Faithlife
Faithlife

The Inspiration of Scripture (Bible Study)

SBI - The Inspiration of Scripture  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
· 5 views
Notes & Transcripts

The Inspiration of Scripture

THE UNIQUENESS OF THE BIBLE
The Bible is unique! It is not enough to say that it is a unique Book, for it is a collection of sixty-six ancient Books. Moreover, this unique collection of Books is bound together by a central theme and a unity of purpose which makes the books into One Book.
The One Book tells of the ways in which God revealed Himself to mankind over a period of several thousand years. This account of the ways in which God has intervened in human history provides us with a description of the nature and the attributes of God completely different from the concept of God found anywhere else in the entire world of literature.
The Bible is history, but history strikingly different from ordinary history. Secular history tells of the rise and fall of nations, of great wars and battles, and of the ways in which men and nations have affected the peoples of surrounding territories. But the Bible goes further than that. The Bible is an interpretation of history, showing how men (as individuals and as nations) have either been blessed or punished by God for their attitude to Him and His holy laws.
It is this unique explanation of the moral and spiritual factors behind the historical narrative, which makes the Bible so relevant to us today.
The Bible enables us to discover the will of God for our lives—because this divine will is made plain in hundreds of real-life illustrations in the Bible.
You and I have a responsibility to examine the scripture, exegete the text, but we are also to allow the scripture to examine us; let the text exegete us.
First, we must answer some of the questions many people have in their minds as they begin to read the Bible. Some say, for example, “Why should I read a book which is merely Jewish mythology?” Jewish mythology is quite different from what we find in the Bible. In fact the truth of the Bible will be quite evident to us as we continue our study. Others ask, “How could such an ancient Book still be relevant?” True, people today are much better educated than ever before; yet the Bible (in part or the whole) ranks as the “world’s best-seller.” Every year more than one hundred million copies are sold! So, when you read the Bible you are in good company, for millions of modern people are reading it! Moreover, it is not being read only by people in Western lands! The Bible (either in part or the whole) is being read today in more than twelve hundred languages. The Bible is being sold today in the languages of 97% of the world’s population and is being read in almost every country and island on earth. For this reason alone, no person is really educated if he has not studied the most widely read Book in the literature of the world.
The Old Testament begins with a concise account of the creation of the world. This unique narrative begins in the undated past, and records how God the Almighty Creator prepared the world, stage-by-stage, to be a home for mankind. When all was ready, God created man. From this logical beginning, the story continues for thousands of years until we reach the end of the Old Testament in the days of Malachi about 400 B.C. The New Testament covers a relatively short period from the birth of Jesus to the death of the Apostles. It was completed about 100 A.D.
Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary Inspiration of Scripture

INSPIRATION OF SCRIPTURE “All Scripture is inspired by God” (2 Tim. 3:16 HCSB). B. B. Warfield argued that the compound word (theopneustos), translated “inspired by God,” misleadingly borrows from the Vulgate (Lat., divinitus inspirata). Instead of an inspiration (i.e., a breathing into by God), Paul’s Greek suggests that Scripture is a divine “spiration” (that which God has breathed out, the product of His creative breath). Paul’s point, then, is not that Scripture is inspiring to read (it is that), or that the authors were inspired (they were), but that Scripture’s origin means it is the very Word of God.

Moreover, the verse is sometimes incorrectly translated as “every Scripture which is inspired,” perhaps implying that Paul did not believe all Scripture is inspired. But in the preceding verse, he alludes not to just a portion but to the entire OT as the “sacred Scriptures.”

For Paul and the writers of the Bible, the Scriptures are “the spoken words of God” (Rom. 3:2 HCSB). When Scripture speaks, God speaks (1 Cor. 6:16; Heb. 3:7; 10:15).

Theories of Inspiration Historically, biblical inspiration has been reckoned in four ways. (1) The Bible is only inspired like other good books with human authors. This is neither what Scripture says nor what the church has believed. (2) The Bible is only partially inspired by God. Proponents hold that only the theological (not the scientific or historical) portions of Scripture are inspired, or that Scripture is just a record of God’s saving historical acts, or that the Bible contains the word of God rather than being that word. But inspiration ensures that Scripture itself is the revealed word of God, not only testifying of God’s redemptive work but also interpreting it. (3) The Bible is divinely inspired without use of human authors. Mechanical dictation theory renders Scripture analogous to myths regarding the origins of the Koran or Book of Mormon, and runs contrary to what the Bible says of its origins. (4) The Bible is divinely inspired because God concurrently worked with human authors to produce the very written message He desired. This classical view teaches the Holy Spirit superintended more than 40 authors from widely divergent backgrounds (shepherds, kings, prophets, fishermen, etc.), spanning a period of approximately a millennium and a half, to produce with supernatural congruity not just the thoughts but the very words of God to mankind.

