March 1, 2024

Yes, You Can Trust the Bible!

The Bible is God’s Word, and he speaks to us by it this very day. The Bible is perfect and trustworthy in every way. The Bible speaks with God’s own authority. The Bible is, therefore, sufficient to save you and to guide you to live well. The wise person will read the Bible, heed the Bible, and trust the Bible above everything, including our own speculations.

How did God convey his Word to the prophets and the apostles, such that we can trust it today? Different theories of inspiration have been offered, but conservative evangelicals like David Dockery and I hold to the “verbal plenary” view of inspiration.

This view grants the initiative in inspiration to the Holy Spirit as divine author. The human author, moreover, remains fully involved in the process of writing as a particular human being with distinct experiences shaped by a definite context using personal expression. Due to the supervising authority of the Holy Spirit, the writings retain the quality of inspiration. 

Proponents of this theory ascribe inspiration to the original autographs as written in their entirety, or plenarily, and not just to portions. This theory also affirms that the Spirit led the writers in their choice of certain words. The verbal aspect of verbal plenary inspiration honors the distinctive context, thoughts, and style of the writers. It also recognizes meaning occurs not merely with the choice of particular words but at the levels of sentence, genre, and purpose.

Like many others, I have been driven to a high doctrine of biblical inspiration because this is the teaching of Scripture about itself (2 Tim. 3:15-17; John 10:34-36; 2 Pet. 1:19-21). In addition, Christians often testify how they hear God’s voice palpably through the biblical text. I can attest that, sometimes against my own preferences, God speaks transformative truth to me in his Word. God’s Holy Spirit convicts me, instructs me, and renews my heart with hope every time I read Scripture.

Therefore, I have come to read God’s Word as often as possible. I open the Bible every day on my own in prayer. I use it regularly in congregational worship. I use it to witness to others, hoping to bring them to salvation or to enhance their walk with the Lord. I study it deeply for my mind and for my heart. I cannot get enough of the Bible, because I meet God in it. 

Would you join me in hearing God through his Spirit’s inspiration of his Word?

(This essay is adapted from Malcolm’s most recent book, God, the first volume of the Theology for Every Person series. The book releases publicly next week.)