by Elmer Towns
 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteous-ness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. 2 Timothy 3:16, 17


     The Bible is unique among the books of the world. For years it has been studied for its quality of style and beauty. More copies of this Book have been published than any other book in history. While in every respect the Bible is a superb example of good literature, it is more than a good book. It is the actual words of God.

     The French philosopher Voltaire sat one day to rewrite Psalm 51 in poetic form. All went well until he came to verse 10, "Create in me a clean heart, O God!" Voltaire, though the chief opponent of Christianity in his day, attempted to translate the verse into his poem. As he wrote, a sudden realization of the terror of hell came upon him. He tried to shake the feeling, but found himself unable to write. Later he confided to his friends that he could not think of that experience without an inner fear that haunted him.

     Why does the Bible have such a profound impact on people? Because it is a message from God, called "the revelation of God," and because of the way God guarantees the accuracy of recording the Bible through what is called "inspiration."

     The authorship of the Bible makes this Book even more unique. Written by over forty authors over a period of 1600 years, amazingly this collection of epistles, sermons, poems and narratives demonstrates a single theme, that of God's love for mankind and all that such love implies. These writers were not all scholars. Moses and Paul probably received the finest education available in their day. Others were raising cattle and sheep for a living when they recorded their contributions. At least four writers were accustomed to living in the royal household of the land, while the background of another was that of fishing in the Sea of Galilee. Some were raised in morally upstanding homes, but at least one was a tax collector, which was considered by the Jews of that day a disgraceful occupation. With all these contrasts, it is miraculous that such a Book as the Bible, with such a harmonious theme and single purpose, was produced.

     The Bible is God's revelation of himself to man. When we understand this principle we begin to understand the character of the Bible. Since God is who he is, then what is true of him must be characterized in the Book that describes him. God is the Source of this revelation (Deut. 29:29). Christ, the Son of God, is the central theme of the Bible (John 5:38). The Holy Spirit is the divine Author of Scripture (2 Pet. 1:20, 21). Therefore, the Bible is the revelation of God, from God and written by God. The Greek word Paul used actually described the Bible as being "breathed-out from God" (theopneustos) (2 Tim. 3:16) and Jesus spoke of "every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4). The words of the Bible are the words of God written by men. This process is called the "inspiration of the Scriptures."


     Inspiration recognizes the role of the Holy Spirit in producing the Scriptures. Paul's use of the term theopneustos communicated the idea of God "breathing out" the Scriptures. Since "spirit" in the original language can also mean "breath," the process of "out-breathing" may rightly be the work of the Holy Spirit as he inspired the Scriptures. Based on the nature of God, the result makes them accurate and inerrant (authoritative), since God is incapable of error. Inspiration applies to every word of the Bible. When we use this term, we are referring to the supernatural guidance of the writers by the Holy Spirit which resulted in every word being accurate and reliable in the original manuscripts. When we talk about the authorship of Scripture, we recognize dual authorship. God wrote the Bible using human authors.

     Inspired guidance. Inspiration recognizes the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit upon the writers. Not everyone uses the word "inspiration" with this meaning. Sometimes people use the word to describe the "enthusiasm" of a brilliant artist or athlete. We must define the word as it is used in its context in Scripture. The Bible says "holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 Pet. 1:21). This process was something beyond the natural. These men were &,moved" (picked up and borne along) as they wrote God's message. Therefore, inspiration means an author was guided to go where God wanted him to go, not where he chose.

     Inspired writers. Inspiration also incorporates the personality of the writer into the final product. Some have argued in the past that God dictated to the writer who simply recorded it, much as a secretary would type a letter that the boss had dictated. This is called the dictation theory. There are many places where the Scriptures were dictated directly by God (cf. Rev. 2:1- 3:22); at other times, the style of the writing and the selection of words reflect the personality and background of the writer. This is especially evident when we read the four Gospels.

