Inspiration

Jesus took the scriptures as the word of God, and so should we

Inspiration

We have been studying the book of 1 Timothy where Paul is instructing Timothy, his son in the faith, about the importance of maintaining the purity of the gospel and encouraging him to stand firm in his faith in Christ. In light of the issues Christendom is facing worldwide and specifically issues we are confronting here in Europe, I wanted to speak about some of the priorities we have as the International Chapel of Vienna.

In the church constitution, The Articles of Faith delineates the beliefs that the Chapel holds as a church and how we prioritize Bible doctrine. We believe that the Bible in its entirety is the inspired, inerrant Word of God (2 Tim 3:16) and this church “is committed to preserving, promoting, and defending biblical truth and the historic Christian faith as recorded in God’s inspired revelation in the Old and New Testaments.” When we talk about the inspiration of the Scriptures we are referring to: 

That supernatural influence of the Holy Spirit on the Scripture writers that rendered their writings an accurate record of God’s special revelation or that resulted in what they wrote actually being the Word of God.
— Millard J. Erickson

According to scholars such as Wayne Grudem and Charles Ryrie,

Inspiration implies that

  • The Bible is inerrant (without error) in matters of faith and practice. Every doctrinal statement found in Scripture is true and these statements do not contradict each other. Bible doctrine can be defined as instruction as it applies to lifestyle application. This instruction and life application is consistent with all of Scriptures. 

  • The Bible always tells the truth, and that it always tells the truth concerning everything it talks about. This definition does not mean that the Bible tells us every fact there is to know about any one subject, but it affirms that what it does say about any subject is true (Grudem).

  • The Bible, as the expression of God’s will to us is authoritative. It possesses the supreme right to define what we are to believe and how we are to live. 

As we have discussed inspiration and the veracity of Scriptures with other Christian leaders, it is evident that there are some who do not regard all the Scriptures as being the very Word of God, or the final authority in the area of faith and how one should live or apply the Word to their lives. Even though they believe in Jesus Christ, they believe that some parts of Scripture are more inspired than others (especially those that point to Jesus). There are Christians who do not believe the Scriptures are inherently authoritative and, consequently, Bible teaching can mean many things to many people. They believe that the truth found in Scriptures is dependent on individual interpretation and is subject to cultural context, making morality and ethical issues situational and subjective because God’s Word is no longer the final authority for our lives.

Can the scriptures be trusted?

The salient question is this: Are the Scriptures reliable? Can they be trusted? If the Scriptures, God’s Special Revelation is trustworthy, why should I care whether the Bible is the Truth or simply contains some truth? Every religion/non religion/ philosophy makes truth claims about itself, the world as we know it, mankind, the future, and what is ultimate reality.

The New Testament authors recognized the OT Scriptures as the word of God.

What truth claims does the Bible makes about itself and ultimate reality? Internally, the Bible claims to be the inspired Word of God. In the OT, again and again the prophets said, “thus saith the Lord,” Jeremiah said: “These are the words the LORD spoke concerning Israel and Judah” (30: 4). Isaiah affirmed: “The LORD spoke to me… He said…” (8: 11). Amos declared: “Hear this word the LORD has spoken against you, O people of Israel” (3: 1). Statements like these, which appear repeatedly in the prophets, indicate that they understood their very words were God breathed and they recorded them.

In 2 Peter 1: 20–21, Peter said, “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 Timothy 3:16-17

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

The entire Bible is "God-breathed" = theopneustos, i.e., the text of Scripture is the product of the Spirit of God. The Scriptures are literally His Word. The expression “Word of God” will be more readily understood if we state clearly what a word itself is. A word is simply the vehicle by means of which thought is communicated from one mind to another. And when we then speak of the Word of God, we are employing an expression to designate the means which God uses to convey to us the thoughts of His heart.

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God has spoken to us in His word in order that we may know what He would have us do and believe.

God has spoken to us in His word in order that we may know what He would have us do and believe: through the medium of words He has revealed His will.

We believe that Scripture is first and foremost the Word of God,” not the “word of men” (Ps19:7; 1 Thess 2:13). The New Testament writers regarded every word, syllable, and punctuation mark as significant and profitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. 

