How Do We Know the Bible Is the Inspired Word of God?
- Dr. Roger Barrier Preach It, Teach It
- 2019 11 Feb
Editor's Note: Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at email@example.com.
My friend is a faithful church attender, but she doesn’t believe the Bible is the Word of God. She believes it’s a good book with moral teachings. How was the Bible inspired?
I’d like to show you that the Bible as we know it today is fully inspired and quite reliable as the Word of God.
I’m convinced that there’s nothing more important for the Christian than a thorough comprehension and understanding of the Bible. You see, the Bible is our sole authority for living the Christian life.
I remember talking with friend in college about salvation. He told me what he thought about God, his opinions, and his worldview. I finally told him, “Look, I don’t care about your opinions! You’re not my authority. I want to know “what does the Bible say?” (I was much more tactful than that!) That’s what matters to me.
People describe great feelings and experiences that have happened to them and then tell me they are from God. I can tell quickly whether or not that is true. If their experience is not in accord with the Word, I am sure that their experience was not from God.
The Bible is our standard: our standard for living, for determining whether an experience is from God or Satan; it’s our roadmap to heaven. Yet, how can I be sure that it’s really God’s Word and not just a collection of writings by a group of men over the years?
The name “Bible” simply means book. The Bible never calls itself the Bible. The word is used in Matthew 19:7: “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
In Luke 4:7, Satan tempts Christ:
And Satan said to Jesus, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”
The name “Bible” is from Biblos - one of two places where papyrus grew. They made books from papyrus.
What Does it Mean that the Bible is Inspired by God?
What’s meant by “inspiration”?
2 Peter 1:21: For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Although by human pen, the Bible is God’s message to man rather than a message of man to his fellow men. This is important because some say that Bible is nothing more than human writing.
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 word “inspiration” here is the only time used in the Word of God. It literally means – “God breathed” - this verse indicates that Scripture is God-produced; however, it in no way indicates the means of God in producing it.
I remember as a child, wondering how God spoke to New Testament writers to give them the Bible. Were they machines that God punched like a computer to write out exactly what He wanted as he dictated it to them? How did God actually inspire the Bible?
4 Theories of Biblical Inspiration
1. Dictation theory – This theory claims that the writers were simply stenographers. The writers were passive and just wrote down whatever God said. This has been the view of the Roman Catholic Church for centuries.
The problem with this premise is if God wrote it all by His dictation, then it should sound the same throughout Scripture. When you read Isaiah, it doesn’t sound at all like Ezekiel, or Mark contrasted with John. It’s not the same style and vocabulary. Yet the authors injected their personal feelings, wishes, and tone. One example of this is Paul’s heartfelt prayer for Israel in Romans 9.
Romans 9:1-3: I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit— I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel.
This impassioned prayer would lose its meaning if it were dictated by God. Nevertheless, some dictation did occur, as in the case of the Ten Commandments and the Law.
2. Partial Inspiration – This premise teaches that the Bible contains the Word of God: part from God and part from man (God inspires what can’t be known by natural means - i.e. creation accounts, some prophecy, etc.) The Bible has errors but communicates truth.
3. Naturalistic Inspiration – This tenet teaches that the writers of the Bible were no more inspired than were other men throughout history. They were no more inspired than Shakespeare or Milton was inspired. The Bible is just another book on religion - destroys all claim for divine authority.
4. Dynamic Inspiration - The truths come from God but He allowed the writer to use his own words and personality in communicating that truth. This explains the differences in style, (Mark 16:1-9; 9:20), individuality, expressed moods and fears, etc.
Concerning how God inspired the writing of the Bible:
1. All Scripture is God-inspired and therefore is the sole authority for living.
2. God superintended the writing but didn’t dictate it.
3. He used human authors and their own individual styles.
I hope this helps.
Dr. Roger Barrier retired as senior teaching pastor from Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. In addition to being an author and sought-after conference speaker, Roger has mentored or taught thousands of pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders worldwide. Casas Church, where Roger served throughout his thirty-five-year career, is a megachurch known for a well-integrated, multi-generational ministry. The value of including new generations is deeply ingrained throughout Casas to help the church move strongly right through the twenty-first century and beyond. Dr. Barrier holds degrees from Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Golden Gate Seminary in Greek, religion, theology, and pastoral care. His popular book, Listening to the Voice of God, published by Bethany House, is in its second printing and is available in Thai and Portuguese. His latest work is, Got Guts? Get Godly! Pray the Prayer God Guarantees to Answer, from Xulon Press. Roger can be found blogging at Preach It, Teach It, the pastoral teaching site founded with his wife, Dr. Julie Barrier.
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