Revelation (2Ti 3:16). Revelation is the means by which God the Holy Spirit revealed His message to prophets and apostles. God communicated to man what otherwise could not be known—things which man could never discover by either reason or observation. While the existence of the physical world discloses the fact that there must be a Creator, the natural world by itself cannot reveal such things as the Creator’s righteousness, love, and grace, or the salvation He holds out to man. For this, God Himself spoke to men.
Inspiration (2Pe 1:21). Inspiration is the work by which the Spirit controlled and superintended the writers of Scripture so that what they wrote was exactly the message He wanted written. The authors of Scripture did not simply write what they felt like writing; they were “moved” or “carried along” by the Holy Spirit. Each person through whom the Spirit worked retained his unique viewpoint and style, but the Spirit guided each so that no error intruded into the original manuscripts and so that the very words were the exact words that God the Holy Spirit wanted written.
Preservation (1Pe 1:25). Only the doctrines of inspiration and preservation can explain the existence of the Bible today. The Bible is one book with one message, but to make this one book, the Holy Spirit caused to be brought together 66 individual books written in three languages by more than 40 authors over a 1,500-year time span. Today, 2,000 years after its completion, the Bible continues to be the most widely distributed book ever written. Only God could undertake to preserve Scripture, and He has promised to do just that. The Word of God will be preserved in eternity (Psa 119:89) and will last forever (Psa 119:152).
Illumination (Joh 16:13). To illuminate means “to cast light on.” Only the Holy Spirit can cast light on the Word and make it clear to man. By himself, man is blinded by Satan and is unable to understand divine truth (1Co 2:14; 2Co 4:4). In the work of illumination, the Holy Spirit makes the written Word understandable and applicable to the individual believer’s needs. Whether the Spirit will open our eyes when we study depends on our attitude when we approach the Word (Joh 7:17). This is why it is essential to be filled with the Spirit when we study.
Interpretation (2Pe 1:20). To interpret means “to explain or tell the meaning of.” The Apostle Peter makes it absolutely clear that there is only one correct interpretation of any passage in the Bible and that is the Bible’s own interpretation. Only by applying the laws of hermeneutics—rules of systematic study—can any student discover the correct interpretation of any passage. While there is only one interpretation, there may be many applications—ways in which a scriptural truth may be used in a person’s life.