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Bibliology - Chafer

Bibliology is the study of the nature and the doctrine of the Bible as revelation, and it is the first major division of Systematic Theology.  In Lewis Sperry Chafer's Systematic Theology, he said, "Nothing could be more fundamental in the sphere of human knowledge than that God has caused His own Word to be written in a form which man can comprehend and has preserved that Word through the ages of human history for the benefit of all men."  The Bible offers an extensive field of knowledge beyond man's own restricted observation, and the full extent of it is immeasurable.  God began giving us the Bible in written form over three thousand years ago, but He has been teaching his many revelations to man ever since Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden.  Unbelievers had shutting God out of all consideration, ignoring the source of practically all that they know, and they are proud of they assumed to be the attainments of man. 

For example, man has discovered some facts about the stars and their systematic arrangement, but many refuse to recognize the God who created the stars.  In astronomy, and other branches of science, fallen man is unable to see beyond the reach of his own limited power.  They don't appreciate that God is the One who gave them an eye to see or an arm to achieve, with which they have made the discoveries of His creation.  This rejection of God's revelation exposes fallen humanity as being under the domination of the great enemy of God.  On the other hand, by saving grace, the minds of believers have been saved from sin and enlightened by the Spirit of God.  To them, the Bible becomes what it actually is, the very Word of God to man which gives us His treasures of knowledge.  1 Corinthians 2:14 says, "The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit."  The sphere of human limitations was revealed by Christ when He said in John 3:3, "... no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again" Hebrews 11:3 goes on to say that it is by faith that we understand.  Science doesn't create anything.  It just tries to discover the character of the realities which God has caused to exist.  Likewise, the theologian creates nothing.  He just tries to comprehend and analyze what God has revealed.  The theologian also creates nothing. 

There is both external and internal evidence that the Bible is God's Word written.  The external evidence includes the Bible's unique history, its essential character, and its effects.  The internal evidence relates to the Bible's own claims for itself that it is indeed the Word of God.  Consider the character of the Bible: 

- The Bible is a revelation from God.  It presents material and facts which could not otherwise be known by man.  These truths are beyond what any one man can absorb in a lifetime.  Although there are many truths presented in the Bible that man has learned from nature, there are countless other truths that we can learn only from the Bible.  Even what man learns from nature is confirmed and further revealed by the Bible. 

- The Bible is inspired by God.  All Scripture proceeds from God as if His very breath (2 Timothy. 3:16).  Again, some of the truth revealed in the Bible may be recognized by men apart from God's written revelation.  The Bible, because it consists of the very words of God, is inerrant.  This inerrancy refers only to the original manuscripts.  Although God has exercised competent direction and protections over the copying of the original documents, and their translations, there is no direct statement from God that translations would be made without error.  2 Peter 1:21 says, "For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." 

- The Bible is understood only by divine illumination.  Again, even the things that man learns through nature and experience are known in their true value only by the illuminating of the Spirit.  1 Corinthians 2:14-3:2 teaches us that there are three human attitudes toward the Bible.  The "person without the spirit (the unsaved or "natural man") cannot receive revealed truth because he believes that the things from the Spirit of God are foolishness, and he cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.  The person with the Spirit (the spiritual man) can discern all things with the aid of the "mind of Christ.  The worldly believer (carnal Christian) is still an infant in Christ, so he can receive only the milk and not the meat of the Word of God.  Christ promised that the Holy Spirit would guide the believer into all truth (John 16:13-15), and Paul said that the Spirit is given to the believer that he may know the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:12). 

- The Bible must be interpreted correctly (hermeneutics).  The key to understanding the Bible is the recognition of the specific purpose of God in each of the succeeding ages (dispensations) of human history.  Dispensational distinctions are necessary for true expository preaching, while Covenant Theology has tended toward a closing and slighting of the Word of God. 

- The Bible gives us a message of life.  God's Word is active and dynamic.  Isaiah 55:11 says that it will accomplish the purpose which God intended, and it will never return empty.  Jeremiah 23:29 says that the Word of God is like fire, like a hammer that breaks into pieces the rock.  Hebrews 4:12 says that the Word of God is alive and active.  The man attains knowledge of the Scriptures is able to joyfully use this living power. 

- The canon of the Bible is determined by God.  Throughout history, the selection of the books of literature that were included in the Bible was under God's watchful care.  God caused certain documents to be written with a view that they would be part of the Bible, we can be sure that He would cause them to take the place which He had assigned to them in His Word.  Although men acted in the forming of the canon, including in it the books which had the evident imprint of God upon them, still God was guiding them in these selections, just as He guided the men who wrote the each of those individual books. 

- The Bible speaks with the authority of God.  The Bible speaks to us from God who created all things and to whom all things belong.  To those who believe the Bible and follow its guidance, God's Word becomes an unerring lamp unto the feet and a light unto the path (Psalm 119:105). The Word of God does not fail. 

Owen Weber 2012