One of the clearest expressions of the Bible’s view of itself is found in 2 Peter 1:21: “No prophecy ever came from the human will, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”2 The origin of Scripture is God; the means of expression is human language. Yet, even in the act of speaking that which comes from God, the authors are guided, guarded, by the Spirit, who bears them along in their speaking. This text, along with Paul’s assertion that all Scripture is God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:16), provides the foundation of a proper, sound, reflective doctrine of inspiration and inerrancy:
- All of Scripture is God-breathed. Its ultimate origin and source is God, who determines its form, the date and structure of its revelation, and the author through whom the revelation will come.
- God uses different individuals at different times to bring His Word to His people. He uses their circumstances, their individual personalities, and their particular experiences as the means through which His Word is revealed. This means the Bible speaks in human language, replete with differing styles and emphases.
- Since Scripture is intended to communicate in its first appearance as well as down through the ages, it must be understandable to its initial audience. Therefore it will use language directly relevant to its human authors and audience. Later generations, seeing the progressive outworking of God’s revelation over time, should interpret older portions in light of the original context and overall intention of Scripture.
Apart from these major considerations, there is another element often overlooked. Scripture can be read by anyone, but it speaks of those who are the enemies of God, and those who are submitted to Him. There is a spiritual element to Scripture that is embarrassing to many in our technological society. While the words themselves communicate to any person capable of understanding, a desire to understand and obey is beyond the capacity of the natural man. Divine grace is needed to truly understand divine truth, as the Lord Jesus illustrated on His first meeting with the gathered disciples after His resurrection. “Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” (Luke 24:45 NASB). Just as the Lord had to open Lydia’s heart to respond (Acts 16:14), so too the mind must be opened to understand the divine revelation of God in Scripture. In other words, sound interpretation of divine revelation is not an amoral activity. Hence, those who remain in rebellion against God are predisposed by nature to unbelief and a twisting of the text before them (2 Pet. 3:16).