WHAT IS THE DOCTRINE OF Inspiration?
There are at least seven key elements to the Inspiration of Scripture
- It is Divinely originated and caused.
- Human’s were the tool used by God.
- Real language was used.
- Plenary (all of Scripture is inspired)
- Only the “Autographs” are inspired (the original documents penned by the biblical authors).
- Because Scripture is inspired, it is error-less.
- Because Scripture is inspired and without error, it alone has final authority.
B.B. Warfield: “Inspiration is … a supernatural influence exerted on the sacred writers by the Spirit of God, by virtue of which their writings are given Divine trustworthiness.”¹
The Greek word used for “inspiration” is theopneustos (“God-breathed”). God’s human agents for recording Scripture were inspired in a totally different way than a poet or songwriter might feel “inspired.” Men wrote the word of God in the sense that they wrote words that came directly from God. This is what the Westminster Confession means when it says that the original text of the Bible was “immediately inspired by God” (1.8)²
Louis Berkhof says similarly, “By inspiration we understand that supernatural influence exerted on the sacred writers by the Holy Spirit by virtue of which their writings are given divine truthfulness, and constitute an infallible and sufficient rule of faith and practice.”³
Does Scripture Support It?
2 Tim. 3:16: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”
2 Pet. 1:20-21: “Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
John 17:17: “Sanctify them in the truth; Your Word is Truth.”
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
There are many reasons, but here are 3:
1. No matter what, we can trust that God says what He means and means what He says.
God is the great truth-teller, and he determines reality. If God is good (Ps. 119:68), then he’s not a liar (Num. 23:19; Titus 1:2). That means Biblical inspiration is great news.
2. The Bible transcends culture.
If you accept that God is real and He has communicated His view on how humanity flourishes sufficiently, then cultural mores and values can’t make what He says any less true or false.
3. God is relational.
If God wanted to communicate Himself to us so clearly and effectively, and He used incredible means to preserve His truth, it follows that He really, really wants us to know Him. We can’t simply do it through observing the world around us.
WHAT DO THE IMPORTANT PEOPLE HAVE TO SAY ABOUT IT?
On a personal level, inspiration guarantees that what Scripture says, God says. It’s His counsel to you; so you can study and obey it with full assurance that it is true and will never lead you astray.
For further study, consider this: Often the New Testament affirms the inspiration of the Old Testament by attributing Old Testament quotations to God Himself. For example, compare these Old Testament passages with their New Testament counterparts: Genesis 2:24 with Matthew 19:4-5; Psalm 2:1-2 with Acts 4:25-26; Isaiah 55:3 with Acts 13:34; Psalm 16:10 with Acts 13:35; Psalm 95:7-11 with Hebrews 3:7-11. How might you respond to someone who says that the Bible is merely the words of devout religious men? –John Macarthur
1. The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible, p. 131.
2. From James W. Scott at opc.org
3. Principles of Biblical Interpretation (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1950), p. 41. (Berkhof is obviously borrowing from Warfield.)