Around the Word smallIt used to be enough to say “the Bible is the inspired Word of God.” Not anymore. Alternative views of inspiration came along, so now we must say more. Also, inspiration became a popular word, as in “Bono was inspired when he wrote that song” or “You were my inspiration to train for that marathon.” Popular culture co-opted a word that theologians had coined for the unique nature of Scriptures; what is one to do?

We explain ad infinitum. We say that inspiration means that though God used human authors, He supervised the entire process from beginning to end, thus preserving the supernatural origin of Scriptures. The Bible is thus inerrant because God is the ultimate Author of it.

So why didn’t God simply dictate it? That’s what Muslims believe about the Koran — the Angel Gabriel dictated it to Mohammed, word for word. Frankly, God could have used that method with the Bible, but He didn’t. The reason may have to do with the fact that He is God and chooses to act however He pleases. And let’s face it: If you were God and you wanted to send word down to us, mere mortals, would you rely on someone else, even a bona fide angel such as Gabriel to do it for you?

Of course you would! God used Gabriel to send the news about the birth of His Messiah to a teen-aged girl in Palestine. He used the archangel Michael to send word to Daniel that God had heard his prayer. And according to the author if Hebrews, He used others throughout the ages until He sent His final Word to us in His Son (1:1-2).

But what is remarkable about the Bible is that God used men not angels, known words, not riddles, ordinary people, not literati (with a few exceptions). And maybe that’s the point — there is a miracle of divine perfection through human imperfection in the making of Scriptures. God is a teaser sometimes and I love Him for that!

But saying the Bible is “inspired,” even if you try to explain the meaning of inspiration is no longer enough. Now you must say “plenary” inspiration, meaning not in part but the whole. That’s because some people want to say that the Bible is only inspired when it deals with spiritual matters, but if it touches on history or science, it is not free from error. And you must say “verbal inspiration,” because some astute liberal theologians came up with the idea that only the ideas were inspired, not the actual words. Then you have to say “in its original manuscript” because critics try to disprove the divine origin of Scriptures by pointing out the small variations in its many copies that have come down to us.

Every generation, then, is called upon to fight a battle of words for the Word. And when we do that, the Bible becomes simply an old book, to be scrutinized for its literary and historical contribution, instead of its supernatural, life-changing value.

I have personally experienced and observed in the lives of other people a very fundamental truth about the Bible and here it is: People who make it a habit to read it constantly and seek to obey what it says always experience life transformation. It impacts the way they think about God and other people. It radically changes their thinking habits, which in turn changes their behavior. It even changes their feelings. And that is enough for me to accept the Bible’s own testimony about its divine origin.

It is hard to improve on the statement by Lewis Sperry Chafer in 1948: “It is both necessary and reasonable that God’s Book — the Book of which He is the Author and which brings the revelation and discipline of heaven down to earth — shall, in its original form, be inerrant in all its parts.” 

Join us this Sunday as we bring our “Around the Word” series to a close and consider the benefits of God’s Word to our daily lives.

Pastor Ivanildo da Costa Trindade

Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA