Bible Basics 3
The Bible basic for today is that the Bible is the inspired word of God. Inspiration is a term which simply means ‘God breathed.’ To see the Bible as inspired is to recognize God as both its creator and also as the shepherd of the transmission process which took place through the ages as the books of the Bible are edited and collected. I like to think of inspiration as being both vertical and horizontal. It is vertical in that God was there in the beginning as people began to record what they heard from God and saw in God’s actions. Originally the word of God likely did not come down as a direct dictation from God much like a downloaded file on a computer. God in the Bible wisely left room for the human authors to shape and share their own telling of the story. You can see this in the fact that we have four slightly different accounts of the life, ministry, and mission of Jesus in the gospels written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Each has their own angle of vision on Jesus and their own Sprit-led contribution to make. Horizontal inspiration to me indicates that God through the Spirit shepherded the process not only of the writing down of these words but also the collecting of these words and the bringing of them together into the books which make up our Bible today. It further means that every time these books are opened and these inspired words are read, the Holy Spirit is still present gifting us with new understandings and applications. So God’s inspiration did not stop with the original writing and editing of the Bible.
To say that the Bible is the word of God also reminds us of the Word made flesh in Jesus the Christ. Like Jesus himself the Bible is both fully God and fully human. Like Jesus the Bible gives us a picture of God and shows us what God is up to in our world. Unlike Jesus, the Bible is not to be worshiped. It is a sign post to God, but unlike Jesus, it is not actually God. For example, when you drive on interstate 35 you pass a sign that says Austin 15 miles. Is that sign Austin though? No. But it points the way and helps us get to our intended destination. The Bible does the same.
Since the Bible is the inspired word of God, it is always appropriate to pray before reading the text. Ask God to open up to you understandings of who God is, who you are, and what God wants you to do in this world today. In other words, ask for the inspiration of the Bible to continue this day in your life!