Today, we continue our series covering the ten basic categories of theology and relating them to our walk with the Lord and to our personal, one-another ministry that we call ‘counseling.’ Yesterday, we thought very briefly about the doctrine of God. Today, we turn to the doctrine of the Scriptures.
Bibliology: The Doctrine of the Scriptures
Scripture alone provides the final authority for our counseling since it is the Word of God. There is nothing that man experiences that God does not directly or indirectly address in His Word, by precept or principle, i.e. the Bible is sufficient to deal with the problems we face because God created us and because Scripture is the revelation of God, our Creator (Psalm 19:7-11).
The Word confronts us when we get off the right path and shows us how to get back on and trains us to live godly lives so that we mature and become equipped to serve God: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Because the Word of God is a living book, it has the power to transform the inner man—the heart—and consequently to produce changes in behavior, i.e. produce righteous living (Hebrews 4:12). Scripture is the Spirit’s primary tool in the miraculous event of conversion and the process of sanctification (John 17:17). Every truth-claim made by any person can and must be tested against the Bible, which is “the mind of God in written form” (1 Corinthians 2:10-16). This is not to say that no extra-biblical knowledge (as opposed to unbiblical teaching) that, when filtered through the Word of God, may not be helpful in our understanding of the human condition.
“Inspired” (2 Timothy 3:16) means “God-breathed.” It does not refer to breathing into someone an inspirational thought, but is the act of God whereby He breathed out His will—His thoughts through the chosen human agents. Scripture is the mind of God in written form. It is the divine will inscripturated (in writing) and inerrant in the original manuscripts (Matthew 4:4, 5:17-18). Therefore, Scripture does not merely contain truth—it is Truth with a capital “T.” Scripture is the final authoritative standard of Truth and the instrumental cause of faith and sanctification (Romans 10:17; John 17:17), empowered by the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18). Everything contrary to it is error. Thiessen defines inspiration well when he writes, “The Holy Spirit so guided and superintended the writers of the sacred text, making use of their own unique personalities, that they wrote all that he wanted them to write, without excess or error.”
The authority of Scripture is a by-product of its infallibility. Some who call themselves Evangelicals claim to have an authoritative Bible while at the same time deny its infallibility. This is impossible. The authority of Scripture flows from its divine origin and, since God cannot lie (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18), it too was flawless in its original form. This is not to say that what we now possess contains errors, for God has been faithful to preserve His Word through millennia. The Dead Sea Scrolls are an example of this. Without an infallible Bible we have no authority to counsel people in regard to what they must believe and do. However, because we do possess the infallible Word of God, we also possess divinely-delegated authority to counsel according to its precepts and principles. We can and must say to counselees, “Thus saith the Lord,” and “this is what God requires of you.” Jay Adams writes, “The ministry of the Word in counseling…is totally unlike counseling in any other system because of its authoritative base. This authoritative character stems, of course, from the doctrine of inerrancy. If the Bible were shot through with human error, and were no more dependable than any other composition—if it were not God-breathed revelation—this note of authority would give way to opinion. But, because the Bible is inerrant, there is authority.” I also appreciate what Wayne Grudem writes, “The essence of the authority of Scripture is its ability to compel us to believe and to obey it and to make such belief and obedience equivalent to believing and obeying God himself.”