In current usage, inspiration means a sudden idea that solves a problem or is especially creative or brilliant in some way.
What does inspiration mean in theology?
This is a technical term used to describe God’s influence on the authors of Scripture such that their writing is both human and divine.
What does it mean to say that the Bible is human?
It means that the authors of Scripture were real humans with their own personality, education, language, worldview, and point of view. What they wrote was their word written in their own peculiar style and reflecting their own vocabulary and education.
What does it mean to say that the Bible is divine?
By this, we mean to say that God oversaw the human persons who wrote Scripture in such a way that their writing was without error.
What is the evangelical doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture?
It is often called the verbal-plenary doctrine of inspiration. The doctrinal statement of the Evangelical Theological Society states: “The Bible alone, and the Bible in its entirety, is the Word of God written and is therefore inerrant in the autographs.” Schaff writes:
In one aspect the Bible is like any other book or literary production, and must be interpreted according to the laws of human thought and human speech. In another aspect it is different from all other books, and must be handled with peculiar care and reverence. It has a double origin and double character melted into one. Like the person and work of our Lord and Savior, who is himself the central theme and guiding light of the Bible, it is theanthropic or divine-human. It has a truly human body, but the animating spirit is the eternal truth of God. As the Divine Logos became flesh and assumed our human nature—body, soul, and spirit, so the Word of God became flesh in the letter of the Scriptures. source
This brings out the fact that the Bible is both 100% God’s word and 100% the author’s word. Hodge writes:
That the sacred writers were so influenced by the Holy Spirit that their writings are as a whole and in every part God’s word to us—an authoritative revelation to us from God, indorsed by him, and sent to us as a rule of faith and practice, the original autographs of which are absolutely infallible when interpreted in the sense intended, and hence are clothed with absolute divine authority. source
What are autographs?
These are the original documents as they were first written by the authors of Scripture; more.
What does inerrant mean?
This means that a given document has no errors in it.
How does inerrant differ from infallible?
Infallible means that a given document cannot err; it is not possible for it to err. Many human writings might be inerrant but none of them can claim to be infallible.
How can we see the humanity of Scripture?
We can see the humanness of Scripture when we see the different personalities of the biblical authors being reflected in their writing. For example, the writing style of Peter’s first letter is so different from what we read in his second letter. Very likely, Peter used a secretary or an amanuensis to write the first but wrote the second letter himself. No one can confuse the way John writes with the way Paul writes. Furthermore, we can see the human side of Scripture in Paul’s letter to Corinth when he is trying to remember which families he baptized. (1 Corinthians 1:16)
Why is it important that we also affirm that Scripture is divine?
Because otherwise the Bible could not be infallible. Only a word from God can be completely true without any error.
Are there Christians who assert that the Bible is inspired but errant?
Yes, liberal Christianity has never hesitated to affirm an errant Scripture. Consider this comment from Harry Emerson Fosdick:
This is the finest consequence of the new approach to the Bible: it gives us the whole Book back again. If some one protests that it spoils the idea of inspiration, I ask why. We used to think that God created the world by fiat on the instant, and then, learning that the world evolves, many were tempted to cry out that God did not create it at all. We now know that changing one’s idea of a process does not in itself alter one’s philosophy of origins. So we used to think of inspiration as a procedure which produced a book guaranteed in all its parts against error, and containing from beginning to end a unanimous system of truth. No well-instructed mind, I think, can hold that now. Our idea of the nature of the process has changed. What has actually happened is the production of a Book which from lowly beginnings to great conclusions records the development of truth about God and his will, beyond all comparison the richest in spiritual issue that the world has known. Personally, I think that the Spirit of God was behind that process and in it. I do not believe that man ever found God when God was not seeking to be found. The under side of the process is man’s discovery; the upper side is God’s revelation. Our ideas of the method of inspiration have changed; verbal dictation, inerrant manuscripts, uniformity of doctrine between 1000bc and 70ad, all such ideas have become incredible in the face of the facts. source
What can be said about Fosdick’s theory?
- First, this theory elevates the human side of Scripture above that of the divine. Now the Bible becomes 100% the word of the authors but only partially or 0% the word of God.
