William Styles, A Guide To Church Fellowship (Complete)

Article 1 – The Holy Scriptures

Articles Of The Faith And Order Of A Primitive Or Strict And Particular Baptist Church Of The Lord Jesus Christ, Based On The Declaration Of Faith And Practice Of John Gill, D. D., 1720

I. The Holy Scriptures.

We believe that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are verbally inspired,[1] and our sole, supreme, and all-sufficient guide in every matter of Christian Faith and Practice.[2]

[1] Jn 10:35; 2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:20,21
[2] Psalm 19:9 -11; 119:128; Is 8:20; Lk 16:29-31; Jn 5:39; 2 Tim 3:15,16; 2 Pet 1:20,21



Inspiration Asserted

Note 1.—The passages cited clearly assert that, while the books of the Bible were written by human authors, (whose personal peculiarities are often apparent in their compositions) they were produced under the direct influence of the Holy Spirit, which rendered them authentic communications from God.

Thus, we are assured, that the writers of the Old Testament “spake from God, being moved (or borne along) by the Holy Ghost,” (2 Pet. 1:21,) and that every one of these sacred writings was “given by inspiration of God,” (2 Tim. 3:16.)

The writers of the New Testament claim to have produced what they wrote in a similar way. Paul delivered that which he “received of the Lord,” (1 Cor. 11:23,) and “in words which the Holy Spirit” taught him,—as one of the company of inspired men. (1 Cor. 2:13.) John claims to have had “commandment from God.” (1 John 4:21.) Peter asserts that what he wrote was “the word of the Lord.” (1 Pet. 1:26.)

Verbal Inspiration

Note 2.—The Bible was verbally inspired—that is to say that its writers did not simply deliver their messages in a vague and general way, but in the very words which the Holy Spirit induced them to employ.

This is plain from the fact that, in some places, weighty arguments are founded on the very words of other passages which the writers quote: as where the Lord Jesus cites Psa. 82:6 in John 10:34,35; and Paul buttresses his great demonstration of the justification of believers by faith, by referring to the fact that in Gen. 12:3,7, we read “seed” and not “seeds.” (Gal. 3:16.)

Note 3.—The Bible claims Verbal Inspiration for its writers. The Lord declares of the Old Testament, “the Scriptures cannot be broken,” (John 10:36)—that is to say, must be literally fulfilled; and the context (see above) makes it plain that He is referring to the very words of the record. Moreover, Old Testament writers often asserted that the words they em­ployed were given them by God. (Psa. 12:6, Prov. 30:6.)

Similarly the writers of the New Testament claim to have received their message verbally from God. “Which things also we speak in words which the Spirit teacheth,”—is Paul’s assertion.

That this doctrine involves difficulties is not denied,—but the denial of Verbal Inspiration involves far greater ones.

The only way in which thought can be conveyed to the mind, is by the medium of the words which express them. We think in words. The thoughts which the men who produced the Bible obtained from God could not have been received by them apart from the words that conveyed them; nor could they have conveyed these exact thoughts in other words than those by which they were communicated to their own minds. An inspiration short of this would, therefore, have been no real inspiration at all. The documents would have been simply human compositions, conveying the vague religious opinions of their writers, and none would have admitted their validity or authority.

The Revised Version and 2 Tim. 3:16

Note 4.—The Revised rendering of 2 Tim. 3:16 has been cited in opposition to plenary inspiration.

“Every Scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction, which is in righteousness.”

This has been supposed to assert that some parts only of the Bible are inspired.

The original reads thus:—“Every (or all) Scripture God- breathed, (or inspired of God,) and (or also,) profitable for teaching, etc., etc.

This is obviously elliptical, some word being implied, which a translator has to express.

This is universally allowed to be the word “ IS.”

Some scholars—with the Translators of our old Bible and the Revisers in their marginal note—introduce it after “Scripture.” “Every Scripture [IS] given by inspiration of God.” Others,—with the Revisers in their text—bring it in after “given by in­ spiration of God.” “Every Scripture given by inspiration of God [IS] also profitable.” Competent authorities are about equally divided.[1]

If the rendering of our ordinary Bibles is retained, Paul must be understood as declaring that each book of the Old Testament with which Timothy had from his childhood been acquainted, was inspired of God, and was therefore profitable for the great purposes specified.

If on the other hand, the rendering of the Revised Version is preferred, a different interpretation must, indeed, be given to Paul’s words, but their force in relation to the inspiration of the Old Testament remains unimpaired. There were, at that time, religious writings or Scriptures in existence, which were interesting and instructive. Such were the books composing the Apocrypha, one of which, (2 Maccabees, 7:7,) is quoted in Heb. 11:35. Such, possibly, were also the lost volumes from which he obtained the names of Jannes and Jambres, (verse 8,) and Jude the prophecy of Enoch, (Jude 14.) These, however, were not given “by inspiration of God,” as the Holy Scriptures of the Old Testament were. His meaning, therefore, would be that every sacred book that was produced under the inspiring breath of God, (as he clearly claims the Old Testament to have been,) is profitable. It would then be a parallel passage to Rom. 15:4.

As a proof-text to the above Article, 2 Tim. 3:16, is equally valuable, whichever translation is adopted. The writer adheres to the translation of our long-loved Biole.[2]

[1] Whether God-breathed in this passage is to be taken as an epithet, or as the predicate of Scripture, —subjudice Usest. The present writer inclines to the former.” Rev. E. A. Litton, M.A., Late Fellow of Oriel College, Oxford. Introduction to Logmatic Theology, page 25.
[2] It is thought by some that by the expression “all” or “every Scripture” in the passage, Paul intends all the inspired writings, both of the New and Old Testaments. They argue that the word here rendered “Scripture” is never used in the New Testament to describe common writings, but invariably occurs in a technical sense as the recognised title of the sacred Scriptures,—and that it may safely be considered as including the New Testament in this place, as most of the New Testament books had been produced before Paul wrote this, his latest Epistle. If this point can be established, the absolute inspiration of the whole Bible is established beyond dispute. See the well-known Critical and Experimental Commentary on 2 Tim. 3:16.

William Styles (1842-1914) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher. He is the author of several works, including “A Guide To Church Fellowship As Maintained By Primitive Or Strict And Particular Baptists” and “A Manual Of Faith And Practice”.

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