Patrick: Missionary to Ireland


What do you know about Saint Patrick? Did you know…

  • that the color first associated with Saint Patrick was blue?
  • that Saint Patrick was from England, not Ireland?
  • that Saint Patrick was a slave for six years?
  • that Saint Patrick was a devout Christian missionary?
  • that Saint Patrick was NOT a leprechaun? Ok, you probably knew that one…

Born somewhere on the main English Island (approximately 383 – 415 A.D.), Patrick was kidnapped by Irish raiders at 16 years old and enslaved by a warrior chief to feed pigs. Patrick was a Christian and prayed constantly during this time. After six years of enslavement, Patrick escaped and ran 200 miles to a harbor and sailed back to England. Only to be called by God to return as a missionary to Ireland.  

Ireland was populated by pagans and barbarians. Patrick faced opposition by the druids, an religious group of men who practiced magic and were educated in matters of history and law. Opposed both by Druids and Arian priests, he planted orthodox churches and monasteries, mostly on the northern and western sides of the island. During his ministry Patrick wrote: “Daily I expect murder, fraud, or captivity, but I fear none of these things because of the promises of heaven. I have cast myself into the hands of God Almighty who rules everywhere.”

By the end of his life (493 A.D.), he was said to have baptized ten thousand, and planted over a hundred churches. Patrick strongly opposed slavery; having been a slave himself and having witnessed many of his Christian converts being abducted and sold as slaves. Within Patrick’s lifetime, the entire Irish slave trade had ended. 

There is much that is legendary about the life of Patrick and it is difficult to separate fact from fiction. One legend of Patrick is that on the night of Samhein (or Bealtine), when all fires were to be extinquished on the island, he lit a bonfire on a mountain in protest! Another legend explains the absence of snakes in Ireland by stating that Patrick drove away all the snakes, chasing them into the sea. Most notable of all is the shamrock legend. It is said that in order to explain the concept of the Trinity to the Irish pagans, Patrick used a three-leaf shamrock to illustrate God’s triune nature as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Later, Christians identified the three leaves with the Christian virtues of faith, hope, and love (1 Corinthians 13:13); and in the event you found a four-leaf clover, the fourth represents luck (hardly a Christian concept).

The Confession of Saint Patrick is Patrick’s own autobiography which relates his enslavement, conversion, and ministry. In his confession, Patrick provides a summary of his theology:

“There is no other God nor ever was nor will be after him except God the Father,* without beginning; From whom is all beginning; Who upholds all things as we have said: And his Son Jesus Christ whom together with the Father we testify to have always existed; Who before the beginning of the world was spiritually present with the Father; Begotten in an unspeakable manner before all beginning; By whom were made all things visible and invisible; Who was made man, and having overcome death was received into heaven to the Father: And he hath given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow of things in heaven and things in earth and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and God:*e In whom we believe, and we await his coming who ere long shall judge the quick and dead: Who will render to every one according to his deeds, and has poured out abundantly on us the gift of the Holy Spirit, even the earnest of immortality, who makes those that believe and obey, to be the sons of God the Father, and join-theirs with Christ; Whom we confess and adore—one God in the Trinity of the sacred name.”1

Many details of Patrick’s life are lost to us and we can’t be sure about some of the particulars. What we do know is that Patrick of Ireland was a courageous Christian missionary who followed God’s call to share Christ in a difficult, pagan culture. So if you want to celebrate in the true spirit of Saint Patrick of Ireland, take some time to tell your non-Christian friends and acquaintances about the unique, triune God of the Bible… and get rid of any snakes you may run across in the process. 

1 Saint Patrick, The Confession of St. Patrick with an Introduction and Notes, trans. Thomas Olden (Dublin; London: James McGlashan; James Nisbet and Co., 1853), 44–46.

In honor of Saint Patrick, enjoy this classic and hilarious video from Lutheran Satire: St Patrick’s Bad Analogies!

Hard Questions: Can I Lose My Salvation?



“Can a Christian lose his or her salvation?” This is a question which I receive on a fairly regular basis. It is a question which I myself struggled with early in my Christian life. It is certainly an important question and there is a lot of division on how best to answer it. My short answer is: No. A true Christian cannot lose his or her salvation. But why is there so much confusion about this issue and what does the Bible say?

