The Holy Spirit Inspired Scriptures
By Frank Tunstall
In a culture that is birthing more and more Biblical illiteracy, it is imperative that we re-discover the Holy Spirit who authored the Holy Scriptures. A foundational responsibility of the Holy Spirit was to give to mankind a written revelation of the Heavenly Father that presents Jesus Christ Himself as the living Word of God.
“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, fully furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV).
“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:20-21, KJV).
Each of these statements by the Apostle Paul and the Apostle Peter were made with only the Old Testament in mind; the apostles were still writing the New Testament. What they said about the Old Testament, however, would apply to the New Testament as well; the same Holy Spirit inspired writing both Testaments.
The goal here is to give a summary of what is meant by the inspiration of Scripture, built around the meaning of nine terms:
- The Bible is a revelation from God and includes both the Old and the New Testaments. By revelation is meant God has disclosed Himself, giving information about Himself that could not be discovered any other way. That information is recorded in the Bible.
- By inspiration is meant the Holy Spirit chose and anointed people whose vocabularies were sufficient to express what the Spirit wanted said, while doing it in their own writing style. The Message paraphrase gives a good interpretation of what Paul wrote: “There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another — showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us” (2 Timothy 3:15-17).
- By verbal inspiration is meant the anointing of the Spirit extended to the actual choice of the words, not merely to the ideas (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21).
- The intent of the word plenary is to affirm the whole and every part of the Bible is inspired: “God breathed and useful one way or another.”
- The Bible is inerrant, or without mistakes regarding every subject it addresses, including all matters of faith and practice. This means the whole of the Bible is God’s infallible Word.
- The Bible is authoritative on any subject it addresses, including social and moral living, as well as science, history, or geography, for a few examples. However, the Bible was not written as a book of sociology, psychology, science, history or geography (Matthew 5:18; John 10:35).
- The Bible’s primary purpose is to unveil God’s plan of redemption, showing Jesus Christ as God’s way to man, and showing man his way to peace with God through Jesus Christ in a New Birth. The Bible describes the sacrificial death of Jesus on His cross as the only antidote that will cure the breach in man’s relationship with God, and presents Jesus as the one and only path to peace with God and eternal life with God in heaven (John 3:3, 7, 16; 5:39–47).
- The Bible as the written word of truth reveals Jesus Christ as the logos, the first and last Word of Truth, and the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Truth. This is not to say every word in the Bible is truth. The words ascribed to Satan, for example, are understood as an accurate record of what Satan said, but must not be accepted as truthful. Jesus Himself said Satan was a “murderer from the beginning” and “no truth was in him” (John 8:44, KJV).
- The inspiration of the Holy Spirit has given us the written Word of God in 66 books – 27 in the New Testament and 39 in the Old Testament. A sharp distinction must be made, however, between the infallible revelation of God when the original autographs were written, and fallen man’s interpretations of the Bible (John 16:13). For this reason, the Bible must be prayerfully studied, trusting the Holy Spirit to give readers illumination to help the Lord’s followers rightly divide the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).
The question arises: just how authoritative is the Bible? Peter’s answer is clear-cut: “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man” (1:20-21). Hence, the authority of the Scriptures comes only from God.
The next question logically follows. What then is the source of the Scriptures? Peter’s answer was straightforward, “Men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (1:21; see also 2 Timothy 3:16). This answer affirms the Deity of the Holy Spirit, showing the Holy Spirit’s role in writing the Scriptures. It also shows the role of the people the Holy Spirit chose to write the Scriptures; they were anointed to record accurately in their language and their vocabulary the words the Holy Spirit inspired.
One other question follows: how did the apostles remember the exact words Jesus said when their writing the gospels took place over some 60 years after hearing Jesus teaching? Jesus anticipated the question and answered it in advance when He told His disciples, “The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26-27).
When believers in Jesus Christ understand and assimilate the authority of the Scriptures, little wonder they can say the words of the Bible enjoy verbal inspiration (extending to the choice of words themselves) and plenary inspiration, covering the whole and the parts of each book of the Bible.
Oh! to be avid students of the Scriptures, living very close to the heart of Jesus and ever yearning to share correctly the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).