People question the Bible’s composition, transmission, and whether there are books missing. This series adds reason to faith concerning the Scriptures for every believer. It is also designed to give you loads of information that you can give to those asking you about the Bible.
This is the third installment in my series about the Bible, its composition, inspiration, authority, and whether there are missing books. In the previous two posts, we explore the composition of the Canon, or standard rule, of Scripture. It showed that there are criteria for considering a book canonical.
In the third and fourth installments, I want to consider first the inspiration of Scripture and then the authority of Scripture for our lives. What gives the Scriptures the right to challenge, rebuke, encourage, and exhort us? Why do we turn to them in every situation of our lives? The first reason for this is that the Bible is inspired by God.
Do you remember the moment you realized beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is real and you need him? You committed yourself to following Jesus for the rest of your life. That was a wonderful moment, wasn’t it? A moment of clarity when everything fit into place.
For me, a sense of calm and serenity enveloped me. All my worries and cares fell to the side. Simultaneously, there was a sense of trepidation. Now what? God saved me from his wrath and into his kingdom, but what was I supposed to do? That’s when we turn to the Bible.
Inspiration and authority lay down a rule of faith, a foundation and a roadmap for following God’s will. Abraham’s faith guided him when he left his family and culture to travel to the middle of nowhere. Without trust in God, he would’ve never made it. And we’re on the same type of faith journey.
Faith in action, not a belief system, will guide us. But what can we place our faith in? First, Jesus, the Living Word of God. But we know about him and what he expects because of the written Word of God. Inspiration claims that God in some way affected the text of the Bible as it was produced.
We believe that God prescribed the best and most godly way to live. The only way we know what he expects is if he communicates that to us. We must believe the Bible we hold in our hands and read every day and follow comes from him.
How do we come to the idea of the inspiration of the Bible? There is internal evidence that the Bible is inspired by God. This is why we call it the Word of God. It claims to be God’s Word, and so we must ask about the process of writing it.
Inspiration considers how God and humanity worked together to produce the Bible. Internally, we learn in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that Paul uses the unique description “God-breathed.” The first part of this passage affirms inspiration and the second part authority.
“God-breathed” is sometimes translated “inspired.” It contains the idea that God himself spoke the words in Scripture. But the Bible was written by human beings. Inspiration seeks to meld the relationship between God and human authors.
There are up to five different understandings of inspiration. Each of them considers the relationship between God and humanity during the writing.
- Verbal Dictation Theory – God dictated every single word of the Bible to the human authors, who were more like robots or secretaries.
- Verbal Plenary Inspiration – God used the biblical writers along with their backgrounds, literary styles, and personalities to write according to the Holy Spirit’s leading.
- Intuition Theory – Biblical writers were very wise men with advanced insight.
- Partial Inspiration – The Bible is infallible in matters of faith and practice that can have historical and scientific errors. If it doesn’t speak to the subject of faith, it can have errors.
- Dynamic Inspiration – The thoughts and concepts of the Bible are inspired but the words were left to biblical writers, not God’s words.
The first two are held by Christians of all stripes. But the last three become questionable. They essentially take God out of the picture of inspiration. I am in the camp of verbal plenary inspiration because I see the perspectives and backgrounds of each writer and yet believe there’s no point in studying the words of Scripture if God didn’t give them to the writers.
Inspiration means that when I read Scripture, God is speaking to me through it. Every word is important, not just the principles and concepts. This is why we do word studies and studied the context of every word that is used. When you love someone, you listen to everything they tell you.
In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Paul is talking about the Old Testament. So how can we claim inspiration for the New Testament also? In 1 Timothy 5:18, Paul calls the quotation from Deuteronomy 25:4 Scripture, but includes Luke 10:7.
In 2 Peter 3:16, Peter comments that Paul’s writings are hard to understand and calls them Scripture. The New Testament writers realized that there was a special inspiration in their writings even while they were still writing.
There is so much more to talk about when we consider inspiration, but realize that the whole Bible is inspired by God, literally breathed out by him! When you read your Bible, God is speaking to you. He spoke to the writers of the Bible and his Holy Spirit speaks even now.
Scripture is his full and complete revelation to us. Everything we need to know God personally is contained in those 66 books. No more, no less. Only God could make sure that his words were written in the book while allowing for the personalities of the human writers. I am amazed at the wonderful Word of God! There is no other book like it in the entire world.
Next week we will discuss the authority of the Scriptures. Why should we turn to them to guide our lives? What’s so special about the Scriptures of the Bible and how can a 2000-year-old book speak to my current issues? Stay tuned to find out! And don’t be shy. Leave a comment to tell me what you think about the inspiration of the Bible. Which of the theories of inspiration do you ascribe to?