Front Page
Series Contents
Series Theme: Apologetics
Abbreviated Contents:














1. Possibilities

2. God involved

3, Belief in Inspiration

4. Inerrancy




































































1. Possibilities

2. God involved

3, Belief in Inspiration

4. Inerrancy




























1. Possibilities

2. God involved

3, Belief in Inspiration

4. Inerrancy






















1. Possibilities

2. God involved

3, Belief in Inspiration

4. Inerrancy










Title:   22. Questions about the Inspiration of the Bible

                            (God's hand in it)


A series that helps consider the foundations for faith

Contents for Overview:


Introductory Comments

•  Starting places are important, your presuppositions   

1. What are the Possibilities of how the Bible came into being?

•  Stating the broad possibilities

2. What is the apparent involvement of God in producing the writings?

•  The different ways God seems to have worked

3. What Historical Support is there for Belief in Inspiration?

•  What others have said about it

4. What is meant by Inerrancy of Scripture?

•  The correctness of Scripture.


Introductory Comments


The subject of inspiration touches the very foundations of belief about the Bible and subsequently about the Christian faith.


Elsewhere we have confronted the issue of ‘presuppositions'. If you start with the closed mind presupposition that there cannot be a God, then you will write off the Bible as a heap of superstitious writings with no relevance to life today.


Yet even to start with that presupposition means you have not examined these 66 books and thought about some of the key pertinent questions that must arise from such a collection. Such questions we will consider in more detail as we consider the Old & New Testaments separately in following pages.


For now we will consider the challenge of what is referred to as the Inspiration of the Bible.




1. What are the Possibilities of how the Bible came into being?




In the same way as on a previous page we considered the limited alternatives to the origins of existence, so here there are some limited options:




1. There is no God

The writings of the Bible are

  • man inspired
  • open to many human errors

2. There is a God

- and He inspired the writers.


Now, as suggested above, the nature of the Bible – how it came into being, and its contents – raise very big questions indeed, which suggest at least that this is evidence for the existence and activity of God. (For the nature of this ‘God' see later pages about God)

If, for the moment, we assume that possibility no.2 above is more likely, then this raises further questions:
•    Did God inspire the writers in such a measure that every word is correct and from God? 
•   Did God's inspiration simply motivate them to write about the things He spoke to them about and leave their humanity to show through, allowing them to right with differing styles and even make mistakes?




2. What is the apparent involvement of God in producing the writings?




a) Unaware involvement by men


It is clear from the Scriptures that God can inspire people to do things without their awareness that this is happening


Example: the king of Assyria as noted in Isa 10:5-


Thus it is probable that, similarly, there were scribes who recorded the activities of Israel who were not specifically aware of divine prompting, although it could be there.



b) God wrote Himself


This is exactly the opposite extreme. This was unusual and was limited to the production of the Ten Commandments:


“The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets ” (Ex 32:16)




“The LORD said to Moses, "Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke . ” (Ex 34:1)



c) God Instructed men


The next activity, nearest to that extreme above, was God instructing people to write:


“Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it ” (Ex 17:14 )

•  the opposition to and vanquishing of the Amalakites recorded.


“Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel." (Ex 34:27)

•    the basic laws of the covenant given on Mount Sinai recorded.


“Go now, write it on a tablet for them, inscribe it on a scroll, that for the days to come it may be an everlasting witness.” (Isa 30:8)

•   instruction to Isaiah to record the prophecy.


“This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel , says: `Write in a book all the words I have spoken to you. ” (Jer 30:1,2)
•    similar instruction to Jeremiah.
“ Write these down before them so that they may be faithful to its design and follow all its regulations (Ezek 43:11)
•    similar instruction to Ezekiel.
“Then the LORD replied: "Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets ” (Hab 2:2)
•    ditto Habakkuk.


d) God inspired men by the Holy Spirit


Much of the time in the Bible it is assumed that God's Spirit inspired the writers to write as they did.


For those who are not Christians and who do not know the experience of being inspired by God, the nearest you might come to is a poet or author being inspired to write poetry or a story because of moving circumstances that they have experienced.


In the case of the Bible, it is not merely moving circumstances, but the moving of the person of the Holy Spirit. Occasionally that is expressly recorded:  


“The Spirit of the LORD spoke through me; his word was on my tongue. The God of Israel spoke, the Rock of Israel said to me: `When one rules over men in righteousness, when he rules in the fear of God ” (2 Sam 23:2,3)
•    David's awareness
“Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit ” (2 Pet 1:20 ,21)
•   Peter spoke about it as a regular experience.    