     Matthew was a Jewish tax collector, impressed with the fact that he had found the King of the Jews. His Gospel begins with a royal genealogy and the arrival of kings from the east to worship Christ. Mark, a young disciple of Peter, seems to reflect Peter's activism in his Gospel. The key word "straightway" or "immediately" makes it appear Jesus is always on the move, doing something as a servant. Luke's Gospel is more methodical, reflecting his historical investigation into the facts. Luke the medical doctor reflects the humanity of Christ and his key word is "the Son of man." The fourth Gospel, written by one "whom Jesus loved," seems to be obsessed with love for Jesus and his love for others. His key word is "believe."

     Though each of the four Gospels reflects a different style of the writer and a different perspective of Jesus Christ, they do not contradict each other. They harmonize completely to give us the fully inspired, accurate record of the life of Christ. Inspired words. Inspiration applies to more than thoughts or impressions of the authors.

     Inspiration means the words are placed there by God. Every word in the Bible is inspired equally, though some may have a greater influence on our lives than others. Though much of the content of what the writers included was- known to them, the Holy Spirit was sovereignly directing them in what to include and to exclude. So the Holy Spirit's ministry extends to the very words. "We have received, not the Spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God, that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not as the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth" (1 Cor. 2:12, 13, italics added.)

     A man in a sailboat is dependent upon both the wind and his own skills in sailing a designated course. In the same way, God communicated his revelation to the world in an accurate and reliable Book, every word chosen by the moving of the Holy Spirit of God, yet expressed through the personality of the human author.

     There is a similarity between the inspired Word (the Bible) and the incarnate Word (Jesus Christ). Both are fully God without question and both are fully man without sin or error. When they speak it is the authoritative Word of God in all purity, judgment, and truth.

     Inerrant and authoritative results. Because the Bible is inspired by God, it is completely accurate and reliable. The Bible differs from other good books in its content, method of writing, and the final result. It is not like Aesop's Fables or The Arabian Nights, a collection of stories that may or may not be true but have good morals. The doctrine of biblical accuracy and reliability is called "inerrancy." This is dealt with further in Chapter 5. If we believe the Bible is inspired by God, we must also accept that it is inerrant. An error in the Bible, as God originally communicated it would reflect a flaw in the character of its Source and Author, God.


     The Hebrew Christians were told, "God, who at sundry .times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son" (Heb. 1:1, 2). God used a variety of ways to reveal his inspired Word to the men, who then wrote it down for us. Sometimes these men were aware of the significance of what they were recording and why they were writing (John 20:30, 31; Rev. 1:1-3), but on other occasions, they did not realize the full truth they were communicating. Concerning those who wrote the messianic prophecy, Peter said, "Unto whom it was revealed that, not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into" (1 Pet. 1:12). Peter was saying that some authors did not fully understand the message they wrote, but today we can examine its content to understand its meaning. The following chart compares some of the different ways God has used to reveal his inspired Word.



1. Dreams-Dan. 7:1
2. Visions-Ezek. 1:1
3. The actual voice of God-Lev. 1:1
4. Symbols/object lessons-Jer. 19:1-15
5. Dictation-Rev. 2:1-3:22
6. Eyewitness reports-1 John 1:1-3; Rev. 1:2
7. Guidance of the Holy Spidt-2 Pet. 1:21
8. Experience of men/testimony-Ps. 23; 51
9. Historical research-Luke 1:1-4
10. Jesus Christ-John 1:14; Heb. 1:2

     Even though God used a variety of different methods t produce the Bible, every verse is as inspired as the next Every verse of Scripture is authoritative. Jesus acknowledge that not one letter or even one part of a letter would b changed until all Scripture was fulfilled (Matt. 5:18). There is no such thing as a degree of inspiration on a particular pa of Scripture that is greater or lesser than in another part of Scripture. Although there were varying degrees of knowledge about the subjects on which they wrote, the authors wrote exactly what God wanted written. God used a variety of ways to give us his word (poetry, history, testimony, law, epistles, or biography), yet every word is his Word, complete and inerrant as a result of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21).


     The proofs that the Bible is the inspired Word of God are seen in the Bible itself and in the influence it has had. Since every book communicates in part the nature of its author, the Bible and God share a common character in many respects. That the Bible is understandable in spite of the depth of its simplicity is another mark of the hand of God in this Book. Finally, the influence of the Bible in the lives of its readers demonstrates the work of God himself in human lives.