Mode of Inspiration The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (1978) confesses that the “mode of divine inspiration remains largely a mystery to us.” But certain inferences can be drawn. For instance, the authors were divinely prepared to write God’s word in much the same way as the prophets were made ready to speak His word. “Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you … all that I command you, you shall speak.… Behold, I have put My words in your mouth” (Jer. 1:4–9 NASB; cp. Exod. 4:11–16; 1 Sam. 3; Isa. 6:1–9; Ezek. 2:3–3:11; Amos 7:14–15; Gal. 1:15; Rev. 1:10–11, 19). New Testament apostles were received as authoritative by the early church in the same way as OT prophets under inspiration (1 Cor. 2:9–13; 14:37; Col. 4:16; 1 Thess. 2:13; 5:27; 2 Thess. 3:6; 2 Pet. 3:2). Peter referred to the writings of Paul as Scripture (2 Pet. 3:15–16; inferred also in Jude 17–18).

God Himself wrote the Decalogue (Exod. 24:12; 31:18; 32:16), and the writers of Scripture occasionally wrote what God dictated (Exod. 34:27–28; Rev. 1:10–11). But normally God used His chosen writers’ personalities, theological meditations, and literary styles. Inspiration was not always continuous in the writers’ minds (Jer. 1:2; 14:1; 25:1; 26:1). The divine inscripturated message often surpassed the author’s understanding (Dan. 12:8–9; Luke 10:23–24; 1 Pet. 1:10–12). Biblical authors were not always aware that divine inspiration was at work in them (Luke 1:3, Luke’s historical research). The apostles could write divinely inspired letters in responding to questions and by stating their opinions (1 Cor. 7:1, 25). The Holy Spirit saw to it that each biblical book actually has two authors, one human and one divine. Thus the divine superintendence of Scripture guarantees its inerrancy.

Inerrancy P. D. Feinberg defined inerrancy as “the view that when all the facts become known, they will demonstrate that the Bible in its original manuscripts and correctly interpreted is entirely true and never false in all it affirms, whether that relates to doctrine or ethics or to the social, physical, or life sciences” (Evangelical Dictionary of Theology).

Inerrancy extends only to the original biblical writings, the autographa (Chicago Statement: “Copies and translations of Scripture are the Word of God to the extent that they faithfully represent the original”). Though this stress by conservatives upon the autographa is often ridiculed, the emphasis is critical and sensible. Compared to a later copyist or translator, the author of the original text had a supernatural task for which the total superintendence of the Holy Spirit was needed. Only once for all time the text was written. Should the autograph be corrupted by errors, the following copies and translations of it would never be able to arrive at God’s revealed truth. Therefore, the evangelical who emphasizes the inerrancy of the original manuscript does not undermine copies or translations, rather the undermining is done by those who deny the inerrancy of the autographa. The obvious order of transmission is from the original to copy to translation. Biblical faith, then, must not admit of error in the autographa but must be diligently aware of the possibility for error in copy or translation. This awareness has led to careful study of the textual transmission process and the original languages.

Thankfully, divine providence has overseen the transmission of scriptural copies for 3,000 years. The remarkable conserving work of the OT accomplished by Masoretic scribes is well documented, and NT copies abound more than any other work of antiquity, lending great confidence that we have what the apostles wrote. (It is simply not true that use of modern critical texts as opposed to the Textus Receptus will obscure or corrupt biblical doctrine. The widespread consensus among conservative textual scholars is that variants in the copies are insignificant regarding doctrine.) English readers are especially well served by an abundance of translations that faithfully make available the Word of God in the vernacular.

Inerrancy is a matter of faith and is not demonstrable by scholarship. But many attacks upon the veracity of Scripture are wrongheaded from the outset by those who insist upon arbitrary criteria for inerrancy. As the Chicago Statement notes, inerrancy is not undermined “by Biblical phenomena such as a lack of modern technical precision, irregularities of grammar or spelling, observational descriptions of nature, the reporting of falsehoods, the use of hyperbole and round numbers, the topical arrangement of material, variant selections of material in parallel accounts, or the use of free citations.” Claims regarding other types of alleged errors are often greatly exaggerated. Indeed most Bible difficulties have yielded to the patient work of scholars that can be accessed in quality conservative commentaries.

