A Guide to Christian Theology - Lesson 6

The Bible is Inspired by God

In this lesson, Dr. Beshears focuses on the Bible's divine inspiration. Using passages like 2 Timothy 3:15-16 and 2 Peter 1:16-21, it explains "God-breathed" as divine influence shaping Scripture. The lesson highlights authors being guided by God while expressing their styles and situations, yet conveying His truth. It asserts inspiration covers both concepts and words, rejecting mere concepts or dictation. Emphasizing Scripture's reliability and authority, it offers a comprehensive grasp of "inspiration."

Gerry Breshears
A Guide to Christian Theology
Lesson 6
Watching Now
The Bible is Inspired by God

I. Understanding the Concept of Biblical Inspiration

A. Definition of Inspiration

B. Theological Basis: God-Breathed Scriptures

C. Comparison with God's Creation of Adam

II. Scriptural References to Inspiration

A. Second Timothy 3:15-17

B. Second Peter 1:16-21

C. Interpretation of "Moved by the Holy Spirit"

III. Human Authors and Divine Guidance

A. Diversity of Human Authors

B. Guided and Carried by the Holy Spirit

IV. Defining Inspiration and its Implications

A. Standard Definition of Inspiration

B. Scriptures Recognized as Authoritative

C. The Nature of Inspiration as a Divine Work

V. Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrancy

A. Belief, Obedience, and Embrace of Scripture

B. Emphasis on God's Instruction, Commandment, and Promise

VI. Different Views on Inspiration

A. Conceptual Inspiration

B. Verbal Plenary Inspiration

C. Dictation Theory and Comparison with Islam

VII. Evangelical Understanding of Scripture

A. Human Words Guided by God's Message

B. Inspiration as God Speaking to His Church

C. Scriptures: A Divine Message for the Entire Church

VIII. Conclusion: Scripture as God's Word

A. Simple Understanding of Inspiration

B. Importance of Scripture as the Word of God

  • In this lesson, explore the significance of systematic theology, blending academic insight with personal devotion. Learn to interpret biblical texts, understand how theology shapes beliefs, and fortify your faith against deception. This study fosters personal, biblical, and responsible theological growth, vital for spiritual development and discipleship.
  • Learn diverse ways to tackle theological questions, focusing on Holy Spirit baptism. Understand deductive, inductive, and retro-abductive methods. Acts 17:11 and Acts 15 show how community perspectives contribute to nuanced theological discussions, promoting unity amidst differing viewpoints.
  • This lesson provides insights into theological certainty levels, categorizing beliefs into "die for," "divide for," "debate for," and "decide for," highlighting essential doctrines, divisive issues, passionate debates, and less crucial matters, while underscoring the significance of understanding diverse perspectives and theological terms across different Christian tribes.
  • Explore general revelation through creation and conscience (Psalm 19, Romans 1). Responding leads to God, though not salvation alone. Special revelation possible. Diverse salvation views, favoring knowing Jesus. Seared consciences don't always void salvation.
  • Gain deep understanding of special revelation: history, divine acts, and communication revealing God's character and redemptive plan via Messiah. Lesson highlights Bible's key role, conveying God's nature, guidance, and transformative power, emphasizing ongoing divine-human communication.
  • This lesson delves into the concept of divine inspiration in Scripture, citing 2 Timothy 3:15-16 and 2 Peter 1:16-21. It explains "God-breathed" as a term highlighting God's creative influence on words, rejecting mere concepts or dictation. Inspiration involves human authors, their personalities, and styles, conveying God's message to the entire church.
  • In this lesson, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of the characteristics of God, including their definitions, biblical support, and implications and applications.
  • In this lesson you will gain insight into the Bible's clarity, sufficiency, and authority, and the Canon.
  • In this lesson, you'll grasp a deep understanding of God's character. His foremost quality is compassion, like a mother's love. He's gracious, patient, loving, faithful, and forgiving, extending favor even to the undeserving. Yet, He's just, not sparing the persistently rebellious. This lesson dispels misconceptions, urging contemplation of God's profound blend of love and justice.
  • This lesson delves into holiness via Isaiah 6, emphasizing dedication over separation from sin. It challenges misconceptions and calls for church reform.
  • This lesson delves into the fundamental characteristics of God, particularly the Trinity, emphasizing God's essential relational nature within Himself and its biblical implications, while also addressing theological controversies and highlighting the complexity of the Trinity.