Troubling Warning Passages

I think one of the reasons for the confusion is the presence of so many warning passages in the New Testament which warn against apostasy, or falling away. The presence of these passages implies that it is possible to fall away from the faith. Why else would they exist?

Colossians 1:21-23 tells us that Christ reconciled us “in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel.”

Jesus himself said, “The one who endures to the end will be saved” Mark 13:13. He also said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples.’” John 8:31.

The writer of Hebrews warns us to strive for holiness “without which no one will see the Lord.” (Heb. 12:14).

Many other such passages could be cited which warn the hearer against falling away from Christ.

Those Who Fall Away Are Not Genuine Believers

Scripture speaks frequently of those who profess faith in Christ, but are not genuine believers. Jesus said that many would call him Lord at the judgment, but would be turned away (Matthew 7:21-23. In the parable of the sower, Jesus addresses those who fall away:

“As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.” Matthew 13:20-21

John states the matter clearly when writing of those who had left the right way for another form of religion: 1 John 2:19 says, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.”

Scripture clearly provides the category of a “false believer” and warns believers to make our calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10). This quote has been attributed to several different individuals but sums the matter up well: “A faith that fizzles before the finish was faulty from the first.”

Salvation Belongs to the Lord

I fear that we have too often over-emphasized the human response in salvation and under-emphasized God’s initiative in salvation. It is true that we must repent and believe the gospel. It is equally true that we must be born of the Spirit (John 3:3) – this is something that God must do.

Peter tells us that God “has caused us to be born again to a living hope” (1 Peter 1:3). Our new birth was not brought about by our will, for we were not born by “the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:13). Peter continues talking about the new birth and says that we are now “kept by the power of God,” literally we are “being guarded by God’s power” (1 Peter 1:5).

Furthermore, our salvation is rooted in God’s gracious choice. Romans 8:30: “Those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.” Notice that all those who end up at glorification are those who were predestined. No one falls off along the way. Ephesians 1:3-14 beautifully lays out our election and the fact that we are “sealed by the Spirit.” It is impossible for someone chosen by God before the foundation of the world to be in danger of losing salvation.

Jesus says that his sheep “will never perish and no one will snatch them out of [his] hand” (John 10:27). He also says that when the Holy Spirit comes, he will be with us forever (John 14:16). Some other passages which speak of God assuring our salvation include:

Jeremiah 32:40 I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me.

Jude 24-25 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 May the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

Philippians 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:8-9 [Jesus Christ] will sustain you to the end; guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Isaiah 46:3-4 (ESV) “Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.

Psalm 37:28 For the LORD loves justice; he will not forsake his saints. They are preserved forever, but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.

Notice in all these passages who it is that is responsible for our salvation. God ensures our sanctification, perseverance, and endurance. He chose us, He called us, He caused us to be born again, He justified us, He sanctifies us, He sustains us, He preserves us, and He will glorify us at the day of Jesus Christ.

Greetings from Columbus, Ohio



37132769996_f8c4e882d5_oIn May 2017, God placed Katrina and myself at Briggs Road Baptist Church in Columbus where I serve as Senior Pastor. We are thankful to God for the course He has charted for us. He is faithful!

I was called to Briggs Road the Sunday after graduating with my Master of Divinity from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in May 2017. I am now working toward a PhD in Christian Preaching through Southern Seminary.

We are excited about the future of Briggs Road Baptist Church! We are in the midst of a period of church revitalization and missional renewal. We have recently sponsored a new church plant which is meeting in our facility,  Zomi Baptist Mission Church which is comprised of believers from Myanmar. There is great work left to be done in our city. Columbus is designated by the North American Mission Board as a “Send City” which is a target city for missions activity. Columbus is the largest city in Ohio and the 15th largest in the US, with over 2 million people in metro Columbus, only 12 percent of whom are affiliated with an evangelical church.

Will you pray for us as we seek to make Christ known to the nations beginning in Columbus, OH?

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Five Lessons from Dangerous Calling



I recently read Paul David Tripp’s book, Dangerous Calling. This book is essential reading for vocational ministers and helpful reading for anyone who serves in ministry. Here are five lessons I took away from my reading.

