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Inspiration

Introduction:

As with the authority of the Bible we believe in the inspiration of it as well. We believe that while God used human writers to pen his words, instead of producing it magically and in one complete work. This method tells us that both God and the Bible are a part of history and not some hocus pocus mythical idea.

As usual, we place as many selected excerpts on this page to whet your appetite on the subject and provide you with resources to help your personal study.

#1. Vine, W. E. (1996). Collected writings of W.E. Vine. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

To discuss the subject of Inspiration at all exhaustively would necessitate the devotion of more space than we can give to the connected subject of divine revelation. It is true that the question whether we have a revelation from God lies behind any discussion regarding divine inspiration. But this involves a consideration of the various ways in which God has revealed Himself. There is, for instance, the revelation He has given of His power and His Godhead through nature. Then there are the various means intimated in the Bible through which He has made personal communications to man. This brings in the question whether the Bible consists of a revelation of the mind of God. But the following pages have not been written with a view to proving this, nor shall we here discuss the contingent problem of the relationship of Inspiration to Revelation.

There are, however, not a few Christians, who, while believing in the fact of the divine inspiration of the Bible, are yet in some amount of perplexity as to what this means, and to what extent it is true. That such may receive some help from these chapters is the writer’s earnest desire. The subject is one of the utmost importance today when the views of what is known as Modernism are being advanced on every hand. The Bible has been the most widely and thoroughly discussed Book in the world, and this is true to a greater extent today perhaps than at any time in the past. The activities of the Higher Critics have had this beneficial effect, that devout students of Scripture have been led thereby to consider more carefully the authenticity, integrity, and divine authority of the books which compose the Volume, and to examine more thoroughly the whole question of the Inspiration of its contents.

It will be necessary to notice some of the theories which have been advanced in regard to the subject, bearing in mind that inspiration is impossible of explanation by any theory. Inspiration is a doctrine taught in Scripture, whatever theories may be held about it. The supernatural acts of God do not admit of human analysis. It is no more possible to describe exactly how the divine action described by the word “God-breathed” took place than it is to explain any other miracle recorded in the Bible. The appeal of the Word of God is to faith. “By faith we understand that the worlds have been framed by the Word of God, so that what is seen hath not been made out of things which do appear” (Heb. 11:3, R.V.). The faith that accepts that fact accepts likewise the claims and evidences of Scripture that it is divinely inspired. The fact of inspiration may be proved by evidence and received as an ascertained part of the faith, the mode of inspiration lies outside the range of discovery. The process is undefinable, the result is clear. The operations of the Spirit can be registered only by their effects.

But while faith is the ground for the acceptance of the doctrine of the divine inspiration of Scripture, it is possible to see that there is really no conflict between faith and what may reasonably be expected from God. Mere evidences never equal in cogency the experience of faith, yet faith does not necessarily render a man unreasonable, and it is useful to inquire into the subject with a view to removing any difficulty which may be perplexing the heart of a believer.

We are told that the Bible does not need to be defended, that it will defend itself. Needless to say, in maintaining the divine and complete inspiration of the Bible we are not trying to defend it from attack; we agree that there is no necessity for this. The fact is that the foundations of the faith are being shaken in the hearts of numbers of Christians today, and it is with the desire to counteract this and to strengthen their faith that we seek to set forth what the Bible reveals concerning its divine origin and accuracy. We are told that our loyalty is due to a Person, Christ, rather than to a book. But this is no matter for comparison. Loyalty to Christ must indeed be paramount in our lives, and loyalty to the Bible in no way detracts from it. The Book itself leads us to loyalty to Christ
 

#2. Youngblood, R. F., Bruce, F. F., & Harrison, R. K., Thomas Nelson Publishers (Eds.). (1995). In Nelson’s new illustrated Bible dictionary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.

INSPIRATION — a technical term for the Holy Spirit’s supernatural guidance of those who received special revelation from God as they wrote the books of the Bible. The end result of this inspiration is that the Bible conveys the truths that God wanted His people to know and to communicate to the world.

The primary purpose of the Bible is to lead people to a personal relationship with God as Savior. But everything taught by the Bible on any subject is helpful and instructive for the complete Christian life (2 Tim. 3:16–17). Because Christianity relates to the real world, the Bible’s declarations about the earth and history are completely trustworthy.

Two terms often used in discussion of the inspiration of the Bible are “plenary” and “verbal.” “Plenary,” a term meaning full or complete, means that each book, chapter, and paragraph of the Bible is equally derived from God. “Verbal” inspiration emphasizes the truth that the wording of the text, as well as the ideas conveyed, is supernaturally inspired by God through the Holy Spirit.

“Inerrancy” is a term used along with plenary verbal inspiration to convey the view that the Bible’s teaching is true on everything of which it speaks. The words of Scripture, in the original writings, teach the truth without any admixture of error. The Bible is not just a useful body of human ideas. It makes clear the mind of God Himself.

“Infallibility” is a term often used as a synonym for inerrancy. However, the root meaning of infallibility is “not liable to fail in achieving its purpose.” Truth, or inerrancy, is affirmed of the content of the Bible; infallibility refers to the effectiveness of the wording in conveying reliable ideas, as well as the effectiveness of those ideas when used by the all-powerful Holy Spirit (Is. 55:11).