So attempted harmonization of apparently discrepant texts is the appropriate first response, not the assumption of error. Some difficulties may not yield to investigation unless more archaeological or historical facts come to light. And if problems regarding some texts are not solved, evangelical confidence assumes that were all the pertinent facts known, no error would be found in the Bible. In the final analysis, the follower of Jesus exercises this kind of trust in the Word of God because it is mandated by the example of the Lord Himself.

Jesus’ Attitude Toward Scripture Some today attempt to pit Christ as God’s supreme revelation against scriptural revelation. Jesus reproved those in His day who searched the Scriptures but did not recognize that they bear witness to Him (John 5:39). But He did not reprove them for searching the Scriptures; after all, the Scriptures alone testify of Christ. There is no other way to know Him. Christ is the center of the Christian faith, and the way to Him is by that which the Spirit of God employs for this purpose, the God-breathed Bible.

The disciple’s attitude should not be other than his Master’s toward Scripture: Scripture is final and authoritative (Matt. 4:4, 7, 10; John 10:35) because it is the inspired Word of God. His reverence for and confidence in the OT was stunning (Matt. 5:17–19; 26:54; Luke 16:17; 18:31). See Revelation of God.

INSPIRATION OF SCRIPTURE “All Scripture is inspired by God” ( HCSB).
2 Timothy 3:16 ESV
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
What do we mean by “inspiration”? The word as so so often use it may be confusing. After all, musicians feel “inspired” to write or perform a song. Athletes playing through injuries or against all odds are said to give “inspiring” performances. One can be inspired by the valiant effort of another—cancer patient, student, or a leader of a movement or cause.
B. B. Warfield argued that the compound word (theopneustos), translated “inspired by God,” misleadingly borrows from the Vulgate (Lat., divinitus inspirata). Instead of an inspiration (i.e., a breathing into by God), Paul’s Greek suggests that Scripture is a divine “spiration” (that which God has breathed out, the product of His creative breath).
Paul’s point, then, is not that Scripture is inspiring to read (it is that), or that the authors were inspired (they were), but that Scripture’s origin means it is the very Word of God.
B. B. Warfield argued that the compound word (theopneustos), translated “inspired by God,” misleadingly borrows from the Vulgate (Lat., divinitus inspirata). Instead of an inspiration (i.e., a breathing into by God), Paul’s Greek suggests that Scripture is a divine “spiration” (that which God has breathed out, the product of His creative breath). Paul’s point, then, is not that Scripture is inspiring to read (it is that), or that the authors were inspired (they were), but that Scripture’s origin means it is the very Word of God.
Paul’s point, then, is not that Scripture is inspiring to read (it is that), or that the authors were inspired (they were), but that Scripture’s origin means it is the very Word of God.
For Paul and the writers of the Bible, the Scriptures are “the spoken words of God” ( HCSB). When Scripture speaks, God speaks .
Romans 3:2 ESV
Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God.
1 Corinthians 6:16 ESV
Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.”
For Paul and the writers of the Bible, the Scriptures are “the spoken words of God” ( HCSB). When Scripture speaks, God speaks (; ; ).
Hebrews 3:7 ESV
Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice,
Hebrews 10:15 ESV
And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
Theories of Inspiration Historically, biblical inspiration has been reckoned in four ways.
(1) The Bible is only inspired like other good books with human authors. This is neither what Scripture says nor what the church has believed. (2) The Bible is only partially inspired by God. Proponents hold that only the theological (not the scientific or historical) portions of Scripture are inspired, or that Scripture is just a record of God’s saving historical acts, or that the Bible contains the word of God rather than being that word. (3) The Bible is divinely inspired without use of human authors. (4) The Bible is divinely inspired because God concurrently worked with human authors to produce the very written message He desired. This classical view teaches the Holy Spirit superintended more than 40 authors from widely divergent backgrounds (shepherds, kings, prophets, fishermen, etc.), spanning a period of approximately a millennium and a half, to produce with supernatural congruity not just the thoughts but the very words of God to mankind.
Definition of Inspiration
Mode of Inspiration The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (1978) confesses that the “mode of divine inspiration remains largely a mystery to us.” But certain inferences can be drawn. For instance, the authors were divinely prepared to write God’s word in much the same way as the prophets were made ready to speak His word. “Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you … all that I command you, you shall speak.… Behold, I have put My words in your mouth” ( NASB; cp. ; ; ; ; ; ; , ). New Testament apostles were received as authoritative by the early church in the same way as OT prophets under inspiration (; ; ; ; ; ; ). Peter referred to the writings of Paul as Scripture (; inferred also in ).
Definition of Inspiration
By inspiration of Scripture we mean that supernatural influence of the Holy Spirit on the Scripture writers which rendered their writings an accurate record of the revelation or which resulted in what they wrote actually being the Word of God.
