Quick-Hit Doctrine: Short posts on the basics of Christian Theology.
To say that the Bible is inspired is to say that the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments are the words of God. The Bible is not merely a description of God (though scripture does describe him), but it is the very words from God written down by men who were under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). Another way to say it is, as the Apostle Paul, to call scripture “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16). Those writing under the inspiration of God’s Spirit wrote down exactly what God wanted them to write.
Therefore, when we read the scripture, we are reading God’s word to humanity. It’s important to note that this inspiration applies to original writings. While we can be confident that what we hold in our hands is the Word of God, there is the possibility of translation and copy errors. Though these discrepancies are so few and minor that no truth of scripture is compromised by them.
A natural outworking of the doctrine of inspiration is inerrancy. To say the Bible is inerrant is to say that it does not contain any errors. God is a God of truth who cannot lie (Numbers 23:19, Hebrews 6:18). Therefore, if the Bible is the word of God, then it contains only pure and perfect truth (Psalm 12:6, Psalm 19:7, Proverbs 30:5).
If God’s word is inspired and inerrant, it necessarily has authority over our lives. When we read the Bible, we are not merely reading an ancient history book, but God’s living and active word that is directly applicable to our lives today. God exerts his authority over our lives through his word as we hear and read it. This means that in order to submit to God in all of life, we must be people who submit to the word of God which discerns the thoughts and intentions of our hearts (Hebrews 4:12). The word of God has authority over us; to judge us, not the other way around (Romans 9:20). As Wayne Grudem states, “to disbelieve or disobey any word of scripture is to disbelieve or disobey Christ“*
Inspiration, inerrancy, and authority are so tied together that to reject one is to reject all. If one claims that the Bible contains even the slightest errors in the original form, then there is no reason to believe that it is inspired by God. Or worse, to make such a claim is to charge God himself with speaking error. Likewise, to deny inspiration is to deny any claims of authority from God’s word. Why should anyone submit to the authority of a flawed book written by man? But the Bible is not a flawed book written by man. It is a living book; the eternal, inspired, inerrant, and authoritative word of God.
*Wayne Grudem, Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith, p.39