Important as biblical infallibility is, it is not enough without inerrancy. The reason why the Spirit can use Scripture so effectively is that He directed its production from the beginning so that all of it is God’s reliable information.

Inspiration, then, is a statement about God’s greatness. God is intelligent and able to communicate with human beings, whom He created in His image. God knows everything about all reality in creation and is absolutely faithful and true (Rev. 3:7; 21:5). it follows that ideas communicated by divine revelation are true and conform to reality as God knows it. God overruled human limitations and sinful biases so that His human agents were able to write what He wanted written. God guided the thought conveyed so that it was without error, accomplishing the objectives He intended…

Exactly what role did the human writers of the Bible play in their transmission of God’s message? They were not totally passive as those whose hands move automatically in an unconscious state. Their distinctive ways of writing stand out, as in the four gospels, which describe the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Luke, the beloved physician, used many medical terms not found in Matthew, Mark, or John. Some biblical writers, like Moses and Paul, were highly educated; others were not.

Although the Bible does not tell exactly how God inspired its writers, it was certainly not in a mechanical way. God the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity who is working with persons. How does one person influence another person? Why do some have a more powerful impact upon people than others? Many factors are involved. We do know for certain that the Scriptures originated with God and that the writers were “moved” or carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:20–21) as they recorded God’s message.

The Holy Spirit’s work in the life of the Virgin Mary is a good example of how the Spirit worked with the biblical writers. A fully human, sinful woman bore a sinless child who would be called the Holy One, the Son of God (Luke 1:35). How could that be? The power of the Highest “overshadowed” her so that she conceived Jesus. Likewise, the power of the Highest “overshadowed” the biblical writers so that what they wrote could be called the Holy Bible, the Word of God.
 

#3. Hayford, J. W., & McGuire, P. (1994). People of the Covenant: God’s New Covenant for Today. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

Second Timothy 3:16 tells us that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” Today, as in years past, the truth that the Bible is divinely inspired is a key issue. On every quarter, the divine inspiration of the Bible is under attack, even within the evangelical community.

The late theologian, Dr. Francis Schaeffer, defended the issue of the divine inspiration of the Bible as the watershed issue of the Christian world. Yet major denominations that were once orthodox in their theology have embraced the flow of cultural relativism in their theology. Such issues as whether or not to make the Bible gender neutral emerge. People attempt to make God neither male nor female. In fact, the concept of God the Father is questioned, as well as issues of human sexuality.

In Luke 16:17, we read that Jesus said, “And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail.” God’s Word is not subject to politically correct thinking. The truth of the Word is eternal and does not change with the passing whims of a culture.

In understanding the concept of the authority of the Bible, it is important to understand the following concepts:

Cultural relativism is a term that denotes there is no right or wrong in the universe. There are no absolutes. In other words, everything is relative. This belief system stems from the idea that there is no God and that man is the center of the universe. It is an expression of modern humanism which flows out of the existentialist thought of men, such as philosopher Jean Paul Sartre. In this view of things, absolutely everything is up for questioning, including the authority of the Scripture.

Absolutes is a term that conveys the idea that in the universe there are fixed laws that are not subject to human opinion. In other words, there is a right and a wrong. God’s Word is absolute. While humanists would declare that there are no absolutes, those embracing a Judeo-Christian worldview believe that there are absolutes. There is a right and a wrong, apart from what is popular at the moment.

Final reality describes the fact that the universe and reality exist in a certain form and are not subject to popular opinion. In other words, final reality is what is real and true. The fact that Jesus Christ rose from the dead is final reality. Whether or not people choose to accept this does not alter the reality that it happened. That is final reality.

The following questions will help to give us a clearer understanding of God’s Word as the final authority:
 

#4. Geisler, N. L. (1999). In Baker encyclopedia of Christian apologetics (pp. 154–155). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

Contrasts with Presuppositional and Evidential Apologetics. Classical apologetics differs from various forms of presuppositional apologetics in its handling of proofs for the existence of God and its use of historical evidence. Classical differs from evidential apologetics over whether there is a logically prior need to establish the existence of God before arguing for the truth of Christianity (e.g., the deity of Christ and inspiration of the Bible [see CHRIST, DEITY OF]).

Classical apologetics is characterized by two basic steps. Its first step is to establish valid theistic arguments for the truth of theism apart from (but with appeal to) special revelation in Scripture. Its second step is to compile historical evidence to establish such basic truths of Christianity as the deity of Christ and the inspiration of the Bible. The use of the resurrection of Christ often plays an important role in this second step.

Validity of Theistic Proofs. Classical apologetics accepts, and presuppositionalists reject, the validity of traditional theistic proofs for God. Some presuppositionalists replace traditional proofs with transcendental arguments for God of their own (see PRESUPPOSITIONAL APOLOGETICS; VAN TIL, CORNELIUS). Not all classical apologists accept all the traditional proofs for God. For example, many reject the validity of the Ontological Argument. But most accept some form of the Cosmological Argument and the Teleological Argument. Many also believe the Moral Argument is valid.

