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What Does It Mean That God Inspired the Bible?

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by Gordon R. Lewis


To say that God inspired the Bible is to say that the Holy Spirit supernaturally motivated and superintended the prophetic and apostolic recipients of revelation in the entire process of writing their scriptural books.


Many other books have coauthors, so we need not imagine that Scripture has to be either a human or divine production. The Holy Scriptures originated, not with the will of its human writers, but with the will of God the Holy Spirit (2Pt 1:20-21). Over 3,000 times biblical writers claimed to have received their messages from God. God the Holy Spirit “inspired” (breathed out or originated) the Scripture through the human writers (2 Tm 3:16).


God prepared these conscious active prophetic and apostolic spokesmen (and their secretaries) providentially by their heredity, character, vocabularies, and writing styles. At the appropriate time, all the processes of writing they were “moved” by the Holy Spirit (2 Pt 1:21). This technical meaning of inspiration does not apply to any alleged revelations outside the Bible or to any literature that in a more general sense may be said to be inspiring.


God commissioned His true prophets to write, including Moses (Ex 17:14; 34:27), Joshua (Jos 24:15-26), Samuel (1Sm 10:25), Isaiah (Is 30:8 ), Jeremiah (Jr 30:2; 36:2, 17, 28-29), Ezekiel (Ezk 43:11), and Habakkuk (Hab 2:2). Hence the Bible was not a result of Israel’s quest for God’ it is God’s witness against Israel (Dt 31:26). Zechariah laments the fact that Israel “made their hearts like a rock so as not to obey the law or the words that the Lord of Hosts had sent by His Spirit through the earlier prophets” (Zch 7:12).


The collection (or canon) of biblical books began to be formed as inspired writing were placed alongside the ark of the covenant in which were contained the Ten Commandments. (Dt 31:24-26; Jos 24:25-26; 1Sm 10:25; 1Kg 8:9; Is 8:20; 29:18; 34:16).


The Lord Jesus Christ validated the OT’s inspiration by quoting from all three sections; the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings (K 24:44). He endorsed the inspiration and authority of the OT in detail (Mt 5:17-18). The Lord also prepared His disciples for the coming of the NT (Jn 16:12) and so endorsed it in principle. Paul received revelation pertaining to redemption (Gl 1:11-17) and expected his writing to be received as from God (2 Th 2:13,15). Peter classified Paul’s writings with the inspired OT (Pt 3:16).


What the authors or their close associates originally wrote in Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek was inspired. Although their original manuscripts have not been discovered, we know what they wrote. In numerous available copies, quotations, and translations, there is amazing agreement. Through some 20 centuries of laborious copying and printing, there have been no substantial variations of any important fact or doctrine.


So, in the twenty first century, we can rely on serious translations to convey what believers need to be “equipped for every good work” (2 Tm 3:17). The Holy Spirit attests to the truth of this written revelation and uses it like a sword to convict of sin, draw sinners to Christ, build them up, and send them out to bless to the world (Heb 4:12).


As a result of its inspiration, all that the Bible affirms is true.

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