John Piper – Why we believe the Bible, Part 1 of 5

The Inspiration, Inerrancy,

and Authority of the Bible

You can read the notes here on the Desiring God site.
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1st collector for John Piper – Why we believe the Bible Part 1
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Seminar Notes for the entire (5 part) series

  1. Why Are We Concerned with the Bible?
  2. Which Books Make Up the Bible and Why?
  3. The New Testament Canon
  4. Do We Have the Very Words Written by the Biblical Authors?
  5. Does It Matter Whether We Affirm the Verbal Inerrancy of the Original Manuscripts?
  6. What Does the Bible Claim for Itself?
  7. The Old Testament Claims for Itself
  8. The Truth and Authority of the Apostles
  9. How Can We Justify the Claim That the Bible Is God’s Word?
  10. The Meaning of the Bible’s Inerrancy
  11. Appendix One: The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (1978)
  12. Appendix Two: The Immediate Knowledge of God That Comes with Human Consciousness in the World
  13. Appendix Three: My Own Experience of God as an Immediate Effect of My Consciousness in the World as a Human Being
  14. Appendix Four: Note on How the Immediate Knowledge of God Relates to the Self-Attestation of Scripture
  15. Appendix Five: Thoughts on How to Know If a Writing Is From God
  16. Appendix Six: An Argument From the Fulfillment of Prophecy
  17. Appendix Seven: How Do We Credit Paul’s Testimony?
  18. Appendix Eight: John Calvin on Scripture and the Internal Testimony of the Spirit

1. Why Are We Concerned with the Bible?
Its Inspiration, Inerrancy, and Authority

Our Conviction

Bethlehem Affirmation of Faith (Article One)
(Baptist General Conference, Bethel)

We believe that the Bible is the Word of God, fully inspired and without error in the original manuscripts, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and that it has supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct. (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20,21; Mark 13:31; John 8:21, 22; 20:31; Acts 20:32)

The Evangelical Tradition

Westminster Confession of Faith 1646 (Article One, Paragraph Eight)

The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which, at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and, by His singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentic; (1) so as, in all controversies of religion, the Church is finally to appeal unto them. (2)

(1) Matt. 5:18.
(2) Isa. 8:20; Acts 15:15; John 5:39, 46.

Keach’s Catechism (1689)

Question 4: What is the Word of God?

Answer: The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, being given by divine inspiration, are the Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice. (2 Peter 1:21; 2 Timothy 3:16,17; Isaiah 8:20)

The Evangelical Theological Society

The Bible alone, and the Bible in its entirety, is the Word of God written and is therefore inerrant in the autographs. God is a Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, each an uncreated person, one in essence, equal in power and glory.

The Lausanne Covenant (1974) Article Two

We affirm the divine inspiration, truthfulness and authority of both Old and New Testament Scriptures in their entirety as the only written word of God, without error in all that it affirms, and the only infallible rule of faith and practice. We also affirm the power of God’s word to accomplish his purpose of salvation. The message of the Bible is addressed to all mankind. For God’s revelation in Christ and in Scripture is unchangeable. Through it the Holy Spirit still speaks today. He illumines the minds of God’s people in every culture to perceive its truth freshly through their own eyes and thus discloses to the whole church ever more of the many-colored wisdom of God. (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21; John 10:35; Isaiah 55:11; 1 Corinthians 1:21; Romans 1:16; Matthew 5:17-18; Jude 3; Ephesians 1:17-18; 3:10, 18)

Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy 1978 (Summary Statement)

2. Holy Scripture, being God’s own Word, written by men prepared and superintended by His Spirit, is of infallible divine authority in all matters upon which it touches: It is to be believed, as God’s instruction, in all that it affirms; obeyed, as God’s command, in all that it requires; embraced, as God’s pledge, in all that it promises. . . . 4. Being wholly and verbally God-given, Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching, no less in what it states about God’s acts in creation, about the events of world history, and about its own literary origins under God, than in its witness to God’s saving grace in individual lives.

Wheaton College Statement of Faith (Article Two)
(October 17, 1992)

We believe that God has revealed Himself and His truth in the created order, in the Scriptures, and supremely in Jesus Christ; and that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are verbally inspired by God and inerrant in the original writing, so that they are fully trustworthy and of supreme and final authority in all that they say.

Many in our day deny the existence of Truth

Michael Novak (First Things, Sept. 1994, p. 21)—Templeton Prize Address

“There is no such thing as truth,” they teach even the little ones. “Truth is bondage. Believe what seems right to you. There are as many truths as there are individuals. Follow your feelings. Do as you please. Get in touch with yourself. Do what feels comfortable.” Those who speak this way prepare the jails of the twenty-first century. They do the work of tyrants.

One trait of secularism is the criticism of the Bible as a mixture of truth and error.

Star Tribune, Oct. 17, 1992—Letter from Minnesota Atheists

One of the few worthwhile statements in the Bible is, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” … Knowledge of the Bible is hindered by the informal censorship imposed by religious leaders who would rather their followers didn’t know what’s in it – the innumerable contradictions, historical errors, plagiarism, absurdities, meaningless prophecies, myths presented as historical fact, and countless instances of divinely ordered or approved atrocities. … It is true that the Bible has some worthwhile material, including entertaining stories, inspirational sentiments and astute observations about human behavior. However, those worthwhile parts could probably be contained in a pamphlet.

The competing holy books of other religions are increasingly close.

Kenneth Cragg, “Contemporary Trends in Islam” in Muslims and Christians on the Emmaus Road, ed. J. Dudley Woodberry (Monrovia, CA: MARC, 1989)

Islam is essentially fundamentalist in a way that biblical Christian faith could never properly be. For the Quran is understood as the ipsissima verba of God himself, given in Tanzil [the “sending down”] to Muhammad, in Arabic, as a transcribing of the Divine Book in heaven. (p. 28)

One trait of liberal Christianity is the rejection of the infallibility of the Bible and the call for us to find a canon within the canon.

Ernst Kaesemann, quoted in Gerhard Maier, The End of the Historical Method (St. Louis: Concordia Pub. House, 1974)

The Scripture which one gives over to itself and to which one … gives himself up uncritically without the “principal key” leads not only to a multiplicity of confessions but also to the inability to distinguish between faith and superstition, the Father of Jesus Christ and the idol. … Does the New Testament canon establish the unity of the church? … No … If (the formal canon) establishes also a variety of Christologies which are in part incompatible … the canon as a such also legitimates more or less all sects and false doctrines. (pp. 37-38)

If it is true, the message of the Bible is the only message of eternal life.

Psalm 96:5
For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.

John 14:6
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

John 6:67-68
Jesus said therefore to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.”

Acts 4:12
And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.

John 8:42
Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God”

1 John 2:23
Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.

1 John 5:12
He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.

Building our lives of sacrificial service on a mistake would be pitiable.

1 Corinthians 15:19
If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.

The Bible makes claims to inspiration and authority and inerrancy.

One example: 2 Timothy 3:15-16
From childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.

Yet the most devout believers meet Scriptures that do not seem coherent with other parts or with our experience.

James and Paul

James 2:24
You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone.

Romans 3:28
We maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.

God’s Repentance

1 Samuel 15: 11
The word of the Lord came to Samuel: “I repent that I have made Saul king; for he has turned back from following me.”

1 Samuel 15:28-29
The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day, and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you. And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or repent; for he is not a man, that he should repent.

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