Presuppositional apologists reject the validity of theistic proofs for God (see GOD, EVIDENCE FOR). Most of them accept the validity of much of what David Hume and Immanuel Kant said in their critiques of theistic argumentation (see GOD, OBJECTIONS TO PROOFS FOR). Some, such as Gordon Clark, do this on the basis of empirical skepticism. Cornelius Van Til and others do it because they believe facts have no meaning apart from the presupposed trinitarian world view. Whatever the grounds, all true presuppositionalists join atheists and agnostics in rejecting the validity of traditional theistic proofs for God
 

#5. Geisler, N. L., & Saleeb, A. (2002). Answering Islam: the crescent in light of the cross (2nd ed., p. 206). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

AMAZING MATHEMATICAL STRUCTURE

One popular proof for the Qur’an’s divine origin is its alleged mathematical miraculousness based on the number nineteen. Needless to say such an apologetic method does not find a great deal of acceptance in scholarly circles, and this for good reason.

No Muslim would accept a message claimed to be from God if it taught idolatry or immorality. In fact no message containing such claims should be accepted on mathematical grounds alone. So even if the Qur’an were a mathematical “miracle,” this would not be sufficient to prove that it was of God.77

Even if the odds are astronomic against the Qur’an having all these amazing combinations of the number 19, it proves nothing more than that there is a mathematical order behind the language of the Qur’an. Since language is an expression of the order of human thought, and since this order can often be reduced to mathematical expression, it should be no surprise that a mathematical order can be found behind the language of the Qur’an.

Further, the same kind of argument (only based on the number seven) could be used to prove the inspiration of the Bible. Take the first verse of the Bible “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Nehls points out that:

  The verse consists of 7 Hebrew words and 28 letters (7x4). There are three nouns: “God, heavens, earth”.… their total numeric value … is 777 (7x11). The verb “created” has the value 203 (7x29). The object is contained in the first three words—with 14 letters (7x2). The other four words contain the subject—also with 14 letters (7x2) [and so on].78

But no Muslim would allow this as an argument in favor of the divine inspiration of the Bible. At best the argument is esoteric and unconvincing. Even most Muslim scholars avoid using it
 

#6. Geisler, N. L. (1999). In Baker encyclopedia of Christian apologetics (pp. 16–17). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

Evaluation. Dialectical atheism denies the inspiration of the Bible (see BIBLE, EVIDENCE FOR), opting for an unfounded radical criticism (see BIBLICAL CRITICISM; NEW TESTAMENT, HISTORICITY OF; REDACTION CRITICISM). It denies the bodily resurrection of Christ against all the historical evidence (see RESURRECTION, EVIDENCE FOR).

This theology is based on a misunderstanding of the incarnation. Scripture affirms that when Christ came to earth it was not the subtraction of deity but the addition of humanity. God did not leave heaven; only the second person of the Godhead added another nature, a human one, without discarding his divine nature (see CHRIST, DEITY OF; TRINITY).

Philosophically it is impossible for a Necessary Being (God) to go out of existence. A Necessary Being cannot come to be or cease to be. It must always be.

The dialectical method at the basis of Altizer’s view is unfounded. There is no basis for believing that reality operates through dialectical thesis, antithesis, and synthesis.

Conclusion. The “death of God” movement was short-lived, dominating the scene for only a decade or so. It was based on a dialectical theology, often attributed to Hegel. This thesis demands that every thesis, such as “God exists,” calls forth its own antithesis, “God is not.” This in turn becomes the basis for new synthesis. This always appears in a forward direction. Precisely what form it would take, Altizer did not know. He did believe, however, that one “must ever be open to new epiphanies of the Word or Spirit of God. . . . truly new epiphanies whose very occurrences either effects or records a new actualization or movement or the divine process” (ibid., 84, 105). In this sense, while Altizer appears to negate all forms of transcendence, in fact he negates only traditional forms which transcend backward or upward and replaces them with a forward transcendence. This has been called eschatological transcendence (see Geisler, 49–52).
 

#7. Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Re 22:17). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

THE NATURE OF INSPIRATION

The concept of the inspiration of the Bible points to God as the Author of Scripture. The Holy Spirit guided the writers of Scripture so that what they wrote was of divine authority and free from error. Thus, the doctrine of inspiration involves the divine origin of Scripture, including its authority and trustworthiness.

Everyone understands the importance of a solid foundation. Whether one is building a towering edifice of concrete and steel or a logically consistent argument, a proper foundation must support one’s work. The doctrine of inspiration is foundational to evangelical Christianity. When seeking a message from God, Christians turn to the Bible for the revelation of His truth to mankind.

The Scripture came to us by inspiration over a span of nearly sixteen hundred years from Genesis to Revelation. In turn, God also used men to protect His message, copy it and translate it, guaranteeing its preservation over the last two thousand years. Therefore, you can have confidence that the Bible you hold in your hand is the Word of God.

THE EXTENT OF INSPIRATION

Secularists deny the inspiration of the Bible, choosing to believe it is merely a human book, written by fallible human authors. Unfortunately, even some professing Christians question its inspiration. But Bible-believing Christians have always held to the belief that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God.

We believe in the plenary verbal inspiration of Scripture. The term plenary refers to all of Scripture being inspired of God. It is all equally of the same divine origin and essence. Verbal inspiration means that the very words of Scripture are inspired of God. The Lord said of Jeremiah, “I have put My words in your mouth” (Jer. 1:9). The apostle Paul said, “The things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Cor. 14:37).

