Monday, April 02, 2018

Inerrancy—True Truth

by Laura Springer, Th.M., Ph.D.

Let’s say you’ve headed out on a driving trip across the country. You have your trusty map-app in hand, stops are all planned out, and the car is packed. All goes well for the first couple of days. On the third day, you arrive at a crossroads and take the one the app says leads to your next stop. You end up on the “shore” of a swamp. This is not on the map. The map says this is a cute bed and breakfast. The map was mostly true. But not today. Truth is important.

Inerrancy refers to the truth of the original transcripts of Scripture. It says that Scripture is true, conforming to reality and speaking the truth in everything it affirms. Scripture is not false. It conforms to reality. It is the true, written word of God. A correct understanding of the truth in Scripture requires proper interpretation, using appropriate bible study methods and assumptions. At a minimum, these tools and assumptions include considering the whole of scripture and approaching the text with the assumption that God’s Word does not contradict itself.

God always speaks truth, so his Word is truth, and he himself is a sufficient basis for the assumption of biblical inerrancy (Hebrews 6:16-18). God never lies (Titus 1:1-2). Scripture follows the same rules that it makes for prophets. The Old Testament set strict criteria for those who spoke for God. First, even if a prediction took place, the person making this prediction was not to be followed if he encouraged listeners to follow other gods (Deuteronomy 13:1-5l). Second, those who spoke for God were to declare only what God himself had said. If what they declared did not occur, the declaration was not from God (Deuteronomy 18:20-22). Just as a prophet of God must always speak that which is proved true, so also Scripture always speaks that which is true. The Scripture claims this truth and authority for itself (2 Timothy 3:14-17).


Our life in Christ is a journey. We have companions and spiritual leaders along the way, but Scripture is the only true and completely trustworthy map. We must put forth every effort to understand this trustworthy map and follow it alongside our brothers and sisters as we journey together to becoming like Christ.

Monday, March 05, 2018

Inspiration—Truth Breathed Out

by Laura Springer, Th.M., Ph.D.


When we think about inspiration, we often think of something along the lines of, “I feel so inspired…” But biblical inspiration is not about feeling. It is about history and reality.


With regard to the text of Scripture, inspiration means that through the influence of the Holy Spirit, the writings of God-selected persons (prophets) are also the trustworthy and authoritative Word of God. Inspiration has to do with this influence, describing the process whereby the breath of God—his spiration—works through his prophets, making their written words his Word.

The family of terms translated “breath” in the New Testament, namely, pneuma and related terms, is used concerning the creation the universe (Genesis 1:2) and of humanity (Genesis 6:17) in the Greek version of the Old Testament. God spoke, and the universe became. God breathed into the human's nostrils, and he became a living being. God breathed into the writings of the prophets, making those written words the very Word of God.

Because the Scripture, this written text, is breathed by God, it has value for our growth as persons in community in Christ. The prophets understood they were writing the words of God. They understood inspiration and their part in it. They communicated this each time they used the phrase, “This is what Yahweh says.”

Feeling moved, awed, or convicted in response to Scripture is good. It is important to feel the feelings rather than set them aside as useless or analyze them into non-existence. But feelings are not the foundation of faith. Truth is. And the inspired Word of God is our primary source of the truth about God. Feelings must not be the filter through which we select which biblical passages are authoritative and which we set aside. The entire Bible is authoritative.

Biblical truth, gleaned from the entire Bible, is a sure foundation. It is always worth our intellectual, emotional, and behavioral engagement. Know the truth. Feel the feelings. Do God's work.

Monday, February 05, 2018

Revelation--God Unveiled

by Laura Springer, Th.M., Ph.D.


The revelation of God’s power and divinity surrounds us, for nature reveals these (Romans 1:20). We watch waves crashing upon the shore and tides flowing in and out, giving us glimpses of God’s power. We learn math that echoes God’s orderliness and beauty. We gaze upon a newborn infant, and our hearts leap at the reflection of God’s divinity in this tiny human form. The revelation of God is all around us, but this general revelation, given by nature, does not tell us everything God wants us to know. His power and divinity are crucial, but he also wants us to know who he is and what he desires for us. God gave us special revelation, namely, Scripture and the incarnation of Christ, to communicate this truth. Last year we studied the doctrine of Christ; this year we focus on Scripture.

