Wednesday, September 24, 2008

How should we define scripture?

At a blog I was reading, I ran across a post that asked the above interesting question.

The nice thing about scripture is that it can answer the question itself. Here’s what Paul wrote:
16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
That scripture is given by inspiration from God seems like a no-brainer, but what further helps us is that what is communicated in scripture is profitable for:
  • Doctrine
  • Reproof
  • Correction
  • Instruction in righteousness
One thing this says is that scripture lays out doctrine. Doctrine tells us who to believe in—Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Doctrines encompass beliefs about where we come from, why we are here, and where we are going. They encompass beliefs about how the world came into being, the need for salvation, how salvation is achieved, and principles of moral action. Doctrine is principles to believe in, like love, forgiveness, justice, mercy, faith, and so on.

Another aspect of scripture is reprimand and censure of wickedness, which Paul called “reproof”. This is an important part, because the same sins crop up in all eras of time, so the reprimand of one generation can serve to warn following generations from the same sins.

Another aspect of scripture is that it helps correct us after reproving us. It has instructions of what we should do. It has stories of people who repent of their sins and what they do to return to God and these stories serve as examples for us to follow.

Scriptures also contain instruction on how to be righteous. The Beatitudes spoken by Christ starting in Matthew 5 are the shining example of this. It gives us a goal to work towards and a standard by which to measure our progress. It specifies good works to do.

I compiled a list of the type of content that I see in scriptures:
  • The story of the creation and the fall of man that teaches us why we need a Savior
  • Commandments from God
  • Stories about miracles and how God has helped His people
  • Sermons calling to repentance
  • Warnings of the judgments of God
  • Stories about how God has chastened His people
  • Stories of people’s conversion to the truth of the gospel
  • Stories about the actions of holy men—prophets, apostles, and Jesus Christ
  • Stories of how the Lord helps missionaries teach the gospel
  • Instruction about what the kingdom of heaven is like
  • Prophecies of what is to happen
I know the scriptures are relevant for us today and I know they are true.