     The character of the Bible. Since an author's personality is reflected in his journalism, the character of God is reflected in the Book he wrote. A closer look at the Scriptures will demonstrate that many of those attributes ascribed to God are also true of the Bible. The holiness of God is prevalent in the Scriptures themselves. It has always seemed appropriate to call it the "Holy Bible." God is a comforting God, and his Word is a source of comfort and encouragement to the reader. Both God and the Bible are eternal and life-giving. The following chart illustrates the revelation of these and other attributes of God and the Bible.  

The Character of:



1 Holiness Isa. 6:3 Ps. 119:3, 9-11
2 Truth John 17:3 Ps. 119:43, 143
3 Justice 1 John 1:9 Ps. 119:149
4 Power Nah. 1:2 Ps. 119:114, 116-120
5 Love I John 4:8 Ps. 119:32
6 Goodness Ps. 11 9:68 Ps. 119:66
7 Righteousness Ps. 119:137 Ps. 119:138
8 Purity 1 John 3:3 Ps. 119:140
9 Wisdom  Jude 25 Ps. 119:98-100
10 Life-giving Isa. 40:31 Ps. 119:50
11 Comforting 2 Cor. 1:3 Ps. 119:50, 76
12 Mercy Ps. 119:64 Ps. 119:58
13 Faithfulness Ps. 119:90 Ps. 119:86
14 Immutability Heb. 1:12 Ps. 119:89
15 Joy-producing Jude 24 Ps. 119:111
16 Wonder Isa. 9:6 Ps. 119:18, 129
17 Eternity Ps. 90:2 Ps. 119:144

     The understandable nature of the Bible. Only God could write a Book like this one. Though the Bible is the result of men who worked within cultural limitations, it is not limited to a particular culture. Men in China find the truths of this Book just as applicable to their lives as men in Africa and America. With the exception of the names of various individuals, which would be strange to anyone of a different background than that of the context, most of the Bible can be understood by a school child.

     Some studies place the Bible at a sixth-grade readability level. Despite its simplicity, it has a depth of teaching that men have spent a lifetime trying to learn. God inspired this Book realizing it would be a tool for his servants. Few of those servants would be well educated by the world's standards (1 Cor. 1:26-31), so God had to remove as many barriers as possible for them to use his Word. Yet at the same time, the well-educated man is challenged by its profound truth and expression.

     No matter what a person's background, he has a responsibility to learn more of the Bible and perfect his skills in studying and using it. Paul advised Timothy, "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth no ' t to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15).

     The influence of the Bible. The Bible can have a definite positive influence on the lifestyle of its readers, even though some have misapplied its truths and entered into grave error. Actually the Bible's influence begins at our conversion. Paul rejoiced that the Romans had "obeyed from the heart the form of doctrine which was delivered unto [them]" (Rom. 6:17). The things a person must know to be saved are found in the Bible. Peter observed that we are "born again, not o corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever" (1 Pet. 1:23).

     The life-style of a Christian ought to be different from that of the unsaved. This is accomplished in four phases, according to 2 Timothy 3:16. Phase one involves building a doctrinal base. Our lives are a result of what we believe. Phase two involves being reproved by the Bible. Reproof means we are shown what we are doing is wrong. If God convicts us of something we are doing, it is important that we obey his instructions. Phase three is correction. It should be easier to do the right thing than to stop the wrong. Whenever the Bible tells us something is wrong, it will also tell us what is right. The final phase is instruction in righteousness, which means building a life-style that naturally avoids the failures of our former life-style. While the Christian does not always have a transformed life-style overnight, every Christian has the power to make progress in his life.


     The total message of the Bible is a supernatural one which only God could reveal to his spokesmen. They recorded the activities and conversations of God at times and places where no man was present to observe. That which was otherwise hidden from man and known only by God was revealed or shown by God to them. Yet, some read the Bible and miss this principle. The Bible teaches that its message came from God and the source of its words are from God. Those who deny the revelation and inspiration of the Bible claim that God gave only an impression or an experience. They deny verbal inspiration, but a close study of the following authors reveals their attitude toward being a divine instrument for communicating the message to men.

