by Walter A. Boyd, N. Ireland
When considering the subject of the role of the Holy Spirit in revelation and inspiration, it is significant that the two foundational passages of Scripture dealing with it are found in second epistles: 2 Tim.3.16 and 2 Pet.1.20. Those who read the Bible thoughtfully will know that second epistles have a particular relevance to the last days of the dispensation of grace. By including these valuable verses in second epistles, it seems that the Spirit of God is alerting us to the fact that the truth of the Divine inspiration of Scripture will be under special attack in our day.
Since the completion of the Canon, Satan and his emissaries have waged an unrelenting campaign against the integrity of Scripture; and his efforts have intensified since the early part of the twentieth century. The very first attempt to subvert humanity’s confidence in God’s Word began in the Garden of Eden, when Satan said to Eve, "hath God said ...?" Gen.3.1. That rejection of God’s Word is still with us today and we are in that period of which Paul spoke in 2 Tim.4.3-4: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables."
To advance the attack on the Word of God, there has been a concerted attempt to discredit the foundational doctrines of the verbal and plenary inspiration of the Holy Scriptures. By verbal we mean that each word of the original documents is God-breathed. By plenary we mean that every word is God-breathed. All the words of the original manuscripts of the Holy Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation are inspired. Each word with its individual detail and all the words together forming the whole of the Holy Scriptures have been breathed out by God for human penmen to record. In spite of the relentless campaign to subvert God’s Word, there are still those who, like the Thessalonians, conclusively regard the Holy Scriptures as reliable and from God: "For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe" 1 Thess.2.13.
The last words of David as recorded in 2 Samuel chapter 23 help us to understand the truth of Divine inspiration. In vv.2-3 David says, "The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue. The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God." By using the expressions, "His word was in my tongue", and "The Rock of Israel spake to me", David is speaking about his experience in recording the words of Holy Scripture. He makes it clear that inspiration comprises two essential elements: God spoke to David, and David spoke for God. So it is in the case of all the writers of Holy Scripture: when they speak, God speaks! The same truth is found in Isa.59.21: "… My Spirit that is upon thee, and My words which I have put in thy mouth." It should be borne in mind when what Isaiah said is being maligned, by someone criticising either the prophet or his prophecy, it is nothing less than an attack upon God, Who inspired what Isaiah wrote.
When we speak about Divine revelation, we refer to any means that could never otherwise be found, whereby God reveals truth to mankind. In 2 Cor.12.1 Paul speaks about receiving "revelations of the Lord". In 1 Cor.2.10,11 Paul demonstrates that just as only a man can disclose the deep inner thoughts of his heart to another man, so too only the Holy Spirit can reveal to man "the deep things of God". It is not in man’s ability to discover truth about God unless the Holy Spirit reveals it. The agnostic doubts that God reveals Himself; and in so doing he is challenging the assertions that God has the capacity to reveal Himself, and that man has the capacity to know God. Any knowledge of God through the Holy Scriptures is only by Divine revelation, for man could never discern it by his own powers, however erudite he may be. Divine truth is far beyond man’s highest mental or intellectual attainments. One of the earliest questions in the Bible is asked by Job: "Canst thou by searching find out God?" Job.11.7. If God does not reveal Himself to man, He will remain unknown and unknowable. But God has graciously chosen to reveal Himself so that we might learn of Him and His inscrutable wisdom and ways.
God’s Capacity to Reveal Himself
The Holy Scriptures are very clear that God not only has the capacity to reveal Himself to mankind; He has, in fact, effectively done so. God has revealed Himself in a number of ways.
Revelation in Creation
Ps.19.1 declares that God has revealed Himself in Creation: "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handywork." Paul adds to that by saying that God’s invisible nature, eternal power and Godhead "are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made … so that they are without excuse" Rom.1.20. The truth of God in creation is glorious, Psalm 19, and obvious, Romans chapter 1.
The Psalmist declares in Ps.8.3, "When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; what is man that Thou art mindful of him? And the son of man that Thou visitest him?" The created world advertises both the majesty of God and the weakness of man. It is little wonder that David concludes the Psalm with the exclamation of v.9 "O LORD our Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth!"
Speaking during the melee at Lystra the Apostle Paul said, "… the Living God which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless He left not Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness" Acts 14.15-17. Here again we are reminded of the witness of God to man in creation. The constant repetition of the cycle of seasons in the created world is a testimony to the goodness of God.
