by Dr. Gregg R. Allison
Every day my life is bombarded by voices: TV news commentators, op-ed pieces in the paper, colleagues, tweets, students, radio broadcasts, blog posts, Monday morning quarterbacks, emails, the advice I tell myself, family discussion around the dinner table, podcasts, and much, much more.
Does one of these voices stand out among all the others? Should one?
For us Christians, the voice of God heard in Scripture takes precedence over all other voices. This is so because Scripture is the very Word of God, his revelation of himself and his mighty acts on behalf of us sinful people.
The Nature of the Voice of God
Over the course of the next few blog posts, I want to address Scripture according to its many excellent characteristics, so that we can know more about the nature of the voice of God to us today. Specifically, I will focus on these characteristics of Scripture: inspiration, sufficiency, necessity, clarity, truthfulness (or inerrancy), authority, and power.
Speaking to his disciple, Timothy, about “the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus,” Paul explained that “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 Tim. 3:15–17). That is, Scripture is inspired (suck in that air deeply) or, better, expired (let that air out): “breathed out by God.”
The Bible is the product of the creative work of God. Specifically, we can affirm the inspiration of Scripture because of the Holy Spirit’s superintendence of the biblical authors as they personally composed their writings. This link between the Word and Spirit of God is made in 2 Peter 1:21, where Peter explains, “For no prophecy [his reference is to our Old Testament] was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along [think of wind gusting into the sails of a ship] by the Holy Spirit.”
Thus, the writing of Scripture was a cooperative process involving both the human authors, who constructed their narratives, psalms, letters, Gospels, and other writings using their grammatical abilities, choices of literary genre, and theological perspectives, and the Holy Spirit’s particular guidance of them and their work.
The Word in Action
The outcome of this Spirit-superintended, human writing process was the actual inspired words of God that provide great benefit for us Christians: Scripture is profitable for teaching, or the communication of authoritative and wisdom-fostering theological truth; reproof, or the highlighting of sinful attitudes and actions from which we must turn; correction, or the pointing out of the correct road for us to pursue; and training in righteousness, or our preparation as mature Christ followers.
Do you believe that for every good work that God calls you engage in—communicating the gospel to your neighbor, leading a Community Group, comforting a work colleague who has just suffered a tragedy, submitting to someone in authority over you—he prepares you through the Bible to do that work?
Rely on his inspired Word—and go to the action!
And buy Dr. Allison’s new book, Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine.