Better Bible Study Tip #66: Don’t Second Guess God’s Choice in Inspiration

One of the reasons why some people find the Bible difficult is because it doesn’t clearly answer all of their doctrinal questions, or articulate their beliefs as plainly as they wish it would. Sometimes this can lead to the bad habits of trying to pull more out of a text than what the text actually teaches, or to pull proof texts away from their contexts in an effort to explain a particular position more clearly.

We need to trust God’s wisdom in inspiring the text the way he did. For instance, if God wanted to inspire a text the show the importance of infant baptism, he could have easily included that. If God wanted to more precisely answer all of your questions about the Holy Spirit, or about the continuation or secession of miracles, he could have inspired someone to explain that more clearly. If God wanted to inspire authors of later generations to write in a way that would more clearly answer every question a modern Christian might raise, he could have done that.

Even though God could have given us a different Bible, he didn’t. For whatever reason, he choose to inspire the particular writers that he did, at the particular time that they wrote. For whatever reason, he chose to address the particular questions that the Bible deals with, teach the particular doctrines that the Bible teaches, and teach them with the precise words that he chose to teach them with. If the Bible is silent on a particular subject, God can be credited with that decision as well.

It was God who inspired scripture. It was God who selected and prepared the particular writers that he chose to inspire. It was God who gave us the Bible as it is, with the words it contains. He did not inspire a different text. God is not incompetent.

As Paul puts it in 2 Timothy 3:16-17,

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 complete, equipped for every good work.

The Bible, as it is, has a divine origin. The Bible, as it is, is sufficient. For this reason we should be extra careful to keep man made catechisms, creeds, statements of belief, and church traditions in proper perspective. If those creeds or traditions teach anything less than what the Bible teaches, they don’t say enough. If those creeds or traditions include anything more than what the Bible teaches, they may say too much. If those creeds or traditions are precisely the same as what is revealed in inspired scripture, they are redundant.

This is not to suggest that it is inappropriate for uninspired teachers to try to explain the text using their uninspired words, or for churches to write a statement of beliefs, or for traditions to be formed and kept. But we must remember that while God could have inspired other words to be included in the Bible, for whatever reason he didn’t. “Other words” are “other words.” They are not inspired. They do not originate with God.

If we can’t explain a particular belief without using the inspired words of scripture, and without using proof texts ripped from their original context, perhaps we should reexamine why we hold that particular belief. Or at they very least, we should reexamine why we feel like it needs to be explained in a way that is different from how the Bible explains it.

When we try to teach more or less than what the Bible teaches, we are disrespecting God’s choice in inspiration. We must honor God’s wise choice to inspire scripture the the time, place, and way that he did.