- Second, this theory teaches that the Spirit was “behind and in” the writing process of the Bible but that the final product still contains errors. What was, then, the result of the Spirit’s work in terms of the Bible? What good end was obtained by His influence on the biblical authors?
- Third, it will be shown that this theory is not the theory which the Bible itself teaches.
Above you mentioned the verbal plenary view of inspiration. What does the word “plenary” mean?
Plenary is just another word for “all” or “entire”. It means that all the Bible is equally inspired. There is no part of Scripture which is less inspired than another. For example, William Newton Clarke asks:
Is it [Bible] an equal book, to be received as teaching us truth in all its parts? In Protestant theology it has been common to regard the Bible as a single source. That the Bible is a library, a collection, has indeed been always known, but the working theory has rather been that the Bible is a book, available in all its parts for the service of theology. A statement by a biblical writer in any part of the book has been considered valid for theological use, and material has been gathered with equal hand from the entire range of the Scriptures. Of course it has been understood that passages must be interpreted, and the historical setting has not been wholly overlooked, but neither has it been sufficiently regarded. It has been assumed that anything in the Bible may be wrought into theology; nay, more, — that everything in the Bible must be wrought into theology. Since the whole Bible is the equal text-book, a satisfactory theology must work in all biblical statements. A system that left some biblical utterances outside, not accounted for in its scheme of thought, would be regarded as unsound and in need of revision. Theology must be scriptural, and to that end must ignore no thought expressed in the Scriptures. …
Upon the question itself we shall probably have little difficulty, for today every intelligent student knows that the ancient method is wrong. For the purposes of theology the Scriptures are not of equal value throughout. Some parts of the Bible contribute to theology as others do not. source
What are we to make of this teaching?
First, the word plenary here is understood correctly. Evangelicals understand the entire Bible to be God’s word. Now if the entire Bible is God’s word, then the theologian should seek to systematize everything the Bible says. All its statements need to be brought together to form a system that can properly be called biblical. Of course, it is true that full attention needs to be given to the historical as well as the literary context of the writing, but the theologian can never dismiss certain parts of the Bible. Contrary to what the above author has said, any theology which leaves aside some biblical utterances is unsound and needs revision.
What is the dictation theory of inspiration?
This theory denies entirely the human side of inspiration. It teaches that the authors of Scripture were mere secretaries who received the word of God as it were by dictation. Thus, on this view, the Bible is 100% God’s word and 0% the author’s word.
Who holds to this theory?
To the best of my knowledge, there are no Christians alive today who defend this theory. It seems quite clear, however, that the ancient Jews understood their Scripture this way. Farrar wrote at the end of the 1800s, that there were many such in his day.
There is not a Church, nor a branch of the Church, which does not reverence Holy Scripture. All Churches admit that therein God reveals Himself to man; that, as a whole, the Bible stands unapproachable in human literature; that its final truths have a unique claim upon our acceptance; that in it alone is revealed the doctrine of man’s salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord. There are also many Christians who hold that every word of it is supernaturally dictated and infallibly true.
Is it not true that God at times dictated to His people exactly what He wanted them to write or say?
Yes, certainly. The Old Testament prophets received their messages directly from God in exactly this way. They were under strict orders not to adapt or modify the message they had received. (Proverbs 30:6)
- When God called Jeremiah to be a prophet, Jeremiah objected that he was too young. (Jeremiah 1:6) God, however, told Jeremiah that his age was no reason why he couldn’t be a prophet since God was going to tell Jeremiah exactly what to say. In fact, God reassures Jeremiah by promising to put His very words in Jeremiah’s mouth. (Jeremiah 1:9)
- When God called Ezekiel, He said something similar. As we would expect in Ezekiel’s prophecy, this promise was given by way of a picture. Ezekiel was given a scroll. Written on this scroll were all the messages which Ezekiel had to bring to the nation of Israel. (Ezekiel 2:10) God then tells Ezekiel to eat the scroll as a picture of the fact that God was going to put His own words in Ezekiel’s mouth. (Ezekiel 3:1-4) Ezekiel simply had the responsibility to speak these messages (Ezekiel 3:10-11) to the people; he had no reason to fear them. (Ezekiel 3:9)
Clearly this is dictation.
