Bible Catechism: The Doctrine of the Bible

Doctrine The Bible 

What does the Bible teach about the Bible?

Question Why did God give us the Bible?

Answer God has given us the Bible so that we might know Him, His will, and His ways. The Bible is necessary to lead us to salvation and to conform us to His Son.

Scripture 1 Peter 1:22-23 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.

Explanation| We’ve already seen a few truths about the Bible. But what about the why question? Why do we even have it in the first place? Why did God go to all the trouble to make sure you and I have the Bible? Why is the Bible not only a good thing, but a necessary thing? 

God has given us the Bible so that… The phrase, ‘so that,’ often helps us with why questions. Here, the ‘so that’ tells us that God has a purpose in giving us the Bible, and the Bible is the way that He accomplishes His purpose. From this opening phrase we can further summarize several truths about the Bible’s purpose. First, the Bible has been given to us. Second, it’s been given to us by God. Third, He’s given it to us with a purpose in mind. Fourth, His purpose in giving it to us is for our good. Now, let’s explore further God’s purpose in giving us His written word, the Bible.

God has given us the Bible so that we might know Him, His will, and His ways. I hope by now it’s clear to you that the only, true and living God wants to be known, has made Himself known, and has done so most fully through His written word, the Bible. Do you believe that? But maybe more specifically and personally, do you know why He has done so for you? The Bible tells us. God wants us to know Him. Certainly, He wants us to obey Him (and we should). And, yes, we need to know about Him. But even more, God wants us to know Him, personally. To have a person-to-person relationship with Him, as our Father.1 And that can’thappen apart from His word. We can only know Him, as He wants us to know Him, through His word, the Bible. Related to that, though, God also wants us to know His will.2 Meaning, He wants us to know what He willsto do (that is, what He has done, is doing, and will do, no matter what we do), and what He wants us to do (that is, what He desires and requires us to do, which we may or may not do). What does God want for you? What does God want from you? Those are good questions to ask. Where do we find their answers? In the Bible. But let’s take this one step further—God also wants us to know His ways. By ‘ways,’ I mean how God works. Not only what He does, but how He does it. While the full working of His plan is known only to Him, He has made known to us some of His ways. How? Through the Bible. In the Bible we can see and understand something of how He works. And, in beholding His ways as recorded in the Bible, we can come to know Him more, and respond to Him as He has willed, by marveling at His work and trusting in His faithfulness.3

God has given us the Bible so that we might be led unto salvation. While we can (and should) know something about God from His creation (Romans 1:19-20), we cannot know what we need to know about salvation from what He has made. God has to tell us about salvation. Otherwise, we wouldn’t know what it is, why we need it, or how we can receive it. In fact, the gospel (which is called, ‘the gospel of our salvation,’ Ephesians 1:13), means good news. As such, the gospel is news (not simply a picture) that must be shared or proclaimed in wordsAnd this is where the Bible comes in. God has told us about His salvation in His word. Since Genesis 3, humans have always needed salvation, and God has always been the only one who can provide the salvation they need.4 The way God has made known His salvation has varied from time to time, but it has always come through His word to man, and has always been made effective when man hears, believes, and obeys God’s word.5 We, today, have God’s written word in full. And it is the Bible that tells us how we can be made ‘wise for salvation’ (2 Timothy 3:14-15). Meaning, the Bible helps us understand God’s salvation, and is what God uses to help us embrace His salvation. Even more, the Bible is necessary for salvation to such a degree that we are even told that we are ‘born again’ by it (1 Peter 1:22-23). Meaning, we are given new life through the Bible—like a seed that’s planted, the word of God can produce ‘imperishable’ life in us. To be clear, there are many other truths related to salvation. But we’ll look at those later on. For now, keep this in mind—we need the Bible in order to be saved.

God has given us the Bible so that we might be conformed to His Son. Everyone needs to be led to salvation by the Bible, because everyone needs God’s salvation and the Bible is how He has chosen to bring it to us. But, don’t stop there! What we also need is to become like God’s Son, Jesus Christ.6 In fact, the Bible helps us understand that this is both a significant part of what it means to be saved, and even to a great extent the eventual goal of our salvation.7 To be like Jesus. To become like Him. This is what God wants for you and me. He not only wants to save us, He wants to shape us into the likeness of His Son, Jesus. That’s what we mean when we use the word, ‘conform.’ Think of it like playdough. What happens when you press playdough into a mold? It takes on the shape—the look or likeness—of the mold, itself. Right? So it is with us. God wants us to take on the shape of Jesus Christ. To think like Him, to feel like Him, to relate to the Father like Him, to treat others around us like Him, to speak like Him, and to act like Him. But remember, we are always conform-able people, whether we’re becoming like Christ or not. So, it’s not a question of if we’ll be conformed, but who or what we’re being conformed to.8 How does God conform us to His Son? Again, the Bible is the answer. And we see an example of this in our verse above. How we treat others should be like the way Jesus treats others (‘love one another’), and treating others like Jesus treats them doesn’t come naturally. We need pure hearts—hearts that are continually purified—in order to love one another ‘earnestly.’ What does God use to purify us? What He uses to save us is the same thing He uses to perfect us—His word, the Bible. We need the Bible to become more like Christ.

If this is why God has given us the Bible, then shouldn’t we read, hear, study, enjoy, obey, and share the Bible? God has graciously given us the Bible for our good. But its good will not be for my good unless I regularly and humbly make use of this gift that God has given me. And the same goes for you, too!

This is what the Bible teaches about…the Bible!

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1 John 17And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. (See also, Jeremiah 31:34)

2 Ephesians 1In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (See also, Colossians 1:9)

3 Psalm 78He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.. (See also, Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 92:4; 103:7; 111:2; 145:17)

4 Genesis 315 “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (See also, Romans 1:16; Galatians 3:8)

5 Romans 1017 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (See also, John 3:36; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17)

6 Romans 829 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

7 Ephesians 1Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. (See also, Philippians 1:9-10; 2:15; Colossians 1:21-22; 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13; 5:23)

8 Romans 12I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.