“David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, declared: ‘The Lord said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand” ' (Mk 12:36 where Jesus quotes David in Psa 110:1)

•   Jesus himself cited David saying he was being inspired by the Holy Spirit.


e) Unaware involvement – again


Which takes us back to our starting point again. Thus we may read, for example:

“ Moses then wrote down everything the LORD had said .” (Ex 24:4)

•   Here Moses was not instructed but it appeared a ‘natural' response, a thing it was sensible to do.


Daniel makes an interesting comment:

“ in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years ” (Dan 9:2)

•   i.e. Daniel already had Jeremiah's writings and considered them part of holy Scripture, the word of God which he could rely upon.

In Nehemiah we find the practice of Israel indicating their attitude towards the Scriptures:

“They stood where they were and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God” (Neh 9:2)
and they prayed:
"For many years you were patient with them. By your Spirit you admonished them through your prophets ” (Neh 9:30 )
and also:

“all these now join their brothers the nobles, and bind themselves with a curse and an oath to follow the Law of God given through Moses the servant of God and to obey carefully all the commands, regulations and decrees of the LORD our Lord (Neh 10:29)

•  thus they clearly believed the Law they had written down had come from God.


In the New Testament we find the classic example:
“since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you. ” (Lk 1:3)
•   The nature of the writing presupposes that he was in fact being inspired or prompted by God to do this writing.



3. What Historical Support is there for Belief in Inspiration?




What is interesting is that the early creeds were concerned to specify certain beliefs about God and about Jesus – but never refer to the inspiration of Scripture – they all assume that these beliefs are inspired and revealed by God.


When we come to the page about the validity of the Old Testament, we will see that Jesus himself quoted from it again and again, giving no sense that it is anything less than completely true.


A few quotes from the many that are possible must suffice to illustrate historical support.


Flavius Josephus , Jewish historian, first century AD in Against Apion :


“How firmly we have given credit to these books of our own nation is evident by what we do; for during so many ages as have already passed no one has been so bold as either to add anything to them, to take anything from them, or to make any change; but it is become natural to all Jews, immediately and from their very birth, to esteem these books to contain divine doctrines, and to persist in them, and if occasion be, willingly to die for them . ”


He also gave a list of those books which exactly corresponds with the books we have in our Old Testament today.


Irenaeus, church father of the late second century in Against Heresies:

“when.. they are confronted from the Scriptures, they turn round and accuse these same Scriptures as if they were not correct



 “being most properly assured that the Scriptures are indeed perfect, since they were spoken by the Word of God and His Spirit . ”


The 1664 Westminster Confession of Faith, the Church of England's reformed confession of faith listed the books of our Bible referring to them as:

“All which are given by inspiration of God , to be the rule of faith and life


“The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration , are no part of the Canon of Scripture; and therefore are of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings.


“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 .

Richard Baxter, one of the great Puritans:


“No error or contradiction is in it, but what is in some copies, by the failing of preserver, transcribers, printers, or translators.”




4. What is meant by Inerrancy of Scripture?




a) The idea of inerrancy


The inerrancy of Scripture means that Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact.


•    i.e. the Bible always tells the truth about whatever it speaks about.


We have already noted that Jesus referred to the Old Testament many times and each time assumes truth.


Paul was able to say, “I believe everything that agrees with the Law and that is written in the Prophets ” (Acts 24:14)


and also


“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope ” (Rom 15:4) – an all embracing coverage of Scripture.



b) Problems with Denial of Inerrancy


To deny the correctness of Scripture means:


•    any and all of it becomes potentially unreliable
•    it is impossible to know where to draw the line
•    it becomes a matter of human arbitration as to where to draw the line
•    we can believe nothing with certainty.


c) Faith is Built on Evidence


We are mindful that to come to a belief in the inerrancy or correctness of Scripture requires but as the Bible itself says, “faith comes by hearing”.


Faith is in fact built on evidence – the evidence of God's voice, which the more and more we read the Scriptures, the more we sense we are discerning God's voice through them, and the more certain we become of their reliance and authority.


The writer to the Hebrews said,


“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Heb 11:1).


This is one of the strange things about faith:


  •   we need to come with an open mind as to the possibilities
  •   we need to examine (read) the evidence (Scriptures)
  •   as we do so more and more, we find a growing assurance that what we have before us is certain.

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