Inspiration of Scripture: its importance

inspiration & inerrancy    character of God   final authority    revelation  conclusion  recommended reading 

…..All  Scripture is given by inspiration of God [=God breathed] and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness..

II Tim.3:14-16.

For the Christian the Bible is the written Word of God, it is the means whereby God has informed us of Himself and His purpose for the human race. In it we learn  the origins of the universe and mankind; the fall of Adam and hence the whole of the human race; the great unfolding plan of Redemption and seeing its fulfilment in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Since we learn these truths from the Bible we need to be assured that what is written is reliable. For if scripture is not reliable then we have no certain ground upon which we can put our trust. Yet many people would have us believe that the Bible is not trustworthy; that it is not infallible; and even some would dare to even say that it is not the Word of God at all.

This article looks at some of these issues and shows why the truth of inspiration and inerrancy of scripture is important. It is not the purpose here to give a detailed treatise of the subject, there are many excellent books that do a better job that can be attempted here. If the reader is interested there is a suggested reading list at the end of this article for him/her to consult. We shall contend ourselves with some of the issues outlining as to  why it matters.

(1) Inspiration and inerrancy

Knowing this first that no prophecy of the scriptures 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.

II Pet.1:20

 Firstly we will need to say what we mean by inspiration and inerrancy.

By inspiration we mean that men were moved by the Holy Spirit to pen the words of scripture II Pet.1:20-21. This does not mean that the human authors were machines who penned the words under mechanical dictation, but rather God moved these people to produce the scriptures directly to write down His very words.

 Nor does this mean that the authors were inspired when they were not writing scripture. An example of this is when David wrote to Joab telling him to put Uriah in the heat of battle so that he would die.  David    was not under inspiration when this deed was done,  but rather that  the event itself was recorded under inspiration. II Sam.11:14-17. Yet that David wrote his Psalms under inspiration is unquestioned.

The topic of inspiration is a big one. Alongside this we have issues such as verbal and plenary inspiration both of which we affirm without hesitation. What we must be note is that Scripture itself claims to be inspired for some further details click here.

 Inerrancy means without error. We affirm that Scripture as originally given by God is inerrant. That is it is without error on any subject of which it speaks. To the modern mind this may seem strange, but close consideration shows that this is the inescapable conclusion of the doctrine of inspiration. If the scriptures are in error on one point, then one cannot have any confidence that it is not without error on any other issue it touches upon. The scriptures stand or fall together. This leads us to our next consideration.

(2) Character of God

Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:


Since the scripture claims inspiration for itself, and that it was inspired by God II Tim.3:16 God’s character is on the line. We are told emphatically that it is impossible for God to lie (Heb.6:18,Titus 1:2) therefore scripture has to be infallible.

Those who deny that scripture is either inspired or inerrant is questioning the very character and nature of God. If their accusations be correct then God is a liar and cannot be trusted. If this be true then the Heb 6 scripture is in error, and if this is so then He cannot be trusted on anything in scripture at all.

Consequently how can we then be sure of what God said about anything, let alone salvation? The conclusion must be that we have no hope of salvation for there is no certainty at all if the Scriptures are not infallible.

Those who question this truth have an understanding of God that is contrary to that revealed in Scripture. Their concept of God is not the one that is revealed in the Bible, rather it is a god of their own imagination and are therefore  they are guilty of idolatry.

(3) Final authority

If Scripture is the infallible Word of God then it goes without saying (or at least it should) that scripture is the final word on any matter it touches. Once scripture makes a declaration then that settles the issue. No arguing, no ifs or buts. Whether one likes what is said is irrelevant, the Book has spoken therefore the matter has been resolved. We may ignore it, try to explain it away, but none of these in any way nullifies the fact that Scripture has spoken and it is the final word on that particular issue. One’s response is another matter altogether.

If Scripture is not infallible then we need to ask those who proclaim this: "what is your final authority on all matters?" If Scripture is not infallible, who decides what part to accept and reject? Clearly such people will have to rely on human reasoning. This makes human reasoning and judgement the final arbiter of such matters.  Thus we have  contradiction: a fallible mind deciding what is infallible!

Such a process will result in people choosing what they like and rejecting what they do not. In doing so they quote ‘learned men’ of the past and/or of the present. But such is the condition of the human heart that there will be groups of people who will saying one thing, another group something different and so on without any definite rule of authority. We then end up in  a position where people will choose what they like and rejecting what they do not like. Thus there would be no final definitive rule of faith and belief.

These Bible rejecters then will have a mix and pick religion, totally divorced from the clear truth of the Word of God, and are on the broad  road of total deception.

(4) Revelation

 The Bible is God’s method  of revealing to us what we cannot know in any other way. It is a Book of revelation. How else would we have known about our first ancestors, and how they plunged the race into sin; how else would we have known God’s plan of redemption foretold and fully realised in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ? This is the ultimate purpose of Scripture, to show us Jesus and His redemptive work and so we may go to Him for life.

...the holy scriptures which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus

II Tim 3:15

(ye) Search the Scriptures , for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are which TESTIFY  of ME. And ye will not come to Me that ye might have Life.

Jn. 5:39-40.

Those who reject inspiration and infallibility would have to, logically, therefore deny this aspect of scripture. So where is their hope of salvation? Indeed many people who deny Biblical infallibility also deny other vital truths such as  penal substitutionary atonement. Rejecting Bible infallibility is just a means of avoiding and rejecting truth that is inconvenient to the human heart, giving  a false sense of peace.

In short when one rejects Biblical inspiration then one can pick and mix what one wants to believe -such is the deceitfulness of the human heart.

(5) Conclusion

The doctrine  of Bible inspiration is foundational, without it we have no confidence in there being any final authority or truth. Instead we would grope around looking for that with  which we agree, and reject those things which we do not like, putting  us in a state of  self-righteousness.

The Bible is God’s Word; it is infallible and inerrant. It reveals to us God’s plan of salvation in Jesus Christ alone. We deny or ignore this at our eternal peril.

(6) Recommended reading

(1)  Thy Word is Truth    E J Young  (1957)
  • ISBN-10: 0802812449
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802812445
A classic defence of inspiration and infallibility.

(2)  Nothing but the Truth       Brian Edwards Evangelical Press (2000)
  • ISBN-10: 0852343051
  • ISBN-13: 978-0852343050
A more modern a look at the authority and historicity of the 66 books we have

(3) Battle for the Bible  Harold Lindsell      Zondervan (1976)
  • ISBN-10: 0310276810
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310276814

A look at what happens when the doctrines of inspiration and infallibility are abandoned.  Still, if not more, relevant for us today!

(4) In conclusion : the Chicago  Statements on Biblical inerrancy and  hermeneutics  is well worth a read.

I want to know one thing the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore. God Himself has condescended to teach the way; for this very end He came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. O give me that book! At any price, give me the book of God! I have it: here is knowledge enough for me.
Let me be "homo unius libri."

John Wesley