August 25, 2014 Broadcast

The Authority of Scripture, Part 1: The Doctrine of Inspiration

A Message by Stephen Nichols

Higher criticism, the branch of literary investigation that seeks to discover the world behind the text, rose to prominence in seventeenth-century Germany. Yet, the motivation for the implementation of this form of study, the denial of biblical inspiration and inerrancy, has a much longer history. Human beings have tried to deny the inspiration of God’s Word for ages because they cannot abide God’s authority over them. As today’s lesson demonstrates, the origin of Scripture in God necessitates its authority over all creation, and only two responses may follow: Spirit-inspired acceptance or denial.

From the series: Why We Trust the Bible

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Further Study On This Topic

  1. article

    Daily Nourishment For The People Of God

  2. article

    Standing On The Promises Of God's Word

  3. blog-post

    What Does "Inspiration" Mean in 2 Timothy 3:16?

Daily Nourishment For The People Of God

Robert Rothwell


If I had to pick one biblical verse to serve as a theme statement for Tabletalk, I would choose Deuteronomy 8:3: “Man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” Despite the variety of topics we cover in the magazine, it is always our intention to point believers back to the only infallible authority for our faith and life — the Word of God. Every section of the magazine is concerned to help you understand and apply the Scriptures.

The importance of consistent, systematic Bible study cannot be overemphasized. By this Word, the Spirit brings us to new life (1 Peter 1:23–25), and by the
same Word He sustains us (2 Tim. 3:16–17). At the end of the day we have not done our job if you are not encouraged to dig more deeply into the Word.

For many years now we have endeavored to accomplish this goal in our daily studies. In the 400 words or so that make up the bulk of the devotional each day, we are not trying to offer new and fanciful interpretations of the biblical text; we only desire to be true to the “faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3). We know the church is not born anew in each generation, and so we rely on the work of those who have gone before us. Our historical situation may differ from theirs, but men such as Augustine, Chrysostom, Calvin, Spurgeon, and others were granted such insight into God’s Word that their words still help to reform the church today.

Semper reformanda, or “always reforming” was the motto of the Reformers because they knew the work of bringing all of life into conformity to Christ is never ending. Reading through each book of the Bible, taking its original meaning seriously, looking at other passages that illuminate a specific text, and drawing personal applications is necessary if we are to grow in the likeness of our Savior. Living coram Deo — walking before the face of God in a manner that pleases Him — is impossible without a solid foundation in the Scriptures. Each month we offer tools to help you ground yourself in God’s Word, in the hope that you will continue to study on your own.


Standing On The Promises Of God's Word

Kevin Struyk


It doesn’t take long to feel overwhelmed in most Christian bookstores these days. So many books, some good, some bad, all competing for your attention and dollar. You may buy a book every so often, only to have it sit next to your other books collecting dust, one of which might be your Bible. It is so easy to bypass the Word of God in our day. Television, phones, and the Internet fill up the “free-time” we have and give us the sense of being “plugged-in” and up-to-speed with our families and current world events. All of this is not a bad thing, but when these things start becoming our only source of truth and guide for how we live our lives, we will become disconnected from God’s will. 

As Christians, our lives are built upon the truth that God reveals in His Word. We understand that all Scripture is “breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16–17). This fact is of utmost importance to the entire Tabletalk staff. The Word of God teaches us that we are to do our best to present ourselves to God as workmen who do not need to be ashamed, correctly handling the Word of Truth (2 Tim. 2:15). 

One way we steward this responsibility is through a special round of editing where every Scripture reference listed in Tabletalk is checked for accuracy, clarity, and consistency. For every issue, each verse is looked up and compared with the particular passage in Scripture then read in the context of the surrounding paragraph, and finally approved. 

Each article and daily study is specifically written to take principles and truths found in Scripture and explain them in ways that connect to our readership. For those that want to dig deeper into the Word each day, there are additional Scripture references listed at the bottom of each daily study page. Our hope is that readers might take the time to look up and research the Scripture verses referenced throughout Tabletalk, and as a result, understand God’s Word more clearly and live as children of light (Eph. 5:8) — two things that can only happen once the dust is blown off their Bibles.


What Does "Inspiration" Mean in 2 Timothy 3:16?

Nathan W. Bingham

In this excerpt from Foundations: An Overview of Systematic Theology, R.C. Sproul explains what Paul meant by "inspiration" in 2 Timothy 3:16.


In the church we have a doctrine called "inspiration." And the English translation of 2 Timothy 3:16 that I just read, uses the term inspiration. But I think that we must make a distinction between the use of the term inspiration here, and the way it's used theologically in the history of the church. Because, as Dr. B.B. Warfield once pointed out so eloquently, the real meaning of this text here in 2 Timothy 3:16 has to do not so much with the way in which God communicated His information to us through the human writers, but rather the emphasis in this text is on the source of that information. What Paul is saying, he uses the word Theopneust (I'll write that out in English) in the Greek here when he says "all scripture is given by inspiration." Literally what this word means is God-breathed. And it means that which God has breathed out, rather than that which God has breathed in.

Now, I was just ready to give my next sentence after finishing that sentence and I noticed that in between that last sentence and the next sentence I had to pause...and take a breath. Because in order for me to speak I have to have breath in my lungs, and while I'm speaking, if I continue to speak and don't take a breath while I continue to speak pretty soon I start squeaking like a mouse and I run out of breath...I have to breath, because when I speak I'm breathing out, and in order to breath out I must first breath in. Now the force of what Paul is saying here is that he is saying that all of scripture is breathed out from God.

Now when we breath out that means we are involved in expiration, not in the sense of dying, but we expire at death because we breath out for the last time, and we don't breath in anymore. But to breath out is expiration, whereas to breath in is inspiration. So really, if we were getting real technical here, we should translate this phrase that all scripture is given by expiration.

Now, so what? What's the difference between an expiration and inspiration here? Again, the point that I'm jealous to make here, is that what Paul is saying when he insists that all of the scripture has been breathed out by God, he is saying that it's ultimate origin is in Him. It is His word. It is His speech. He is the One who is the source of these writings. And so when we talk about the doctrine of inspiration, we're talking about the way in which God superintends the writing of sacred Scripture. That God does not just act, and let people respond with their own insight, and their own imagination to set forth their view of what God has done, but that God is working by the Holy Spirit to superintend that record to make sure that the record that is written is His Word.

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