Chapter 1: The Purpose of Scripture

Since Scripture itself is written mankind’s own languages, it is obviously intended to be read by man. Since it is about God, and, according to Paul (2 Timothy 3:16) and Peter (2 Peter 1:19-21) it was written under the direction of God Himself, its purpose just as obviously is to guide man into an understanding of God: His basic character as God wishes it to appear to man, His past and present relationship with us, and His ultimate intent for mankind.

Scripture includes a number of commandments from God, chief among them being the Shema of Moses (Deuteronomy 6:4,5) that invites man to love God with all the fervor he can muster. The bulk of Scripture is consistent with that commandment. By far the largest part of Scripture is devoted to the development of a portrait of God that fits in quite naturally with man’s ability to understand Him.

Of most significance, Scripture clearly shows us that God’s most important attribute, the one that He Himself values the most, is love. It is love also that is the most basic driving factor of his present and past relationship with man, and that defines His future intent for us. Thus it appears to be the task of Scripture to give us enough information about God and what He wants of us to develop our capacity to love Him back, and out of that love to come to that point where, in selfless nobility, we can be the companion to Him for which He designed us.

Our Scriptural picture of God’s interaction with man is not limited to personal relationships. We have a very large God, One whose capabilities include the creation of the world in unimaginable depth and beauty, elements of which even now we are just beginning to discover. He also is of such a size that He can visit physical chaos and destruction upon us of planetary scale whenever He deems it necessary to do a bit of housecleaning. He did this with Noah’s Flood, which, given the evidence all about us for those who have the courage to see, was far more than a local disaster. He did it again at the time of the Exodus of Israel from Egypt. Those who understand Scripture also understand the reason why in love it happened in the past and are waiting for it to happen yet again, this time with fire.

Scripture records the history of Israel that God in love caused to blossom under a multitude of trials from a family into a very special nation. We can discern God’s love for mankind in general and His intent for us all in this picture of the nation’s history and its customs and the commandments of God regarding it. We can see in Scripture’s descriptions of Israel’s most significant individuals a composite portrait of Jesus Christ.

In Scripture, then, we have been offered the means to come to understand our God. Given that understanding, we have the further capability, in harmony with the manner of our creation, to accept this God in love.

We understand that Scripture is not the only means by which God communicates with mankind. Those of us who have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord enjoy the benefit of the indwelling Holy Spirit and the consequent counsel of God. Scripture itself, in fact, was developed out of that same counsel and guidance, albeit with special qualifications for those who were granted the honor of representing God through the written Word. We ourselves have no such qualifications upon us to read that Scripture, except for the rather important situation that we are unable to comprehend it without the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Conversely, given the fact that false spirits abound, we must turn to Scripture to verify that whatever spiritual blessing we have received actually came from the Holy Spirit. This matter alone dictates that we must be able to trust Scripture completely, and that, in turn, requires that Scripture be inerrant.

To deny Scripture this quality of inerrance is equivalent to assessing our understanding of God to be unreliable. Furthermore, it claims in effect that God does not possess the ability to make Himself known to us with enough force to give substance to His commandments. How, then, would we feel compelled to love Him back?


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