The doctrine of verbal inspiration emphasizes the importance of the very words of Scripture. However, this does not imply a mechanical dictation, because each writer’s style is uniquely his own. God used the vocabulary of the human authors of the books of the Bible to communicate His truth. Through these men God revealed not just ideas, but specific words of truth. It is through these words that He reveals His will and purpose for our lives. God revealed specific truth to men who received it and recorded it, and that record of truth is the Bible.

Besides the direct biblical claims of inspiration, we find the attitude of the authors of Scripture toward previous biblical revelation to be that of complete trust in its total accuracy. Therefore, quotations from other parts of Scripture are introduced by statements like, “It is written might be fulfilled.” Peter even clearly identified the writings of Paul as Scripture (2 Pet. 3:15, 16).

THE IMPORTANCE OF INSPIRATION

The greatest arguments for the inspiration of the Bible are those of Jesus Christ our Lord. He said of the Old Testament prophecies, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me” (John 5:39). More specifically Jesus elaborated, “If you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me” (John 5:46).

Our Lord Jesus quoted freely from the Old Testament, affirming its accuracy as divine Scripture. He also testified of His own words as divine truth. Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31, 32). In another passage He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

There can be no doubt that our Lord connected the truth of Scripture with the message of salvation. He promised His disciples that the “Spirit of truth” would guide them “into all truth” (John 14:17; 16:13). He also told them that “all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me” (Luke 24:44). The Bible then goes on to explain that “He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures” (Luke 24:45). Thus, our Lord Himself taught the truth of the Scripture to His disciples.

Jesus also testified that His own ministry was to declare the message commanded by His Father. “And I know that His command is everlasting life,” He said (John 12:50). It is no wonder that Jesus could say, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life” (John 6:47). He came into this world to declare the truth of God’s love to a fallen world, and to call us to faith in His death as a sufficient atonement for our sins.
 

#8. Hayford, J. W. (1998). Ministering In the Spirit and Strength of Jesus. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

The foundation for successful ministry is a proper understanding of the divine inspiration of the Bible as our final authority in life. With that foundational truth in place, the man or woman of God must know the Holy Scriptures (3:13) so “that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (3:17). It is from this foundation that we can “Preach the word!” (4:2), “endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (4:5). Indeed, the purpose for being established in the Word of God is to completely fulfill your ministry.

What difference does it make that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God”? (3:16; see 2 Pet. 1:19–21)
 

#9. Geisler, N. L., & MacKenzie, R. E. (1995). Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: agreements and differences (p. 17). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

In these chapters we try to put our best foot forward in Roman Catholic and evangelical relations by stressing what we have in common. Some of this will come as a surprise to many evangelicals, particularly those of a more conservative bent, who are used to stressing differences with Roman Catholics. The central thesis of these chapters is that both Catholics and orthodox Protestants have a common creedal and Augustinian doctrinal background. Both groups accept the creeds and confessions and councils of the Christian church of the first five centuries. Both claim Augustine as a mentor.

The doctrinal unity with Roman Catholics includes far more in common than many evangelicals have been wont to admit, including virtually all the so-called Fundamentals, such as the inspiration of the Bible, the virgin birth, the Trinity, the deity of Christ, his substitutionary death, his bodily resurrection, and his second coming. In addition, both Catholics and evangelicals hold to an Augustinian concept of salvation by grace. Our important differences notwithstanding (see Part Two), we believe this is too great a shared doctrinal heritage to ignore.
 

#10 Geisler, N. L., & Saleeb, A. (2002). Answering Islam: the crescent in light of the cross (2nd ed., pp. 308–310). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

In his booklet entitled, Is the Bible God’s Word?1 Deedat attempts to show the textual corruption of the Bible by the fact that there are many English versions that have tried to improve on the King James Version!2 He then lists what he believes are four “great errors” of the Bible—out of what he says are a possible fifty thousand! The first error that Deedat points to in his comparison between the Revised Standard Version of the Bible and the KJV is the fact that the word “virgin” in Isaiah 7:14 has been changed to the phrase “a young woman.” The second error is that in John 3:16, the phrase “begotten son” has been changed to “only son.” Deedat shows no awareness of the fact that in both of the above instances the original Hebrew and Greek terms have remained identical in all our manuscripts and that only the English phrases have been changed due to the judgment of the translators. So it is not a question of inspiration of the Bible by God in the text of its original languages (which is without any error) but of its translations by men into different languages (which may contain some nonsubstantive errors).

The last two supposed errors concern the omission of 1 John 5:7 and the shorter ending of Mark in the later translations of the Bible.3 Once again the invalidity of the charges is obvious to anyone who is even slightly familiar with the science of textual criticism.4 Christians do not claim that every manuscript of the Bible has been copied without error. In fact, most Christian scholars believe that this verse (1 John 5:7) on the Trinity was not in the original text that God inspired, since it scarcely appears in any manuscript before the fifteenth century. It was probably a gloss (scribal comment in the margin) that was later taken as part of the text by a subsequent translator.5 Nor does the omission of this verse from many modern translations of the Bible affect the Christian doctrine of the Trinity in the least, since there are many other verses that clearly teach there are three persons in the one and only God (see Chapter 12).

Another example of Deedat’s unsubstantiated charges against the Bible is his statement that “out of over four thousand differing manuscripts the Christians boast about, the Church fathers just selected four which tallied with their prejudices and called them [the] Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.”6 It is amazing that Deedat does not seem to understand that these thousands of manuscripts are simply copies of the twenty-seven New Testament books and not thousands of separate books or gospels!7
 

#11 Sproul, R. C. (2009). Can I Trust the Bible? (Vol. 2, pp. 20–23). Lake Mary, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing.

