In the Old Testament, the prophets thundered, "Thus says the LORD" (Jer. 19:1). In the New Testament, the apostle Paul declared, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God" (2 Tim. 3:16). Peter adds his testimony that "holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Pet. 1:21). It was through the human writers of Scripture that God revealed Himself to mankind in a written revelation of His truth. The writing was inspired (literally "God-breathed"). The writer was the agent God used to communicate His truth.
THE NATURE OF INSPIRATION
Everyone understands the importance of a solid foundation. Whether one is building a towering edifice of concrete and steel or a logically consistent argument, a proper foundation must support oneís work. The doctrine of inspiration is foundational to evangelical Christianity. When seeking a message from God, Christians turn to the Bible for the revelation of His truth to mankind.
The Scripture came to us by inspiration over a span of nearly sixteen hundred years from Genesis to Revelation. In turn, God also used men to protect His message, copy it and translate it, guaranteeing its preservation over the last two thousand years. Therefore, you can have confidence that the Bible you hold in your hand is the Word of God.
THE EXTENT OF INSPIRATION
We believe in the plenary verbal inspiration of Scripture. The term plenary refers to all of Scripture being inspired of God. It is all equally of the same divine origin and essence. Verbal inspiration means that the very words of Scripture are inspired of God. The Lord said of Jeremiah, "I have put My words in your mouth" (Jer. 1:9). The apostle Paul said, "The things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord" (1 Cor. 14:37).
The doctrine of verbal inspiration emphasizes the importance of the very words of Scripture. However, this does not imply a mechanical dictation, because each writerís style is uniquely his own. God used the vocabulary of the human authors of the books of the Bible to communicate His truth. Through these men God revealed not just ideas, but specific words of truth. It is through these words that He reveals His will and purpose for our lives. God revealed specific truth to men who received it and recorded it, and that record of truth is the Bible.
Besides the direct biblical claims of inspiration, we find the attitude of the authors of Scripture toward previous biblical revelation to be that of complete trust in its total accuracy. Therefore, quotations from other parts of Scripture are introduced by statements like, "It is written might be fulfilled." Peter even clearly identified the writings of Paul as Scripture (2 Pet. 3:15, 16).
THE IMPORTANCE OF INSPIRATION
Our Lord Jesus quoted freely from the Old Testament, affirming its accuracy as divine Scripture. He also testified of His own words as divine truth. Jesus said, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31, 32). In another passage He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6).
There can be no doubt that our Lord connected the truth of Scripture with the message of salvation. He promised His disciples that the "Spirit of truth" would guide them "into all truth" (John 14:17; 16:13). He also told them that "all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me" (Luke 24:44). The Bible then goes on to explain that "He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures" (Luke 24:45). Thus, our Lord Himself taught the truth of the Scripture to His disciples.
Jesus also testified that His own ministry was to declare the message commanded by His Father. "And I know that His command is everlasting life," He said (John 12:50). It is no wonder that Jesus could say, "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life" (John 6:47). He came into this world to declare the truth of Godís love to a fallen world, and to call us to faith in His death as a sufficient atonement for our sins.
THE INERRANCY OF SCRIPTURE
Both biblically and historically, the Church has accepted the doctrine of biblical inerrancy. With the exception of a few heretics, pagans and extremists, the great stalwarts of Christianity like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Edwards, Whitefield and Spurgeon clearly supported the concept of an inerrant Scripture. It was not until the rise of modern skepticism and secularism that professing Christians began to question this time-honored doctrine.
The doctrine of inerrancy is vitally linked to every other doctrine of Scripture. Its rejection undermines theology in general because it infringes on the doctrine of God. It weakens Christology because it makes Christ subject to error. And it destroys soteriology, the doctrine of salvation, because it leaves us clinging to fallible human documents for our eternal salvation.
Ultimately, the rejection of inerrancy leads to vast differences in oneís theology in general. Subjectivity replaces objectivity as the guide to life. Salvation becomes little more than a leap of faith, rather than a confident belief in Godís promises. The mission of the church is reduced to restoring the economic and social order, rather than proclaiming the spiritual nature of the kingdom of God. Evangelistic efforts are replaced by social enterprises. In every case where the doctrine of inerrancy has been forsaken, evangelical zeal has faded and churches have grown cold. It is not long before such churches begin to die.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE BIBLE
The Bible makes it clear that it was written to introduce us to God Himself through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesusí own disciple, John, wrote, "And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life" (1 John 5:11Ė13).
Each person has to face the claims of the Bible for himself. It isnít enough to attend church or to have believing parents. One has to come to the place where one believes the Bible for oneself. One has to examine the claims of Jesus Christ and His offer of salvation in light of oneís confidence in the inspired truth of Scripture. One needs to know who Jesus is for oneself. One needs to know that when He died on the cross, He died for oneís own sins. One needs to know that when He rose from the dead, He rose to give eternal life to each one personally.
One can know all about the Bible without knowing the One whom the Bible is all about. In the books of the Law, the foundation is laid for Godís redeeming work. In the books of history, the nation of Israel is established as the people through whom the Redeemer would come. In the books of poetry, we see the aspiration of Godís people for the salvation He alone can bring. In the Prophets, we read of their expectation for the coming Messiah. In the Gospels, we see the incarnate Son of God in all His glory, as He dies for our sins and rises from the dead. In the book of Acts, we read the story of the early church and its proclamation of the gospel of Christís death, burial and resurrection. In the Epistles, the nature of our salvation is fully explained. In Revelation, our attention is pointed forward to the return of Christ.
Jesus Christ is the Person the Bible is all about. He is the central theme of Scripture. He is the fulfillment of its predictions, the realization of its blessings and the hope of its promises. The Bible declares, "But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law" (Gal. 4:4). Jesus came into the world to fulfill the Old Testament prophecies and to redeem us from the condemnation of the Law. The Bible promises, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
The message of salvation is the message of the Bible. The two are inseparably linked. Without an inspired Bible, we have no message of salvation. Our hope for eternal life would be futile were it based merely on our feelings, and not upon the facts of Scripture.
It was this kind of confidence in Godís Word that enabled the apostle Paul to declare, "For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord" (2 Cor. 4:5). He knew for certain that his message was from God, because it was founded upon His Word. Therefore, Paul said, "For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures" (1 Cor. 15:3, 4).
In todayís world we need to know for certain that our faith is founded upon truth. The Bible provides such a foundation. It is the declaration of God to man about the whole matter of our salvation. If we cannot trust the Book that tells us about the Savior, how can we trust the salvation He offers? Our only real hope for eternal salvation rests totally upon the legitimacy and accuracy of the message of the Bible. And in those truths. our hope is secure.