What Is the Inspiration and Authority of the Bible?


In the last post, I showed that the Bible is the Word of God – that is, it is God’s will, purpose, and instruction as it is revealed to man.  If the Bible, indeed, claims this for itself (that is that all its words come from God), then “to disbelieve or disobey any word of Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God” (Grudem, page 73). Therefore, all Scripture is inspired by God, and is Authoritative over man.

The Inspiration of Scripture

  • According to Bible Gateway, there are 413 times where the Old Testament contains the words, “Thus saith the Lord…”. For example, “…thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste…” In fact, God spoke through the prophets too many times to number.

So the Bible clearly claims that some of it’s words come directly from God, but what about the other words? Are the other words derived from men’s ideas?

  • According to 2 Tim 3:16-17, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works“.
  • According to the Apostle Peter, no Old Testament prophetic word represents the prophets own ideas – “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Pet 1:20-21, NIV)
  • The Apostle Matthew claims that Jesus’ birth fulfilled what the Lord had spoken, in quoting the Prophet Isaiah – “all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet” (Matt 1:22).
  • The historian Luke records the Apostle Peter quoting Davids words as words which the Holy Ghost spoke, “Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas” (Acts 1:16).

In addition to these, there are many more references to New and Old Testament Scriptures as being the words of the Holy Spirit or words that the Lord spoke. Given all this weight of evidence, we must conclude that the Bible considers itself to be the very Word of God. What is left, then, is not for man to rationalize whether it be so, but rather to obey it.

How Are We Convinced That the Bible is the Word of God?

Christians do not come to trust the Bible because of it’s internal testimony or due to any external investigation of its truth claims, but rather through the inner working of the Holy Spirit when one reads it. For 1 Cor 2:10-14 proclaims:

God hath revealed them [His Truths] unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. …Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. …But the natural [unsaved] man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

The Westminster Confession of Faith (1643), Chapter 1, claims:

IV. The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, depends not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God. (2 Pet 1:19, 1 Thes 2:13)

V. We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the Church to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scripture…yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts. (1 Jn 2:20, 1 Cor 2:10)


Why We Must Obey Scripture

The following are excerpts from Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones, entitled: The Authority of Scripture

There can be no doubt whatsoever that all the troubles in the Church to-day, and most of the troubles in the world, are due to a departure from the authority of the Bible.

…We all therefore have to face this ultimate and final question: Do we accept the Bible as the Word of God, as the sole authority in all matters of faith and practice, or do we not? Is the whole of my thinking governed by Scripture, or do I come with my reason and pick and choose out of Scripture and sit in judgment upon it, putting myself and modern knowledge forward as the ultimate standard and authority? The issue is crystal clear. Do I accept Scripture as a revelation from God, or do I trust to speculation, human knowledge, human learning, human understanding and human reasons Or, putting it still more simply, Do I pin my faith to, and subject all my thinking to, what I read in the Bible?

…The Protestant position, as was the position of the early Church in the first centuries, is that the Bible is the Word of God. Not that it ‘contains’ it, but that it is the Word of God, uniquely inspired and inerrant. The Protestant Reformers believed not only that the Bible contained the revelation of God’s truth to men, but that God safeguarded the truth by controlling the men who wrote it by the Holy Spirit, and that He kept them from error and from blemishes and from anything that was wrong.

…It was that alone that enabled Luther to stand, just one man, defying all those twelve centuries of tradition. ‘I can do no other’ he says, because of what he had found in the Bible. He could see that Rome was wrong. It did not matter that he was alone, and that all the big battalions were against him. He had the authority of the Word of God, and he judged the Church and her tradition and all else by this external authority.

…How can we fight the devil? How can we know how we are to live? How can we answer the things we hear, the things we read, and all the subtle suggestions of the devil? Where can I find this truth that I must gird on, as I put on all this armour of God? Where can I find it if I cannot find it in the Bible? Either my foundation is one of sand that gives way beneath my feet, and I do not know where I am, or else I stand on what W. E. Gladstone called ‘The Impregnable Rock of Holy Scripture’.

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