I don’t know if you’ve ever really thought about it, but scripture has three unique qualities which make it more special than anything else ever written…
Inspiration, Inerrancy, and Authority
These three traits, together, remind me of the words of King Solomon…
Ecclesiastes 4:12b (HCSB)
“A cord of three strands is not easily broken.”
Scripture, because it has the above three qualities, is just like a cord of three strands; it is “not easily broken.” And, because of this, it is to be “guarded,” as Paul encouraged Timothy to do…
2 Timothy 1:13-14 (HCSB)
“Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.”
The triple strength of God’s Word makes it perfect for us (Christians) to not only use it for following its “pattern” in order to grow more Christlike individually, but it is also perfect for its corporate utilization by the church in discipleship; helping each other in the local body to mature as Christians. Inspiration, inerrancy, and the authority of scripture make up the threefold cord describing its essence. In other words, together, the three demonstrate why scripture is so powerful.
Let’s look at each characteristic more closely…
1) Inspiration – Paul wrote to Timothy, “All Scripture is inspired by God,” (2 Timothy 3:16a, HCSB) The Bible’s genesis can only come from one source… the Lord Himself. God’s Word is just that, God’s. It is not man’s word. It is due to the will of God, not man, that we have a record of what God has said. Peter shed light on this point… “First of all, you should know this: No prophecy of Scripture comes from one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, men spoke from God as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20-21, HCSB) Scripture is a written record of that spoken inspiration which is rooted in God Himself.
2) Inerrancy – Paul also demonstrated for Timothy that all scripture is without error by giving him examples as to how it ought to be used in order to satisfy the conforming of each follower of Christ into His likeness. He wrote that all scripture (inspired by God, not man) “is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16b-17, HCSB) Inerrancy describes the perfect nature of God’s Word, which unless it was perfect, it could not perform what Paul had described.
3) Authority – Notice that just prior to writing to Timothy about where scripture comes from and it’s inability to be incorrect, Paul reminds him about what he has known his whole life; what scripture is “able” or has the authority to do: “…from childhood you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:15, HCSB) Since scripture is “able” to give “wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus,” such hints at its authoritative nature. Paul brought out this same concept when he wrote to the Romans… “For whatever was written in the past was written for our instruction, so that we may have hope through endurance and through the encouragement from the Scriptures.” (Romans 15:4, HCSB) These examples point to scripture’s authority; the grounds upon which God’s Word has the right to prescribe how we ought to live, because of what it is “able” to do.
In order for us to help each other grow in Christ, we must all approach scripture under the auspices of this threefold cord. To miss any of these three characteristics is to violate its teleology, thus rendering our discipling of one another (according to scripture) impotent. Those of us who understand this trilateral nature of scripture must help to make it clear to our brothers and sisters in Christ what the purpose of the Bible is, by making sure that everyone in the body understands this concept. To say it another way, unless God’s Word is embraced as it ought to be embraced, the direction offered by scripture will only then be considered as folly. Only when one sees scripture properly can one then say… “I am severely afflicted; Lord, give me life through Your word.” (Psalms 119:107, HCSB)
The goal for us is to help each other to get to the point where we can all demonstrate the posture described in Psalm 119:107. The body of Christ needs to recognize that it is only God, through His Word, who can resolve whatever issues that we might face. The key as to knowing whether or not any of us are ready for Biblical maturing is the evidence of our respect for scripture.
Again, “Scripture’s Threefold Cord” is its…
1) Inspiration – Scripture is of God alone, it is not of man.
2) Inerrancy – Scripture is never wrong.
3) Authority – Scripture is what God has said.
These qualities mean that the Bible is to be treated with the respect that it is owed, just as God Himself (the Author of scripture) is owed.
Knowing where scripture comes from, knowing that it is true, and knowing its jurisdiction, ought to collectively cause us to both honor and obey what it says… for His glory.
Godspeed, to the brethren!