Article VI addresses the doctrine of verbal plenary inspiration. “Plenary” inspiration means that the whole of Scripture is given by divine inspiration. Because some have maintained that the whole has been given by inspiration but some parts of that whole are not of divine inspiration, we are speaking of the origin of Scripture—which does not begin with the insights of men but comes from God Himself.

In the affirmative of Article VI, we read the phrase “down to the very words of the original.” The clause “down to the very words” refers to the extent of inspiration, and the words “of the original” indicate that it is the “autographs” that were inspired. The limiting of inspiration to the autographs is covered more fully in Article X, though it is plain in this article that the verbal inspiration of the Bible refers to the original manuscripts.

The fact that Article VI speaks of divine inspiration down to the very words of the original may conjure up in some people’s minds the notion that God dictated the words of Scripture. The doctrine of verbal plenary inspiration has often been said to carry the implication of a dictation theory of inspiration. No such theory is spelled out in this article, nor is it implied. In fact, in Article VII, the framers of the statement deny the dictation theory.

The issue of dictation has raised problems in church history. At the Council of Trent in the sixteenth century, the Roman Catholic Church used the word dictante, meaning “dictating,” with respect to the Spirit’s work in the giving of the ancient texts. In the Protestant camp, John Calvin spoke of the biblical writers as being amanuenses or secretaries. Added to this is the fact that some portions of Scripture seem to have been given by some form of dictation, such as the Ten Commandments.

In the modern era, dictation cancels out human literary styles, vocabulary choices, and the like. This article does not mean to imply such a method of inspiration that would negate or vitiate the literary styles of the individual authors of the biblical documents. The sense in which Calvin, for example, spoke of secretaries and even in which Trent spoke of dictating could hardly be construed to conform to modern methods of dictating using sophisticated equipment and methods. The context in which these words were used in the past had specific reference to the fact that inspiration shows some analogy to a man issuing a message that is put together by a secretary. The analogy points to the question of origin of the message. In the doctrine of inspiration, what is at stake is the truth that the message is from God rather than from human beings.

The Chicago Statement leaves the mode of inspiration as a mystery (cf. Article VII). Inspiration, as used here, involves a divine superintendence that preserved the writers from using words that would have falsified or distorted the message of Scripture. Thus, on the one hand, the statement affirms that God’s superintendence and inspiration of the Bible applied down to the very words and, on the other hand, denies that He canceled out the influence of the writers’ personalities in their choices of words used to express the truth revealed.

Evangelical Christians avoid the notion that the biblical writers were passive instruments like pens in the hands of God, yet at the same time they affirm that the net result of the process of inspiration was the same. Calvin, for example, says that we should read the Bible as if we have heard God audibly speaking its message. That is, it carries the same weight of authority as if God Himself were giving utterance to the words (Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1.7.1). This does not mean that Calvin believed or taught that God did in fact utter the words audibly. We do not know the process by which inspired Scripture was given. But because of inspiration, no matter how God brought it about, every word of Scripture carries the weight of God’s authority.

Article VII spells out in more detail what is implied in Article VI. Here, clear reference is made to the human writers of the text. The human writers are identified as the instruments by which God’s Word comes to us. Classically, the Holy Scriptures have been called the Verbum Dei, the Word of God, or even the vox Dei, the voice of God. Yet, at the same time, Holy Scripture comes to us as the words of men. In other words, there is an agency of humanity through which God’s divine Word is communicated, but the origin of Scripture is divine.

The framers of the document have in view here the primary meaning of the word theopneustos in 2 Timothy 3:16, the word often translated “inspired by God.” Theopneustos literally means “God-breathed”; it has primary reference to God’s breathing out His Word rather than breathing some kind of effect into the human writers. So expiration is a more accurate term than inspiration with respect to the origin of Scripture. But we use the term inspiration to cover the whole process by which the Word comes to us. Initially, it comes from the mouth of God (speaking, of course, metaphorically). From its origin in God, it is transmitted through the agency of human writers under divine supervision and superintendence. The next step in the process of communication is the apprehension of the divine message by human beings. This article explicitly states that the precise mode by which God accomplishes inspiration remains a mystery. The document makes no attempt to define the “how” of divine inspiration or even to suggest that the method is known to us.

The word inspiration can be used and has been used in the English language to refer to moments of genius-level insight, of intensified states of consciousness, or of heightened acts of human achievement. We speak of inspired poetry, meaning that the author achieved extraordinary levels of insight and brilliance. However, in this dimension of “inspiration,” there is no suggestion that the source of inspiration is divine power. There are human levels of inspiration reflected in heroic acts, brilliant insights, and intensified states of consciousness. But these are not what is meant by the use of inspiration as a theological term. Here the Chicago Statement is making clear that something transcending all human states of inspiration is in view, something in which the power and supervision of God are at work. Thus, the articles are saying that the Bible, though it is a human book insofar as it was written by human writers, has its humanity transcended by virtue of its divine origin and inspiration.

