Sermon Notes: Life and Teaching – What is the Bible?

What is the Bible?

We are beginning a course of sermons that aim to lay a foundation for us to be equipped to live out the answer to the question: What if the whole church was the missionary?

This is important because we enter into our vocational domains of society that are the battleground for the kingdom of God in conflict with what the Bible calls “the world” under the influence of fallen hosts of evil. 

These hosts have been at war with God via humanity and against humanity through creation from almost the very beginning. 

It’s a war of beliefs and it affects all of physical creation. Sow a thought, reap an act. So an act, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a destiny. 

Listen to Paul’s words to Timothy: 1 Timothy 4:16 (CSB) 16 Pay close attention to your life and your teaching; persevere in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.

There are no neutral thoughts. 

We need a doctrinal framework to be able to build our lives on so that we are bearers of reality and not bearers of demonic lies that are disguised as light coming from dark sources disguised as light and function as schemes to wreck people, and creation, then create chaos in the local church.

Listen to how Paul said this to the Corinthians:

2 Corinthians 11:13-15 (CSB) 13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no great surprise if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will be according to their works.

In this course of sermons, we want to build the framework for what the Bible says about key Bible teachings (doctrines) that will help us use our Bibles better in the workplace as we engage in the conflict of the kingdom of God with the kingdom of the world. 

We are going to start with the question: What is the Bible?


The reason we start with the Bible is that when aberrant and fringe teachings invade a Christian’s mind and then the local church it is because someone strayed from the Bible into man’s preferred thoughts or outcomes superimposed onto the Bible. 

These ideas are usually multiple steps removed from the author’s intent in the Bible verses that are proof-texted and made to look like the author’s intent.

We must have some basic doctrines in place to help us do what Paul told the Corinthians to do:

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (CSB) 3 For although we live in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh, 4 since the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments 5 and every proud thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ.

With the Bible and the responsible exegesis of the Bible in hand, we want to be able to demolish the strongholds of thoughts and ideas that are cleverly designed to look true but are not so that we can make our thoughts obey Jesus. 

What is the Bible? What does the Bible say about itself? Let’s read it!

2 Peter 1:16-21 (CSB) 16 For we did not follow cleverly contrived myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; instead, we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased! ” 18 We ourselves heard this voice when it came from heaven while we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 We also have the prophetic word strongly confirmed, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you know this: No prophecy of Scripture comes from the prophet’s own interpretation, 21 because no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

What is the Bible? 

NOTE: I commend to you John Frame’s work “Systematic Theology” to help you dive into questions we can’t answer in a single sermon NOR should we. The sermon’s job is to deal with the Bible’s content not to do the scholarly and classroom work of diving into other topics. 

