A Short Theology, Part 3: The Bible's Interpretation, Application, and Sufficiency
Perhaps you have wondered, and now you understand why we call the Bible “Holy.” It originates in the mind of a Holy God. It exalts itself beyond any human invention. The Bible will not deceive or fail its faithful readers. Scripture calls its believers to typify reverence afforded it by the noble Bereans: a diligence to compare all truth to God’s revelation (Acts 17:11).
We can and should test all things by Scripture (I Thes 5:21). We must not reason according to the wisdom of man but only with the mind of Christ in Scripture (1 Cor 1:18–2:16). All our ideas are subject to Scripture, and we must destroy those contrary to His ways (2 Cor 10:5–6). His Word makes us complete and perfect (2 Tm 3:16–17). Through meeting Him in Scripture, He gives us “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Pt 1:3).
Keep in mind that this is not an anti-intellectual view of the general theories of knowledge and science; it is simply a more thoroughgoing approach to understanding life. Everyone bases his or her understanding of the world on something; an epidemiological foundation biases the worldview of every man, woman, and child. For Christians, we rest our way of thinking on the revelation of the Creator of the universe, not on naturalistic assumptions. Of course, there are those theologians, falsely claiming the “Christian” moniker, who use historical-critical methodologies to deconstruct Scripture and the faith. While rejecting this approach, Bible believing Christians, in testing all things by Scripture, do not reject all or even most historical, grammatical, or textual studies, for they use them to better understand the Bible and to worship God.
Because those embracing Biblical Christianity have a cohesive view of the world around us, they understand how to best interpret Scripture within its historical context. Political, social, textual, and even geographical details help students of the Word understand it as the original audience of Scripture would have. Furthermore, while many Bible translations represent faithful work within the original languages and are likewise trustworthy, knowledge of the languages helps Bible students study grammatical and syntactical nuances in the text. All of this study culminates in what we call the Historical-Grammatico Method of Hermeneutics, a more scientific approach to interpreting the Bible that considers all of the contexts of Scripture to understand the author's meaning text at the time he wrote it. By prayerfully considering the historical, grammatical, and greater narrative contexts of any one passage, an individual can discern the transcendent messages and propositions of God that apply to him.
Is the Bible really enough for godly living in this fallen world? Many Christians wonder if the general revelation of God in nature is the “sixty-seventh book of the Bible,” hearing the oft-repeated phrase, “All truth is God’s truth.” While the Bible does not address every question of life or of the created world, it is sufficient for all of life’s needs (see John 16:12–13; 17:17; 1 Cor 2:13; 2 Tim 3:15–17; Heb 4:12; 2 Pet 1:3, 20–21). It taught ancient Israel how to live everyday life in the Law (Dt 6:4–9). Through Paul, Scripture demonstrates the pattern of warning and teaching everyone in the church (Col 1:28), proclaiming the whole council of God by tearfully confronting their minds (Acts 20:26–32). Thus, while believers can profit from the natural knowledge of others, they, in knowing they have an all-sufficient revelation from God, should never seek revelations from anywhere else, whether they are from philosophy, psychotherapy, spiritual gurus, angels, or modern-day prophets.
That brings us to the final application of this theology of Scripture. The Greek word in Acts 20:31, noutheteo, means “admonish” or “put in mind” (nous means “mind”) and is the basis for nouthetic counseling. Because Scripture is sufficient, it addresses all of life’s problems by getting to the genuine underlying spiritual issues of the heart and mind, regardless of whatever the psychological label of the issue may be. From heartaches to neuroses, those suffering in this sin-soaked world need go no further than the Word of God for hope and peace, while seeking the advice of physicians on the natural order of the body (i.e., health-issues). Those Christian believers lacking discipleship in this area should seek a minister of the Word who is trained in biblical or nouthetic counseling. A trained pastor has in his hands salve for hurting souls—meaning that Christians need not seek out psychiatrists or psychologists, whether Christian in name or otherwise, for help in godly living that is in addition to God's revelation to them.