What Is Inspiration?
When we say the Bible is inspired we normally don’t mean it in the same way we might say that Shakespeare was inspired or a really good song is. The Bible is full of artistic beauty, but when we say the Bible is inspired we mean much more. We mean that God is the source of the Bible and that He worked through human authors to bring forth the specific words of what they originally wrote.
Two other important ideas come from the belief that God inspired the Bible. The first is that the Bible is inerrant––that it is without mistakes or errors, at least in what the biblical authors originally wrote. The second is that the Bible is authoritative, because what God says has greater authority than what any man or woman says.
I can’t prove that the Bible is inspired by God. It takes a step of faith. However, it’s a step of faith and not a blind leap of faith. God gives us many reasons to make a rational step of faith and trust that the Bible is God-inspired. Here are some of the many reasons.
The Authority of Jesus
Christianity stands or falls with the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus believed that every letter of the Bible was part of God’s eternal plan (Matthew 5:18) and that Scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35), that it would never fail. If Jesus believed that God uniquely inspired the Bible, then we should also.
The Bible Claims to be God-Inspired
Don’t overlook passages like 2 Timothy 3:16-17 which tells us that all Scripture is inspired by God and Psalm 119:89 which says, “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.” We understand that a self-claim to inspiration isn’t enough; that in theory, any writer could claim to be inspired by God. Yet consider this: if the Bible did not claim to be God-inspired, critics would use that as a big argument against the Bible.
The books of the Bible were written over some 2,000 years by some forty human authors on three different continents. They speak to the biggest and most difficult issues of life, and they do it all with a remarkable unity and continuity, explaining one great theme. These issues are examined from many angles and voices, so we don’t see uniformity, but true unity and internal integrity. This in itself is something of a miracle.
Rooted in Real History
The Bible is no fairy-tale or legend. It doesn’t begin, “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….” It tells the story of real people living out real events, even though the supernatural is often involved. Because the Bible is God’s book, it is His story, but it is also history in the sense of dealing with things that actually happened. Hundreds of people, places, and events of the Bible have been verified by the archaeologist and the historian.
The Phenomenon of Fulfilled Prophecy
Second Peter 1:19 tells us that “we have the prophetic word confirmed,” and the phenomenon of fulfilled prophecy is remarkable evidence to the supernatural origin of the Bible. When we consider the prophetic testimony to Jesus, we do well to heed it. There are hundreds of specifically fulfilled prophecies in the Bible, with more than 332 regarding the Messiah alone. The combination of this evidence together, from a simple statistical perspective, is absolutely overwhelming.
The Bible Is Transformative
God works through the message of the Bible to change lives. Through the centuries innumerable broken and bound lives have been restored and set free through the power of the Bible. This isn’t because the Bible has clever self-help ideas; it is because the Word of the living God has life-changing power.
Every generation gives rise to those who really believe they will put the last nails in the coffin that will bury the Bible. Yet it never works. The Bible outlives and outworks and out-influences all of its critics. It is an anvil that has worn out many, many hammers.
To the critic who claims, “Anyone could write a book and say that it is inspired by God,” we simply say, please do. Write your book, give it every claim of inspiration, and let’s see how it compares to the Bible in any way you want to compare. We invite the smarter critics of the Bible to give us another bible; something more inspired and with more life-changing power.
This is and always will be impossible. There remains nothing equal to the Bible. The divine inspiration of the Bible can’t be proven in a laboratory, but it is a fair conclusion based on evidence tested for some 2,000 years. We can trust that the Bible is inspired, inerrant, and authoritative.