Since, revelation is God’s communication to humans of truth that they need to know in order to relate properly to God, then it should be apparent why inspiration also is necessary.
While revelation benefits those who immediately receive it, that value might well be lost for those beyond the immediate circle of revelation. Since God does not repeat his revelation for each person, there has to be some way to preserve it. It could, of course, be preserved by oral retelling or by being fixed into a definite tradition, this certainly was operative in the period that sometimes intervened between the occurrence of the initial revelation and its complied as the One Book. Certain problems attach to this, for over centuries and even millennia oral tradition is subject to erosion and modification. Then it is apparent that something more than oral retelling is needed.
While revelation is the communication of truth from God to humans, inspiration relates more to the relaying of that truth from the first recipient(s) of it to other persons, whether then or later. Thus, revelation might be thought of as a vertical action, and inspiration as a horizontal matter.
The Fact of Inspiration
The Fact of Inspiration
We begin by noting that throughout Scripture there is the claim or even the assumption of its divine origin, or of its equivalency with the actual speech of the Lord. The Scripture writer’s own claim should be taken into consideration as part of the process of formulating our position on the inspiration of Scripture. What we have here is somewhat like a court trial. I am not an attorney, I have never practiced law…but I have seen every episode of Law and Order. The defendant is permitted to testify on his or her own behalf. This testimony is not taken as settling the matter, however: that is, after hearing the defendant’s plea of “not guilty,” the judge will not immediately rule, “I find the defendant not guilty.” Additional testimony is called for and evaluated, in order to determine the credibility of the defendant’s testimony. But his or her testimony is admitted.
It is permissible to use the Bible as a historical document and to allow it to plead its own case.
The Bible witnesses to its divine origin in several ways. One of these is the view of New Testament authors regarding the Scriptures of their day, which we would today term the Old Testament.
God Himself wrote the Decalogue (; ; ), and the writers of Scripture occasionally wrote what God dictated (; ). But normally God used His chosen writers’ personalities, theological meditations, and literary styles. Inspiration was not always continuous in the writers’ minds (; ; ; ). The divine inscripturated message often surpassed the author’s understanding (; ; ). Biblical authors were not always aware that divine inspiration was at work in them (, Luke’s historical research). The apostles could write divinely inspired letters in responding to questions and by stating their opinions (, ). The Holy Spirit saw to it that each biblical book actually has two authors, one human and one divine. Thus the divine superintendence of Scripture guarantees its inerrancy.
2 Peter 1:20–21 ESV
knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 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.
Here Peter is affirming that the prophecies of the Old Testament were not of human origin. They were not produced by human will or decision. Rather they were moved or borne along (φερόμενοι—pheromenoi) by the Spirit of God. The impetus that led to the writing was from the Holy Spirit. For this reason, Peter’s readers are to pay heed to the prophetic word, for it is not simply humans’ word, but God’s word.
A second reference is that of Paul in : “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”
In this passage Paul is exhorting Timothy to continue in the teachings that he has received. Paul assumes Timothy is familiar with the “holy Scriptures” (v. 15) and urges him to continue in them since they are divinely inspired (or more correctly, “God-spired” or “God-breathed”). The impression here is that they are divinely produced, just as God breathed the breath of life into the human (). They therefore carry value for building up the believer into maturity in order to be “thoroughly equipped for every good work” ().
2 Timothy 3:16 ESV
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
Genesis 2:7 ESV
then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.
2 Timothy 3:17 ESV
that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
When we turn to the early church’s preaching, we find a similar understanding of the Old Testament.
In Peter says, “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through the mouth of David… ,” and then proceeds to quote from and regarding the fate of Judas. It is notable here that Peter not only regards David’s words as authoritative, but that he actually affirms that God spoke by the mouth of David.
Acts 1:16 ESV
“Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus.
Psalm 69:25 ESV
May their camp be a desolation; let no one dwell in their tents.
Psalm 109:8 ESV
May his days be few; may another take his office!
David was God’s “mouthpiece,” so to speak. The same thought, that God spoke by the mouth of the prophets, is found in , , and . The kerygma, then, identifies “it is written in the scripture” with “God has said it.”
Acts 3:18 ESV
But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled.
Acts 3:21 ESV
whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.
Acts 4:25 ESV
who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, “ ‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain?