It seems then that the form of inspiration was different for different authors?
It is better to say that God inspired all of Scripture equally such that what was written was was free from all error. God’s mode or method of revelation, however, certainly did differ from author to author.
What is the difference between revelation and inspiration?
There are several.
- No information is communicated by the work of inspiration while revelation certainly brings new information to the author’s mind.
- Not all of Scripture is revelation in this sense but all of Scripture is inspired. By this, we simply mean that sometimes God brought new information directly to the biblical authors as we noted above with the prophets. (cf Exodus 33:11) At other times, the biblical authors did a good deal of their own work and research to write their books. Consider what Luke says about his careful investigations into the history of the life of Jesus. (Luke 1:2) In both cases, however, God was overseeing the process to ensure an infallible product which is just to say that all of Scripture is inspired though not necessarily dictated.
This inspiration differs, therefore, from revelation—(1) In that it was a constant experience of the sacred writers in all they wrote, and it affects the equal infallibility of all the elements of the writings they produced. While, as before said, revelation was supernaturally vouchsafed only when it was needed. (2) In that revelation communicated objectively to the mind of the writer truth otherwise unknown. While Inspiration was a divine influence flowing into the sacred writer subjectively, communicating nothing, but guiding their faculties in their natural exercise to the producing an infallible record of the matters of history, doctrine, prophecy, etc., which God designed to send through them to his Church.
What has Jesus taught us about the doctrine of inspiration?
It is clear from Jesus’ ministry that He agreed with the already existing, Jewish understanding of Scripture. Warfield quotes Haupt:
We recognize first what no doubt scarcely requires proof, that Jesus treats the Old Testament in its entirety as the Word of God. Down to the smallest letter and most casual word (Matthew 5:18; John 10:34) it is to Him truth, and that, religious truth.
Where do we see this in Jesus’ ministry?
Take the dispute Jesus had with the Jewish people recorded for us in John 10 where Jesus makes the claim: “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.” (John 10:14-15) Later He blatantly says, “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30) At this, the Jews are incensed and prepare to stone Him. Their charge is that Jesus claimed to be God. Jesus responds, however, by quoting Scripture. He references Psalm 82 where God calls earthly judges “gods.” At this point, Jesus expressly states the assumption which was common to them both:
And you know that the Scriptures cannot be altered [or “loosed” or “broken”]. (John 10:35-36)
Clearly, Jesus expects that the Jews will show respect for the authority of Scripture.
What was the Jewish understanding of Scripture?
The Jews understood every letter of Scripture to have come directly from God. Longenecker writes:
Jewish interpreters, no matter how different their exegetical methods, agreed on four basic points. In the first place, they held in common a belief in the divine inspiration of the Scriptures. This meant for them that the words of the Bible had their origin in God and were, in fact, the very words of God – a doctrine qualitatively different from all Greek notions about a divine possession or an inspirational factor seizing the poets and seers, whose words, while lofty, remained purely human. Biblical Exegesis in the Apostolic Period, chapter 1.
The Jewish Encyclopedia likewise says:
The traditional view is that the Pentateuch in its entirety emanated from God, every verse and letter being consequently inspired; hence the tannaitic statement that “he who says the Torah is not from Heaven is a heretic, a despiser of the Word of God, one who has no share in the world to come” is expressly explained to include any one that says the whole Torah emanates from God with the exception of one verse, which Moses added on his own responsibility, or anyone that finds verses like Genesis 36:12 and 22 too trivial to assign to them a divine origin. source
The article goes on to affirm that “Moses wrote the whole Pentateuch at God’s dictation, even, according to Rabbi Simeon, the last eight verses, relating to his own death.”
What does Jesus mean when He says that Scripture “cannot be broken?”