  • This lesson explores different approaches to knowing God, inspired by Thomas Aquinas, discusses the doctrine of immutability, and highlights how God can change in his attitude and actions based on biblical evidence, emphasizing the value of in-depth Bible study and open dialogue in understanding God's nature.
  • This lesson covers key theological concepts: sovereignty, election, and free will. It explores differences between Calvinist and Wesleyan-Arminian views on God's sovereignty, impacting God's plan and human responsibility. Emphasis on defining terms to prevent disputes. Speaker is a "Calminian," blending Calvinism and Arminianism for a balanced perspective. Valuable insights into theological complexities and scripture interpretation.
  • Exploring various theological views and problematic issues surrounding the concept of providence, we will gain a comprehensive understanding of the role of prayer in providence, as well as the compatibility of God's sovereignty and human responsibility.
  • You will gain knowledge about anthropology and its biblical foundations, creation of human beings and the image of God in humans, fall and sin and their implications on human nature, redemption and sanctification, and human destiny and eschatology, including views on heaven and hell and the return of Christ.
  • This lesson offers valuable insights into the multifaceted nature of providence and its profound implications for our comprehension of God's role in the world.
  • The lesson touches upon various types of suffering, categorizing them into six different types: moral evil (e.g., rape), natural evil (e.g., cancer), persecution, sharing the suffering of another, punishment for sin, and suffering caused by the devil.
  • Learn to discern God's will by cultivating a Christ-like character, living by moral principles, seeking counsel, embracing uniqueness, and praying. It's about aligning with your long-term happiness and godly desires, offering a balanced approach to life decisions.
  • Explore Jesus' nature and incarnation. Learn how He balanced divine and human attributes, challenging traditional views. Reflect on His mission and ours, empowered by the Holy Spirit, bridging divinity and humanity.
  • This lesson delves into the incarnation of Jesus, explaining his dual nature as both God and man during his earthly mission, supported by Old Testament, Gospel, and epistle references. It acknowledges the complexity of his divinity and humanity, even after his ascension.
  • This lesson explores Jesus' dual nature, divine and human, delving into emotions, knowledge, sin, and his role as the Second Adam, offering theological insights.
  • Learn about Jesus' life and mission, challenging traditional beliefs like the virgin birth. Explore his spiritual journey, resurrection, and more, fostering critical thinking and alternative perspectives.
  • This lesson provides a comprehensive examination of atonement, its various dimensions, and the theological concepts surrounding it.
  • Learn about the Holy Spirit, baptism, and its role in Christian faith. Understand diverse perspectives on its workings in believers' lives, emphasizing its incorporation at conversion and empowering influence, supported by biblical insights.
  • Gain insight into the relationship between spirit baptism and conversion, the various terms used in Scripture, and the importance of ongoing fillings with the Holy Spirit for special ministry tasks, character, and as a command for all believers.
  • This lesson explores the role of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. It challenges traditional definitions, proposing that any ability empowered by the Holy Spirit and used in ministry is a spiritual gift. The primary gift is the Holy Spirit himself.
  • Learn about the theological debate on spiritual gifts like prophecy and miracles. Explore four perspectives: cessationism, continuationism, functional cessationism, and word of faith. The instructor, a continuationist, emphasizes discernment and scripture while promoting respectful dialogue among believers with differing views.
  • This lesson explores the Bible's view of humanity, emphasizing humans as God's unique creation, made from dust and breath, in His image. It delves into human origins, our role as covenant partners, and the interaction between spirit and body, supported by biblical passages, offering a holistic perspective on being human in God's eyes.
  • This lesson redefines humans as image-bearers of God, emphasizing the role of reflecting divine attributes in all work, gender equality, and growth in Christ-likeness. It promotes dignity for all, with potential for deeper reflection as faith matures.
  • In this lesson you will explore the origin of sin, rejecting dualism in favor of a Christian perspective where sin arises from the choices of morally responsible creatures. The lesson introduces the idea of a pre-creation rebellion by Satan, emphasizing that humans are called to engage in spiritual warfare by doing good and promoting Shalom in the world.
  • You will gain knowledge and insight into the nature, marks, purpose, structure, and sacraments of the Church and learn about the different views and definitions used to define it.
