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Apologetic Moments #8: What Does it Mean that the Bible is Inspired?

by Thor Ramsey

What Does It Mean that the Bible is Inspired?

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

A definition of inspiration is that these words are breathed out by God. So, how does that work exactly?

Every book of the Bible is both human and divine. God is the author who used human authors. God’s breath, so to speak, upon the human author created a unity between the words of the human author and God’s own words.

Does this mean God just dictated the words to the authors? No. But there are parts of the Bible where He did exactly that.

Exodus 34:27

27 And the Lord said to Moses, “Write these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.”

In the book of Revelation, Jesus tells John to dictate letters He is writing to seven churches. So, yes, there are places where God dictates the words, but this type of dictation is rare in the Bible.

That’s why the voices of the different authors of the different books of the Bible are distinct. The voice of David in the Psalms is different than the voice of Isaiah the prophet whose tone is different than Luke whose writings are different than the Apostle Paul. The point is that God used the personalities of the authors in writing the Bible. The end result is the very words of God to us.

Theologian John Frame says, “It is like dictation, because what Luke writes is exactly what God wants us to hear. It is like mechanical inspiration, because God is in full control of the process.”

And yet it is very unlike mechanical dictation, because God deals with each author as a person. God used all the details of Luke’s personality, who was both historian and physician, someone committed to accuracy and who happened to an associate of the Apostle Paul — to write the story of Christ (Gospel of Luke) and the early church (Acts).

Rather than it being merely mechanical or note taking, the process has been called organic inspiration.

This means two things.

One, everything in the Bible is the words of God to us. They are personal and diverse and are meant to be so, because God is communicating not just ideas about Himself, but Himself. This means we can’t accept some parts of the Bible while rejecting other parts. To reject any aspect of Scripture is to say no to God.

Two, God has inspired the words themselves, not just the ideas or thoughts. This means, the text is the very word of God.

This is why Paul says to Timothy:

All Scripture is breathed out by God…

It’s inspired by God.

This means that the Holy Spirit didn’t just inspire the prophets and Apostles who wrote the texts, but He inspired the texts themselves.

In a very real sense, when you hear the word of God read you are hearing the very voice of God Himself. When you encounter the Scriptures, you are encountering God.

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