Is the Bible ‘God-Breathed’ or Just Compelling Literature?

We’ve all heard that the Bible is the Word of God. It is God’s special revelation given to us to guide us in the way of salvation and godly living. 2 Timothy 3:16 states that “all Scripture is inspired and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and training in all righteousness.”

BY STEVE CHA

What does it mean that God’s Word is inspired? One thing for sure, it does not mean that the Bible was written by men who felt motivated to write a compelling piece of helpful literature. It has more of an objective meaning. The word for inspired is theopnuestos, which means God-breathed. Literally, the Bible is the very words of God. Every word in Scripture has its origins in the Lord.

Any serious study of biblical history will reveal that the Bible is no ordinary work. It is a collection of 66 separate books – 39 that make up the Old Testament and 27 that make up the New Testament. The Scriptures were written by approximately 40 different men, who wrote from three different continents and in three languages – Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic – spanning over 1,500 years (from approximately 1445 B.C. to A.D. 95).

Together LA - BibleThough the books of the Bible were penned by men, the Lord was responsible for the final outcome. In other words, God (the Holy Spirit) oversaw, moved in, and directed the authors to write His words. God sovereignly worked in the hearts and minds of these men to document exactly what He wanted, at the same time not destroying the authors’ individual personalities and writing styles when they penned their works.

This is the essence of biblical inspiration. Several key ideas capture the essence of biblical inspiration:

1. Inspiration means that all Scripture is inerrant. In other words, the entire Bible is true. The Scriptures in the original manuscripts are without error, not only in the theological matters dealing with salvation and holy living, but also in its scientific, prophetic, geographical, and historical observations. The Scriptures are perfect, spotless, and have no contradictions.

“The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes” (Psalm 19:7-8).

2. Inspiration means that all Scripture is infallible. The entire Bible is trustworthy and efficacious. The Scriptures will never lead us astray or fail in matters of faith, practice, and life; and will accomplish all that it promises and purposes until the end of time. No prophecy, blessings, or curses will go wasted because God is true, righteous, and immutable.

“So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).

3. Inspiration means that all Scripture is perspicuous: The Bible is clearly communicated. It is obvious on all major issues regarding salvation and godly living. Its teachings are able to be understood and followed by all who read it and seek to understand it with an open heart. The Bible was written to both the wise and the simple man, adult and children, men and women.

“The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:130).

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4. Inspiration means that all Scripture is sufficient: The Scriptures are complete and fully capable to address and instruct in all matters dealing with salvation and godly living. A person does not need to add to Scripture, subtract from it, or turn to other religious, mystical, philosophical, cultural, or humanistic resources to solve matters dealing with worship, morality, and ethics. No other traditions or theories should ever replace the word of God in matters dealing with salvation, ethics, and counseling.

“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elementary spirits of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:6-8).

5. Inspiration means that all Scripture is authoritative: The Scriptures is the ultimate law of the land. It is fully binding on all human beings, regardless of their religious background or worldview. Every person on earth will answer to God for the choices they make in life, especially in response to the gospel. The Bible’s laws and statutes are not relative and optional, but an objective standard that judges all mankind.

“The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).

All of these factors attest that the Bible is perfect, true, and trustworthy. It must be the standard and appeal behind the church’s preaching, teaching, apologetics, evangelism, and counseling. The Bible’s inspiration must be a pillar in every church. Any compromise in this issue (which is prevalent among liberal Protestantism) leads to a diminished view of God’s person and character.

Steve Cha is the teaching pastor of Grace City LA.

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