  • This lecture discusses the leadership offices of a church, including eldership, deacons, and church members, and how they function according to biblical principles of polity, which prioritize following what the Bible prescribes, closely following what it describes, and using wisdom and being Spirit-led in matters it is silent about, all with the aim of effectively sharing the Gospel and achieving unity and focus.
  • In this lesson, you will explore baptism's significance, modes, and theological perspectives, and learn its role in church membership, unity, discipleship, and spiritual growth.
  • This lesson provides an overview of the historical, biblical, and theological aspects of Communion, including practical considerations for its practice.
  • You will gain a good understanding of death and its theological implications, including the biblical view of death, consequences of death, and resurrection and the afterlife. The lesson covers the definition of death, cultural views, and the portrayal of death in the Old and New Testaments. You will also learn about the physical and spiritual consequences of death, as well as the Bible's teachings on resurrection and the afterlife.
  • From this lesson, you gain insight into the biblical concept of God's Kingdom, its significance in Christian theology, and its impact on eschatology, social justice, and the Church's role.
  • In this lesson, you gain insight into eschatology, examine biblical perspectives, explore key events like the Rapture, Tribulation, Millennium, and Final Judgment, and learn the significance of eschatology for today's believers.
  • By studying the eternal state, you gain insights into the new heaven and earth, resurrection, judgment, and eternal life, deepening your understanding of Christian hope and assurance.
  • Through this lesson, you gain insight into the crucial role of church leaders, their essential qualities, and the challenges they face, while discovering the importance of support and encouragement for their growth and effectiveness in ministry.
  • In this lesson, you gain an understanding of the nature of Scripture and learn to interpret the Bible within its historical, literary, and canonical contexts while addressing challenges in biblical interpretation.
  • This lesson delves into the structure and authority of a church, examining different leadership models and emphasizing the overarching role of scripture as the final authority, while also highlighting the need for congregational involvement in decision-making processes and the unique nature of the apostles in early church leadership.
  • Learn Dr. Breshears' local church leadership principles: focus on equipping, inspiring, empowering, unifying, exemplifying, caring for, overseeing, and shepherding members. Rooted in biblical teachings, emphasizes servant leadership. The lesson discusses congregational decision-making, women in church leadership roles with respect for differing views.
  • Learn about church leadership principles, roles of elders and deacons, active membership, mutual commitment, gift utilization, and clear processes in this comprehensive lesson.
  • This lesson explores sacraments, focusing on baptism and diverse theological views. Baptism signifies a profound commitment to Christ within a believer community, emphasizing understanding and promptness post-conversion.
  • In this lesson, you'll grasp the essence of baptism, its questions, and debates. Discover belief's role, its confession, and the link to repentance and faith. Explore diverse views on baptism performers, methods, and locations. Gain insights and wisdom for informed baptism decisions in your faith community.
  • From this lesson, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of Communion, also known as the Lord's Supper or Eucharist. It will provide you with insights into the controversy surrounding its terminology and the theological background of Communion, primarily focusing on 1 Corinthians Chapters 10 and 11. You will learn about various theological perspectives on the real presence of Christ in the Communion elements and explore different viewpoints on the frequency, leadership, eligibility, and practical aspects of Communion. Overall, this lesson will equip you with the knowledge to better understand and participate in the Communion meal.
  • This lesson delves into two ends: individual death and the end of the age. It explores human death, material and immaterial aspects (Ecclesiastes 12:7, Genesis 3), fear, loss of autonomy, cremation, death determination, rewards, and urges preparation to meet Jesus, facing the undeniable reality of death.
  • Learn about the Kingdom of God, its aspects, Christ's return interpretations, and key concepts like inaugurated, Messianic, and millennium kingdoms. Emphasizing humility and mission in theological debates, it prepares you for insightful discussions on Christ's return and tribulation.
  • Learn about Christian views on heaven and hell. Hell is punishment for those who reject Jesus; heaven is eternal bliss with Him on a renewed Earth. Explore differing views respectfully.

