The Bible's Source—God or Man?
In a previous post we discussed the essence of the Bible; in this post, we’ll look at the source of the Bible.
Where did the Bible come from? Are its words simply religious lore, written down by people over the centuries? Are they the product of the thoughts or imaginations of men? Why do we call the Bible the Word of God?
Since our faith is based on this book, it’s crucial for us to know its source.
Knowing the source is critical
We definitely want to know where our drinking water comes from. If we know it comes from a pure source, we’re confident we can drink it without fear. Similarly, we trust certain news reports if we believe the reporters are reliable and their facts are checked.
Knowing the source of something helps us gauge its trustworthiness. Should we value it? Should we disregard it? Is it reliable? So much depends on the source.
What is the source of the Bible?
Throughout the ages, many have written down their thoughts, observations, and philosophies on life. But what about the Bible? Is it merely a collection of the thoughts, observations, and philosophies of pious men about God?
The apostle Peter says this: “For no prophecy was ever borne by the will of man, but men spoke from God while being borne by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21). Even if a person wanted to write something for or about God, all mankind is fallen, and the mind of man is darkened and limited.
Consider the true and profound words in the Scriptures. At times they defy our expectations by providing indescribable comfort or piercing light concerning our inner condition. Could any fallen person write such words?
Peter explains that although the Scriptures were written through men, these men spoke from God. The source of the Bible is God, not men.
How did these words get to us from God?
“No prophecy was ever borne by the will of man. Man’s will, desire, and wish, with his thought and exposition, were not the source from which any prophecy came; the source was God by whose Holy Spirit men were borne, as a ship is borne by the wind, to speak out the will, desire, and wish of God.”
If you’ve ever watched a boat sailing on the water, you‘ve seen its sails catch the wind. It moves along by that wind, not by its own power. This picture demonstrates where the Bible comes from. Just as a boat is moved by the wind, certain men were borne, or carried along, by the Holy Spirit. By this Spirit these men could then speak or write down the will, desire, and wish of God.
So the words of the Bible didn’t originate from man’s own mind. But how did this “being borne” happen?
The Holy Spirit and the human spirit
It’s important to see that God created human beings not only with a mind but also with an inward part that’s actually deeper than the mind. The Bible tells us that God formed “the spirit of man within him” (Zech. 12:1). The “spirit of man” is a person’s deepest part. Just as our physical eyes are our seeing organ, the human spirit is the inward organ by which we can contact and receive God.
John 4:24 says, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit.” The “Spirit” refers to the divine Spirit and the “spirit” refers to the human spirit. With the human spirit, human beings can fellowship with God, who is Spirit.
As certain men were in fellowship with God in their spirit, they were borne, or carried along, by the Holy Spirit to write down the words of God. The Scriptures are God’s words, and they are holy because their source is God. They came to us from men who were borne by the Holy Spirit to speak or write down words from God.
It’s important for us to know the Bible’s source
Without understanding that God Himself is the source of the Bible, we won’t have a solid foundation to stand on. Our faith rests on the Bible. For us to have confidence in this book, we need to be clear that God is the source.
In our daily environment we interact with people who don’t believe in God or who don’t value the Bible’s words as being from God. At work, in school, on television, in movies—nearly everywhere we look—we encounter things and people that may make us question the Bible. And when we’re unsure about the Bible, our faith can be shaken.
However, if we’re clear that God is the source of the Bible, we’ll know it’s words are trustworthy, true, and pure because God is trustworthy, true, and pure. We’ll have confidence in the Bible, and our faith will be nourished by its words. His Word can sustain us in all situations, guide us to know God today, and be depended on for all eternity.
Because we know the source of the Bible is God Himself, we can trust in the Word of God wholeheartedly, without reservation or doubt. By trusting in and relying on the Bible, we will come to know our Lord more and more deeply both in this book and in our lives.
Why do you think it’s important for a Christian to know the source of the Bible? Share your thoughts below!
All verses and quoted footnotes in this Bible study are from the Holy Bible Recovery Version, published by Living Stream Ministry. This post is based on the topic, “The Word of God (Origin),” from the Topical Directory in Using the New Testament Recovery Version: An Illustrated Guide. Bibles for America gives away free copies of the New Testament Recovery Version. You can order yours here.