Pastors must beware of mastering theology without experiencing transformation. Tripp says “Bad things happen when maturity is more defined by knowing than it is by being. Danger is afloat when you come to love the ideas more than the God whom they represent and the people they are meant to free” (42). Developing the personal discipline of worship and devotional Scripture reading is necessary to avoid becoming all head and no heart.

Pastors must beware the danger of living two separate lives: one life in the ministry and another life at home. Tripp offers five practical suggestions later in the book for “closing the separation gap.” Tripp instructs to “sit under your own teaching and preaching”, “confess publicly to your own struggle”, “place yourself under wise and biblical counsel”, “be approachable to your friends and family”, and “build a humbly candid leadership community” (209-212). While every pastor and leader will fall short of the very standard they proclaim occasionally, this type of lifestyle can never be tolerated by a Christian leader.

A pastor’s ministry is shaped by the condition of his heart. While training, knowledge, and experience all are significant factors which shape one’s ministry, Tripp correctly observes that “The heart is the inescapable X factor in ministry” (68). It is easy to measure ministry by metrics which ignore the heart condition of the minister, and we do this too often. This truth correlates with the essential oneness of the pastor. Tripp says, “You are one person. The boundaries of life and ministry are not separate and defined. You do not become a different person when you step into some kind of ministry function. You and I are each in possession of only one heart, so the condition of our heart is a huge issue in our ministry. I know this seems blatantly obvious, but I’m afraid it is not so functionally obvious in our churches” (188). The realization that all ministry is essentially the outflow of my personal spiritual condition is a sobering fact, and one that drives me to pursue holiness and devotion to God.

Whatever motivations or “treasures” the pastor has will determine his ministry. Tripp states that our ministries are shaped by our treasures, or motivations. If we treasure the wrong things, we will lead our ministries incorrectly. “Things like appreciation, reputation, success, power, comfort, and control become all too important. Because they are too important to me, they begin to shape the way I think about ministry, the things I want out of my ministry, and the things I do in ministry” (99). Tripp further states that “your ministry will always be either propelled by or victimized by what you treasure” (103).

The pastor’s ministry will be opposed by the forces of Satan. This seems like a simple and fundamental truth that does not need repeating, but we often conduct our ministries as though we are in a neutral playing field. Tripp says, “It’s sad and dangerous, but it’s true that many of us have taken on a functionally unspiritual view of our ministries… There is a devouring Devil. You need to be serious and watchful.” (218-219). Sometimes we minister as though we are merely working with human factors and realities. This can lead to undue frustration when things do not go as we want them to go. We need to realize that God has given us a divine task that will be opposed by Satan. We should expect opposition and hardship.

I highly recommend Dangerous Calling if you are currently involved in ministry or are seeking to enter the ministry. Tripp highlights several danger zones that can destroy a ministry or even worse, destroy a home.

Five Critical Issues Facing Today’s Church


I was recently asked what I thought were the critical issues facing the church today. After some thought, I came up with five issues which I think are the greatest problems which need to addressed. Tell me what you think. Did I miss one?

Immorality inside and outside the church – with the recent legalization of gay marriage and the effects of the sexual revolution, the church is faced with new challenges. The church will need to be ready to confront not only those outside the church with biblical truth, but also those inside the church. It is inevitable that the moral decay around us will begin manifesting itself inside our ranks. As a result, the church will need to begin taking church discipline seriously.

Decreasing finances – the church will soon have to learn to do more ministry with less dollars. Giving on the whole is on the decline and studies show that millennials do not tithe as well as their parents and grandparents. As a result, the church needs to be ahead of the curve and needs to cut waste and become a lean organization.

Overcoming cultural hostility – The American church has enjoyed a favored position in the culture for generations. We are seeing that dissolve largely in the past decade. The church is becoming a stranger in a strange land. Those outside of us hear only the negative press and learn to repeat the talking points of the secular left. This results in a negative, sometimes hostile, view of the church. We will have to combat this by building real relationships and restoring our reputation first in our communities. We can never expect the world to love followers of Christ, Jesus promised this would not be the case, however, we can live lives in such a way that we dispel the myths that are commonly believed about Christians and we can have a favorable reputation among our own community.