Acts 1:16 ESV
“Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus.
Acts 3:18 ESV
But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled.
Psalm 69:25 ESV
May their camp be a desolation; let no one dwell in their tents.
Acts 3:21 ESV
whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.
Acts 3:18 ESV
But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled.
Acts 4:25 ESV
who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, “ ‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain?
Acts 3:21 ESV
whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.
This fits well with the prophets’ own testimony. Again and again they declared, “Thus says the Lord.”
Micah wrote: “Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the LORD Almighty has spoken” (4:4).
This fits well with the prophets’ own testimony. Again and again they declared, “Thus says the Lord.” Micah wrote: “Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the LORD Almighty has spoken” (4:4). Jeremiah said: “These are the words the LORD spoke concerning Israel and Judah” (30:4). Isaiah affirmed: “The LORD spoke to me.… He said …” (8:11). Amos declared: “Hear this word the LORD has spoken against you, O people of Israel” (3:1). And David said: “The Spirit of the LORD spoke through me; his word was on my tongue” (). Statements like these, which appear over and over again in the prophets, indicate that they were aware of being “carried along by the Holy Spirit” ().
Jeremiah said: “These are the words the LORD spoke concerning Israel and Judah” (30:4).
Isaiah affirmed: “The LORD spoke to me.… He said …” (8:11).
Amos declared: “Hear this word the LORD has spoken against you, O people of Israel” (3:1).
And David said: “The Spirit of the LORD spoke through me; his word was on my tongue” ().
Statements like these, which appear over and over again in the prophets, indicate that they were aware of being “carried along by the Holy Spirit” ().
2 Samuel 23:2 ESV
“The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me; his word is on my tongue.
2 Peter 1:21 ESV
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.
The authors were divinely prepared to write God’s word in much the same way as the prophets were made ready to speak His word. “Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you … all that I command you, you shall speak.… Behold, I have put My words in your mouth” ( NASB; cp. ; ; ; ; ; ; , ). New Testament apostles were received as authoritative by the early church in the same way as OT prophets under inspiration (; ; ; ; ; ; ). Peter referred to the writings of Paul as Scripture (; inferred also in ).
The authors were divinely prepared to write God’s word in much the same way as the prophets were made ready to speak His word. “Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you … all that I command you, you shall speak.… Behold, I have put My words in your mouth” ( NASB; cp. ; ; ; ; ; ; , ). New Testament apostles were received as authoritative by the early church in the same way as OT prophets under inspiration (; ; ; ; ; ; ). Peter referred to the writings of Paul as Scripture (; inferred also in ).
God Himself wrote the Decalogue (; ; ), and the writers of Scripture occasionally wrote what God dictated (; ). But normally God used His chosen writers’ personalities, theological meditations, and literary styles. Inspiration was not always continuous in the writers’ minds (; ; ; ). The divine inscripturated message often surpassed the author’s understanding (; ; ). Biblical authors were not always aware that divine inspiration was at work in them (, Luke’s historical research). The apostles could write divinely inspired letters in responding to questions and by stating their opinions (, ). The Holy Spirit saw to it that each biblical book actually has two authors, one human and one divine. Thus the divine superintendence of Scripture guarantees its inerrancy.
1. The Bible Claims To Be A Revelation Of God.
This claim is found in a large number of places in the Bible. It is summed up in two short readings as follows:
Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work ().
No prophecy of scripture ever comes about by the prophet’s own imagination, for no prophecy was ever borne of human impulse; rather, men carried along by the Holy Spirit spoke from God ().
These two short paragraphs give a definition of the Christian concept of the inspiration of Scripture. All Scripture is given by God. It was given in two main ways, first by direct revelation (by which the actual words of God are recorded by the prophets): second by inspiration (by which the Holy Spirit guided the prophets as they wrote and thus the prophets wrote Divine Truth). Let us examine these two aspects of the Divine origin of the Bible.
The Bible was given by means of direct revelation. Nearly four thousand times in the Bible we find words or expressions such as: And God said... or The Lord spoke to Moses, or The Word of the Lord came to Isaiah. You could look up the following references by way of example:
God spoke to Moses (), about 1500 B.C.
God spoke to Samuel (), about 1000 B.C.
God spoke to Elijah (), about 900 B.C.
God spoke to Isaiah (), about 700 B.C.
God spoke to Jeremiah (), about 600 B.C.
God spoke to Ezekiel (), about 600 B.C.
God spoke to Malachi (), about 400 B.C.
The above dates are given in round numbers to convey the sense of historical continuity. Thus, God spoke directly to His prophets from time to time throughout the entire period of Israel’s national existence commencing with Moses and ending with Malachi. These holy prophets received direct revelations from God and recorded them at His command. Thus, we have here the actual spoken Word of God.
