Some might claim that a correct understanding of inspiration is merely academic rendering it irrelevant to our beliefs and discipleship and consequently, therefore, of little importance.
Scripture is clear that faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). The importance of maintaining a correct understanding of inspiration and first principle doctrines (Hebrews 5:12, 6:1) is that we might understand God better and this can only be the case if the Bible truly is God’s Word. Once we have understood God we are equipped to become one with Him (John 17:21-23) and become more like Him in our mind, in our actions and in our daily living. If the Bible is the works of man, is partially inspired, is incomplete, or contains error then we are unable to better understand God. The written Word is similar to the spoken Holy Spirit Word in that it is there to provide a distinction in its sound (1 Cor 14:7,8): it has clarity and a consistency that enables us to put our faith in it as the wholly inspired Word of God.
Jesus makes it very clear that his words were the words given to him by God (John 12:49-50, 14:24, 17:8) as did other men such as Moses, David, Ezekiel, Jeremiah and the Apostle Paul (Num 16:28; Mark 12:36; Ezekiel 1:3, 3:27; Jeremiah 1:9, 26:2, 23:26; 1 Cor 14:37; 1 These 2:13). The Apostles had a similar experience (Matt 10:19; Luke 21:14-15; Mark 13:11).
Jesus listened to the Words of God (Isaiah 50:4) and acted upon them in the fullest way which enabled him to be described as the Word made flesh (John 1:14). He was able to claim that he and God were one (John 10:30). Jesus is hopeful that we too will become one with him and God (John 17:21-23) and the wait to do this is through sanctification by the Word of God (John 17:14,17). The Word of God has an intended purpose much more than just an academic knowledge, it is there to instruct us on how we can become more like God in our daily living.
It is from the Bible that we learn Divine principles which guide our discipleship, if we allow them to. Colossae was evangelised and the believers there had to change their way of thinking and lifestyles because of the gospel message that they had heard. The Epistle written to the Colossians states that their hope was based on what they heard in the word of the truth of the gospel (Col 1:5) and led to their faith in Jesus and love towards each other (Col 1:4). The love they had for the Word enabled them to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding (Col 1:9). And the purpose of this was so that they might walk worthy if the Lord unto all pleasing (Col 1:10) and that they might be grounded and settled in the faith and not move away from the hope of the gospel (Col 1:23). Their pleasing of the Lord begins with their hearing of God’s word and the faith that they obtain from its pages. The ultimate goal was that they would become manifestations of Christ in their lives through Christ dwelling in them (Col 1:27), which in turn results in others glorifying our father who is in heaven.
Another example is the Apostle Paul as he converted from Saul of Tarsus. Paul’s understanding of Scripture was incorrect which led to him persecuting the disciples (Acts 9:1-2; Galatians 1:13). Saul’s focus was the traditions of the fathers and the Jews’ religion (Gal 1:14) rather than the true gospel (Gal 1:6-11), which is no gospel at all. To correct this error, Paul was taught by the Lord Jesus directly in Arabia (Gal 1:12) for what appears to be around a 3 year period (Gal 1:18). This period of time with the Lord enabled Paul to rid himself of his cultural and religious biases and errors and, for the first time, to fully understand the truth and to see clearly its required application in his daily living. God’s son could now be revealed in Paul (Gal 1:16, 2:20) as he now became a manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles. In turn, he could now also enable others to glorify God through his preaching (Gal 1:24). Throughout Galatians, Paul ensures the truth of the gospel is maintained (Gal 2:5,14). The journey of Paul began with him first understanding the truth of the gospel clearly before he could then manifest it in his life and to others. This is an extreme example, but it is so clear that a correct understanding of inspiration and of scripture does affect our belief and faith and subsequently our works.
The mind of God
The Scriptures do the same thing for us that the Lord Jesus for for Paul in Arabia (1 Cor 2:11-13), they enable us to clearly see the mind of God and his revelation to us, as compared to any human or manmade writings and thoughts.
A right understanding of inspiration and of core doctrines enables us to tread a similar path to the believers in Colossae and of the Apostle Paul in his conversion. Without knowing and understanding God we are unable to become manifestations of him and to become one with him. The link between doctrine and discipleship is also made in 2 Tim 3:15-17 where the Scriptures declare themselves to be profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness so to that the man of God might be perfected unto all good works.
A firm foundation
Whichever era God’s disciples have lived in, it is the words of God whether written or verbal that have been the foundation on which they have built their lives. Jesus tells a parable of a wise builder who builds his house on a rock and a foolish builder who builds his house on sand. The parable concludes that the success or failure of a house in a storm is based not on the building itself, but rather the foundation upon which it is built (Matthew 7:24-27; Luke 6:47-49), and Jesus says of the wise man that he had both heard the sayings of Jesus and doeth them. The foundation that we built from is the Word of God (1 Peter 1:23-25) as expounded by the Apostles and Prophets and Jesus as the corner stone (Ephesians 2:20).
The Scriptures are able to make us wise to salvation and to provide hope and comfort (Romans 15:4) when understood and applied correctly. The Scriptures are not be critiqued and analysed in the same way that perhaps we would with mans writers and historical records – its principles are unchanging, consistent and provide a foundation on which our lives can be built. The Bible is the authority that other spirits and teachings are tested by.
We have fellowship one with another if we are walking in the light (1 John 1:7) and this light comes from the Word of God seen clearly in the face of Jesus Christ. The inspired Word of God and the set of doctrines it teachers are there to change our perspectives and mindsets and to direct our discipleship to better show the Lord Jesus and our Father to our neighbours.