ISSUE: 2017, Volume 14, Issue 3
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'All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness', 2 Tim. 3. 16
God has revealed Himself to people in different ways at different times. He has revealed something about Himself in creation, Rom.1. 20; Ps. 19. 1. We can look at the spectacular stars and know that God is powerful. We can look at a beautiful flower and understand that God is wonderful. Sometimes God revealed Himself by speaking from heaven, 1 Sam. 3. 10; Matt. 3. 17, sometimes by appearing in angelic form, Gen. 18. 2; Judg. 13. 3, sometimes through dreams and visions, Gen. 28. 13; Matt. 2. 13, and sometimes through the mouths of prophets, Jer. 1. 9; Acts 11. 28. God’s greatest self-revelation is in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ, Heb. 1. 2; Col. 1. 15. Indeed, one of Jesus’ titles is ‘the Word of God', John 1. 1; Rev. 19. 13.
But, in the Bible, God has revealed Himself in a very special way. He has communicated to us in the form of a book. The Bible is the complete, written revelation of God to us.
Paul says that the Bible is inspired by God, 2 Tim. 3. 16. ‘Inspired’ literally means ‘God-breathed’.
In many places, the Bible itself claims to be God’s word. The prophets often begin their speeches by announcing, 'Thus says the Lord . . . ', Obad. 1. 1 NKJV. The Bible speaks with authority about things we could not know without divine revelation, whether things in the distant past, Gen. 1. 1, or the far future, Rev. 22. 1, in heaven, Job 1. 6-7, or in hell, Rev. 20. 10. It contains scientific information which has only recently been rediscovered, Isa. 40. 22, and even tells us what people were thinking in their own private thoughts, Esther 6. 6.
Because the Bible is God’s word it has absolute authority. The Lord Jesus affirmed the authority of the Old Testament by quoting from it to answer the devil, Luke 4. 4. The Gospel writers affirmed its authority using phrases like, 'that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet . . .', Matt. 1. 22. Peter says that the Holy Spirit was ‘in’ the Old Testament prophets when they wrote. In the New Testament, Paul describes his own words as 'the commandments of the Lord', 1 Cor. 14. 37, and Peter ranks Paul’s letters alongside 'the rest of the Scriptures', 2 Pet. 3. 16 NKJV. John affirms that he wrote at the Lord’s command, Rev. 1. 19, and the Lord strictly warns us not to add to or subtract from His words, Rev. 22. 18-19.
Because God Himself is the author of the Bible, we can trust it completely. Since God is perfect, His word must be without error. The doctrine of inerrancy includes not just the thoughts and ideas of the Bible, but the actual words themselves.
'Every word of God is pure', Prov. 30. 5.
In fact, the Lord Jesus went further when He affirmed that even the dots and crosses on the individual letters were from God.
'Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled', Matt. 5. 18.
Furthermore, we must obey the Bible implicitly. God’s word has the right to tell us what to believe and how to live.
We make a big mistake if we arrogantly critique the Bible, choosing which bits we like, and which bits we don't, what we agree with, and what we don’t. We must not impose our own ideas upon the Bible or try to make it fit in with our culture. We must humbly allow God’s word to judge us, not the other way around.
God is the source of the Bible. But He did not write down the words of scripture Himself. In our next study, we will investigate the second aspect of inspiration and see how the Holy Spirit used human beings to write down the word of God.