Kevin DeYoung, Taking God At His Word: Why the Bible is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me (Crossway, 2014).
Kevin DeYoung’s goal with the book is to get the reader to fully embrace and love the truth in the Word of God. He states, “I want to convince you . . . that the Bible makes no mistakes, can be understood, cannot be overturned, and is the most important word in your life, the most relevant things you can read each day.”
Taking God at His Word is not an defense of why we believe the Bible or how to understand the Bible. It is not a technical academic book. “This is a book unpacking what the Bible says about the Bible. . . . a doctrine of Scripture derived from Scripture itself.”
He sees Psalm 119 as a love song affirming what we can believe, feel, and do with the word of God. The word is true, demands what is right and provides what is good. We should feel delight in the word (Psalm 119:14, 24, 47, 70, 77, 143, 174), have a love for it ((119:48, 97, 119, 127, 140, 167), feel a desire to keep it (119:5, 10, 17, 20, 40, 131), and to know and understand it (119:18, 19, 27, 29, 33, 35, 64-66, 74, 124-125, 135, and 169), and depend on it as Jesus did (Deut 8:3; Matthew 4:4).
The certain truth of Scripture is emphasized in the second chapter based on 2 Peter 1:16-21 which identifies two kinds of evidence: eyewitness testimony and authoritative documents. The Bible accounts are not myths. Any view that denies miracles stands at odds with Scripture. “The most important claims of Christianity are historical claims, and on the facts of history the Christian religion must stand or fall.”
Peter’s passage teaches three truths about Scripture:
1. Scripture is the word of God. The prophetic word refers to God’s revelation in Scripture. “The authority of God’s word resides in the written text–the words, the sentences, the paragraphs–of Scripture.”
2. The word of God is no less divine because it is given through human instrumentality.” “God used the intellect, skills, and personality of fallible men to write down what was divine and infallible.” “The divine authorship of the Scriptures does not preclude the use of active human instrumentation, but as human participation does not render the Scriptures any less perfect and divine.”
3. “The Bible is without error.” The source of Scripture is divine not human.”The ultimate authorship of Scripture, Peter informs us, is God himself.” “And if it is God’s word than it must all be true, for in him there can be no error or deceit.” “When we reject inerrancy we put ourselves in judgment over God’s word.” “There is no more authoritative declaration than what we find in the word of God, no firmer ground to stand on, no ‘more final’ argument that can be spoken after Scripture as spoken.”
Chapters three through six highlight four characteristics of Scripture: sufficiency, clarity, authority, and necessity.
Sufficiency (Hebrews 1:1-4). “The Scriptures contain everything we need for knowledge of salvation and godly living. We don’t need any new revelation from heaven.”
Clarity (Deuteronomy 30:11-14). “The saving message of Jesus Christ is plainly taught in the Scriptures and can be understood by all who have ears to hear it.”
Authority (Acts 17:1-15). Scripture is our final authority. “We must never allow the teachings of science, of human experience, or of church councils to take precedence over Scripture.”
Necessity (1 Corinthians 2:6-13). “General revelation is not enough to save us. We cannot know God savingly by means of personal experience and human reason. We need God’s word to tell us how to live, who Christ is, and how to be saved.”
A chapter is devoted to what Jesus taught about Scripture. “Christ’s doctrine of Scripture should be our doctrine of Scripture.” He affirmed that “no word of Scripture can be falsified. No promise or threat can fall short of fulfillment. No statement can be found erroneous.” He rebuked anyone who would set aside even the “least’ of God’s commandments” (Matthew 5:17-19). He accepted the Old Testament as historically true (Matthew 12:38-42).
De Young reasons that if Jesus is right in how he handles the Bible, then boatloads of higher biblical criticism must be wrong. “Isn’t it more plausible to think Jesus knew Jewish history better than German critics almost two thousand years later? Isn’t it saver to side with Jesus and adopt his supremely high view of inspiration . . ?”
Jesus “believed the Bible was all true, all edifying, all important, and all about him. He believed absolutely that the Bible was from God and was absolutely free from error. What Scripture says, God says; and what God said was recorded infallibly in Scripture.”
The last chapter urges us to stick with the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:14 -17). “Only the word of God can save. Only in Scripture do we encounter the fullness of God’s self-disclosure. Only in Scripture do we find the good news of the forgiveness of sins. Only in Scripture can we be led to believe in Jesus Christ and, by believing, have life in his name.” Warfield stated that the biblical writers viewed Scripture “as a Divine product produced through the instrumentality of men.” All of the Scripture is breathed out by God.
“Every word in the Bible is in there because God wanted it there. And therefore, we should listen to the Bible and stick with the Bible and submit ourselves to the teaching of the Bible because it is God’s Bible . . .” “Scripture, because it is the breathed-out word of God, possesses the same authority as the God-man Jesus Christ. Submission to the Scriptures is submission to God. Rebellion against the Scriptures is rebellion against God the Bible can no more fail, falter or err, than God himself can fail, falter, or err.”
“This high view of Scripture as the inerrant, God-breathed word of God has been the position of Christians from the beginning. . . . And we should be ready to continue–to continue in the truth of God’s word, to continue in the reading and hearing of God’s word, and to continue believing everything affirmed in God’s word.”
Kevin DeYoung writes in an engaging and readable style. He explains the nature of Scripture on a popular level for the general reader. He wants the reader to love, honor, and obey the Bible as it is God speaking to us. His book is not a defense of why we believe the Bible or how to understand the Bible, rather he gives a big picture view of what believers understand the Bible to say about itself.
Taking God at His Word provides a good starting point for general readers and beginning Bible college and seminary students. Of course, it does not deal with the difficult questions involving authorship, text, canon, and historicity which must be dealt with in a more advanced study.
In a day when many question the Bible’s trustworthiness and authority, the reader will find Taking God at His Word a readable and refreshing encouragement to trust and obey the voice of Almighty God as he speaks through Scripture.