When I was still in college, I had a classmate who was skeptic about the Bible and Christianity. Every time we studied together, there were several instances that our conversation led us to the discussion of our faith. Every time I shared the gospel to him and quoted books from the Bible, he always responded, “You see, according to the book of John – your Bible was written by man.”
During that time, I was not yet that familiar with the doctrine of the Bible and inspiration; therefore, I could not answer him well. Did you see the attack? My classmate is saying that your Bible is not the Word of God. Especially if it is about the New Testament. It may contain the Word of God, but it’s not the Word of God. Is the Bible the Word of God or only contain words of God? If somebody asks you that question, how would you answer?
Going back to Jon Steingard, didn’t he have the same issue with the Bible? Let’s recall what he said. (Who’s the loudest of them all? Part 2)
Steingard also began to doubt that the Bible was God’s word, seeing many contradictions in it. He said, “Suffice it to say that when I began to believe that the Bible was simply a book written by people as flawed and imperfect as I am—that was when my belief in God began to truly unravel.” Realizing he believed that God might not exist was a terrifying experience. Said Steingard, “The implications of that idea were absolutely massive.”
Like what I’ve said, before we know it, maybe many “Jons” in our Christian community or churches do not understand what “the Bible is God’s word” means. Before it’s too late, we might as well do some explanation now to address those lingering questions or doubts. It involves revelation and inspiration.
What are Revelation and Inspiration?
Revelation and inspiration are strongly connected notions. Revelation is God’s action to make Himself and His purposes known to man. Hebrews 1:1-2 says, “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.”
Verse 1 says that God revealed Himself to our fathers in many ways. God revealed Himself to man through the appearance of angels, dreams, in animals/donkey, nature, visions and dreams, casting lots, and finally, in verse 2, through His Son Jesus Christ. Now, the things that God revealed through those mediums were received and written by the prophets.
The receiving and writing of the revelation of God involve both human and divine action. The revelation of God was transmitted both orally or telling the story over and again, and in written form. God’s work is to inspire and guide the man/prophet in communicating, and writing which preserves His revelation. Through this, we draw the definition of inspiration. Inspiration is God’s action in which the Holy Spirit guides the mind of chosen men and makes them mouthpieces of God for the transmission of His revelation. The inspiration, which is God’s action, makes the Bible the Word of God.
Three New Testament Passages that teaches the doctrine of inspiration.
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NASB)
But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. (2 Peter 1:20-21 NASB)
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. (Hebrews 1:1-2 NASB)
Observations from these passages
- Scriptures were inspired as the Holy Spirit guided the writers (2 Tim. 3:16-“All scriptures is inspired by God)”
- Scripture is of God’s origin (2 Peter 1: 21 – “men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God)”
- Scripture was written by human (2 Peter 1: 21 – “men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God)”
- The Word from God was first spoken and then written (2 Peter 1:20-21).
- It is the work of God and man. (2 Peter 1:20-21)
The conclusion from these passages
These three passages tell us that man was the agent guided by the Holy Spirit in receiving, conveying, and writing the Word of God. Just as Jesus is fully divine and fully human, I can say that our Bibles’ nature is also fully divine and fully human. This simplified explanation should answer the question of whether the Bible is the Word of God or not. It is truly the Word of God!