Understand the core topics of systematic theology, from what we know about God to the future state of humankind. Special emphasis is given to such topics as Christ, salvation, the church, and the future.

A Guide to Christian Theology
Dr. Gerry Breshears
The Bible is Inspired by God
Lesson Transcript

So if you remember the last lesson here in topic two, scripture, the old New Testament are verbally inspired by God. I want to play with that term a little bit and understand what we mean when we say the Bible is inspired by God. So if you've got your Bible, turn to second Timothy chapter three. Second Timothy 3:15. He's talking about Timothy. He says, from infancy, you've known the holy scriptures. It is the sacred writings, which would be the Old Testament, which are able to make you wise for salvation, whose faith in Christ Jesus. And then he says, all scripture is God breathed, useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, training and righteousness so that the sermon of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. And that phrase, God breathed, becomes a technical term.

And what we're saying, and this takes us back to how God created Adam, the original man, he took dust to the ground and he breathed the breath of life into him and he became a living person or living soul. I think that's the same thing he's talking about in the Bible. When we use the term inspired or God breathed or whatever we say, we're saying that somehow God took words and in some sort of creative breathing made them words that are useful for rebuking, correcting, training righteousness to equip the servant of God very good work. And that's what we mean by inspired. These words speak with godly authority.

Second Timothy 3:16. We won't take through all the passages, but another key one is in second Peter chapter one. You go to second Peter chapter one. The story here, Peter's talking about his own, how he comes to see who Jesus is. And we kind of pick up in the middle of the story. Verse 16, second Peter 1:16. We did not follow cleverly devised stories when he told about the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in power, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. And he's talking about here, he said he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to the majestic glory saying, this is my son, whom I love, with him I'm well pleased. And he's talking here the transfiguration. We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we're on the sacred mountain. So he's talking about the voice of God that came declaring to Jesus. This is my beloved son. And so what he says here, and he backs off a little bit.

Verse 19, second Peter chapter one, we also have the prophetic message of something completely reliable. The prophetic message completely reliable. You do well to pay attention to it as a light shining in the dark place until the day dawns and the Morningstar rises in your heart. So you're talking about the prophetic message, but then he goes on and becomes more specific. Verse 20, this reliable message, above all you must understand that no prophecy of scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation for prophecy, never had its origin in the human will. But prophets though human spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

And when I unpack scripture, this is the meaning of scripture. This is a key phrase for me is to understand here that in second Peter what he's saying here is the prophet's reliable because they're guided or carried by the spirit. So this is a contrast of myths. This is a reliable thing he said. And what he's saying here is the initiative of the writing of scripture. The prophetic stuff that's written down in canon is coming from God, not from humans. It comes as they were guided along. But it also says that men spoke.

So when you read the scripture, we're reading the writings of humans. We have in scriptures of writing of humans, we have words of women as well as men. But the writers were probably all men. We don't know in some cases who wrote them, but they spoke as they were moved or carried along by the Holy Spirit. So when you talk about this moved, it's the word we get our English word ferry from, a boat that carries you across a river, is the word they use there. It means taken up and compared to the bearer's goal. So when I think about this, second Timothy talks about all scripture. Every scripture, holy scripture is God breathed. Second Peter is talking about the fact that it's human speaking, but as they're moved or guided by God.

So my definition of inspiration, and this is a standard definition, it's in your notes, and this is that work of God. So it's a divine work where he providentially prepared and move the human authors, enabling them to receive and communicate according their individual personalities and styles and situations. The truth is his church know for his glory and human salvation. Now, [inaudible] definition, that's a variation on standard definitions. Westminster Catechism and [inaudible]. It's a work of God where he prepares and moves the human authors. So when Paul writes first Corinthians for example, he's writing to a situation of the church in Corinth and it's Paul writing to those people addressing problems in their context, the divisiveness, the sin that's among them. But what he's doing is enabling to receive and communicate according to their own personalities. So we read the writings of Paul and read writings of Peter. They're really different. We read the four gospels, read Mark and Matthew, and they're pretty different in style and the way they're doing things, John is way different.

So we find very different personalities and styles and situations. But above it all is what we're doing is this is truth, that it's not just for that situation, it's for the whole church. And Richard Bauckham is a New Testament scholar, retired now, but he wrote a book, The Gospel For The Nations. And what he does recount in there as a fairly fine historian as well as a New Testament scholar is some of these books were immediately recognized as authoritative and important beyond the local thing. And they were quickly copied and distributed widely to other congregations. And that was true in the case of Paul's letters. We know that he wrote letters that we don't have in the Bible. I mean it talks about a letter to [inaudible] and we don't have it, have no idea what was there. So it's not because it's apostolic, it's because they recognize this book is the one that's authoritative for the church and they were copied and distributed early on.