  1. The Bible is God’s word.
    1. We are going to do some expositional apologetics by walking through Peter’s words from the Lord in a moment.
      1. Before then, I want to give you a very over-simplified process of God’s speaking to man and it coming to words on a page.
        1. God speaks (divine voice). People listen to God and learn. Then they either obey or disobey. People speak what God has said to other people often as God demands they do. People write down what God said because God said for them to write it down and they believed others should know what God said. 
        2. The Bible has one author, God. 
        3. The Bible has many scribes who captured God’s actions and words.
          1. Therefore, the Bible is one book with 66 chapters that tells one cohesive narrative. 
        4. The scribes of the Bible write down God’s words and those words carry the authority of God who spoke them.
          1. Words carry the meaning of the author (God) and thus whatever authority the author has in the lives of the hearers.
            1. This is why the Bible, claiming to be from God, carries authority for the Christian.
      2. “It should not be surprising that…Paul’s written words should have the same authority as his spoken words…Written revelation from God is not just a series of casual notes by inspired writers. Written revelation plays a special, divinely appointed role in the history of redemption, and to appreciate the nature of such revelation, we must understand that theological purpose. We find that purpose in Scripture itself. Scripture itself…teaches a doctrine of Scripture, along with all its other doctrines.” – John Frame, p. 563.
        1. The Bible is the source of what we are to believe about the Bible itself. 
        2. In other words, the Bible has plenty to say about what it is.
          1. We don’t have to make that up.  
      3. Divine revelation is not just a momentary experience given to an individual. God reveals himself so that those who receive that revelation will capture his actions and spoken instructions for his people to know him also. 
      4. Examples:
        1. Genesis 8:20 – Noah builds an altar in response to God’s deliverance of him and his family just like God promised he would do. 
        2. Genesis 9:12-17 – God gives the rainbow as the sign of his covenant established with Noah as a permanent witness to his promise to Noah. 
        3. Genesis 12:7; 13:18 – Abram builds an altar in Shechem to remember God’s promise/word that his people would possess the land
        4. Genesis 28:18; 35:15 – Jacob receives a vision of God, and he builds a memorial and poured oil on it to remember the divine speech to him from God.
          1. These memorials are less than written revelation.
          2. And these memorials are events that are then written to capture what God did, his pattern of activity, and the words he then spoke.
            1. These memorials do indicate the point, and that is God intends to leave a permanent witness to his words, and thus for us to know and remember his words that caused those memorials to be constructed. 
          3. This is established early on in the Bible, and Peter’s summary we read in 2 Peter 1:16-21 captures this process perfectly. 
          4. What does Peter say? What does the Bible say about itself? (This is an example of expositional apologetics – letting the Bible defend itself and its content.)
            1. The Bible is not cleverly devised myths. 
            2. The Bible is the eyewitness account of God’s activity and speaking in the world. 
            3. These eyewitnesses claim to have heard God’s voice.
              1. Peter is referring to the witness of the New Testament specifically, then he immediately bolsters the source of their New Testament faith by defending the Old Testament in the next breath. 
            4. The Old Testament is God’s prophetic word strongly confirmed. How?
              1. Jesus fulfilled all of God’s promises. 
            5. We do well to pay attention to God’s word. 
            6. God’s word did not come from man’s interpretation of events or even man’s own will, but it came from the Holy Spirit to man as He carried them along.
              1. Thus, the God of the Bible is the Author of the Bible, and the people writing are God’s scribes. 
              2. Thus, the Bible is one book with 66 chapters and one cohesive narrative. 
        5. Ultimately, we have to be convinced by faith not reason alone about God’s word.
          1. We read the Bible and its self-attesting message, and either believe or we don’t.
          2. But we cannot pretend it does not claim to be what it says it is, God’s words given to mankind.
    2. So, if the Bible is God’s word, what is the result of that in practice?
  1. Since the Bible is God’s word, we must believe the Bible is authoritative.
    1. Peter tells his hearers that they will do well to pay attention to God’s word precisely because it is God’s word.
      1. “All the words of Scripture are God’s words in such a way that to disbelieve or disobey any part of Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God.” – Wayne Grudem
        1. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (CSB) 16 All Scripture is inspired (literally breathed out) by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
        2. John 17:17 (CSB) 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.
          1. Truth is the noun in John 17:17. 
          2. It is not an adjective.
            1. Adjectives modify nouns.
              1. If Truth was an adjective, it would be modifying something else, which would be a higher authority and truth would be one of its components. 
            2. Nouns speak to the identity and essence of something.
              1. Jesus calls God’s word “truth”, a noun not an adjective. 
              2. If Jesus had said “your word contains truth”, that would be an adjectival use, and it would mean that there are some things not true and some things that are true. 
              3. Jesus said God’s word is in its entirety, truth. 
      2. The Bible is authoritative because it claims to come from God’s mouth and is in itself the definition of what is true.
        1. Thus, the Bible is authoritative because it is God’s word NOT because of any particular content. 
  1. Since the Bible is God’s word, we must believe the Bible is infallible.