Revelation in Man’s Conscience
God also reveals Himself to man’s Conscience. Paul, speaking of the men who reject the revelation of God in creation, states that they have to deal with God, Whose Law is "written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another" Rom.2.15. Although the Lord Jesus did not use the word "conscience", He stated that the Holy Spirit would "reprove [convict] the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment" Jn.16.8. The word "convict", which means ‘to bring to light or expose’, implies that sinful man would be made aware in his conscience of sin against God. While it is true that God has given every person the freedom to exercise his own will in deciding about the revelation of God, it does not mean that to do so in rebellion against God’s law will be without judgment. Man has a free will to accept or reject the revelation of God in creation and in conscience, but he is accountable for those decisions.
Revelation in the Canon of Scripture
Another means by which God has revealed Himself is in the Canon of Holy Scripture. The apostle Paul emphasised what several of the Old Testament writers had stated regarding false Gods (see for example Ps.115.4-8 and Isa.46.6-7) when he described them as "dumb idols" 1 Cor.12.2. The God of the Bible is not such – He can and does speak! The wonder of His grace is that He speaks in a way that men can understand and appreciate. In Old Testament days God spoke to individuals, like Abraham, Gen.12.1, Moses, Ex.19.19,21, and Samuel, 1 Sam.3.4; and there are repeated revelations by God to the prophets (e.g. Jeremiah 1.11,14; 7.1; 11.1; 14.1 etc.)
Revelation and Mysteries
In the New Testament certain aspects of truth that were previously unknown in Old Testament days are revealed: these are called mysteries. That word does not imply that there is something curious or mysterious about them; but that they are completely new revelations of truth at a time and to men of God’s choosing. These revelations could not have been understood by men had they been made at an earlier period of time. Paul describes himself and his fellow-labourers as "ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God" 1 Cor.4.1. It is beyond the scope of this chapter to deal with the mystery doctrines of the New Testament; but for the reader who makes them a subject for personal study, there awaits a rich reward in the unfolding of truth. Another related subject that we can only mention briefly is that of miracles. At certain times God used miracles to substantiate or corroborate the message in His revelation. In 2 Cor.12.12 Paul speaks about "the signs of an apostle". He is referring to miraculous events performed by Paul to convince men of the authenticity of the message that God had sent him to declare. By seeing the evidence of Divine power at work, God made the content of His revelation clear and demonstrated its veracity. That is the significance of Heb.2.4, "God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will".
However, whilst the whole Bible is the inspired Word of God, it is not all revelation. There are many historical passages that record things which cannot be regarded as revelation. For instance, when Satan said to Eve "ye shall not surely die" – those words, when spoken by Satan, were not a revelation from God. But in Gen.3.4 we read the Divinely inspired record of Satan’s evil insinuation, thus ensuring the accuracy of the record. The same applies to the instances in the Holy Scriptures where the words of evil men are recorded accurately by Divine inspiration. Inspiration in these cases is not to add credence to what evil men said, but to ensure that the record of what they said is true and accurate.
In Scripture the revelation of truth is progressive. By that we do not mean that successive revelations correct or eliminate previous revelations; but rather that they build upon the previous ones, giving us a more complete understanding. More truth is being added to what is already known. One of the earliest statements by God in the Bible is found in Gen.3.15, "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." An example of progressive revelation is when God adds fuller information, by identifying the Seed of the woman as His Son – "But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law" Gal.4.4. In Heb.2.14 it is by means of death that Christ defeated Satan, "… that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil." Again, in Col.2.14,15, Paul shows that the bruising of Satan’s head took place at the cross: "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it."
Revelation in Christ
The ultimate revelation of God to man is in Christ. John says, "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him" Jn.1.18. Christ has told out fully all that the Father wants mankind to know of Himself. He is the fullest revelation of God to men. In Heb.1.2 it is stated that God "Hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds." That revelation by God gives an understanding of the Person of Christ. His eternal existence, birth, death, resurrection, ascension, and coming again are all revealed in the Holy Scriptures.