The need to increase church security – I recently heard Thom Rainer say that church security will be one of the fastest growing Christian industries in the coming years. I have heard multiple reports of attacks and robberies happening on church property in recent years. This may be due in part to the growing hostility in our culture. The church needs to be prepared against burglaries and even the unspeakable notion of terror attacks.

Biblical illiteracy – For the most part, the average parishioner in the pew is largely ignorant of the Bible. Not only has this been my personal experience, but there are multitudinous surveys to corroborate this observation. The church has failed to disciple this generation and we need to ensure that if our people profess to believe the body of truth called Christianity that they are able to actually articulate that which they say they believe.

Must-Read: Let the Nations Be Glad


John Piper’s bolet-nations-be-gladok Let the Nations Be Glad was a personally challenging and devotionally rich reading experience. It caused me to think about missions in a way I had not done previously. While I was familiar with Piper’s main argument, it was an enriching experience to read the book for myself and to see the biblical and theological basis for the supremacy of God in mission. There was much I agreed with, much that challenged me, and some will require further reflection.

Piper’s main argument is that God must be supreme as the focus and motivation for Christian missions. Piper states that missions is not the ultimate concern for the church but rather worship is the ultimate concern. “Missions exist because worship doesn’t” appears several times throughout Piper’s book. This is a new way of thinking about missions and is a theologically faithful way to think about the Great Commission with which we are entrusted.

It is common to think of lost people or unreached people as the motivation and focus of missions. While it is certainly not wrong to be concerned for lost people (Piper makes this clear in chapter six), it is incorrect to make this the first concern. The glory of God among the nations is the ultimate goal. Yes, we certainly rejoice when a person is saved from the wrath of God in hell, but we are to look beyond that to the glory which results when peoples of the earth worship God.

This emphasis also has practical benefit. We have been prone to concern ourselves with conversions and professions of faith without going the distance with discipleship of those coming to Christ. If we see the worship of God being offered by those who do not yet know Him as the ultimate goal, this will drive our missions beyond acquiring professions of faith. We will continue discipling until the fruit of worship blossoms in those to whom we have preached. We will fulfill the Great Commission not it part, but in full.

Let the Nations Be Glad by John Piper was a challenging read that pricked my heart concerning more than a few areas. I have read no other book in which the author places his finger on the nerve of missions urgency and presses until the reader is made uncomfortable. This will be a recommended resource for years to come.

Books I Read in 2015


Here are the books I read in 2015 in addition to my Bible reading from the English Standard Version and the Greek New Testament.

  • Reading the Gospels Wisely, by Jonathan T. Pennington
  • Matthew: Evangelist and Teacher, by R.T. France
  • Studies in Matthew, by Dale C. Allison, Jr.
  • Matthew 1-7: Volume 1, International Critical Commentary, by Dale C. Allison, Jr.
  • Matthew 8-18: Volume 2, International Critical Commentary, by Dale C. Allison, Jr.
  • Matthew 19-28: Volume 3, International Critical Commentary, by Dale C. Allison, Jr.
  • The Apocrypha, English Standard Version
  • The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: Volume 1, by James H. Charlesworth
  • The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: Volume 2, by James H. Charlesworth
  • Jesus the Sage, by Ben Witherington III
  • Wisdom, Christology, and Law in Matthew’s Gospel, by M. Jack Suggs
  • Early Judaism: A Comprehensive Guide, by J.J. Collins and Daniel C. Harlow
  • Introducing the Apocrypha, by David A. DeSilva
  • The Apocrypha Oxford Bible Commentary, by Martin Goodman, John Barton, and John Muddiman
  • Can These Bones Live? by Bill Henard
  • The Great Evangelical Recession by John S. Dickerson
  • Prepare, Succeed, Advance: A Guidebook for Getting a PhD in Biblical Studies and Beyond by Nijay K. Gupta
  • New Testament Textual Criticism: A Concise Guide by David Allan Black
  • Reading Romans in Context by Ben C. Blackwell, John R. Goodrich, and Jason Maston
  • 40 Questions About Christians and Biblical Law by Thomas R. Schreiner
  • Romans (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) by Thomas R. Schreiner
  • The Trinitarian Controversy, by William G. Rusch
  • Confessions, by St. Augustine
  • Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament, by Steven E. Runge
  • The Language of the New Testament, by Eugene Van Ness Goetchius
  • Advances in the Study of Greek, by Constantine R. Campbell
  • Basics of Biblical Greek, William D. Mounce
  • The Pastor as Scholar and the Scholar as Pastor, by John Piper and D.A. Carson
  • The First Days of Jesus: The Story of the Incarnation, by Andreas J. Kostenberger
  • Is There a Doctor in the House: An Insider’s Story and Advice on Becoming a Biblical Scholar, by Ben Witherington III
  • Praying the Bible, by Donald S. Whitney
  • Rich Dad, Poor Dad, by Robert T. Kiyosaki
  • How to Win at the Sport of Business, by Mark Cuban

