Scripture and the Unalterable Character of God

Updated: Oct 29, 2020

Inspiration and Inerrancy are not only about the veracity of scripture but these theological pillars also affect our view of God. Both reflect truths about the character of God. To understand this connection, we will not begin with a definition of Inspiration or inerrancy, but with a robust understanding of the unchanging character of God and see how that relates to scripture.

There is an indivisible connex between God and the nature of His word. While the word of God is not God, however, it does showcase God's nature and essence. One could say God's nature has left an imprint on the scriptures. In other words, He gave it a certain character, which in turn reflects back on Him.

For instance, the word of God is truth, because God is truth. It is eternal because God is eternal. It is inerrant because God cannot lie. It is unchanging and unchangeable because God is immutable. This is so, because the nature of the word of God is established by the character of God. There is an indissoluble bond between the Divine Author of the scriptures and the scriptures itself. Therefore, since God is eternally unalterable, it stands to reason that His word is too.

Why? The Apostle Paul says that "all scripture is inspired by God and is profitable..." (2 Timothy 3:16). The superlative "all" demonstrates that all of scripture is breathed out by God. Some might argue, well the New Testament (hereafter, NT) is not exactly breathed out by God since Paul is talking about the OT. There are many ways to answer this objection.

  • First, Jesus is God, therefore what Jesus says, he says as God, thus the word Jesus produced (NT), is God produced.

  • Second, the Book of Hebrews, says "God spoke... but now He speaks through His Son". The same God who spoke in the Old Testament (hereafter, OT) is the same God who speaks in the NT, in the person of Jesus.

  • Third, Jesus claims, in similitude to the OT, that His word will endure forever, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away" (Matthew 24:35, authors emphasis). Which means, that Jesus equates the veracity and eternality of His word to the OT.

For this reason, we can make the claim that both the OT and NT are "inspired", or rather, breathed out by God and both have certain characteristics and imbued quality that reflect to some degree its relation to God.

The foundation of this inherent reality, which relates to the nature of the word in its truthfulness, reliability, eternality lies in the fact that God himself breathed out the scriptures. In 2 Timothy 3:16 Paul states this truth, in the word "inspired".

While our translations are describing the process of inscripturation, the actual word is θεόπνευστος, "Theopneustos". This is an adjective, which is made up from God, "Theos" and breathe "pneustos". It literally means "God-breathed".

It is more than the fact that it comes from God and that God speaks in the scriptures, moreover, God himself breathed out the very words we know as scripture. This marvellous doctrine is the foundation for the existence of the unshakable eternal bond between Scripture and God. This becomes the cornerstone of our understanding of Inspiration and Inerrancy.

In other words, God could not and cannot produce a word which is antithetical to Him. He cannot produce a self-testimony that stands in contradistinction to His Divine nature. The Bible must be verbally and plenary inspired in all its parts, because it comes from God. This means that since the character and glory of God are at stake in the word of God, it is, therefore, necessary that there is a total alignment of scripture with its Author. Scripture reflects the nature and essence of Almighty God.

In this blog, we look at two realities that support the notion that God's word is inextricably linked to Him. We will see that the word of God is both eternal and eternally true.

1. God’s Word is Forever Established.

That God is eternal and has no end to His being and existence, is foundational to the eternal nature of the scriptures.

In Psalm 119:89 the author says

Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.” (Psalm 119:89, ESV)
Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven(s).” (Psalm 119:89, NASB95)

The eternality of God’s word is expressed in this verse. The word for fixed, settled or established is in a participle form. It conveys a stronger durative nature than the imperfect form in Biblical Hebrew.

It suggests an action that is typically ongoing or progressing. In this case, the sense is that the word by its very nature is ongoing or progressing or characteristically enduring. The word means, “to be in a position", or "to remain standing” (HALOT, (נצב) 715).

This gives the idea of its immovability. It is settled or set to remain standing. The Psalmist intensifies this reality by the noun “forever”. In other words, the word of God, is not just given for our time, but God has established and settled it to exist forever. His word remains forever. There is a correlation between God and His word. God is eternal and the word He gives is, eternal also.

Now, what about the NT? As mentioned some might resist this notion because we think since the NT comes so much later it is definitely not of the same quality as the OT. I already made this point above but it is important to know that this is not just true of the OT but equally valid of the NT.

The process through which we received the NT is through Christ, and by means of the Spirit. The author of Hebrews says, that God is speaking today by means of His Son. This is done through the inspiration of the NT (I made this point in my blog, "why the bible"). Furthermore, Jesus makes the same claim of His own words, as the OT makes concerning the word of God in the OT. Jesus claims that His words have equal veracity and gravitas as the OT.

Thus when the Psalmist declares that the word of God is forever fixed in heaven, it speaks of the eternality and the durative quality of scripture. This is only true because of the One who gave it is eternal.

This is important, because if we discount the veracity and truthfulness of God’s word, then we impugn God's character. The Scriptures not only reveal God but also reflect the very character of God.

Scripture has authority because it comes from God, but the corollary to this is that since God is authoritative, it stand to reason that scripture is also authoritative. God's authority is invested in the scriptures because God speaks in the pages of scripture.

Richard Mayhue confirms this reality in saying:

God’s authority in Scripture can thus be described as original, unalterable, exclusive, permanent, ultimate, obligatory, and consequential. Scripture is to be authoritatively preached and submissively obeyed since the Author of and the authority within will reward righteous obedience and condemn those who disregard and disobey His authority in Scripture. The concept of authority is thoroughly woven into the fabric of Scripture. (Mayhue, R. L. (2004). The Authority of Scripture. Master’s Seminary Journal, 15(2), 225.)

In other words, we cannot separate the authority of scripture from the authority of the Author of scripture. There is invested authority. Dr. Mayhue goes on to say:

Thus, the very nature of God and God’s Word is not determined inductively by human reason but deductively from the testimony of Scripture (cf. Ps 119:89; Isa 40:8). (Mayhue, R. L. (2004). The Authority of Scripture. Master’s Seminary Journal, 15(2), 233.)

In other words, the character of God is seen and can be exposited from His word. This implies or can be deduced that there is a connection between the nature of the word and the nature of God. Thus, when the Bible speaks, it speaks authoritatively because the author speaks authoritatively.