The revelation of God to mankind in written form climaxes in the book of Revelation at the conclusion of the New Testament. Rev.1.1 states that it is "the revelation of Jesus Christ". By that we conclude that the book is both a revelation from Jesus Christ to John, and about Jesus Christ for men. These two concepts are repeated at the commencement of each of the letters to be sent by John to the seven churches of Asia, in chapters 2 and 3. The introduction to each letter commences with the words, "these things saith …"; and then there is a particular aspect of the vision of the exalted Christ as given to John in Rev.1.10-20, e.g. "these things saith He that holdeth the seven stars in His right hand, Who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks" Rev.2.1. The revelation by Jesus Christ is not only about Himself as the exalted victorious Son of Man; but John also receives a revelation from the Lord Jesus Christ of "things which are and things which shall be hereafter".
Man’s Capacity to Know God
If a critic of the Bible can prove that God has either not revealed Himself to mankind, or that mankind does not have the capacity to recognise that revelation, then he feels he is absolved of any accountability to God. As we have shown, God has revealed Himself to mankind in various ways. What now of man’s capacity to know God?
Earlier in the chapter we saw that God often performed a miracle to confirm His message. It is interesting to note that, when men listened to the words of the Lord Jesus, they said "Never man spake like this man" Jn.7.46. Mark tells us that, when the Lord Jesus healed a palsied man, "immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion" Mk.2.12. Whether it was through the spoken words of the Lord, or His miracles by Divine power, men had the capacity to appreciate what they were hearing and seeing. However, not all responded with faith to what they heard and saw. Rom.1.19 makes it clear that sinful men have the capacity to know about God’s power and righteousness, and also about their sinfulness: "Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them". In that section of Romans chapter 1 Paul states that unrighteous men, who suppress the truth of God revealed in creation, are without excuse. They do have the capacity to know God, but they choose not to; and are thus condemned by their own actions. That solemn truth is not a contradiction of 1 Cor.2.14, where Paul is saying that any revelation of God to man must be by the Holy Spirit, for man of himself has no ability to understand God. The two passages taken together assert that man is responsible for his own actions, when God reveals Himself through Christ by His Spirit.
God has also revealed Himself in written words. The revelation of God in written words was given to individuals whom He chose, so that they in turn would communicate this revelation to their fellow-men. That revelation was not conveyed in words of their own choice but words chosen by the Holy Spirit, described in 1 Cor.2.13 as "words which the Holy Ghost teacheth".
It is important to distinguish between revelation and inspiration. They differ, in that revelation is the impartation of truth that cannot be discovered by the human mind; but inspiration is to ensure that the truth which God wants men to know is recorded accurately, so that it is authoritative and inerrant. Revelation means that man knows about God; whereas inspiration ensures that what man knows about God is exactly word for word as God would have it written. Revelation and inspiration are closely linked in the way they brought the Holy Scriptures to us; yet they are distinct. For example, Moses went up into Mount Sinai to receive instructions for the building of the Tabernacle by revelation from God; and then, at a later time, he recorded it by inspiration in what we now know as the book of Exodus. Moses received the revelation at Sinai, and later he recorded that revelation by Divine inspiration.
One of the best definitions of inspiration remains that of Professor L. Gaussen, a nineteenth century Swiss theologian, who stoutly defended it in his book, The Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures1: "this term is used for the mysterious power which the Divine Spirit put forth on the authors of the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, in order to their composing these as they have been received by the Church of God at their hands. ‘All Scripture,’ says an apostle, ‘is theopnueustic’." Another useful description is that of Rene Pache2: "Inspiration … is the determining influence exercised by the Holy Spirit on the writers of the Old and New Testament in order that they might proclaim and set down in an exact and authentic way the message as received form God. This influence guided them even to the extent of their use of words, that they might be kept from all error and omission … A like inspiration was granted to the sacred writers in regard to events or facts already known by them without special revelation, that their accounts of them might be that which God willed."
- 1 Gaussen, L. Prof. "The Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures", Published by Moody Press, 1949, p.23.
- 2 Pache, R. "The Inspiration and Authority of Scripture". Published by Moody Press, 1974, p 45.