Proceed With Conviction: Same-Sex Marriage in the USA


b599a34c0d512e42e3f5277e172bbebcd745dd98This weekend, Americans will celebrate Independence Day. For many of us however, our celebration is darkened by the shadow of the Supreme Court ruling that redefined marriage for every American this past Friday. News like this tends to affect us in two ways: first we have an emotional response of anger, sadness, or shock. Secondly we have a sense of duty to do something; a feeling that we need to respond somehow. I think it is helpful for Christians first to zoom out and get an appropriate, wide-scope, biblical vision to give us perspective. Then in light of that we need to define specifically what our reaction should be and how we will proceed going forward.


We need to first acknowledge that legalization of same-sex marriage is a multi-layered, sinful decision. It is sinful because it accepts as good something God has declared to be sin. The Scripture is clear that homosexuality is sinful behavior (Lev. 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26-28; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10). In addition to plain statements of prohibition, there are many other negative examples, such as the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 13:13; 19:1-38).

Not only does the legalization of same-sex marriage normalize sin, it elevates it to the sacred dimension of matrimony, thus polluting and diminishing the social concept of marriage. Marriage is a lifetime commitment between one man and one woman that is patterned after the relationship of Christ and his church (Eph. 5:22-33).

Same-sex marriage also destroys the biblical structure of family. Children should be raised by a masculine father and a feminine mother who model proper gender roles and adult behavior. Even the fertilization of an egg requires sexual complementarity. As Christians, we must acknowledge the sinful nature of same-sex marriage.


Affirm God’s sovereignty in heaven and earth. This decision did not catch God off guard. He may very well be using this situation to purify His church and to rekindle our devotion to Him.

Pray for our nation’s leaders, the church, and the lost. We should pray for those who lead our nation as they make decisions that set the course for the nation. We should pray that God would grant wisdom to the church in these difficult days as well as courage to continue the work of the Great Commission. Of course, we pray for those who do not know Christ that they will be turned from darkness to light.

Speak with prophetic voice concerning national sin. While we learn how to best engage the culture over these tough issues, let us always speak the truth of God concerning sin. The call of salvation is a call to repentance. We must speak truth in the midst of a sea of lies.

Model the gospel in our marriages and families. Too long we have preached against homosexuality without removing the log from our own eyes. Let us sanctify our homes and marriages to reflect the glory of God. We are living in a day when simply living in biblical, covenant marriage will be a radical testimony to the gospel. Let’s faithfully represent Christ and the Church.

Recommit ourselves to the Great Commission. The church’s mission is not political activism, but global evangelism. The gospel doesn’t work from top down, it works from bottom up. We are to be making disciples of Jesus Christ. This is how we bring about the reign of God on this side of the second coming.

Prepare to minister to refugees of the sexual revolution. There are going to be people hurt from the fallout of same-sex marriages and the church needs to be wise enough to prepare to receive them. There will be people connected to families in our churches who will obtain same-sex marriages. We need to be ready to confront with the gospel and minister faithfully.

Live in anticipation for God’s coming kingdom. We should not panic. Jesus is coming and this moment in time is just another tick on the clock that brings us closer to his appearing. Live as though God is completely in control and is bringing history to its appropriate end – because this is exactly what He is doing.


