4.6.4 The Bible: Written By Inspiration
God’s spirit is His power, thoughts and disposition, which He reveals
through the actions which His spirit performs. We mentioned in the previous
section how God’s spirit was seen at work in the creation: “By his spirit
he hath garnished the heavens” (Job 26:13) - the spirit of God moving
upon the face of the waters to bring about the present creation (Gen.
1:2). Yet we also read that “by the word of the Lord” the world was made
(Ps. 33:6), as exemplified by the Genesis narrative recording that “God
said” things were to be created, and it happened. God’s spirit, therefore,
is very much reflected in His word. Likewise our words express our inner
thoughts and desires - the real ‘us’ - very accurately. Jesus wisely pointed
out: “Out of the abundance of the heart (the mind) the mouth speaketh”
(Mt. 12:34). So if we would control our words, we must firstly work on
our thoughts. God’s Word, then, is a reflection of His spirit, or thoughts.
It is such a blessing that in the Bible we have God’s words written down
so that we might understand God’s spirit or mind. David spoke of how God’s
word and “own heart” are parallel (2 Sam. 7:21); God’s mind/spirit is
expressed in His Word. God achieved this miracle of expressing His spirit
in written words by the process of INSPIRATION. This term is
based around the word “spirit”:
“Spirit” means “breath” or breathing, “Inspiration” means “in-breathing”.
This means that the words which men wrote while under “inspiration”
from God were the words of God’s spirit. Paul encouraged Timothy
not to let his familiarity with the Bible lead him to forget the
wonder of the fact that it is the words of God’s spirit, and therefore
provides all that we need in order to have a true knowledge of God.
“From a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures, which are able to
make thee wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ
Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable
for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
that the man of God may be perfect (complete), thoroughly furnished
(‘thoroughly equipped’, N.I.V.) unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:15-17).
If the inspired Scriptures can provide such a totality of knowledge,
then there is no need for some ‘inner light’ to show
us the truth about God. But how many times do people speak of their
personal feelings and experiences as being the source of their knowledge
of God! If an acceptance in faith of God’s inspired Word is
enough to equip completely someone in the Christian life, there
is no need for any other power of righteousness in our lives. If
there is such a need, then God’s Word has not completely equipped
us, as Paul promises it will. To hold the Bible in our hands and
believe that it really is the Word of God’s spirit takes quite
some faith. The Israelites were reasonably interested in what God’s
Word had to say, as are many “Christians” today. We
all need to carefully reflect on Hebrews 4:2.
“Unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them (Israel in the
wilderness): but the word preached did not profit them, not being
mixed with faith in them that heard it”.
Instead of growing to have total faith in the power of God’s spirit-word,
it is far more attractive to take a spiritual short-cut: to reason
that a power of righteousness suddenly comes upon us, which will
make us acceptable to God, rather than having to experience the
pain of consciously bringing our lives into obedience to God’s
word, and thereby letting God’s spirit truly influence our
This unwillingness to accept the huge spiritual power which is in God’s
word has led many Christians to question whether all the Scriptures
are fully inspired by God. They have suggested that much of what
we read in the Bible was just the personal opinions of the writers.
But Peter effectively disposes of such woolly reasoning.
“We have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do
well to pay attention to it...above all, you must understand (this
is vital!) 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 Pet. 1:19-21 N.I.V.).
We must “above all” believe that the Bible is inspired. The
doctrine of inspiration is so often emphasized in the Bible text
(e.g. Mt. 15:4; Mk. 12:36; Acts 1:16; 28:25; Heb. 3:7; 9:8; 10:15).
The Writers Of The Bible
A solid belief in the total inspiration of the Scriptures
is therefore vital. The men who wrote the Bible were irresistibly
carried along by the spirit which inspired them, so that their words
were not their own. The Word of God being the truth (Jn. 17:17)
and providing rebuke and correction (2 Tim. 3:16,17), it is not
surprising that with many people it is unpopular - for truth hurts.
