The Bible Is The Word of God

For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.” 1 Thessalonians 2:13 (NKJV)

Paul says that when they received the Word, they received it not as the word of men but as it was, the Word of God. Paul unmistakably declares that the Word he proclaimed was not the word of men, but the very words of God Himself. That is a powerful statement and one that we must understand when talking about Scripture. Who is the ultimate author of Scripture, God or man? The theological term used to discuss the author of Scripture is the word “inspiration.” One of the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith is the divine inspiration of Scripture. What does it mean when we say that Scripture is inspired by God?

Does the inspiration of Scripture mean that the Scriptures are only inspired like other good books with human authors? Those who hold to this view of inspiration say the Bible is a fine book that has been very influential and includes some of mankind’s best thoughts and highest insights, its contents however are mere human insights.  If this is the case then we can learn from the Bible good examples, good morals and guidance on how to live a good life. However, it’s not inspired in any sort of supernatural way. In this theory, man is the source of the Bible.

Does the inspiration of Scripture mean that only parts of Scripture are inspired by God? If this is the case then the Bible tells us about God’s plan and actions in the redemption of man. However, we can’t expect that historical or scientific information in Scripture is accurate. Those who hold to this view of inspiration say the Bible contains the Words of God, but it is not the Word of God. Those who hold to this view say that part of the Bible is inspired and contains divine authority, namely the things that are necessary for salvation. However, in other matters such as those of science, history, or other “non-essential” things it may and often does err.

Does the inspiration of Scripture mean that God worked through human authors to produce the exact written message He wanted while using their distinct personalities? If this is the case then, Scripture is far more than a mere book. It is the inspired Word of God.

There are two primary passages in the New Testament that teach us what is meant by the inspiration of God. The first is in 2 Timothy, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” 2 Timothy 3:16 (NKJV) The phrase translated as “inspiration of God” in Timothy could very literally be translated as “God breathed”. So the idea there is that God breathed His words into His chosen men so they could write down His message for others.

The other is from 2 Peter. “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 Peter 1:20-21 (NKJV) That the holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit sorta pictures being carried along in a current. If you’ve ever been floating on a river and let the river just carry your raft along then you have a decent idea of what is pictured here.

So when we talk about the inspiration of Scripture we are talking about the means in which God moved Biblical authors to write down His exact words. The inspiration of Scripture extends to all parts of Scripture including everything God affirmed or denied about any topic. “It is inclusive of not only what the Bible teaches, but what it touches; that is to say, it includes not only what the Bible teaches explicitly but also what it teaches implicitly, covering not only spiritual matters but factual ones as well.” [1] This is called the plenary verbal view of inspiration of Scripture. It is important to understand that inspiration starts with God and not with man. Since inspiration starts with God and not with man then there are several implications of this we need to understand. I’ll explain one of these today.

What Scripture says God says.

One way the Bible shows itself to be the inspired Word of God is expressed in this formula. This is clearly shown in that often an Old Testament passage will be God speaking and yet when that same passage is quoted in the New Testament it is asserted that the Scriptures said it. Here is one example of this.

Look at what God said to Pharaoh in Exodus 9:13, 16, “Then the LORD said to Moses, “Rise early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh, and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD God of the Hebrews: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me,” Exodus 9:13 (NKJV) “But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” Exodus 9:16 (NKJV) Now see what Scripture said to Pharaoh in Romans 9:17, “For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” Romans 9:17 (NKJV)

Many more instances of this could be shown. In fact, there are so many instances of this it led one theologian to say, “In one of these classes of passages the Scriptures are spoken of as if they were God; in the other, God is spoken of as if He were the Scriptures. [Thus] in the two taken together; God and the Scriptures are brought into such conjunction as to show that in point of directness of authority no distinction was made between them.”[2]

The Biblical writers claim: “Thus says the Lord” around 420 times in the Old Testament.  The phrase, “the Word of the Lord came to me” is used some 58 times. In Leviticus alone, there are some 66 occurrences of phrases like, “the Lord spoke to Moses.”

The overall impression of such passages leaves no doubt as to the confessed author of the speaker’s message. One of the reasons this is important to understand is because we are often told that we shouldn’t speak on certain issues because Jesus never spoke on these issues. However, since Jesus is God, then anything Scripture says or affirms is something that Jesus says or affirms.

Those of us who have been raised in Church are often guilty of casually referring to the Bible as God’s Word without giving much thought to what we are saying. When we refer to the Bible as God’s Word or the Word of God, we are affirming the same thing the Thessalonians were affirming. The words of Scripture are not the words of man, but the very Words of God.

Heavenly Father, as we read the Bible help us to keep in mind that these really are Your Words. Let this give us a greater reverence for Your Word and a greater desire to study Your Word. Speak to us through Your Word and draw us closer to you so that we can better live lives that bring you honor and glory.  Amen

[1] Dr. Norman Geisler, Systematic Theology: Volume One, pg 237

[2] B.B. Warfield, The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible, pg. 299


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