Books I Read in 2014



SOME of my books for the Fall 2014 semester at seminary.

It’s been a good year of reading for me. I thoroughly enjoyed Tolkien’s books and am looking forward to starting the third book of the LotR trilogy in 2015. My seminary class load dictated that I put some of my pleasure reading on hold in order to read all the required texts for class, but many of them were quite enjoyable and I am glad that I read them. I managed to read Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, by Donald S. Whitney twice this year; once in the first printing and then I read the new, revised edition this fall. Here’s my list. Keep reading, friends.

    • The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien
    • The Daniel Plan, by Rick Warren
    • Transformational Church, by Ed Stetzer and Thom Rainer
    • Manhood Restored, by Eric Mason
    • Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, by Donald S. Whitney (read twice)
    • Found: God’s Will by John F. MacArthur
    • Five Points by John Piper
    • What is Biblical Theology? by James M. Hamilton, Jr.
    • I Am a Church Member, by Thom S. Rainer
    • David and Goliath, by Malcolm Gladwell
    • A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by Phillip Keller
    • Conviction to Lead, by Dr. Albert Mohler
    • Overcoming Walls to Witnessing by Timothy K. Beougher
    • Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer
    • Between Two Worlds by John Stott
    • What is the Gospel by Greg Gilbert
    • The Great Commission Resurgence by Chuck Lawless and Adam Greenway
    • Tactics by Gregory Koukl
    • The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
    • The Purity Principle by Randy Alcorn
    • A History of the Baptists by Roger Torbet
    • Baptist Confessions of Faith by William Lumpkin
    • Polity: Biblical Arguments on How to Conduct Church Life by Mark Dever
    • George Muller: Delighted in God by Roger Steer
    • A Foundation for the Future by Thomas Nettles
    • Democratic Religion: Freedom, Authority, and Church Discipline in the Baptist South, 1785-1900 by Gregory Wills
    • Differences in Judgment About Water Baptism No Bar to Communion, by John Bunyan
    • A Sober Discourse Of Right to Church Communion, by William Kiffin
    • Preaching with Bold Assurance by Hershael York and Bert Decker
    • Christ Centered Preaching by Bryan Chapell
    • A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens
    • The Bible, English Standard Version 
    • The Two Towers, by J.R.R. Tolkien

How God Gave Us The Bible


000000019How can the Bible be God’s Word if it was written by human authors? This is a common question that arises when discussing the supernatural origin of the Bible. It is true that the Bible was written across 1600 years of human history by more than 40 human authors. How can it still be written by God? Paul tells Timothy that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16). “Inspiration” is the Greek word theopnuestos which literally means “God-breathed.” Jesus corroborates this when he said that we live by “…every word that comes from the mouth of God’ ” (Matthew 4:4). The men who wrote the books of the Bible wrote under divine inspiration and the end result is the words of both the human author and of God.

There are differing theories of how God inspired the biblical authors. Most conservative, evangelical Christians believe in what is call “verbal plenary inspiration.” The word verbal  affirms that the very words the writers chose are inspired. For example, in Acts 1:16 the Apostle Peter says “the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake” (KJV). The word  plenary means “full” or “complete” meaning that God inspired the complete text of the Bible, including historical, scientific, and doctrinal details. This concept of how God inspired the Bible is seen in Peter’s words, “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21, ESV). Although men put the pen to paper, the things they wrote did not originate in their brains, but in the heart of God. God inspired the writers, they transmitted the message.

Some of the authors might not have realized at the time that they were writing the words of God. However, many did know this. Gordon R. Lewis writes, “Over 3,000 times biblical writers claimed to have received their messages from God. God the Holy Spirit “inspired” (breathed out or originated) the Scriptures through the human writers (2 Tm 3:16).God prepared these conscious, active prophetic and apostolic spokesmen (and their secretaries) providentially by their heredity, character, vocabularies, and writing styles. At the appropriate time, in all the processes of writing, they were “moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pt 1:21).” [1]

The Holy Spirit guided the human authors while allowing their individual personality, knowledge, and vocabulary to produce the books of the Bible. The end result is the very Word of God communicated through the medium of human writers. This view recognizes both the human and divine aspect of Scripture.


[1] Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (1812). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.