In my library I have many books written by Christian men, concerning Christian subjects. Many of them are great books, yet are any of these books to be put on the same level as scripture? Is a book about the Bible the same as the Bible? Why not? What makes the Bible so different from all other books? We recognize the Bible as being different from all other books in that it has been inspired by God. The Bible is the Word of God. What does that mean? What do we mean when we refer to the Bible as being inspired? To stay within the boundaries of our current study on the Holy Spirit, what is the Spirit’s relationship with the Bible?
I. The Inspiration of Scripture
Last week we studied about ‘Revelation.’ Tonight we will look at Inspiration.
Whereas Revelation is man hearing what God wants written, Inspiration is man writing what God wants written. We read in 2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
The word Inspiration is a very important word when it comes to the Bible. In its simplest definition it means – ‘God breathed.’ It is a compound word containing both the Greek word ‘theos’ which means God. (Theology is the study of God, even as other ‘ -ologies’ such as biology and psychology are studies of other various topics), and the Greek word ‘pneo’ which means to breathe or to blow. Thus the word inspiration means: ‘God-breathed.’
We also learn from scripture that it is God the Spirit who breathed upon men and caused them to write what God wanted written. Both in the Old and the New Testaments we read:
2 Samuel 23:1 Now these are the last words of David. Thus says David the son of Jesse; Thus says the man raised up on high, The anointed of the God of Jacob, And the sweet psalmist of Israel: 2 The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue.
2 Peter 1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
B. ‘Moved the Holy Ghost’
* The word ‘moved’ is an interesting word.
- In Mark’s gospel it is used to refer to the sick that were brought to Jesus for Him to heal.
- John uses the word a lot to refer to fruit being brought forth.
- In Acts it is the word used to speak of the Holy Spirit coming as a ‘rushing’ mighty wind. It’s also used to refer to the strong wind that caught the sails of the ship carrying Paul to Rome.
- The writer of Hebrews uses it to speak of Christ ‘upholding’ all things by the word of His power.
- Peter uses the word twice in this passage:
For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man:
but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
Apparently he was seeking to emphasize that the Bible is not the product of men, but of the Holy Spirit of God. In addition, Peter writes the verb ‘moved’ in such a way to reveal that it was a force outside of man performing the action.
C. Scripture is alive!
We learn from the book of Hebrews:
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
1. God Breathed
The word ‘quick’ means alive. Scripture is alive. Many commentaries draw a parallel between this and what happened to man in the Garden.
Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
BB Warfield emphasizes in his writings that scripture is not – “the product of divine “inbreatheing” into the human authors, but that it “breathed out by God” or “God-breathed.” (Warfield, ISBE 3:1474 s.v. “Inspiration”) In other words, scripture is not alive because God moved men to write these things, but it is alive because it comes directly from God Himself. When we call the Bible the ‘Word of God’, it is indeed the Word OF God.
2. Meaning of ‘Inspirational’
There are some who believe that scripture is inspired only as it inspires us to do spiritual things. They use the word ‘inspired’ even as others have used the word to refer to the writings of someone like Shakespeare. In other words, scripture is inspirational, even as a poem or a song might be. No my friend, the Bible says of itself that it is alive because it comes from the heart of the eternal God. Consider these passages of scripture –
a. Forever established
Psalms 119:89 For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.
David wrote Psalm 119 in Hebrew. In the Hebrew the tense of the verb David used for ‘settled’ is in the past tense. In other words, forever in the past tense, God’s Word was established in heaven.
Proverbs 3:19 The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens.
The Word of God is eternal because it comes from the heart and mind of the eternal God. The truths found in scripture have always been truth and forever will be truth.
b. What about historical information?
Yet someone might say – ‘But doesn’t the Bible contain a lot of historical information? Surely God had to let the events unfold before He could have men record the history.’ Consider what David said:
Psalm 139:16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written , which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
The NASB says – ‘And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.’
Is that possible? Consider what the resurrected Jesus said to John – Revelation 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
II. The Spirit’s Inspiration of Scripture
We are not told exactly how the Spirit moved men to pen scripture. Norman Geisler lists some of the various theories:
A. The Natural Theory –
1. “The Bible writers were inspired only in the sense that a poet or writer is inspired naturally.”
2. Problem – 2 Peter 1:20-21 tells us that no scripture is the result of any individual’s interpretation or opinion, but as men were moved by the Holy Ghost.
B. The Mechanical Theory –
1. Men were little more than stenographers recording what they were forced to record.
2. Problem – There is a variation in the vocabularies of the various men God used. An educated man like Paul has a more extensive vocabulary than a common fisherman like Simon Peter.
C. The Content Theory –
1. As one liberal theologian said, “… the Bible is inspired in spots.” In other words, God only occasionally spoke or got involved.
2. Problem –
a. The Early Church Fathers of the 1st century:
i. Quoted the New Testament 36,000 times in their writings
ii. All but 11 verses of the 7,959 New Testament verses are found in their writings
iii. They were the first to call it scripture
b. According to Willmington’s Complete Guide to Bible Knowledge, p 87, there were 5 tests used to determine the inspiration of scripture vs. other early church writings:
i. Authorship – who wrote the book? Was it an apostle or someone closely associated with the ministry of Christ?
ii. Local church acceptance – Had it been read by the churches and what was their response?
iii. Recognition of the church fathers – (Note: quoted 36,000 times; all but 11 of 7,959 verses quoted)
iv. Content of the book – What did it teach? Did it in any way contradict the rest of recognized scripture?
v. Ability to inspire, convict and edify
A book of the Bible has to undeniably pass all 5 tests, and not just some.
C. The Spiritual Rule Only Theory –
1. The Bible is a rule of faith and practice in all matters of religious, ethical, and spiritual value, but not in other matters, such as some of the historical and scientific statements.
2. Problem –
a. Archeological discoveries continually verify the historicity of scripture
b. Bible revealed many scientific facts, long before discovered by scientists (example – the world is sphere when modern science believed it was flat – Is 40:22)
D. The Verbal-Plenary Theory –
1. All of the very words of scripture are inspired by God
2. Problem –
a. How did the Holy Spirit inspire all of the very words and yet allow for variances in styles and vocabularies?
b. The Holy Spirit
i. Chose the men He wanted to use
ii. Revealed to them the things He wanted revealed
ii. Guided them to record it the way He wanted it recorded
1 Corinthians 2:13 “We speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Spirit teacheth.”
John 17:8 “I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me.”
Exodus 4:12 “I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.”
c. John MacArthur writes – “He arranged their lives, thoughts, and vocabularies in such a manner that His revelation was recorded precisely.” (Sermon – “Is the Bible Reliable?”)