Each article in this series offers an overview of one of the chief teachings of the Christian church.
I imagine most of us were taught to sing: “Jesus loves me, this I know; for the Bible tells me so.” What a memorable, to-the-point statement! It stays with you as you age and makes a meaningful connection between the Savior’s love and the written-down certainty that we know it’s true. “The Bible tells me so.” Thinking back more recently, didn’t we celebrate our Reformation heritage summed up in the three solas? By grace alone, through faith alone, based on Scripture alone. “Sola Scriptura”—that’s Latin for “the Bible tells me so.”
To put it another way, the God Who loved us and made us to be His people forever, the same God Who redeemed us from sin in the sacrifice of His Son is also the God who put all of His saving truth, all that we need to know for our Christian faith and life in one secure place accessible to all people. We know it as “the word of the Lord” that “endures forever” (1 Peter 1:25), which He has permanently provided in the Holy Bible, the inspired Word of God.
There will always be those who raise the question: “How can you be so sure?” Our flesh wants to raise that question too, but there will be no rational proof or apologetic argument one can make that will satisfy human skepticism. In fact, there is nothing that can top what the Bible claims about itself. Yes, the Bible tells me so also when it comes to the origin of the Bible and its unique characteristic of having been inspired by God, even down to the very words.
Recall the confirmation class passages taught in Luther’s Small Catechism. “From childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:15-16) “Prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:21) “We have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches.” (1 Corinthians 2:12-13)
In the passages above we have God’s say-so that He is the source of the Old and New Testament Scriptures. Both Testaments have the Gospel given as the power of God for salvation, which brings the wisdom of saving faith to young and old alike. As each part of Scripture came into existence, God decided who the writer would be and what he would say as God’s own words, which were “breathed into” the man by the Holy Spirit. We can think of the Holy Spirit as the Author and men like Moses or Matthew as the appointed writers who, like Paul in 1 Corinthians 2, received not only the thoughts, concepts, and details from God, but even the words by which the divine details were to be expressed in their written form.
This doctrine, the verbal inspiration of Scripture, involves God doing the miraculous, with the guaranteed result that His Word is completely given in the Bible, completely true, and completely reliable. The value of the content, after all—the Gospel of our salvation in Christ—was far too precious to leave the state of the Bible’s integrity in fallible human hands. Praise be to God and His verbal inspiration of Scripture, so that of all its doctrines we can confidently say or even sing: “The Bible tells me so.”
Steven Sippert is professor at Lutheran College in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.