   Scripture reveals God's nature. It shows us that God is self-existent, eternal, steadfast, all-knowing, unique and pure, correct, good, love, in charge, all-powerful, and always present.
   Scripture reveals God's will. From the laws and prophets of the Old Testament to the commands and instructions of the New, Scripture tells us what God expects and requires of his people.
   Scripture reveals the good news of salvation. In it we see God telling his people Israel that they will be his people and he will be their God. We see him declare himself as the God who delivered his people from slavery and oppression in Egypt. We see the Savior foreshadowed as the Prophet, Priest, and coming King. We see the life, teaching, and people of this Savior, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.

So, what is our proper response to the revelation of God, both general and special? Let's return to Romans 1 for some insight. The foolish see nature’s revelation, but do not give God honor. But we shall. The foolish do not give thanks to the Creator. But we shall. The foolish become futile in their minds. But we shall become fruitful. The foolish trust their own minds and hearts. But we shall seek and trust the Spirit and his illumination of God's revelation. The foolish choose to worship nature. But we choose to worship God and God alone.

This is what Scripture reveals.

Monday, January 01, 2018

Bibliology - The Doctrine of Scripture

by Laura Springer, Th.M., Ph.D.


Throughout 2018, we will be looking at the Doctrine of Scripture, known as Bibliology. This month, we look at its unity, truth, significance, and power.

The Bible is one text. The Christian bible is composed of the Old Testament (39 books, also known as the TaNaKh) and the New Testament (27 books). The TaNaKh was finalized in 20 BC and was the Scripture used by Jesus and his apostles and mentioned in the New Testament. The 27 books of the New Testament were written in the first century AD and recognized as Scripture by the church as the New Testament Canon. The church officially declared the canon closed in AD 397 (canonicity).

The Christian Bible was written by around 40 human authors and one divine author, God, over the span of about 2,000 years. Despite the many human authors and the span of years, the Bible is one text. It is God’s communication of himself in text (revelation) and was breathed out by God (inspiration) and written by human authors.

The Bible is true. It is without error in what it affirms (inerrancy), for what it says happened, actually happened, and the truths it proclaims are true. It will not fail to achieve the purposes God has for it (infallibility).

The Bible is significant. While nature reveals God’s power and divinity (Romans 1:20), the written Word reveals Christ, law, salvation, and much more. It is important to understand this written text, for understanding is good (John 20:31; 1 John 5:13).

The Bible is powerful. It works in the lives of the people of God, teaching, reproving, correcting, and instructing in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16-17). As believers read and study the Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us its import (illumination) and guides us as we seek to understand what it says and what it means (interpretation).

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 complete, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV

Monday, December 04, 2017

Knowing Jesus is the Point

by Laura Springer, Th.M., Ph.D.


What is the point of theology? Of godly behavior? There is more, and God tells us this through three very different means of communication.


The Incarnate Word
As we have seen during 2017, Jesus is God's ultimate communication. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. …And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:1-3, 14 ESV).

The Book of Nature
This nature that Jesus made proclaims his power, greatness, and majesty (Psalm 19:1). Its proclamation flows like a continuous stream: day after day, year after year its witness of God's glory speaks and reaches every corner of the universe (Psalm 19:2-4).

The Written Text
Nature's witness is persistent, but there is more to God than glory. The witness of Scripture is complete and life-giving. Even more, God's verbal proclamation of himself will never pass away: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matthew 24:35 ESV).
 "The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple" (Psalm 19:7 ESV).
In 2018, we will be thinking through the doctrine of Scripture, known as Bibliology. The most important concept, the most critical point to keep in mind is that Scripture is not an end in itself. It is the very word of God, but its purpose is that we might know Jesus and become increasingly like him.