First, Jesus does not mean to say that Scripture and its laws cannot be broken in terms of violated. Clearly, they can. Rather, Jesus is simply expressing something on which both He and His opponents agreed. They all agreed that Scripture was infallible. When Jesus says the Scripture “cannot be loosed” καὶ οὐ δύναται λυθῆναι ἡ γραφή, He is not arguing to defend this point. He is simply referencing it as something to which they all agreed. By “broken” here, Jesus means the Scripture is infallible; it cannot err. The Scripture is God’s word; and therefore, cannot err. As a result, it is the final authority in all disputes.
Wasn’t Jesus simply saying that this Psalm, which He quotes, was infallible?
On the contrary, Jesus’ words are that the “Scripture” cannot be broken. This word “Scripture” is referring to the canon of Scripture which was then the Jewish canon which is the equivalent of our Old Testament. Young notes:
We may note in passing, that when Christ speaks of the Scripture, He is not limiting His reference to this one particular passage, as Bernard apparently thinks is the case. It is not the individual passage alone to which He makes reference. Possibly, as Bultmann has stated, He is reasoning a minori ad maius [from the less to the greater]. But the argument would seem to be that this particular passage, which belongs to and is a part of Scripture, also cannot be broken. This passage, in other words, has validity, because it belongs to the irrefragable Scripture. Edward J. Young, “The Bible and Protestantism,” Bibliotheca Sacra 121 (1964): 240.
Where else do we see this understanding of Scripture in the ministry of Jesus?
Consider how Jesus turns aside each of the devil’s temptations:
- Each time, a simple “It is written…” (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10) is considered sufficient to deny the truth of whatever the devil is asserting.
- Even the devil quotes Scripture as authoritative. (Matthew 4:6)
- Consider as well Jesus repeated rebuke of the Jewish leaders for elevating their tradition above that of Scripture. “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” He asked them (Matthew 15:3); and by doing this, you invalidate the word of God. (Matthew 15:6)
- When He spoke with the two men on the way to Emmaus, He explained to them the prophecies concerning Himself “beginning from Moses and all the prophets.” (Luke 24:27)
- We also see Jesus using Scripture to prooftext His own teachings. “Have ye not read?” He asked on a number of occasions. (Matthew 12:3, 5; 19:4; 22:31; Mark 12:10)
All these are indications that the doctrine of the Jews as it pertained to Scripture was taken over by Jesus; He had no objection to it.
What did Jesus mean here when He spoke about “Scripture” or “law”? Was Jesus’ Scripture the same as ours?
In this context, Scripture refers to what we call the Old Testament. By the time of Jesus, the Jewish religion had a canon of Scripture which is similar to our Old Testament. Bruce writes:
While the relation of the Gospels to the NT canon is of paramount importance, the Gospels themselves bear witness to an already existing canon of Holy Scripture. All four of them not only presuppose the divine authority of the OT writings but claim that those writings were uniquely “fulfilled” in the gospel events. Bruce, “Canon,” Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, 93.
Are there other sayings of Jesus which touch on this question of inspiration?
Yes, Jesus promised His people a helper or παράκλητος who would provide for them in all their needs. “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever” (John 14:16) This Helper is the Holy Spirit. (John 14:17, 26)
What does this have to do with inspiration?
Because Jesus promised that one of the benefits the Holy Spirit would bring is that He would guide the apostles into the truth. Consider Jesus’ teaching in John 14 & 16:
- Jesus says, “the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. (John 14:26) Here the Spirit’s work is said to be that of helping the apostles to remember all the teaching which Jesus gave. This means that there would be an influence of the Spirit such that the apostles would be able to recall the words which Jesus spoke. Note as well the adjectives here “…He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said…”
- Jesus further says that this work will be accomplished by the power of His Spirit dwelling within them. …the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. (John 14:17)
- Later, Jesus repeats this promise: “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. (John 16:13) Again, being guided into all the truth is further explained by the words whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. The Spirit of God will disclose (or rehearse ἀναγγελεῖ) to the apostles the truths they needed to know about the future.