Article VIII reiterates that God’s work of inspiration did not cancel out the humanity of the human writers He used to accomplish His purpose. The writers of Scripture were chosen and prepared by God for their sacred task. Whatever the process of inspiration may have been, it did not override their personalities as they wrote. Though it does not say so directly, this article is denying any kind of mechanistic or mechanical inspiration. Mechanical inspiration would reduce the human authors to the level of automatons, robot-like machines. An analysis of Scripture makes clear that the distinctive personalities and writing styles vary from one human writer to another. Luke’s style, for example, is obviously different from that of Matthew. The literary structures found in the writing of Daniel differ greatly from those found, for example, in the writing of James. Men of Hebrew origin tended to write in Hebraic styles, and those of the Greek cultural background tended to write in a Greek style. However, God made it possible for His truth to be communicated in an inspired way while making use of the backgrounds, personalities, and literary styles of these various writers. What was overcome or overridden by inspiration was not human personalities, styles, or literary methods, but human tendencies to distortion, falsehood, and error.
 

#12 Hayford, J. W. (Ed.). (1997). Spirit filled life study Bible (electronic ed., 2 Ti 3:12). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

The Divine Inspiration of the Bible, THE WORD OF GOD. The absolute authority of the Bible over our lives is based in our conviction that this Book does not merely contain the Word of God, but that it is the Word of God in its sum and in its parts.  This text testifies to this, describing the actual process of this inspiration (inbreathing of life):  1)  It is the word of the Holy Spirit.  Theopneustos (Greek), translated “inspiration of God,” literally means “God-breathed.”  This describes the source of the whole Bible’s derivation (that is, “all Scripture”) as transcendent of human inspiration.  The Bible is not the product of elevated human consciousness or enlightened human intellect, but is directly “breathed” from God Himself.  2) 2 Pet. 1:20, 21 elaborates this truth, and adds that none of what was given was merely the private opinion of the writer (v. 20) and that each writer involved in the production of the Holy Scriptures was “moved by” (literally, “being borne along”) the Holy Spirit.  This does not mean that the writers were merely robots, seized upon by God’s power to write automatically without their conscious participation.  God does not override those gifts of intellect and sensitivity that He has given His creatures.  (Beware of all instances where individuals claim to “automatically” write anything at any time, for the Holy Spirit never functions that way.)  3) 1 Cor. 2:10-13 expands on this process by which the revelation of the Holy Scriptures was given.  V. 13 says that even the words used in the giving of the Bible (not just the ideas, but the precise terminology) were planned by the Holy Spirit, who deployed the respective authors of the Bible books to write, “comparing spiritual things with  spiritual” (literally, “matching spiritual words to spiritual ideas”).  This biblical view of the Bible’s derivation is called the plenary verbal inspiration of the Scriptures, meaning every word is inspired by the Holy Spirit of God
 

#13 Hayford, J. W., Thomas Nelson Publishers. (1995). Hayford’s Bible handbook. Nashville, TN; Atlanta, GA; London; Vancouver: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

INSPIRATION—a biblical term for the Holy Spirit’s supernatural guidance of those who received special revelation from God as they wrote the books of the Bible. Second Timothy 3:16-17 uses this word which literally says the Scriptures were “breathed by God”—that is, the breath or Spirit of God infused the minds of the writers with His perfect will and truth (2 Pet. 1:20-21). The end result of this inspiration is that the Bible reveals the truths which God wants His people to know and communicate to the world.

Evangelical Christians agree that the primary purpose of the Bible is to lead people to a personal relationship with God as Savior. But everything taught by the Bible on any subject is helpful and instructive for a complete life (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Because Christianity does relate to the real world, the Bible’s declarations about the earth and history are completely trustworthy.

Two terms often used in any discussion of the inspiration of the Bible are plenary and verbal. “Plenary” inspiration is a term meaning “full” or “complete,” declaring that each book, chapter, and paragraph of the Bible is equally derived from God. Verbal inspiration emphasizes the truth that the wording of the text, as well as the ideas conveyed, is supernaturally inspired by God through the Holy Spirit.

Inerrancy is a term used along with plenary verbal inspiration to convey the view that the Bible’s teaching is true on everything of which it speaks. The Bible is not merely a useful body of human ideas. It makes clear the mind of God Himself. Inerrancy is also a term used to assert that the Bible text in its original form (called “autograph” form, or the first time written before copied or printed) was without any error on any subject addressed.

Infallibility is a term often used as a synonym for inerrancy. However, the root meaning of infallibility is “not liable to fail in achieving its purpose.” So inerrancy affirms the content of the Bible, while infallibility refers to the fact that no word is without power to fulfill God’s purpose (Is. 55:11), and no word of truth or promise within God’s Holy Word can be “broken” or violated by being unkept or disregarded by Him (John 10:35).

The fact of biblical infallibility joins to biblical inerrancy to explain why the Holy Spirit so fully anoints and works through the ministry of God’s Word. He directed its production from the beginning, and He confirms and certifies its anointed proclamation or communication with evidences of His presence and power.

Inspiration, then, is a statement about God’s greatness. God is intelligent and able to communicate with man, whom He created in His image. God knows everything about all reality in creation and is absolutely faithful and true (Rev. 3:7; 21:5). It follows that ideas communicated by divine revelation are true and conform to reality as God knows it. God overruled human limitations and sinful biases so that His spokesmen were able to write what He wanted written. God guided the thought conveyed so that it was without error, accomplishing the objectives He intended.