The prophet Jeremiah suffered much opposition for speaking forth
the words God inspired him with, and so he determined not to record
or publicize the words which he was given. But because the writing
of God’s Word is a result of God’s will rather than
human desire, he was “carried along by the Holy Spirit”
so that he had no choice in the matter. “I am in derision
daily, every one mocketh me...Then I said, I will not make mention
of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine
heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with
forbearing, and I could not stay” (Jer. 20:7,9). Peter describes
this idea of the Bible writers being ‘carried along’
with the same Greek word used in Acts 27:17,27 about a ship being
‘driven’ by the wind, out of control.
Likewise when Balaam was determined to curse Israel, the spirit of God
made him speak out a blessing on them instead (Num. 24:1-13 cf.
Dt. 23:5). He could not ‘escape from’ God’s word
(Num. 22:12 Heb. 1:1).
A surprising number of the men whom God inspired to speak His word went
through periods of reluctance to do so. The list is impressive.
· Moses (Ex. 4:10)
· Jeremiah (Jer. 1:6)
· Ezekiel (Ez. 3:14)
· Jonah (Jonah 1:2,3)
· Paul (Acts 18:9)
· Timothy (1 Tim. 4:6-14)
· Balaam (Num. 22-24)
This all confirms what we learnt in 2 Peter 1:19-21 - that God’s
Word is not the personal opinion of men, but the result of men being
inspired to write down what was revealed to them. The prophet Amos
reflected: “The Lord God hath spoken, who can but prophesy?”
(Am. 3:8). At times Moses lost the sense of his own personality,
so strong was his inspiration by God: “All these commandments,
which the Lord hath spoken unto Moses..” (Num. 15:22,23);
these words were actually said by Moses (v. 17). Jeremiah spoke
“from the mouth of the Lord” and yet Yahweh spoke “by
the mouth of Jeremiah” (2 Chron. 36:12,22) - this is how close
was the relationship between God and the men He spoke through. Their
mouth was His mouth. There are many times in the writings of the
prophets where it is hard to determine whether the personal pronouns
refer to God or the prophet (e.g. Jer. 17:13-15) - so close was
the manifestation of God through them. “The beginning of the
word of the Lord by Hosea” (Hos. 1:2) prefaces His command
to tell Hosea to go and show God’s love towards faithless
Israel by marrying and living with a worthless woman. Hosea was
God’s Word to men, as supremely the Lord Jesus was “the
word made flesh”, and we likewise must put into practice the
spirit which is in God’s word.
Another strand of evidence for this is that the writers of the
Bible realized that they did not fully understand the things which
they wrote. They “searched” for the correct interpretation
- “unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but
unto us they did minister the things” which they wrote (1
Pet. 1:9-12). The actual words they recorded were not their own
but God’s and they wished to understand better the things
they recorded for Him. The following provide obvious examples: Daniel
(Dan. 12:8-10); Zechariah (Zech. 4:4-13); Peter (Acts 10:17). The
child Samuel likewise didn’t know Yahweh but still spoke His
word (1 Sam. 3:7).
If these men were only partly inspired, we do not have access to
the true Word or spirit of God. If what they wrote really was the
Word of God, then it follows that they had to be completely taken
over by God’s spirit during the period of inspiration - otherwise
the product would not have been God’s Word in purity. An acceptance
that God’s Word is completely His, provides us with more motivation
to read and obey it. “Thy word is very pure: therefore thy
servant loveth it” (Ps. 119:140).
Thus the books of the Bible are the work of God through His spirit,
rather than the literature of men. The truth of this is shown by
considering how the New Testament refers to the Old Testament writings.
- Matthew 2:5 (R.V. mg.) speaks of how it was “written through
the prophets” - God was writing through them. The R.V. margin
always uses the word “through” when describing how God
wrote by the prophets.
- Matthew 2:15 quotes from Micah, but says: “[that] which
was spoken of the Lord by the prophet…”. Likewise Hebrews
2:6: “one [actually David] in a certain place testified…”.
The personality of the prophet is irrelevant compared to the fact
that it is God’s word which He spake. There are other examples
of where the name of the prophet is suppressed as if to show it
is not so relevant (Mt. 1:22; 2:23; 21:4).
- “The Holy Spirit by the mouth of David spake...”
(Acts 1:16). This is how Peter quoted from the Psalms ( cf. Heb.
