Friday, May 4, 2018

The Verbal Inspiration of Scripture

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16).

Today let’s consider the doctrine of the inspiration of the Bible. We are concerned with verbal inspiration. This means the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit is applied to the whole of Scripture and to its component parts, rendering the Bible, in its original autographs (the first handwritten documents), inerrant and infallible.

The doctrine of verbal inspiration does not mean mechanical inspiration. This is the notion that the writers of the Bible, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, were reduced to automatons, so that all human personality was bypassed. Unfortunately, some Christian scholars and theologians have put forth such a view. Nor does this doctrine mean that God dictated the Bible to its human authors (except where the Bible explicitly says God dictated certain things, such as the Mosaic law).

Today we hear the charge that the doctrine of verbal inspiration is an invention of the seventeenth century. Supposedly the faith of the Reformation began to harden up into “scholastic” and “rationalistic” categories. “Dead orthodox” thinkers then invented the doctrine of verbal inspiration in order to turn the Bible into a written authority stronger than the Pope.

The only truth in this charge is that the term verbal inspiration is a product of the seventeenth century. An examination of the writings of the Church Fathers and of the Reformers will show that they regarded the Bible as inspired and without error. The Bible clearly teaches this. When the prophets spoke God’s Word, they said, “Thus says the Lord.” How could they say this unless they were claiming to be giving the inspired Word of God Himself? Again, the author of Hebrews quotes from Psalm 95, but calls it the words of the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 3:7). Jesus repeatedly treated the Scriptures as inspired, as in John 10:35, where He says, “the Scripture cannot be broken.”

The distinct personalities of the biblical authors clearly pervades the Scriptures. Their individuality and freedom of expression is utilized by the Spirit even while He safeguarded them from all error. As you read your Bible each day, discern the uniqueness of the various authors.