The Bible is the supreme authority for all matters that it addresses. This includes various sorts of historical and scientific facts, human belief and how we are to conduct ourselves. The Bible is God’s revelation to mankind revealing who He is, His plan to redeem us through Jesus Christ and how we ought to live our lives. Scripture claims to be the very words of God (2 Timothy 3:16) and reveals Him as the Creator Redeemer (Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 45:12; John 1:3; Ephesians 3:9; Galatians 3:13) and the ultimate authority. Therefore, the Bible itself has authority because it came from the supreme authority, God, as He supernaturally used men to write His words.
Inspiration was the act of God’s supernatural guidance of certain men to write, in their own words and personalities, God’s divine revelation of who He is and all He wanted us to know. Furthermore, the words, although written by men, are the true words of God “breathed out” through the influence of the Holy Spirit. This special revelation exists in the canon of Scripture known as the Holy Bible. 2 Timothy 3:16 states that “All Scripture is breathed out by God…” In the Old Testament, the Prophets declared that they spoke the words of God as they often wrote “Thus sayeth the Lord…” The New Testament supports inspiration in Hebrews 1:1, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,” In the New Testament Jesus believed in the Scriptures as God’s word (Luke 18:31, 24:44). The apostles also believed in inspiration. Peter writes of the Old Testament Prophets in 2 Peter 1:20-21: “…knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” Peter also believed that the New Testament was the inspired word of God, claiming it to be Scripture (2 Peter 3:15-16).
I would submit that the theory of verbal plenary inspiration is correct. That is to say every word of Scripture (verbal), in every part of the Bible (plenary), is God breathed (inspiration). The strongest arguments to support the theory of inspiration and inerrancy are as follows:
- The Bible teaches this view when speaking of itself (Deuteronomy 29:29; John 17:17; 2 Timothy 3:16).
- Jesus Christ affirmed this view by His actions and His words (Matthew 4:1-11, 5:18).
- The character of God. Meaning, the Scripture is inerrant because God breathed all Scripture, and since He is perfect, holy and cannot lie (Numbers 23:19), all of His words must be true.
Another argument to support this theory is the fact that the early church fathers recognized the Bible as inspired and inerrant. To say that only some of the Scriptures are inerrant contradicts the references I mentioned previously (e.g. 2 Timothy 3:16 – All Scripture…). If inspiration was limited, how would we know which Scripture is inspired and inerrant and which is not? This would bring into question the entire authority of the Bible and the God who has revealed Himself in it, along with the intentions of the inspired authors. This is a slippery slope that should be avoided. Some question the trustworthiness of the manuscripts available today. Although we do not have the original manuscripts, the Holy Bible passes the Western method of textual criticism for early literature. There are over 36,000 manuscripts available for comparison, some within 100 years of the date written. This surpasses any form of historical literature in existence.
There is a relationship between inspiration and inerrancy that cannot be ignored. The Bible is the inspired word of God so it must also be inerrant. This means the Bible is accurate, authoritative and incapable of error. It is not just textually accurate like a dictionary, but is accurate in its words, ideas and meaning. The Scripture was prepared for us to know God. It is alive, powerful, relational and eternal. The Bible contains God’s message of salvation to everyone.
The implications of these expressed views result in a decision for everyone who hears them. If true, then we should seek God through His revelation in Scripture, submit our lives to His authority, put our trust in His words and the redeeming power of His Son and follow His ways. Psalm 119:160 says “The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.” In John 14:6 Jesus claims to be “…the way and the truth and the life.” If false, then how should we gauge our lives in regards to meaning, purpose and morality?