We know in the case of Corinthians, there are at least two other letters that we don't have. So what we have would call First Corinthians is certainly a second letter and what we call second Corinthians, almost certainly a fourth letter, and there are probably others that we don't know about, but these two were picked out and distributed. And that process of recognizing these as words that are God speaking to the whole church, not just this one organization is where I talk about... When you talk about inspiration. And so if you look in the Catholic catechism, the Catholic Church, the current one that the Catholic Church uses, they have very similar statements about scripture. God inspired the human authors of sacred books to compose the sacred books. God chose certain men who all the while he employed them in his task made full use of their own faculties and powers. So that though he acted in them and by them is though the true authors, they were consigned to writing or they wanted written and no more.

That's the same kind of thing I just said. From a Protestant side, the Roman Catholic says the same thing about the nature of scripture and this is widely agreed to. So [inaudible] inspired, what we're saying there is this is God's word to his church, the whole church. And we're saying all of these. Now the interesting thing is these are all of them taken together. He can't pick out a life verse and extract it from his context because they're in a letter and the letter is in a context that goes all the way from Genesis to Revelation. So we'll unpack this for a little bit in the conical interpretation.

So I've got a statement in your notes here, and I actually like this a lot through the Chicago statement of Biblical inherency. It's says, holy scripture is to be believed as God's instruction. It's teaching in all that it affirms, obeyed as God's commandment in all it requires, embraces God's promise in all that it promises. So believed his instruction, what it affirms, obeyed his commandment in what it requires, embraced his promise in all that it promises. When you read this again, holy scripture is to be believed as God's instruction in all it affirms, shall believed in instruction, obeyed his God command and what it requires and embraced his promise and what it promises. So it's believed, obeyed, and embraced because it is the inspired root of God. This is the very voice of God speaking to us today. That's a fundamental concept of inspiration, which is this first big word that we apply to this.

Okay, questions from the peanut gallery, so to speak. Inspiration. It's interesting this is held across Christendom, this basic idea. Now here's the problem, for a lot of people they're going to say inspiration is only the concepts of scripture, not the words of scripture. So the ideas are there from God, but the particular wordings are human and we don't pay too much attention to those. And then what that means in practice, if I don't like what the scripture says, well that's just Paul's way of saying it. His concept is we should love everybody. But he says here, and so you end up in taking the words of scripture and you don't really take them very seriously because of the concepts that are there, not the words that are there. And that gives you a way to bypass pretty much anything you don't like in scripture.

So merely conceptual. Are the concepts inspired? Absolutely. But what second Timothy is saying is the very words come from God. Second Peter same thing. And he speaks in these words and we can't change the words. Could God have used different words? Probably, but he didn't. So that's one thing. It's conceptual, but it's verbal and we call it verbal plenary. And when we say verbal plenary, meaning God is speaking these words and in these specific words. And so when you talk about verbal plenary, God speaks in these words and all these words taken together. So verbal means in these words and plenary means all these words taken together. The error on the other side from the conceptual is dictation. And that's the idea that a dictation theory, God speaks the word and the writer writes them down without any of their personality be involved.

So Athenagoras, Holy Spirit breathes the words through the writers as a musician breathes through a pipe. So the pipe adds nothing to the music. It's all from... So when you think of the Quran in Islam, they believe in dictation. They believe the angel Gabriel came and dictated to Allah and he wrote down the exact words. And there was nothing of the personality of Muhammad that came into the Quran. We as Christians say something very different. We absolutely see the personality of Moses. We absolutely see the personality of Isaiah. We see the personality of Jeremiah and so on. In the New Testament we see Peter and Paul and John and James and the others. And they're very different because the persons and situations are different.

So we believe these are human words breathe into by God so those words become the very message God has for his church. That's the heart of inherency, or sorry, the inspiration. It's human words, but these human words because of God preparing and guiding writers are the very words God wants to say to his church. And it's true for the church, the whole of the church. Not everything in there, but this is the word taking together is fellow church. That's the concept of inspiration and that's the heart of evangelical understanding is scripture is [inaudible] day, God speaking, word of God. Simple.


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