The Bible was also given by means of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. There are large sections of the Bible which contain history and poetry. Are these sections nothing more than Jewish literature? Certainly they are classified as Jewish literature, but even the Jewish people were able to distinguish between ordinary literature and Divinely inspired literature. “Direct revelation” from God was not necessary when the prophets were recording actual historical facts, but to be authoritative history it had to be inspired by God.
Because they were inspired by God, the prophets were divinely guided in the selection of facts to be written; they were divinely guided in the choice of words to describe the facts; and they were divinely guided in recording not merely human comment on the facts, but the attitude of God toward the behavior of the persons referred to. Thus by Divine inspiration, the prophets were protected from errors in historical fact, from errors in doctrine and from mistakes made through ignorance. In this way the Bible was kept from becoming a mixture of truth and legend which is what we find in most ancient books (for instance, the Greek classics). Modern research and archaeology have demonstrated the astonishing accuracy of Bible history and supports the claim that the Bible is inspired by God.
This briefly is what the Bible claims for itself! It is a Book (which, in some parts, is thousands of years old) which claims to be a record of the actual words of God to men, and of the ways in which He has dealt with men in history. Can such a claim be tested? Yes! In fact, God requires that we test this claim sincerely. About 2500 years ago, God spoke through the prophet Isaiah and challenged unbelievers to apply a very practical test. It is found in the following verses. Please read them carefully:
“Present your argument,” says the Lord. “Produce your evidence,” says Jacob’s king. “Let them produce evidence! Let them tell us what will happen! Tell us about your earlier predictive oracles, so we may examine them and see how they were fulfilled. Or decree for us some future events! Predict how future events will turn out, so we might know you are gods. Yes, do something good or bad, so we might be frightened and in awe. Look, you are nothing, and your accomplishments are nonexistent; the one who chooses to worship you is disgusting.” ().
“I am the Lord! That is my name! I will not share my glory with anyone else, or the praise due me with idols. Look, my earlier predictive oracles have come to pass; now I announce new events. Before they begin to occur, I reveal them to you.” ().
This is what the Lord, Israel’s king, says, their protector, the Lord who leads armies: “I am the first and I am the last, there is no God but me. Who is like me? Let him make his claim! Let him announce it and explain it to me—since I established an ancient people—let them announce future events! Don’t panic! Don’t be afraid! Did I not tell you beforehand and decree it? You are my witnesses. Is there any God but me? There is no other protector; I know of none.” ().
“Remember what I accomplished in antiquity! Truly I am God, I have no peer; I am God, and there is none like me, who announces the end from the beginning and reveals beforehand what has not yet occurred, who says, ‘My plan will be realized, I will accomplish what I desire,’ who summons an eagle from the east, from a distant land, one who carries out my plan. Yes, I have decreed, yes, I will bring it to pass; I have formulated a plan, yes, I will carry it out” ().
These verses clearly teach that the fact of inspiration and the facts of history when taken together will prove whether or not a prophet had written the words of God. One unique feature of the Bible is the vast amount of prophecy or prediction concerning future events it contains. God challenges men to examine these, prophecies to see whether or not they have been fulfilled! For a prediction to be fulfilled in the way and in the time foretold by the prophet is proof that God spoke through the prophet. We will study this in detail in later lessons. This test can be applied to thousands of predictions in the Bible leading to the conclusion that God has spoken. The Bible’s claim to be inspired by the Holy Spirit is the only possible answer to the amazing mystery of the foretelling of the future in accurate detail.
Finally, we note the position our Lord himself held regarding the Old Testament writings. In part, we may infer this from the way he related to the view of the Bible held by his dialogical opponents, the Pharisees. He never hesitated to correct their misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the Bible, but he never challenged or corrected their view of the nature of the Scripture. He merely disagreed with their interpretations of the Bible, or the traditions they had added to the content of the Scriptures themselves. In his discussions and disputes with his opponents, he repeatedly quoted from the Scriptures. In his threefold temptation, he responded to Satan each time with a quotation from the Old Testament. He spoke of the authority and permanence of the Scripture: “the Scripture cannot be broken” (); “until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (). Two objects were regarded as sacred in the Israel of Jesus’ day, the temple and the Scriptures. He did not hesitate to point out the transiency of the former, for not one stone would be left upon another (). There is, therefore, a striking contrast between his attitude toward the Scriptures and his attitude toward the temple.