Exactly what role did the human writers of the Bible play in their transmission of God’s message? They were not totally passive, as those whose hands move automatically in an unconscious state. Their distinctive ways of writing stand out, as in the four Gospels, which describe the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Luke, the beloved physician, used many medical terms not found in Matthew, Mark, or John. Some biblical writers like Moses and Paul were highly educated; others were not.

Although some passages of Scripture may have been received by audible dictation (Ex. 4:12; 19:3-6; Num. 7:89), many were guided by a silent activity of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:1-4). To err is human and the conscious participation of finite, sinful authors would have led to error if not for this supernatural guidance by the Holy Spirit.

God gave these people the distinctive functions of prophets and apostles, originated what they wrote, and kept them from error in all the writing processes. All of Scripture has prophetic authority, and none of God’s Word originated with the will of men. It came about through the will of God (2 Pet. 1:20-21). All Scripture was given by inspiration of God (2 Tim. 3:16).

Clear standards tested whether a person who claimed to speak for God was a true prophet or a false prophet (Deut. 13:15; 18:20-22). People who spoke out of their own hearts and by their own independent wills were subject to the death penalty (Deut. 13:6-10). But genuine prophets were inspired by the Holy Spirit as authentic spokesmen for God.

Although the Bible does not tell exactly how God inspired its writers, it was certainly not in a mechanical way. The Holy Spirit’s work in the Virgin Mary’s conceiving of Jesus might be an example of how the Spirit worked with the biblical writers. A fully human woman of Adam’s sinful race bore a sinless child who would be called the Holy One, the Son of God (Luke 1:35). How could that be? The power of the Highest “overshadowed” her so that she conceived Jesus. Likewise, the power of the Highest “overshadowed” the biblical writers so that what they wrote could be called the Holy Bible, the Word of God.
 

#14 Geisler, N. L. (1976). Christian apologetics (pp. 361–363). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

The Nature of the Inspiration of the Old Testament

Granted that Jesus affirmed the inspiration of the Old Testament, just what does it mean when we speak of “inspiration”? The answer to this question has several aspects. For Jesus, as for the Jews, an inspired writing meant that it was sacred (cf. John 10:35 and II Tim. 3:15) and that it was “from God.” “Inspired” means “God–breathed” (II Tim. 3:16) and “Spirit–moved” (II Peter 1:20–21).

Inspiration Is Verbal. It was not merely the thoughts or the oral pronouncements of the prophets that were inspired but the very “words.” Moses “wrote all the words of the Lord” (Exod. 24:4) and David confessed, “His word is upon my tongue” (II Sam. 23:2). Jeremiah was told to “diminish not a word” (Jer. 26:2 KJV). Jesus repeated over and over that the authority was found in what “is written” (see Matt. 4:4, 7). Paul testified that he spoke in “words … taught by the Spirit” (I Cor. 2:13). And the classic text in II Timothy 3:16 declares that it is the “writings,” the graphë that are inspired of God.

Inspiration Is Plenary. Jesus not only affirmed the written revelation of God but he taught that the whole (complete, entire) Old Testament was inspired of God. Everything including Moses and the prophets is from God (Matt. 5:17, 18) and must be fulfilled (Luke 24:44). Paul added that “whatever was written in former days [in the Old Testament] was written for our instruction” (Rom. 15:4) and that “all scripture is inspired of God” and therefore “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (II Tim. 3:16, 17). That is to say, the inspiration of the Bible extends to everything it teaches whether spiritual or factual. Of course, not everything contained in the Bible is taught by the Bible. The Bible contains a true record of Satan’s lies (see Gen. 3:4), but the Bible is not thereby teaching that these lies are true. Plenary inspiration means only that whatever the Bible teaches is true, is actually true.

Inspiration Conveys Authority. Further, the authority of the Bible’s teaching flows from its divine origin as the oracles or Word of God (see Rom. 3:2). Jesus said of the Old Testament, “The scriptures cannot be broken” for they are the “word of God” (John 10:35). Jesus claimed the authority of “it is written” for his teaching over and over again (cf. Matt. 22:29; Mark 9:12). He resisted the devil by the same written authority (see Matt. 4:4, 7, 10). The written Word, then, is the authority of God for settling all disputes of doctrine or practice. It is God’s Word in man’s words; it is divine truth in human terms.7

Inspiration Implies the Inerrancy of the Teaching. Jesus believed that God’s Word is true (John 17:17) and the apostles taught that God cannot lie (Heb. 6:18). Furthermore, Jesus affirmed that every “iota and dot” of the Old Testament was from God. This, of course, is a claim only for the writings as they were given by God, namely, the autographs, and not for the copies which have been in minor detail subjected to scribal errors. The net result, however, is the necessary conclusion that the Old Testament is without error (i.e., inerrant) in whatever it teaches. Simply put: whatever God utters is true and without error. The original writings of the Old Testament are the utterance of God through men. Therefore, the writings of the Old Testament are the inerrant Word of God. This is what both Jesus and the apostles taught with divine authority, an authority confirmed by the unique concurrence of three miracles in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ (see Chapter 17)
 

#15 Packer, J. I., Tenney, M. C., & White, W., Jr. (1997). Nelson’s illustrated manners and customs of the Bible (pp. 44–45). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

A. How the Old Testament Was “Inspired.” Traditionally, the church has taught the plenary inspiration of the Bible. Simply stated, this is the doctrine that (1) God gave and guaranteed all that the Bible writers had to say on all of the subjects they discussed, and (2) He determined for them by inward prompting (plus providential conditioning and control) the manner in which they should express His truth. In this way, Scripture was written exactly as He planned, and thus is as truly His Word as it is man’s witness. Both of these teachings come from Scripture itself.