     Moses. Moses did not attempt to hide his source in recording Scripture but readily acknowledged the fact of revelation. "The secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law" (Deut. 29:29).

     At his trial, Stephen recognized that the writings of Moses were the revelation of God by the Holy Spirit. After highlighting some of what Moses taught in relation to Christ, Stephen said, "Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost; as your fathers did, so do ye" (Acts 7:51). Resisting the words of Moses is here equated with resisting the Holy Spirit. That which Moses recorded was revealed to him by the Holy Spirit.

     David. Another major contributor to the Old Testament, David, had a special relationship with the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, "For David himself said by the Holy Ghost" (Mark 12:36). This introduction to an Old Testament quote demonstrated the method of inspiration in Scripture. It recognizes that David was used of God to record Scripture. In doing so, God permitted David the full use of his faculties and personality so that it is accurate to say, "David himself said" at the same time he spoke "by the Holy Ghost." An understanding of inspiration must recognize that both are true without affecting a compromise upon the other. "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 Pet. 1:21).

     In his desire to be right with God, David once prayed, "Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me" (Ps. 51:11). As he recorded the Psalms, he was recording what the Holy Spirit had revealed to him in his walk with God. The New Testament church recognized, "Thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: who by the mouth of thy servant David..." (Acts 4:24, 25). This powerful verse shows that the people of the New Testament recognized that the Creator also spoke through human authors by inspiration.

     The prophets. As we read the writings of the major and minor prophets we cannot help but be impressed with their reliance upon God for their message. Again and again we read, "Thus saith the Lord." Isaiah said, "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound" (Isa. 61:1).

     God told Jeremiah, "Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth" (Jer. 1:9). Ezekiel began his prophecy acknowledging, "I saw visions of God" (Ezek. 1: 1). Even the minor prophets acknowledged the work of God. "This is the word of the Lord... not by' might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts" (Zech. 4:6). The prophets gave abundant witness to speaking God's Word.

     Disciples. Jesus promised his disciples that the Holy Spirit would reveal himself to them so they could record the Word of God. "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come" (John 16:13).

     It is interesting in the light of this promise to see how one of these disciples began the final book of the Bible. "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant, John" (Rev. 1:1). It should also be noted that John "was in the Spirit on the Lord's day" (Rev. 1:10) when he received this revelation and at least seven times in the Revelation Jesus says, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches" (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22). This promise, fulfilled in the ministry of John, was also fulfilled in ,the ministries of Peter and Matthew as they recorded what the Holy Spirit revealed to them for eternity.

     Paul. The apostle Paul acknowledged that God had given him a special revelation. He spoke of "my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest" (Rom. 16:25, 26). Concerning his revelation, the apostle stated in another place, "But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit" (1 Cor. 2:10). The Holy Spirit had a ministry in the life If Paul where the message of God wa revealed to him to teach it to others (1 Cor. 2:12, 13). Very quickly in the early church, the epistles of Paul were collected and studied as equal to the Old Testament Scripture (2 Pet. 3:15, 16). Those that read the Scriptures recognize that Paul's writings were accepted on the same level a Moses and the writers of the Old Testament.


     God has inspired a single Book for our edification. He used a number of different men and methods to reveal his Word, yet the Holy Spirit governed the writers in such a way that the end result is the very Word of God. The Christian can turn to the Bible with confidence that he is going to hear personally and authoritatively from God. Every Christian needs to allow God to use the Bible in his life to accomplish the will of God.

     The children's story Peter Pan is based upon the idea of a boy who decided he would never grow up. This story is an amazing commentary on many Christians. Many persons have been born again and have apparently decided to never grow up. For us to ignore all that God has given us is like going to a huge banquet and not so much as drinking a glass of water. A poor diet can stunt the growth of a child. The same holds true of the Christian who ignores his Bible.


     Monday: Psalm 19

     Tuesday: I Peter 1:13-15

     Wednesday: 2 Peter 1:12-21

     Thursday: Hebrews 4:9-16

     Friday: 2 Timothy 3:15-4:8

     Saturday: Isaiah 40:1-8

     Sunday: James 1:19-27

Taken from: What The Faith Is All About by Elmer Towns