    1. Infallible means “incapable of erring” and it also means “it only affirms what is true”.
      1. Infallible is a stronger adjective than inerrant. 
      2. Infallible is a term more in line with the history of the church and its teaching of and defense of the Bible. 
    2. Why do I prefer infallible to inerrant even though I use the word “inerrant” a lot?
      1. Inerrancy is a post-enlightenment word from western civilization in which Christians had to adapt its defense to a scientific attack on the validity of the Bible.
        1. Rather than critiquing “science” married to atheist ideology, we created an unnecessary term to defend against a weak attack. 
        2. Inerrancy was articulated in 1978 to provide an empirical defense against “reason” that had been divorced from Christ. 
      2. Unfortunately, we have been taught to read the Bible with scientific and empirical eyes and not with narrative eyes (thus we see the bible as merely a collection of true sayings disconnected from genre, contextual meaning, and cohesive narrative).
        1. We’ve failed to understand the whole narrative as a whole story.
        2. We’ve missed divine council and spiritual conflict and special places for divine activity in Genesis 1-3 because we were too busy trying to disprove Darwin from a text that was written with no such intent in mind. 
      3. We spend time trying to defend Genesis 1-2 from Darwin, and that’s a blatant misuse of Moses’ Holy Spirit-inspired intent.
        1. It is only in reading the whole of the Bible that we are provided with the framework for knowing what is not empirically true but what is ultimately true. 
    3. The Bible does not err in anything, and it only affirms what is absolutely true. 
    4. Romans 3:4 quoting Psalm 51:4 (CSB) 4 Absolutely not! Let God be true, even though everyone is a liar, as it is written: That you may be justified in your words and triumph when you judge.
    5. Proverbs 30:5 (CSB) 5 Every word of God is pure; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
  1. Since the Bible is God’s word, we must believe the Bible is clear.
    1. Let’s be clear: God’s word is for everyone (Deuteronomy 8:3; Ps. 19:7; Matthew 4:4), and there are mysteries in the text of Scripture that are deep and nuanced and require growth in knowledge and some deep language studies if you want to sound their depth. 
    2. No doubt in history there has been people who have made a mess out of God’s word and misled many.
      1. So, is the Bible just unclear?
    3. What does the clarity of the Bible mean?
      1. “The clarity of Scripture means that the Bible is written in such a way that its teachings are able to be understood by all who will read it seeking God’s help and being willing to follow it.” – Wayne Grudem
    4. Since we believe the Bible tells us what we need to know, what does it say regarding it’s clarity?
      1. Psalms 19:7 (CSB) 7 The instruction of the LORD is perfect, renewing one’s life; the testimony of the LORD is trustworthy, making the inexperienced wise. 
      2. Deuteronomy 8:3 (CSB) 3 He humbled you by letting you go hungry; then he gave you manna to eat, which you and your ancestors had not known, so that you might learn that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.
      3. All of Psalm 119
        1. Psalms 119:9-10 (CSB) 9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping your word. 10 I have sought you with all my heart; don’t let me wander from your commands.
          1. It it is not clear, how can I keep it? 
          2. How can I keep from wandering if God’s word is not clear?
  1. Since the Bible is God’s word, we must believe the Bible is necessary.
    1. Romans 1 affirms that creation reveals some of God’s nature. 
    2. What creation reveals about God is enough to hold mankind accountable for their sin and idolatry but not enough to save man from sin.
      1. So, what reveals God in a special way that can lead people to know God and be saved from the curse of sin?
        1. “Although the light of nature and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet they are not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of His will, which is necessary for salvation. Therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal Himself, and to declare His will unto His Church; and afterward for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which makes the Holy Scripture most necessary; those former ways of God’s revealing His will unto His people being now ceased..” WCF 1.1
    3. 2 Timothy 3:14-15 (CSB) 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed. You know those who taught you, 15 and you know that from infancy you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
    4. The Bible is necessary to reveal the redemptive will of God for salvation and his purposes in the world.
      1. The Bible is necessary for knowing the Gospel.
        1. Romans 10:13-17 (CSB) 13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. 14 How, then, can they call on him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about him? And how can they hear without a preacher? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news. 16 But not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed our message? 17 So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.
      2. The Bible is necessary for knowing God’s will.
        1. Deuteronomy 29:29 (CSB) 29 The hidden things belong to the LORD our God, but the revealed things belong to us and our children forever, so that we may follow all the words of this law.


  1. If all this is true, read your Bible.
  2. If all this is true, study your Bible. 
  3. If all this is true, do everything you can to make sure others who don’t know Jesus, know Jesus in rescue from sin and the kingdom of darkness.
    1. Christian history proves these 3 applications are central in Great Commission work in that followers of Jesus have striven since the Lord gave us the Great Commission to see that the message and the book that contains that message goes to the ends of the earth beginning in their own cities and they strive to make sure it is accurately translated into the languages of the people who receive it. 
    2. Wherever the Bible goes and is translated and understood properly, God brings good and healing and wholenss to villages, cities, and nations. 
    3. Let’s get after it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s