- “Well spake the Holy Spirit by Esaias” (Acts 28:25
- this was how Paul quoted Isaiah). Luke 3:4 speaks of “the
book of the words of Esaias” rather than just, ‘the
book of Isaiah’.
The human authors of the Bible were therefore relatively unimportant
to the early Christians; it was the fact that their words had been
inspired with the spirit of God which was important.
We will conclude this section with a list of verses which show
that God’s spirit is revealed to us through His written word.
- Jesus plainly stated, “The words that I speak...are spirit”
(Jn. 6:63); He spoke under inspiration from God (Jn. 17:8; 14:10).
- We are described as being re-born by both the spirit (Jn. 3:3‑
5) and the word of God (1 Pet. 1:23).
- “The words which the Lord of hosts hath sent in his spirit
by the...prophets” (Zech. 7:12).
- “I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known
my words unto you” (Prov. 1:23) associates a true understanding
of God’s word with the action of His spirit upon us - reading
the Book without understanding is of no avail, seeing that the spirit/mind
of God is not being revealed to us.
- There are parallels between God’s spirit and His word in
many passages: “My spirit that is upon thee, and my words
which I have put in thy mouth...” (Is. 59:21); “For
Thy word’s sake, and according to thine own heart (spirit)”
(2 Sam. 7:21); “I will put my spirit within you (your heart
- see context)...”; “I will put my law... in their hearts”
(Ez. 36:27; Jer. 31:33).
God is His spirit (Jn. 4:24), and God is His Word (“the word
was God”); it evidently follows that His words therefore reflect
His spirit. Our attitude to God’s Word is our attitude to
Him. Because that word is pure, therefore we love it (Ps. 119:140);
when we break commandments, we are despising God’s Word (Am.
2:4). This is where belief in inspiration has a powerful practical
The Power Of God’s Word
As God’s spirit refers not only to His mind/disposition but
also to the power by which He expresses those thoughts, it is to
be expected that His spirit-word is not just a statement of His
mind; there is also a dynamic power in that word.
A true appreciation of that power should make us eager to make
use of it; any feelings of embarrassment associated with doing so
should be overcome by our knowledge that obedience to God’s
word will give us the power which we need to accelerate out of the
small things of this life, towards salvation. Out of much experience
of this, Paul wrote:-
“I am not ashamed of the Gospel (the word) of Christ: for it is
the power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16).
Luke 1:37 (R.V.) harps on the same theme: “No word of God
shall be void of power (spirit)”.
Bible study and applying it to our lives is therefore a dynamic
process. It is quite unrelated to the cold, academic approach of
theologians and also to the ‘feel-good’ Christianity
of many churches, whereby a few passages are briefly quoted, but
no effort made to understand or apply them. “The word of God
is quick (living) and powerful”; “the word of His (God’s)
power” (Heb. 4:12; 1:3). “The word of God...effectually
worketh also in you that believe” (1 Thess. 2:13). Through
the Word, God is actively at work in the minds of true believers,
every hour of the day.
The Gospel which you are learning is therefore the true power of
God; if you allow it to do so, it can work in your life to change
you into a child of God, showing the spirit/mind of God to some
degree in this life, preparing you for the change to God’s
spiritual nature which will come at Christ’s return (2 Pet.
1:4). Paul’s preaching was “in demonstration of the
spirit and of power” (1 Cor. 2:4).
We are surrounded by those who have a semi-faith in the Bible as
God’s Word, despite their claims of commitment to Christ.
Similarly they claim to believe in God, and yet fail to accept that
He is a real person. By denying the total inspiration of Scripture
and its supremacy over our personal feelings and convictions, they
are denying God’s power. The words of 2 Timothy 3:5 come to
mind: “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof”,
i.e. the power of the word of the Gospel.
Our fundamentalism is mocked by the world (“You don’t
believe it like that, do you?!”), and so was that of Paul
and his band of preachers: “The preaching of the cross is
to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved, it
is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18).
Bearing all this in mind, can’t we each hold the Bible in
our hands with an ever greater measure of respect, and read it with
ever more eagerness to understand and obey?
