By Jason Hiles, PhD
College of Theology
February 13, 2015
It is difficult to overestimate the significance of Holy Scripture when you consider the theological task and the goals of Christian ministry. Certainly other sources of knowledge are of value as we formulate theology and minister to God’s people.
Often personal experience is brought to bear as we reflect on the needs of the community and the challenges that are facing us. Similarly, the traditions that shape the community of faith are profoundly important as they represent the accumulated wisdom of God’s people. Furthermore, reason enables us to reflect on God’s word in light of our particular circumstances and context.
Yet each of these important sources of knowledge must align with a wisdom that transcends merely human understanding or else they will inevitably lead us away from truth, goodness and beauty in spite of our best intentions.
The word of God alone has been granted to God’s people as the final standard of truth and the means by which we can test and correct our experiences, traditions, and reasoning. Thus, it must serve as the plumb line by which everything is measured and the standard that constrains and shapes our theology and guides our ministry.
Although difficult at points, it is absolutely critical for the man and woman of God who hopes to speak truthfully and minister effectively to learn how to rightly handle God’s Word (2 Tim. 2:15).
The Bible is unique in that it is God’s Word, not merely the collected writings of inspiring human authors. Clearly the Bible is not less than human, and the unique personalities, characteristics and circumstances of the individuals who penned each book are reflected in its pages. But this is only part of the story when we consider the nature and authority of Scripture.
The biblical claim that “All Scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Tim. 3:16a) indicates that God has directly created the Bible in such a way that it is uniquely “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” such that “the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16b-17).
Therefore, it is imperative that theology and ministry flow from the authoritative Word of God rather than our individual imaginations or collective concerns. It is in Scripture alone that we learn of God’s love for us and the precious gift of his Son, Jesus Christ.
Since God has spoken through Scripture with clarity and authority we must learn to rightly handle his Word so that our message and our ministry are centered on Christ, marked by hope, filled with compassion, and accompanied by the power of God’s own Spirit.
God is faithful and his word is truth. The gospel message alone is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16).