At the 1982 International Council for Biblical Inerrancy held in San Diego, California, the late E.V. Hill gave a plenary address that I shall never forget. Weaving a homespun story of what his mama taught him growing up in Sweet Home, Texas, Dr. Hill masterfully defended the authority of Scripture. His climactic conclusion came with fever-pitch enthusiasm as he held up his Bible and shouted, “The Bible! The Bible! The Bible! Trust it! Don’t adjust it!” That brought all of us to our feet in thundering, affirming applause. We are living in a time when that counsel needs to be shouted again. The cultural pressures against Christianity and its founder Jesus Christ have never squeezed tighter.
One of the greatest arguments for the trustworthiness of the Bible is the confidence with which Jesus himself used the Scriptures. Contrary to some modern scholars, he was not afraid to affirm the historicity of Adam and Eve in pinpointing both the beginning of history and the institution of marriage between one man and one woman (Matt. 19:4–6). If Jesus wanted to avoid a controversial passage the liberals have questioned for years—the account of Jonah and the big fish—he didn’t! He linked the experience of Jonah and the fish to that of his own burial and resurrection. He even asserted that the men of Nineveh who repented will be resurrected and will participate in the future judgment of Jesus’s own contemporary audience who failed to believe in him (12:39–41). And if that were not enough, Jesus affirmed the reality of Noah and the flood as a parallel to the certainty, yet unexpected timing, of his physical return and judgment (24:36–39). Rather than adjusting the account of Noah’s flood to eliminate its potential offense, Jesus trusted it by affirming it.
Probably the two greatest passages in the Bible about its divine inspiration are 2 Peter 1:20–21 and 2 Timothy 3:16. The first passage describes the process of inspiration: “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (NASB). Far from human intuition or private initiative, the Bible came about by an omnipotent God’s moving and guiding the human authors in what they should say in holy Scripture.
The second passage stresses the product of inspiration. Paul wrote, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (NASB). The phrase, “inspired by God,” is the translation of one Greek word, theopneustos. This word, which is only used here in all of Scripture, has three components: theos is the word for God; pneuma means “breath or spirit;” and the suffix toe indicates “the result of.” Putting these two passages together, we find that the Holy Spirit so guided the human authors in the process that the end product, every Scripture, was the exact Word of God exactly as God wanted to communicate it in the words of the original manuscripts. The authority of the Bible is rooted in the ultimate author of the Bible—the Holy Spirit of God (1 Cor. 2:9–16). Trust it! Don’t adjust it!