The Old Testament writers remind us again and again that they are communicating God’s Word. The prophets introduce their statements with “thus saith the Lord,” “the word of the Lord that came unto me,” or something similar. René Pache found 3,808 of these declarations in the Old Testament; as he rightly concluded, they emphasize that Scripture “conveys the express word of God.”2

Here are some passages that illustrate the point: “… The Lord said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel” (Exod. 34:27). “All this, said David, the Lord made me understand in writing by his hand upon me …” (1 Chron. 28:19). “… This word came unto Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, Take thee a roll of a book, and write therein all the words that I have spoken unto thee …” (Jer. 36:1–2; cf. vv. 21–32). Each writer explains that he is recording what God has revealed to him, expressing it in the same terms in which he received it from God.

However, God did not dictate the manuscript of the Old Testament to these writers, as if they were secretaries. He revealed His truth to them and showed them how they should present it; but in so doing He led them to express His Word in terms of their own outlook, interests, literary habits, and peculiarities of style.3 As Benjamin B. Warfield put it, “… Every word of the Scriptures, without exception, is the word of God; but, alongside of that … every word is the word of man.”4 This is why the writer of Hebrews says that God “at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets” (Heb. 1:1). Instead of binding the Old Testament writers to produce one scripted account of His message, all in the same style, God spoke “in divers manners” according to the circumstances and abilities of each writer. Hence the marvelous variety of material from the prophets, poets, historians, wise men, and visionaries through whom God spoke.

The Old Testament writers tell us the methods whereby God inspired some phases of their work. At times He revealed His message to men through visions consisting of sights and sounds (e.g., Isa. 6:1 ff.); at other times He spoke directly through them (2 Sam. 23:2). We do not know exactly how He inspired every part of every Old Testament book, and that really does not matter. What is important is that we know the Scriptures are His Word, in both their substance and structure. This is what we mean when we say the Scriptures are the product of plenary inspiration.

Of course, we can say this about the original manuscripts only, and we no longer have them. (The technical term for the original manuscripts is autographs.) How can we be sure that the manuscript copies we have are still the Word of God?

To answer this question, we need to explore the way our ancestors copied the original manuscripts of the Old Testament and passed the copies along to us. Scholars call this process textual transmission.
 

#16 Ryle, J. C. (1853). Startling Questions (pp. 155–158). New York: Robert Carter & Brothers.

To talk of the inspiration of the Bible, as only differing in degree from that of such writings as the works of Emerson, Gibbon, and Voltaire, is simply a piece of blasphemous folly. Every honest and unprejudiced reader must see that there is a gulf between the Bible, and any other book, which no man can fathom. You feel at turning from the Scriptures to other works, that you have got into a new atmosphere. You feel like one who has exchanged gold for base metal, and heaven for earth. And how can this mighty difference be accounted for? The men who wrote the Bible had no special advantages. They had, most of them, little leisure, few books, and no learning,—such as learning is reckoned in this world. Yet the book they compose is one which is unrivalled! There is but one way of accounting for this. They wrote under the direct inspiration of God.

It proves nothing, against inspiration, as some have asserted, that the writers of the Bible have each a different style. Isaiah does not write like Jeremiah, and Paul does not write like John. This is perfectly true—and yet the works of these men are not a whit less equally inspired. The waters of the sea have many different shades. In one place they look blue, and in another green. And yet the difference is owing to the depth or shallowness of the part we see, or to the nature of the bottom. The water in every case is the same salt sea. The breath of a man may produce different sounds, according to the character of the instrument on which he plays. The flute, the pipe, and the trumpet, have each their peculiar note. And yet the breath that calls forth the notes, is in each case one and the same. The light of the planets we seen in heaven, is very various. Mars, and Saturn, and Jupiter, have each a peculiar color. And yet we know that the light of the sun, which each planet reflects, is in each case one and the same. Just in the same way, the books of the Old and New Testaments are all inspired truth, and yet the aspect of that truth varies according to the mind through which the Holy Ghost makes it flow. The hand-writing and style of the writers differ enough to prove that each had a distinct individual being; but the Divine Guide who dictates and directs the whole is always one. All is alike inspired. Every chapter, and verse, and word, is from God.

Oh! that men who are troubled with doubts, and questionings, and sceptical thoughts about inspiration, would calmly examine the Bible for themselves! Oh! that they would act on the advice which was the first step to Augustine’s conversion,—“Take it up and read it!—take it up and read it.” How many Gordian knots this course of action would cut! How many difficulties and objections would vanish away at once like mist before the rising sun! How many would soon confess, “The finger of God is here! God is in this book, and I knew it not.”

Reader, this is the book about which I address you this day. Surely it is no light matter what you are doing with this book. It is no light thing that God should have caused this book to be “written for your learning,” and that you should have before you “the oracles of God.” I charge you, I summon you to give an honest answer to my question. What art thou doing with the Bible? Dost thou read it at all?—HOW READEST THOU?