Knowing theology is not the point.
Knowing how to be a good person is not the point
Knowing Jesus is the point

Photograph: “Reflected” by LKSpringer (2016) at http://gloryology.blogspot.com/2016/01/reflected.html
Depicted Mural: The Word by Kent Twitchell (created 1989-1990 Biola University, Bardwell Hall)

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Discovering a Biblical Theology of an Idea, Word, or Theme

by Laura Springer, M.Div., Th.M.

Biblical theology traces an idea, word, or theme in a biblical book, author, genre, testament, or the entire Bible. While the process can be long and involved and requires careful thought, the steps are quite simple.

  1. Determine the idea, word, or theme to be studied. In this example, I will use the word "heart" (Gk. kardia) in Matthew's Gospel. You can use the search tool at biblestudytools.com. I used it, chose "interlinear" in the sidebar, and clicked "kardia" to fine all the uses of kardia in Matthew.
  2. Next, read each verse in its paragraph (!!!) and determine what this particular verse says about the idea, word, or theme. Make brief notes.
    • Matthew 5:8 can be pure; related to the perception of God
    • Matthew 5:28 can sin
    • Matthew 6:21 intention revealed in use of treasure
    • Matthew 9:4 related to response; ca do evel/good
    • Matthew 11:29 can be humble
    • Matthew 12:34 source of speech content; evidence of character
    • Matthew 12:40 interior
    • Matthew 13:15 related to understanding
    • Matthew 13:19 can have content stolen by evil one
    • Matthew 15:8 can be communal (had by a community); determines intention
    • Matthew 15:18-19 source of speech content/behavior
    • Matthew 18:35 location of true forgiveness of others
    • Matthew 22:37 able to love
    • Matthew 24:48 source of decisions/behavior
  3. Spend time reading over your notes. Look for the structure of the concepts, write the key concepts in bullet form, and cite the appropriate passages.
    • moral component, 5:8; 5:28; 9:4; 11:29
    • cognitive component, 5:8; 13:15
    • volitive component, 6:21; 9:4; 15:8; 15:18-19; 18:35; 22:37; 24:48
    • character component, 12:34-35; 15:18-19
    • vulnerable to evil, 13:19
  4. Read through the passages in their groupings and create a full sentence outline of the biblical theology.
    • The heart is the location of our moral decision-making (5:8; 5:28; 9:4; 11:29).
    • The heart is the gatekeeper and ultimate means of understanding (5:8; 13:15).
    • The heart decides our thoughts, motivations, and behaviors (6:21; 9:4; 15:8; 15:18-19; 18:35; 22:37; 24:48).
    • The heart is the reservoir of character (12:34-35; 15:18-19).
    • The heart is vulnerable to evil attack (13:19).
  5. You now have a biblical theology of the idea, word, or theme you have studied.
  6. Now, venture out on your own and trace heart in Mark's Gospel. If you would like, post your results in the comments.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Passionate Pursuit of Christ Produces Spiritual Growth

by Laura Springer, M.Div., Th.M.

Claim: Spiritual growth is the fruit of our passionate pursuit of Christ.

Note the following verses (emphasis mine).

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5 ESV)

Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. (Rom 7:4 ESV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Gal 5:22-24 ESV)

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. (Col 1:9-10 ESV)

In each case, fruit results from connection with Christ. This is not to say we sit idle while Jesus does all the work, for this is not the case. As Paul says in Philippians 2:12, we are to work out the salvation that God has put in. But, working out our salvation--producing fruit--cannot occur by our own effort alone:, for as Jesus said, “apart from me you can do nothing.”

Our motto for this past year has been, "Passionately pursuing spiritual growth in Christ." It is a very good motto and the programs flowing from that motto have encouraged many at TFB to begin bible reading and reflection they may not have practiced regularly before.

As we prepare for 2010, might I suggest we think about the true means to spiritual growth? You see, bible reading and reflection is good and necessary, but it is not enough. If we read the Bible and reflect on it regularly, but do so to "make ourselves holy" or "fulfill duty" then we have missed the point. The point of Bible reading and reflection is connecting with, trusting, and obeying Jesus.

In 2010, let us gather in small groups and large, thinking and praying together, figuring out how to pursue Christ, and deciding to trust and obey him with passion and persistence.

The fruit will, I am certain, astound us.