Foundational Principles (1) Scripture: What the Spirit says

There is nothing more important than having fellowship with God, and to have fellowship with God we need to know, and know with certainty, what it is that He says to us.

Anyone who truly loves God earnestly desires to know what God says to him. If he is taught that there are many errors and contradictions in the Bible, and that therefore there is no way for us to know for sure what God says to us, he will be miserably sad. Yet what a joy will come over him, if he is led to understand that he can know, and know for sure, all that God says to him.

With that in mind, let us consider the fundamentally important truth of the infallible inspiration of Holy Scripture.

Scripture declaring itself to be God’s word

Scripture itself tells us that it is the word of God. We can see that on every page. For example, while reading the Scriptures we repeatedly come across phrases such as: “Thus saith the Lord….” “And God said….” From the beginning to the end of the book, God tells us that what we have in Scripture really is His word.

There are also some key passages that explicitly address the subject of the inspiration of Scripture. One of these is II Timothy 3:16: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”

The English phrase “given by inspiration of God” is actually a translation of a single word that means “God-breathed.” Literally, therefore, the passage reads: “All Scripture is God-breathed.”

That, in short, is what inspiration means. That Scripture is inspired by God means that God really did breathe out the very words that we have recorded for us in Scripture.

Now since Scripture is God-breathed, it must be infallible. The word infallible means without error and incapable of erring. If it is the word of God, it must, of course, be without error, seeing as God never errs.

But what about the fact that God used fallible humans to write down what He said. Could not errors have crept in because of this?

That brings us to consider a second key passage on the inspiration of Scripture.

Writers guided by the Spirit

Although it is true that those who wrote God’s word were of themselves men liable to err, while they were engaged in this act of writing they were infallibly guided by the Holy Spirit. “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. 1:21).

That the writers were “moved by the Holy Ghost” means literally that they were carried along by the Spirit while they engaged in this work, so that what they wrote down was precisely the words that the Spirit guided them to write.

But, someone may say, Scripture is sometimes called the words of this or that prophet. Take, for example, what we read at the beginning of the book of Jeremiah. “The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah…” (Jer. 1:1).

This passage is not saying that the book of Jeremiah is some sort of a combination of what Jeremiah says and what God says. The whole book is said to be “the words of Jeremiah,” and yet it rightly belongs in the Bible. That is because the book contains the words that Jeremiah wrote while he was being moved infallibly by the Spirit of God. It was the Spirit who was the one speaking in and through the prophet Jeremiah.

There is nothing wrong with referring to a psalm of David as “what David said,” or to an epistle of Paul as “what Paul said.” Such phrases are found in a number of places in the Scriptures themselves. What they wrote can rightly be referred to as their words. But it was the Spirit who was speaking in and through them, so that what they put down was precisely, word for word, what the Spirit wanted them to write.

That is what is meant by the wonder of the inspiration of Scripture.

The Spirit speaking to us

There are some who like to speak of private messages that the Holy Spirit supposedly has said to them. The Spirit does indeed talk to us, but how do we know what the Spirit says?

The answer is that Scripture is the record of what the Spirit says. Scripture itself says this. Repeatedly in the second and third chapters of the book of Revelation, we come across this exhortation: “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Rev. 3:6).

The book of Revelation tells us what the Spirit says, and then exhorts us to listen to what He says. In passages such as this, listening to Scripture is said to be listening to the Spirit.

To quote Scripture is to quote what the Spirit says. We often find in one Scripture passage a quote taken from another Scripture passage. Note in the verse from Hebrews quoted below that what Scripture says in Psalm 95 is referred to as what the Holy Ghost says: “Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, Today if ye will hear his voice” (Heb. 3:7).

Psalm 95 was written by a man. Yet the quote is said to be what the Holy Spirit said.

The Spirit does indeed speak to us, but we must not be fooled into thinking that our own private feelings are the words of the Spirit. Scripture is the record, the one, infallibly inspired record, of what the Spirit says.

Delighting to hear what the Spirit says

Listening to the Scriptures is therefore listening to the Spirit, and rejecting the Scriptures is rejecting the Spirit.

Many, however, do not want to think of themselves as rejecting God when they reject what Scripture says. So they try to escape this condemnation by denying that what is said in Scripture really is the word of God. Those who do this, however, are not escaping their guilt, but rather increasing it.

A very different attitude toward Scripture is found in those who truly love God and desire to do what He says. To them the truth that Scripture is God-breathed, and thus infallible, gives them great joy. They find great delight in knowing and being assured that they have in Scripture a perfect record of what their God lovingly says to them.