Jesus and the apostles regarded Scripture as authoritative because they believed that God had directed the biblical writer— what he wrote was what God said. Since they regarded even minute details as binding, it indicates that they felt that inspiration by God extended even to the smallest particulars.

Jesus said,

For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. (Mattew 5: 18)

Consequently, the NT writers also recognized the Apostles words as the very word of God and call the readers to receive them not simply as human words, but for what it really are the Word of God (1 Thess 2:13, 2 Peter 3:16).

Once the Canon of Scriptures was established, copies of the ancient text have been passed down from generation to generation but it is considered the best preserved ancient document we have today. Are there variants in the copies? Yes, but no doctrine of Scripture is affected by the slight variations and most of the variants can be resolved beyond a reasonable doubt. According to Dr. Bruce Metzger, who was a Bible translator and professor of NT language at Princeton Theological Seminary, “the New Testament text is 99.5% textually pure.”

Greek scholar D. A. Carson sums up this way: “The purity of text is of such substantial nature that nothing we believe to be true, and nothing we are commanded to do, is in any way jeopardized by the variants.” 

The Old Testament is considered by ancient Near East historians and biblical scholars to be 98.5% textually pure. When God inspired the Bible, it was perfect. Our copies of the original documents are not perfect, but they are very close to being so and, therefore, we can trust the inspiration and inerrancy of Scriptures.

Jesus believe the Old Testament

Even liberal scholar Rudolf Bultmann pointed out that Jesus believed that God spoke and made known His will through the OT Testament writings, which were the believer's sources for faith and practice. It was Jesus's text for both answering ques­tions and challenging the errors of those who opposed Him. Besides, that Jesus accepted the authority of Scripture "is proven by the course later taken by his Church." Critical scholars like Bultmann and Ehrman frequently argue something like this: Jesus was clearly a Jew, so it is no surprise that He agreed with the common Jewish view regarding the nature and authority of the Old Testament as God's Word. That the early church continued this same view further confirms this idea. 

Externally, the Scriptures record some things that can be examined such as the historical events of Jesus, people, places and the existence of nations in history, etc. According to archaeologist Brian Woods, “although it is not possible to verify every incident in the Bible, the discoveries of archaeology since the mid-1800s have demonstrated the reliability and plausibility of the Bible narrative.” The Scripture also records events, places, and other theological truths that cannot be examined such as the return of Christ, the judgment, heaven or hell, and salvation. If the record of events, places, etc., that can be examined is found to be in error, then that cast doubt upon the things that cannot be examined. 

If the original Scripture is found to contain errors, then the question arises, “what should a person believe? How would we have the assurance of salvation and forgiveness of sins? In fact, the whole Bible would be unreliable. It would be left up to the wisdom of man to determine what is correct in Scriptures and what isn’t, which parts are inspired and which parts aren’t. Man, thus, becomes the judge of the Bible, opening the door for subjective interpretations of the Scriptures.  We need to remember, just because we believe the Bible is the Word of God does not mean that we will always apply it in the right way nor will we always interpret it in the way it was meant. 

One should not necessarily believe the Bible simply because the Bible says it should be believed. If the truth claims of the Bible are found true, however, whenever it is possible to test their veracity or are proved true during historical and scientific/archaeological discovery, then the internal claims of the Bible’s own trustworthiness are more compelling. The scientific and historical accuracy of the Bible is important evidence of the Bible’s trustworthiness as the internal evidence works in tandem with the external evidence. Why is inspiration important?

We believe that the entire Bible is the Word of God, that the Scriptures will never pass away, that the entire Bible is profitable.

When we understand that the totality of the Bible is the very words that God wanted to convey to humanity, then consciously or unconsciously, the way we read it, understand it and order our lives by it will be very different from someone who merely thinks the Bible contains some truth because it was written by fallible human beings.

We believe that the entire Bible is the Word of God, that the Scriptures will never pass away, that the entire Bible is profitable, in that it has the authority to comfort, encourage, correct and build up the believer in order for us to be “thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy. 3: 17)

Paul said in Romans 15:4, Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God's promises to be fulfilled (NLT). 

The Apostle John said in 1 John 5:13, I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

We can rely on the veracity of the Scriptures which teach us the truth about who God is, who we are, what our purpose on this earth is, how we are supposed to live, and where we are going for all of eternity.

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