Concerning this salvation, the prophets who predicted the grace that would come to you searched and investigated carefully. They probed into what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when he testified beforehand about the sufferings appointed for Christ and his subsequent glory ().
Concerning this salvation, the prophets who predicted the grace that would come to you searched and investigated carefully. They probed into what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when he testified beforehand about the sufferings appointed for Christ and his subsequent glory ().
And regard the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as also our dear brother Paul wrote to you, according to the wisdom given to him ().
You will notice that even the prophets themselves did not fully understand the words that God spoke through them or revealed to them. They were simply God’s messengers, and often the great truths they wrote down were too profound for them to understand. No human mind can fully understand Divine truths. A Muslim leader once asked, “Would God punish a man for failing to understand Bible doctrines?” The answer is, “No, we are not punished because we cannot understand the mysteries of the Bible, but for unbelief—for refusing to believe what God has said.” The prophets themselves were unable to understand the great truths they taught, so obviously many aspects of Divine revelation are beyond the limitations of our minds. This problem is partly explained by our next point.
Finally, we note the position our Lord himself held regarding the Old Testament writings. In part, we may infer this from the way he related to the view of the Bible held by his dialogical opponents, the Pharisees. He never hesitated to correct their misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the Bible, but he never challenged or corrected their view of the nature of the Scripture. He merely disagreed with their interpretations of the Bible, or the traditions they had added to the content of the Scriptures themselves. In his discussions and disputes with his opponents, he repeatedly quoted from the Scriptures. In his threefold temptation, he responded to Satan each time with a quotation from the Old Testament. He spoke of the authority and permanence of the Scripture: “the Scripture cannot be broken” (); “until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (). Two objects were regarded as sacred in the Israel of Jesus’ day, the temple and the Scriptures. He did not hesitate to point out the transiency of the former, for not one stone would be left upon another (). There is, therefore, a striking contrast between his attitude toward the Scriptures and his attitude toward the temple.
This fits well with the prophets’ own testimony. Again and again they declared, “Thus says the Lord.” Micah wrote: “Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the LORD Almighty has spoken” (4:4). Jeremiah said: “These are the words the LORD spoke concerning Israel and Judah” (30:4). Isaiah affirmed: “The LORD spoke to me.… He said …” (8:11). Amos declared: “Hear this word the LORD has spoken against you, O people of Israel” (3:1). And David said: “The Spirit of the LORD spoke through me; his word was on my tongue” (). Statements like these, which appear over and over again in the prophets, indicate that they were aware of being “carried along by the Holy Spirit” ().
Finally, we note the position our Lord himself held regarding the Old Testament writings. In part, we may infer this from the way he related to the view of the Bible held by his dialogical opponents, the Pharisees. He never hesitated to correct their misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the Bible, but he never challenged or corrected their view of the nature of the Scripture. He merely disagreed with their interpretations of the Bible, or the traditions they had added to the content of the Scriptures themselves. In his discussions and disputes with his opponents, he repeatedly quoted from the Scriptures. In his threefold temptation, he responded to Satan each time with a quotation from the Old Testament. He spoke of the authority and permanence of the Scripture: “the Scripture cannot be broken” (); “until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (). Two objects were regarded as sacred in the Israel of Jesus’ day, the temple and the Scriptures. He did not hesitate to point out the transiency of the former, for not one stone would be left upon another (). There is, therefore, a striking contrast between his attitude toward the Scriptures and his attitude toward the temple.
We may conclude from the foregoing that the Scripture writers’ uniform testimony is that the Bible has originated from God and is his message to the human race. This is the fact of the Bible’s inspiration; we must now ask what it means. Here differences of understanding begin to occur.
Finally, we note the position our Lord himself held regarding the Old Testament writings. In part, we may infer this from the way he related to the view of the Bible held by his dialogical opponents, the Pharisees. He never hesitated to correct their misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the Bible, but he never challenged or corrected their view of the nature of the Scripture. He merely disagreed with their interpretations of the Bible, or the traditions they had added to the content of the Scriptures themselves. In his discussions and disputes with his opponents, he repeatedly quoted from the Scriptures. In his threefold temptation, he responded to Satan each time with a quotation from the Old Testament. He spoke of the authority and permanence of the Scripture: “the Scripture cannot be broken” (); “until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (). Two objects were regarded as sacred in the Israel of Jesus’ day, the temple and the Scriptures. He did not hesitate to point out the transiency of the former, for not one stone would be left upon another (). There is, therefore, a striking contrast between his attitude toward the Scriptures and his attitude toward the temple.
