The Bible, exclusively comprised of the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testament canon, is the Word of God. Every word of Scripture is inspired (verbal – 1 Corinthians 2:13, Matthew 5:18), and all Scripture is equally inspired (plenary – 2 Timothy 3:16). Inspiration is that supernatural influence of the Holy Spirit whereby the sacred writers were divinely supervised in their production of Scripture, being restrained from error and guided in their choice of words by virtue of which their writings in the autographs are given Divine trustworthiness while remaining consistent with the different personalities and stylistic peculiarities of the Biblical authors. God prepared the writers (Jeremiah 1:5), communicated facts and ideas to them through principle channels (Hebrews 1:1-2; 2 Samuel 1:17), resulting in propositional truth-claims via the confluence of Divine/human authorship.
Scripture emphasizes the finished product of the creative breath of God (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21). Since the Bible is God-breathed, it is both inerrant (without error) and infallible (incapable of error). The Bible is true in everything it affirms, whether in doctrine, Christian living, history, geography, or science. Only the original manuscripts were inspired (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:37 with 1 Corinthians 2:13); however, all accurate copies and translations of the autographs can be said to be inspired in a derivative sense (i.e., inasmuch as they reflect the original). God has providentially preserved His Word through secondary causation in the totality of the Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic extant manuscripts resulting in reliable, trustworthy translations in various human languages which are faithful to the original text of Scripture. While we do not have the original codex of the Bible, we do have the original text among all the manuscript evidence (John 10:35; Revelation 22:18-19; 2 Timothy 2:15).
Only our present sixty-six books are part of the canon. Canonicity is the historical process by which the Spirit of God led the church to recognize those writings which were genuinely inspired. It is not the canonizing process that makes the books inspired; they were inspired the moment they came from the hands of the authors. Inspiration indicates how the Bible received its authority; canonization tells how the Bible received its acceptance. By virtue of the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit, a systematic study of all the sixty-six books leads us to the conclusion that they are a unified and complete, systematic whole (Matthew 23:35; Luke 24:44; 1 Corinthians 2:14; John 15:20; John 16:13a; 1 Corinthians 12:28).
The Word of God is self-attesting and self-authenticating (John 10:35; John 17:17) and therefore, does not need verification from any external source. Believers are able to recognize the authority of God’s Word through the illumination of the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:20-21; 1 Corinthians 2:4-5). Though unbelievers may understand the meaning of Scripture (John 5:39-40), only a believer can grasp the true significance of Scripture through the illumination of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14). The Bible is a clear, finished, and complete revelation entirely sufficient for its divinely intended purpose to instruct (perspicuity – Psalm 119:105, 130) the believer in all matters regarding the faith, godliness, and spiritual welfare (2 Timothy 2:15).
Scripture must be approached through a dispensational perspective based on the progressive unfolding of the new revelation from God which results in distinguishable administrations of God’s revealed truth (John 4:21, 23; Romans 15:6). Such an approach recognizes the fundamental distinction between Israel and the Church in origin, purpose, and destiny (Ephesians 2:18; Hebrews 9:14), and it insists on the literal or normal interpretation of Scripture based on the original intent of Divine/human authorship and the univocal use of language. A dispensational hermeneutic rejects all forms of sensus plenior (fuller sense) and gives particular attention to the historical, grammatical, theological, and contextual interpretation of each passage. God’s ultimate purpose and unifying center of His activity in His dispensational program is to glorify Himself by entering into a rule of loving sovereignty and fellowship with man and to dwell with him forever (Genesis 17:7; Deuteronomy 29:12-13; Revelation 21:3). God is implementing His unifying principle via the dispensations: Innocence (Genesis 1:26-28); Conscience (Genesis 6:3); Civil Government (Genesis 9:1-11); Promise (Genesis 12:1-3); Law (Exodus 19:6); Grace (John 1:17) and Kingdom (Isaiah 2:3; Joel 2:28).