- Finally, Jesus breathes on His disciples and thus brings the Holy Spirit to rest upon them. While doing this, Jesus makes this comment, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:21-22) Note how Jesus puts their mission into the world next to His own mission, given to Him by the Father. The same Spirit which stood by Jesus throughout His ministry was now given them to guide them especially in the judgments they would make as to the guilt and forgiveness of those people whom they encountered in their work. (John 20:23)
Henderson writes on these verses:
By the promise thus emphatically repeated [in John 14&16] the disciples were assured that though they were now to be deprived of the presence of their Master and consequently of the benefit of His personal instruction they should be no losers as it regarded their further illumination on all points connected with divine truth and those qualifications which it was requisite they should possess in order properly to discharge the important functions to which he had called them. On the contrary, He declares that His departure would prove advantageous to them inasmuch as it would furnish an occasion for the advent of the Divine Spirit in the plenitude of His miraculous gifts by the reception of which they would be rendered superior to their own natural deficiencies and be fully prepared to meet every exigency that might arise in the course of their apostolic ministrations.
What thoughts does Paul have on this doctrine?
Paul gives a clear statement of the doctrine in the very last letter he ever wrote. He writes:
You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:14-17)
What does Paul mean here by “sacred writings?”
This is a reference to the Jewish Scriptures, what we call the Old Testament. Paul calls them τὰ ἱερὰ γράμματα.
Is this the same word as what is translated in v16 as “Scripture?”
What do these terms mean?
These words are often used in Jewish life and religion to refer to a body of literature which was divinely inspired, and therefore of final authority in every area of their life. This body of divinely inspired literature would have been called the “canon.”
It appears that Paul is teaching the same basic idea in 2 Timothy 3:16.
Yes, the apostles took over these Jewish ideas of inspiration, canon, and authority and brought them over into Christian life and practice. Warfield writes:
What it is of importance especially to note is that there was nothing left for Christianity to invent in the way of designating the Sacred Books taken over from the Jewish Church pregnantly as “Scripture”, and currently adducing their authority with the pregnant ‘It is written’. The Christian writers merely continued in their entirety the established usages of the Synagogue in this matter, already prepared to their hands in Hebrew and Greek alike. There is probably not a single mode of alluding to or citing Scripture in all the New Testament which does not find its exact parallel among the Rabbis. The New Testament so far evinces itself a thoroughly Jewish book.
Why does the ASV have a different translation of this verse?
|πᾶσα γραφὴ θεόπνευστος καὶ ὠφέλιμος πρὸς διδασκαλίαν πρὸς ἐλεγμόν πρὸς ἐπανόρθωσιν πρὸς παιδείαν τὴν ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ||Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness: (2 Timothy 3:16)||All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; (2 Timothy 3:16)|
All the modern translations have adopted the predicate adjective reading. The issue here is that the adjective “inspired” is anarthrous which it make more difficult to know if it is attributive or predicate. (GGBB 309) GGBB says that in equative clauses (in other words where a linking verb is in use as here), the adjective is usually in the predicate position. Warfield suggests a rather odd translation:
On the whole, the preferable construction would seem to be, “Every Scripture, seeing that it is God-breathed, is as well profitable.” In that case, what the apostle asserts is that the Sacred Scriptures, in their every several passage—for it is just “passage of Scripture” which “Scripture” in this distributive use of it signifies—is the product of the creative breath of God, and, because of this its Divine origination, is of supreme value for all holy purposes.
Why is this point of translation so important?
Because the ASV’s translation implies that there are some Scriptures which are not inspired. The more common translation is a clear statement that all Scripture is inspired by God. Fairbairn, however, argues that this point of translation is not so significant as it may seem and that either translation amounts to roughly the same idea.
What can be said about Paul’s choice of the word “inspired” here?
It should be noted that the word “inspired” can be misleading as a translation. The word is θεόπνευστος which is a word which Paul invented for the purpose of describing Scripture. (cf λογομαχια in 2 Timothy 2:14 and ὀφθαλμοδουλίαν in Ephesians 6:6) This word is not found anywhere else in earlier Greek literature. Basically, Paul sandwiched two words together to make this new word.
- The first part of θεόπνευστος is the word theos or θεος which means God.
- The second part of θεόπνευστος is πνευστος which means “breath.”