We may conclude from the foregoing that the Scripture writers’ uniform testimony is that the Bible has originated from God and is his message to the human race. This is the fact of the Bible’s inspiration.
Jesus’ Attitude Toward Scripture Some today attempt to pit Christ as God’s supreme revelation against scriptural revelation. Jesus reproved those in His day who searched the Scriptures but did not recognize that they bear witness to Him (). But He did not reprove them for searching the Scriptures; after all, the Scriptures alone testify of Christ. There is no other way to know Him. Christ is the center of the Christian faith, and the way to Him is by that which the Spirit of God employs for this purpose, the God-breathed Bible.
Jesus’ Attitude Toward Scripture Some today attempt to pit Christ as God’s supreme revelation against scriptural revelation. Jesus reproved those in His day who searched the Scriptures but did not recognize that they bear witness to Him (). But He did not reprove them for searching the Scriptures; after all, the Scriptures alone testify of Christ. There is no other way to know Him. Christ is the center of the Christian faith, and the way to Him is by that which the Spirit of God employs for this purpose, the God-breathed Bible.
Inerrancy extends only to the original biblical writings, the autographa (Chicago Statement: “Copies and translations of Scripture are the Word of God to the extent that they faithfully represent the original”). Though this stress by conservatives upon the autographa is often ridiculed, the emphasis is critical and sensible. Compared to a later copyist or translator, the author of the original text had a supernatural task for which the total superintendence of the Holy Spirit was needed. Only once for all time the text was written. Should the autograph be corrupted by errors, the following copies and translations of it would never be able to arrive at God’s revealed truth. Therefore, the evangelical who emphasizes the inerrancy of the original manuscript does not undermine copies or translations, rather the undermining is done by those who deny the inerrancy of the autographa. The obvious order of transmission is from the original to copy to translation. Biblical faith, then, must not admit of error in the autographa but must be diligently aware of the possibility for error in copy or translation. This awareness has led to careful study of the textual transmission process and the original languages.
Thankfully, divine providence has overseen the transmission of scriptural copies for 3,000 years. The remarkable conserving work of the OT accomplished by Masoretic scribes is well documented, and NT copies abound more than any other work of antiquity, lending great confidence that we have what the apostles wrote. (It is simply not true that use of modern critical texts as opposed to the Textus Receptus will obscure or corrupt biblical doctrine. The widespread consensus among conservative textual scholars is that variants in the copies are insignificant regarding doctrine.) English readers are especially well served by an abundance of translations that faithfully make available the Word of God in the vernacular.
Inerrancy is a matter of faith and is not demonstrable by scholarship. But many attacks upon the veracity of Scripture are wrongheaded from the outset by those who insist upon arbitrary criteria for inerrancy. As the Chicago Statement notes, inerrancy is not undermined “by Biblical phenomena such as a lack of modern technical precision, irregularities of grammar or spelling, observational descriptions of nature, the reporting of falsehoods, the use of hyperbole and round numbers, the topical arrangement of material, variant selections of material in parallel accounts, or the use of free citations.” Claims regarding other types of alleged errors are often greatly exaggerated. Indeed most Bible difficulties have yielded to the patient work of scholars that can be accessed in quality conservative commentaries.
So attempted harmonization of apparently discrepant texts is the appropriate first response, not the assumption of error. Some difficulties may not yield to investigation unless more archaeological or historical facts come to light. And if problems regarding some texts are not solved, evangelical confidence assumes that were all the pertinent facts known, no error would be found in the Bible. In the final analysis, the follower of Jesus exercises this kind of trust in the Word of God because it is mandated by the example of the Lord Himself.
Jesus’ Attitude Toward Scripture Some today attempt to pit Christ as God’s supreme revelation against scriptural revelation. Jesus reproved those in His day who searched the Scriptures but did not recognize that they bear witness to Him (). But He did not reprove them for searching the Scriptures; after all, the Scriptures alone testify of Christ. There is no other way to know Him. Christ is the center of the Christian faith, and the way to Him is by that which the Spirit of God employs for this purpose, the God-breathed Bible.
The disciple’s attitude should not be other than his Master’s toward Scripture: Scripture is final and authoritative (, , ; ) because it is the inspired Word of God. His reverence for and confidence in the OT was stunning (; ; ; ). See Revelation of God.
RELATED MEDIA
See the rest →
RELATED SERMONS
See the rest →