The Attitude Of God’s People To His Word
A sensitive reading of the Biblical record indicates that the Bible
writers not only recognized that they were inspired, but they also
treated other Bible writers as inspired. The Lord Jesus is pre-eminent
in this. When Jesus quoted from the Psalms of David, he prefaced
this with the words, “David in spirit...” (Mt. 22:43),
showing his recognition of the fact that David’s words were
inspired. Jesus also spoke of Moses’ “writings”
(Jn. 5:45-47), showing that he believed Moses to have literally
written the Pentateuch. Some Bible critics have doubted whether
Moses could write, but the attitude of Christ clearly contradicts
their approach. He called Moses’ writings “the commandment
of God” (Mk. 7:8,9). It is also claimed that much of the Old
Testament is myth, but Jesus and Paul never treat them as such.
Jesus spoke of the Queen of Sheba as an accepted historical fact
(Mt. 12:42); he did not say, ‘As the story goes about the
Queen of Sheba...’.
The attitude of the Apostles was identical to that of their Lord.
It is epitomized by Peter who said that his personal experience
of hearing Christ’s words with his own ears was eclipsed by
the “more sure word of prophecy” (2 Pet. 1:19-21). Peter
believed that Paul’s letters were “Scripture”
as much as the “other Scriptures”, a phrase normally
used about the Old Testament writings. Thus Peter saw Paul’s
letters as being as authoritative as the Old Testament.
There are many allusions in Acts, the Epistles and Revelation to
the Gospels (e.g. cf. Acts 13:51; Mt. 10:14), indicating not only
that they were all inspired by the same spirit, but that the Gospel
records were treated as inspired by the New Testament writers. Paul
in 1 Timothy 5:18 quotes both Deuteronomy 25:4 (in the Old Testament)
and Luke 10:7 as “Scripture”. Paul hammers home the
point that his message was from Christ, not himself (Gal. 1:11,12;
1 Cor. 2:13; 11:23; 15:3). This was recognized by the other apostles;
thus James 4:5 quotes Paul’s words of Galatians 5:17 as “Scripture”.
God “has spoken” to us in Christ; there is therefore
no need for any further revelation (Heb. 1:2). It can be observed
that the Bible alludes to other writings which are now not available
(e.g. the book of Jasher, the writings of Nathan, Elijah, Paul to
Corinth), and John’s third Epistle implies that John had written
an unpreserved letter to the church which Diotrephes had refused
to obey. Why have these writings not been preserved for us? Evidently
because they were not relevant to us. We can therefore rest assured
that God has preserved all that is relevant for us.
It is sometimes claimed that the New Testament books were gradually
accepted as being inspired, but the fact that the Apostles treated
each other’s writings as inspired surely disproves this. There
was a miraculous spirit gift available to test whether letters and
words which claimed to be inspired really were so (1 Cor. 14:37;
1 Jn. 4:1; Rev. 2:2). This means that the inspired letters were
immediately accepted as inspired. If there was any unguided human
selection of what went into our Bible, then the book would have
The Qur’an says that the Old and New Testaments were given
to men as inspired by God
The texts we now use clearly contradict the Qur’an
Muslims therefore say that the texts were corrupted.
Seeing the manuscript evidence for the Old and New Testaments goes
back well before the birth of Islam, it follows that this must have
happened before the 1st century AD
Islam claims the original Old and New Testament Scriptures were
lost long ago.
And yet the Qur’an says that they were in existence in the
1st century and at the time of Muhammad.
How can this be, if they were lost or corrupted? Where are the
original, inspired texts?
There is no evidence any such radically alternative text
of Old and New Testaments ever existed.
If the true, inspired Old and New Testaments existed at the time
of Muhammad and were read by “the people of the book”
[i.e. Jews and Christians]…then this would mean that from
the 1st up to at least the 7th centuries there
were false and true Old and New Testaments circulating. But there
is no evidence of this. And yet there is evidence e.g. from the
Dead Sea Scrolls that the early manuscripts were faithfully transcribed
over the ages. Where did these other ‘uncorrupted’ texts
come from? Who copied them out over the centuries? There are too
many fundamental questions that remain unanswered.