The word “inspired” however, implies that God breathed something into the authors of Scripture, and they wrote accordingly. The Greek word, however, does not say anything about breathing into someone but refers simply to breath. Paul is teaching here that Scripture is God’s breath, or that Scripture is something that proceeds out of God. Warfield writes:
What it [the Greek word θεόπνευστος] says of Scripture is, not that it is “breathed into by God” or is the product of the Divine “inbreathing” into its human authors, but that it is breathed out by God, “God-breathed,” the product of the creative breath of God. In a word, what is declared by this fundamental passage is simply that the Scriptures are a Divine product, without any indication of how God has operated in producing them. No term could have been chosen, however, which would have more emphatically asserted the Divine production of Scripture than that which is here employed. The “breath of God” is in Scripture just the symbol of His almighty power, the bearer of His creative word. “By the word of Jehovah,” we read in the significant parallel of Psalm 33:6, “were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.” source
For this reason, the NIV and LSB made a wise choice to use the word “God-breathed” instead of “inspired.”
What does Peter teach us about the inspiration of the Bible?
Peter’s testimony is very important for two reasons. He confirms the teaching of Paul above that the Bible is inspired by God. Second, he shows us that the writings of Paul are also to be understood as Scripture.
What does Peter say about the inspiration of the Bible?
So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. (2 Peter 1:19-21)
What does Peter mean by the “prophetic word?”
This expression (τὸν προφητικὸν λόγον) is the same as what he later calls a “prophecy of Scripture.” It is a reference to those parts of Scripture which are prophetic in nature. Peter had referred to these in his first letter as well: As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries… (1 Peter 1:10)
What does Peter mean when he says that no “Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation?”
This is a difficult phrase to understand since there are two possible ways of understanding this expression. First, Peter may be speaking here about the origin of the prophecy as we see in the NIV: …no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. Or, Peter could be speaking about the interpretation of these prophecies in the present as we see in the NASB: …no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation.
Is there anything in the context which can help us understand Peter’s meaning here?
Consider the logical flow of what Peter is teaching here. First, he states the general truth that the prophecies of Scripture are confirmed and perfectly reliable.
2 Peter 1:19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts,
Then, he gives in v20 the reason for this reliability. Why can we rely on these prophecies? If we understand this text to be speaking about the origin of the prophecy, then we would say the reason we can rely upon these prophecies is because they came from God and are not just made up stories. (2 Peter 1:16) If our understanding is that this text refers to someone’s present interpretation of these prophecies, it’s harder to see how this can be a reason for the aforementioned reliability.
2 Peter 1:20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own [or the prophet’s own] interpretation.
Then v21 gives further evidence that the origin of the prophecy is meant since it basically repeats the thought of v20.
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.
In light of the above, what conclusion can we draw about the Bible?
In light of this, we conclude that the Bible is infallible because it is inspired by God; and since it is infallible, it has supreme authority in all of life. Spurgeon preached:
If Christians are what they ought to be, they depend upon God alone in their church capacity. God’s word is their only creed: they do not add to it anything whatever—no, not a sentence, a gloss, or a thought. They have greatly erred who look upon anything as the authoritative standard of faith but God’s own word. I hear you say, “Do you not respect the Thirty-nine Articles?” However much or little I may respect them, it makes no difference to the fact that the church of God is not bound to any faith but that which God himself has revealed. “But the Westminster Assembly’s Confession?” It must be treated in the same manner. That summary of doctrine is very admirable; but human creeds, as such, have nothing on earth to do with me. The point I have to do with is this, What does God say? What does his Word say? Within the covers of the Bible you find all theology. Nothing outside of this Book is binding on a Christian man as doctrine in the least degree whatever. The Bible and the Bible alone is the religion of Christians. “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” This word has life within it which rules in the souls of the Lord’s elect. Blessed be the Spirit of God who dictated it; we yield implicit faith to all that he has revealed, and to nothing else. A true church of God will say, “We wait upon the Lord for teaching: this word of the Lord is to us our infallible source of doctrine, and that alone.” Those who wait upon the Lord for their creed shall never need to give up their faith for something better, but they shall renew their strength.
What challenges to this teaching do we find in the church?