How God and people wrote the Bible together
...and what it means for your life today!
Yesterday, we saw how there were lots of people involved in writing the Bible. But we also discovered that God inspired the Bible and is therefore the author as well!
But, wait a minute… how does that work? Well, as it turns out, there are several theories that try to explain this:
- Dictation: This theory says that the authors wrote down the words from God without Him using any of their own thoughts, words, or styles. On this view, they simply sat and wrote God’s words down as if they were writing down notes from a biology lecture. Here’s the biggest issue with this view: While there are some examples of this happening in Scripture, this is not what happened for most of it.
- Limited: This theory says that the parts about who God is are true, but many of the historical and scientific details come from the human authors and may be inaccurate. The problem with this theory is that it does not take 2 Timothy 3:16 seriously. It also assumes that God could not or did not reveal His message in a way that is reliable.
- Verbal, Plenary: This theory uses two words that are very important. It says that when God gave His message to the human authors, He made sure every individual word written (verbal) was accurate and the message of the big picture seen across the entire Bible (plenary) is true. He also used their words, their thoughts, their creativity, their life experiences, and their stories to get His message across. This third theory is the best way to understand how God used the human authors.
Three mistakes you don’t want to make
Now, there are a few mistakes that people make when trying to understand how both God and people are authors of the same book.
1. The first mistake is thinking that everything the human authors said or wrote outside of Scripture was inspired. It was only the books included in the Bible that were inspired, not necessarily everything else the writers said.
2. The second mistake is thinking that translations into English are inspired. While the English translations usually give us an incredibly close representation of God’s inspired words, it is only the original words written down by the authors that are truly inspired. This is why it can be very helpful to study the Bible using different translations and you might even want to get help from your pastor if you want to know more about studying the Bible’s original languages.
3. The third mistake is thinking that every description of a person’s actions in the Bible is God’s command for us to act in the same way. In other words, there are plenty of actions that are recorded, but the Bible is not necessarily praising those actions as being moral. For instance, just because the Bible recorded Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden that does not mean God is telling us that disobeying Him is a good thing, or that we too should disobey like Adam and Eve did. Sometimes the Bible simply records things so we will know what happened.
What does all this mean for me?
There are so many ways the authorship of the Bible impacts our Christian lives!
One way that it touches us is in our study of it. Inspiration means that every word of the Bible is important. It also means that the big-picture message seen across all 66 books is accurate as well. The 66 books written over 1,500 years provide a consistent message that does not contradict itself in any way. How amazing!
Moreover, on one hand, the fact that it was written by people gives us a reason to read it from a personal perspective as we try to understand the immediate purpose for which they were writing.
On the other hand, the fact that it was authored by God means that God has spoken to us! This means that He wants us to know Him! He has a message for us and that message is absolutely true and meaningful for our lives! We don’t have to guess about what God is like because He has revealed Himself.