests that Jesus could quote any passage from anywhere in the Old Testament and claim that ‘God said’ the words of that passage, whether or not the Old Testament passage contain the words ‘thus says the Lord’ or any similar claim” (65). When the Bible speaks, God speaks.
To believe that when the Bible speaks, God himself speaks is to believe what the Bible says about itself. That is, to take the Bible’s own claims as authoritative. One of the fundamental flaws of the thought expressed in Stanley’s tweet and in Strong’s words is that such a thought places us in authority over the Scriptures. In this line of thought, we determine both the truthfulness of its claims and the importance of its truthfulness. But we never stand above Scripture. This same flaw is expressed when we suggest men formed the canon of Scripture, choosing which books were scriptural and which were not; as though the canon was man-created. No, the books included in the biblical canon were recognized and received for the authority they inherently had as God-breathed. Recognized and received. Not created or declared.
Convictions about the Word of God flow from convictions regarding the person of the Triune God. The Bible is not merely another book which may or may not include inaccuracies or errors. The Bible, as it claims, is the very Word of God. God has spoken. He who cannot and will not err has spoken. He in whom there is no falsehood has spoken. He who is the Alpha and the Omega has spoken. We must not entertain doubts about His Word any more than we would entertain doubts about His person. He, and by extension His Word, can be trusted.
Baptists and the Bible
Baptists have long stood with a Bible in their hands. Southern Baptists have looked back on the 1985 Southern Baptist Convention and remembered Adrian Rogers’ prophetic pronouncement, “I’m willing to compromise about many things, but not the Word of God. So far as getting together is concerned, we don’t have to get together. The Southern Baptist Convention, as it is, does not have to survive. I don’t have to be the pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church. I don’t have to be loved; I don’t even have to live. But I will not compromise the Word of God.” Men like Rogers have drawn a line in the sand. And rightly so.
Our own Baptist confession, the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, begins with an article on The Scripture.
- “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.” (Baptist Faith and Message 2000, Article I)
An inerrant Bible is, and always has been, foundational to the Baptist faith.
We thank God for Bible translators who have labored to get God’s Word into new languages. We thank God for men and women who have taken up the missionary mantle to get the biblical gospel to unreached people. We thank God for faithful pastors and Sunday School teachers who not only embrace the validity of the 66 books of Scripture but shore their confession up with a life that proves it. We thank God for churches that gather weekly and sit under the Word of God.
When the Bible speaks, God speaks. The people of God find great comfort in the Word of God. They labor to think clearly and biblically about His Word. They do not delight in unclear or confusing comments about this Word. God has spoken! This changes everything.