What Does the Bible Say?


Why a Systematic Theology Book Is a Good Investment

The Nature of the Bible

The Bible is a fully divine book and a fully human book; it has God for its author and is rightly called the Word of God, and yet the Bible was written by many different human authors who lived at different times and wrote in different languages.  How can the Bible be both fully divine and fully human?  

There is an analogy between the Bible and the God’s great revelation of himself in our Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus is fully human and fully divine in his one person; and though tempted in all the ways we are, he never sinned.  In other words, we might say that Jesus is one hundred percent human and one hundred percent God, but Jesus is not two hundred percent; he’s one hundred percent.  And the Lord Jesus is perfect, even in his human nature, not only in his deity.  

In the same way, the Bible is fully a divine book, written by God, every letter formed by his sovereign will under the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  The smallest yodh and iota, the tiniest distinguishing mark between one letter and the next is there, in the human text, because God ordained it to be there. (Matthew 5:18.)  When the canon was complete, God could say of the whole human document, “This is my holy Word.”  “All Scripture is God-breathed” just as every word that proceeds out of our mouths is breathed by us. (2 Timothy 3:16.)   

Yet, without in any way taking away from its completely divine character, one must affirm that the Bible is a human book.  While it sometimes records revelations given directly and audibly by God, such as the precise words God spoke in theophanies, dreams and visions, by and large, the Bible contains the recollections and reflections of human writers who wrote without being dictated to mechanically.  The human authors thought with their human minds and brought to bear their own vocabularies, writing talents and life experiences as they put ink to vellum.  That’s why a beginner in New Testament Greek can read First John fairly easily, but he’ll be stopped in his tracks when he attempts to translate the first paragraphs of either of Luke’s two documents.  The Bible is a fully human book.  Furthermore, just as our Lord was without sin, even in his humanity, so the Bible is without error; it is infallible, a concept that includes inerrancy.  

It isn’t always easy to figure out what the Bible means, especially in its apocalyptic portions, but there is no hidden, esoteric thread embedded beneath its surface, waiting for a genius to come along and decipher.  The Bible was written in a straight forward manner:  God meant for us to understand it.  But God wrote the Bible in such a way that we have to study and reflect on its meaning—the Bible isn’t a book for lazy people.  He wants us to research and dig for the truth that is revealed in Scripture, and he wants us to do this through prayer.  Bible study should be more than an intellectual exercise—God wants us to come to know him in a real and personal way through his Word, and he wants to change and enrich our lives as we seek him in the pages of Scripture.

Useful Tools for Bible Study

There are many tools that we may use in our study of the Bible, such as Bible dictionaries, concordances and books that tell us about the times in which the biblical writers lived.  There are also books that approach the Bible topically:  What does the Bible say about the nature of God?  Why is it important to pray?  What is God like?  What are the signs that Jesus is about to return?  A book that seeks systematically to answer such questions from Scripture is called a systematic theology.  I’d like to recommend three of them.  The first two were written by people whom I have known personally.

Three Useful Systematic Theologies

Wayne Grudem was a fellow student with me at Westminster Theological Seminary.  He went on from Westminster to earn his Ph.D. from Cambridge University in England .  His Systematic Theology is probably the easiest to understand of any available.  Dr. Grudem is a Baptist and Premillennial.  He believes that the gifts of the Holy Spirit did not cease with the completion of Scripture.

You may purchase his work here.

It is also available for Windows and the Palm Operating System.

Back in the nineteen-sixties, I served as a youth minister under Robert L. Reymond.  Dr. Reymond’s A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith (2nd Edition—Revised and Updated.) is an excellent, well thought out work that seeks to set forth what the Bible teaches on a variety of topics.  Dr. Reymond is a Presbyterian and Amillennial.  He believes that certain gifts of the Holy Spirit ceased with the completion of Scripture.


You may purchase his work here.

The late Louis Berkhof’s Systematic Theology is a classic introduction to the subject.  Professor Berkhof was a minister in the Christian Reformed Church and taught at Calvin Seminary in Grand Rapids during the first half of the twentieth century.  He, too, would be Amillennial and hold to the idea that certain gifts of the Holy Spirit ceased with the completion of Scripture.

You may purchase his work here.

Bob Vincent