Verbally inspired extends the meaning to the very words used by the Biblical Authors. Not to be confused with “divine dictation,” a good example would be the words of the Prophets in the Old Testament. God called the prophets to communicate a message. It was up to them to decide the vernacular and how that would work in the culture and communications of the era. The Prophets conveyed the message from God, but did so in a way that people could understand as they delivered a message of repentance. The authors of what we know as the Bible used different styles for different audiences. From a distinctively Jewish audience to that of the Gentiles each Gospel writer brought a communications and writing style that best communicated the same Gospel for specific audiences. As the prophets took the message to the people and were sensitive to the best ways of communicating that message, so did Matthew; Mark, Luke and John as they approached their specific audience in delivering the message of God’s love to people.
Inerrancy and Infallibility
The concept applied to “the original writings” is simply called “infallible.”
While inerrancy means “without error,” infallible means “not liable to deceive.” How do inerrancy and infallibility relate? As previously stated the original writings of the Biblical Books were indeed inerrant and are verbally inspired by God. This is important and there is a distinction of what happened with scribes and church politics in the copying of the Biblical texts. I believe the Trinity plays a large part in the original writings with the head knowledge of history, God’s purpose and motive; the Christ followers were following Christ either by actually being with Jesus (Matthew and John) or researching and interviewing people who were there (Luke and Mark). The writers were teaching the Gospels with a firm knowledge of Old Testament writings, and then most were inspired by the filling of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. There are different levels of inerrancy and infallibility with Biblical scholars: “Full inerrantists claim that the Bible is without error and speaks to every and any subject including history, geography, astronomy, mathematics and science. This places Scripture as superior to all things and in all things we apply Scriptural truth.” While claiming that there can be no error in the Scriptures, the Full-inerrant camp does agree there can be “problems” that arise. This can come from taking scripture out of context; or misinterpretation of the Bible. So while the Word itself may be without error, interpreters are always human and are subject to mistakes, agendas, and misinterpretations.
From an Evangelical Free perspective in the Statement of Faith the statement that the Scriptures are “verbally inspired and that the Word of God, the Bible is without error in the original writings,” is a stand on the original writings as being inerrant but implies that translations and paraphrases could contain errors. As I pointed out on the omission of key passages that were in early published versions of the Biblical text, even the most careful and meticulous scribe or editor is prone to error. This can be found in modern translations as well. Though one thing is clear the writing teams of many translations are filled with accountability and strict guidelines in scholarly, spirit-filled believers, who prayerfully respect the original writings.
Revelation is a verb that means revealing what has been previously hidden. Biblical revelation is seeking the true meaning of the words and their application. Jesus tells his disciples why he speaks in parables. The reason is that the meaning is meant for those that God reveals a hidden truth. Because Jesus has called and chosen the disciples they will understand things that scholars and kings will never understand. It is humorous to think that the teachers of Religious Law did understand the hidden meaning but because of the ramifications of the revelation to their religious and political power, they did not like what the revelation implied!
Jesus constantly lets the Disciples in on the special revelation of praying; healing and telling people the news of the Kingdom. He tells them that they will do far greater things than even John the Baptist. When he sends out the 72 they are amazed at the works that God does through them. Later in The Acts of the Apostles Luke documents what special revelation could do in multiplying and sustaining the early church. When we see Peter who days before denied Jesus, come under the influence of the Holy Spirit, we find a man transformed by special revelation and the encounter with God, Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.
It is beneficial that general revelation comes to knowing God, for a believer for many reasons that include understanding what God’s will is and what God is calling an individual to do through reading and hearing of His Word. When the word can convict and correct us we can begin to see how God is challenging us and then we are compelled to change. I think this is what happened to Peter. Jesus corrects him when predicting Peter’s denial. Then when Peter encounters the risen Christ he is challenged to “feed my sheep.” Then in a short period of time Peter like the others is commanded to wait for the Holy Spirit and after that he is a changed man! He is quoting the scriptures, healing a man and he is being confronted by the Pharisees. He has boldness and he is changed by the word and by the Spirit and through that experience.
Clarity of Scripture
The implications for a church uncomfortable with addressing the implications of clarity of Scripture can lead to a church that is losing its relevance . Scripture and a Biblically teaching church should be used to correct our perspectives, challenge our assumptions and be used to invite change in the lives of all people. If scripture is used in this way then we are inviting all into a new life in Christ. They might reject it, they might fight it and they might even picket and call you names! I like what Preacher and Pastor Alistair Begg reportedly tells people, “If you have a problem with the way I preach the Bible, then it’s my responsibility to address the problem. However, if you have a problem with what the Bible says, then it’s your responsibility to address the problem!” That’s what it means to say that for any of our problems the Scripture is sufficient and that goes for doctrine and practicality.
The Bible is the ultimate authority on all subjects. It is trustworthy as an instrument to the work of the Holy Spirit. The Scriptures are the vehicle through which the Gospels are communicated to us and reveals God’s motive to us. The Scriptures clearly convey how Jesus Christ shows us how to live through the New Testament. For all things the Bible covers every aspect of our lives and it challenges us not to be “merely hearers of the Word, but doers.” (James 1:22-25).
Believed, Obeyed, Trusted
The truth of God’s Word is the map in which everything should be applied to. “The Bible is the Word of God and I take God at His Word,” so the saying goes. The implication for my life and ministry is huge. As a husband and a father, as a Pastor and a Church Planter and as a leader Biblical Truth has the answers and God inspires me and works through me through His Word.
In my home, work and in my community I have learned more about God’s calling and purpose as well as expectations and standards in all areas of my life. I wrote earlier that the implications of living and practicing a Biblical, Systematic and Evangelical Lifestyle is to be in the Word through Study, through relationships with God and community and to practice a life of outreach and gratitude. This speaks to what James said about being “doers of the word.”