COVER STORY – INSPIRATION OF SCRIPTURE
The simple child of God takes those words at face value and knows that when he reads the Bible he is reading the very words of God. What a glorious truth and solid foundation for our faith! Since the Bible is God’s Word, it is completely without error, and we can depend on every word.
However, the inspiration of Scripture, and therefore also its inerrancy, has always been under attack by those who don’t want to submit to every word of Scripture. Those attacks continually get more refined, therefore we must define the truth ever more precisely.
Critics and skeptics have said, “Sure the holy writers were inspired,” but they mean the apostles and prophets were inspired like an artist or novelist, not that God breathed every word into the apostles and prophets. They might even say, “God gave them the thoughts but the writers used their own words.” That is why it became necessary to speak of verbal inspiration, indicating that the very words are given by God.
Then some false teachers said, “Yes, the Bible is verbally inspired in the parts that are authentic.” So they will say “The Bible contains God’s word.” Therefore we now speak of verbal plenary inspiration, which means that every single word in every part of the entire Bible is God-breathed.
In more recent generations, a more subtle deception has undermined the doctrine of inerrancy even among conservatives. These false teachers admit that the “autographs” (original manuscripts) of the Bible books were verbally and plenarily inspired, but use the fact that we no longer have the originals to undermine the authority of Scripture. They imply that we can’t know for certain whether the Bibles we have today, which are translations of copies of the originals, are really God’s Word.
There is no need for any of this
to cause doubt.
We have Jesus’ sure promise, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” (Matthew 24:35) Not even the slightest jot or tittle will pass away.
It is interesting and significant to note that by the time of Jesus and the Apostles, they had only copies of the Old Testament books, and they used a translation just as we do. Yet Jesus could confidently affirm, “The scripture cannot be broken.” (John 10:35) And, “Your word is truth.” (John 17:17) The Apostle Paul could reassure Timothy, “From childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation.” (2 Timothy 3:15)
So don’t let the rambling of the critics cause you to doubt. He who has given us His Word in marvelous ways has also preserved His Word in marvelous ways, according to His promise. When we use a reliable translation, we can be sure we are reading God’s Word. There is ample proof of that fact in archeology and history and the multitude of manuscripts, but our greatest assurance lies in God’s Word itself. For the Holy Spirit has confirmed His Word in our hearts so we know and believe that God Himself is speaking to us in every word of Scripture.
Let us all treasure God’s Word and keep it in our hearts. Let us read and study it diligently, and allow it to guide our every step through life! For it is only the Word that can make us “wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:15)
Oh, keep us in Thy Word, we pray;
the guile and rage of Satan stay!
Oh, may Thy mercy never cease!
Give concord, patience, courage, peace.
Oh, grant that in Thy holy Word we here may live and die, dear Lord;
And when our journey endeth here,
receive us into glory there.
David Reim is pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Vernon, British Columbia.