By Joe R. Price
The Bible is not the product of man, but of God. Skeptics have ridiculed it, modernists have assailed it, the worldly-minded have reviled it, and false teachers have twisted it. Still, it stands as the Book of Books, God’s library of truth and refuge of hope for a lost world. “Let Your mercies come also to me, O Lord —Your salvation according to Your word” (Ps. 119:41). The Bible lights our way of escape from the darkness of sin and death (Ps. 119:105). God in his mercy has revealed his mind and will to mankind. We hold forth the Bible as the only source of communication from God to man.
The Bible Is Revelation From God
A revelation uncovers or unveils something. In our study, that which has been revealed is the mind of God. Without divine revelation man would be left to wonder, guess, and speculate about God’s will. One person’s conclusions would be as good as another, and every conclusion would be unreliable. But, God has not left man to grope in uncertainty and doubt. God wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:3-4). He has made known his mind through the procedure we call revelation. “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God expect the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God” (1 Cor. 2:10-12). Simply put, divine revelation is how God communicated his mind to his prophets, who then taught it to others (Eph. 3:3-5). The Bible is the revelation of God’s dealings with man and of God’s precepts for man. Both the Old and New Testaments have been revealed by God. While God used various ways and means to reveal himself during Old Testament times, he has now spoken to us in his Son Jesus (who is “The Word,” Heb. 1:1-2; John 1:1-3, 14-17). The gospel which the apostles of Jesus Christ preached was made known to them by revelation, not by human genius, cunning or craft (Gal. 1:11-12; 2 Pet. 1:16).
The Bible Is Inspired By God
The process by which God’s revelation was reliably communicated is called inspiration. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). The Holy Scriptures have been “God-breathed” (vv. 15, 16). Commenting on the meaning of the Greek word theopneustos (translated “inspiration of God”), B.B. Warfield said it “has, however, nothing to say of inspiring or of inspiration: it speaks only of a ‘spiring’ or ‘spiration.’ What it says of Scripture is, not that it is ‘breathed into by God’ or is the product of the Divine “inbreathing” into its human authors, but that it is breathed out by God, ‘God-breathed,’ the product of the creative breath of God.” (I.S.B.E., III:1474). He defined inspiration as the “supernatural influence exerted on the sacred writers by the Spirit of God, by virtue of which their writings are given Divine trustworthiness” (Ibid., 1473). Inspiration, then, is the miraculous means by which God has accurately published his word to the world.
The Bible Is Verbally Inspired
Many believe Bible inspiration amounts to God giving artistic latitude to the writers of the Bible — allowing them free rein to express in their own words the ideas God gave them. However, the Bible teaching on inspiration is very different. The Bible boldly declares that God gave men the very words he wanted them to write. This is called plenary inspiration (full, complete, extending to every part).
1. The Old Testament contains the statement “thus saith the Lord” or its equivalent over 2,000 times. The very words of the Old Testament are attributed to God! One who believes the Bible accepts its verbal inspiration.
2. Men spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit: “. . . knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:20-21). Neither prophecy nor its fulfillment was produced by human wisdom, power or manipulation. The prophets of God spoke the word of God as the Spirit of God gave them utterance.
3. God put His words into the mouths of His prophets. “I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him” (Deut. 18:18). While this prophecy was ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the principle of verbal inspiration it established is seen in the Old Testament prophets (Acts 3:22). David, the sweet psalmist of Israel, said “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, And His word was on my tongue” (2 Sam. 23:2). God put his words in the mouth of Jeremiah (Jer.
1:9). Zechariah observed the process of revelation used by God when he wrote, “Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets” (Zech. 7:12). God sent his words to Israel by His Spirit through the prophets.
4. Verbal inspiration is declared by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:13. “These things (God’s revelation to the apostles by the Holy Spirit — vv. 10-12, jrp) we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” The Holy Spirit guided the apostles of Christ into all truth by giving them the very words they were to use when preaching it (cf. John 16:13-15). The Spirit “moved” or drove these holy men of God to speak (and write) the very words of God (2 Pet. 1:21).
5. What was first spoken by God’s prophets was then written down for the perpetual use of man. Inspired words which were put into written form (Scripture) were regarded with equal force as when God’s prophet spoke them. Whether God’s word has been conveyed in oral or written form, the message is the same and its authority equally binding (cf. 1 Cor. 14:37; 2 Thess. 2:15). The written word of God, just like the oral word of God, is verbally inspired.
To illustrate how inspired Scripture was produced, let us turn our attention to Jeremiah. God put his words into Jeremiah’s mouth and he spoke all that God commanded him (Jer. 1:9, 17). The words Jeremiah spoke were the words of God (cf. Jer. 2:1-2). Not only did God put his words into Jeremiah’s mouth, he later commanded Jeremiah to write those words in a book (Jer. 36:1-2). Jeremiah’s scribe, Baruch, wrote all the words of the Lord which Jeremiah spoke to him (36:4, 17-18). A roll of a book was produced from which “the words of the Lord” were read (36:8). The “words of Jeremiah” (36:10) were regarded as equivalent with the “words of the Lord” (36:11). The Scripture which was produced, the book of Jeremiah, originated with God and its transmission was by the power of God. The inspired word of God was first spoken by Jeremiah and then put into written form (Jer. 36:17-18). Both were verbally inspired.
The Bible has come to us by a process of revelation and inspiration (cf. Luke 24:44-45; Acts 8:28; 1 Tim. 5:18; 2
Pet. 3:16). The word of God has been revealed to men by the power of the Holy Spirit. These men first spoke God’s word and then put it into written form for all the world to read, learn, believe, and obey (Rom. 1:5, 16-17; 16:24-25; Eph. 3:3-5; 2 Tim. 2:15).When God’s word was written it was to be circulated from place to place (1 Thess. 5:27; Col. 4:16). God’s word is living, active and incorruptible (Heb. 4:12; 1 Pet. 1:22-25). It will accomplish God’s will in men’s lives (Isa. 55:10-11). God wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. His truth is still available today. We call it, “The Bible.”