Not only does Scripture itself testify to its Divine inspiration: the Lord Jesus and the apostles who followed Him in their ministry, testified to the fact that the Holy Scriptures are Divinely revealed and inspired. The Lord Jesus said in Matt.22.31 "But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying …". The Lord’s challenge to the Scribes and Pharisees in Matt.15.2-3, that the Jewish traditions were at variance with the Old Testament Scriptures which are "the commandment of God", is yet another of the many occasions on which He validated the Scriptures as being from God. It is an interesting study to trace the Saviour’s confirmation in the Gospels of the Old Testament Scriptures, e.g. Creation in Matt.19.4,5; the flood and Noah in Lk.11.51; the rescue of Lot in Lk.17.29; the giving of the Law in Matt.19.18. There are many more such verifications in His words of Old Testament incidents, and it is obvious from His statements that the Lord Jesus had complete confidence in the origin and truthfulness of what was written in the Old Testament.
As for the apostles, the Book of the Acts shows that they too had complete confidence in the Old Testament Scriptures as being Divinely inspired, and thus truthful and authoritative. When Peter preached in Jerusalem he affirmed the Divine inspiration of Holy Scripture: "Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus" Acts 1.16. Stephen’s address is a remarkable confirmation of the historicity of the Old Testament account of incidents from the life of the Patriarchs right through to the time of Solomon’s temple, Acts 7.2-50. In the Roman and Galatian epistles, when the apostle Paul writes to defend the doctrines of the gospel, he quotes copiously from the Old Testament Scriptures. (See his use of the expression "as it is written" in Rom.1.17; 2.24; 3.4; 4.17; 8.36; 9.13; 10.15; 11.8; 15.9). Together with other occurrences in the epistle, these show that in each section of that great treatise he has the confidence to base his argument upon the Old Testament Scriptures as being authoritative and Divine. As far as Paul was concerned, the gospel that had been revealed to him was a fulfilment of God’s promises made earlier through the prophets of the Old Testament. Paul clearly grasped that the words of Holy Scripture were co-extensive and identical with the words of God Himself.
Thus the Holy Scriptures came into being as "holy men of God spake as they were moved [‘borne along / driven / directed’] by the Holy Ghost" 2 Pet.1.21. While there are quite a few New Testament passages that affirm and corroborate the doctrine of Divine inspiration of the Scriptures as recorded by human authors, the two most important ones are 2 Tim.3.16 and 2 Pet.1.21.
2 Timothy 3.16-17
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works."
This is one of the vital passages in the Word of God relating to the subject of inspiration. We must pause to carefully consider its significance, for here the apostle speaks of the Bible itself and the purpose of God in its inspiration. A direct translation from Greek of the opening words of this verse gives added impact to what it says: "All scripture God breathed".
It is important to note that in 1 Tim.5.18 the apostle combines a quotation from Deuteronomy chapter 25 and one from Luke chapter 7, thus demonstrating that the Old and the New Testaments are both recognised as the Holy Scriptures; and they are therefore to be regarded as having the same source. Both Testaments are God-breathed, irrespective of who were the human penmen.
Those penmen came from a variety of social and educational backgrounds, and were spread over a period of time well in excess of one thousand years. Yet, in each case, they wrote God-breathed words! The marvel of inspiration is that, within the wide variety of men and over that long period of time, there is not a disagreement anywhere in what they wrote. Indeed, their message has an underlying theme that unites them – they spoke of Christ.
God communicates through His words. He is not like the dumb idols spoken of in Psalm 115 as "the work of men’s hands" v.4, and "have mouths but they speak not" v.5. God has spoken, and what He said has been recorded by human authors. Jeremiah tells us of this in his prophecy, "But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD. Then the LORD put forth His hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put My words in thy mouth" Jer.1.7-9. When God committed His words to various human authors, He did so by inspiration. By that we mean, God breathed out the words, which men received and then wrote down. Those words, having been breathed out by God, contain the very life of God; which is why, in Heb.4.12, the Word of God is said to be "quick" [living] and powerful" [energetic].
That act, which we call inspiration, took place when God breathed out the words for men to write. The Word of God does not become inspired when men read it, and it speaks to the conscience. It is therefore wrong to say, as some do, that Scripture becomes the Word of God when He uses it to speak to someone. The Bible is the Word of God, and full of life and vitality, whether or not it is recognised or acknowledged as such. It is also wrong to say that the Holy Scriptures contain the Word of God. That implies that the Scriptures also contain that which is not the Word of God. The Holy Scriptures are the Word of God; they will never be anything less, nor will anything more ever be added to them. This is emphasised by the words of the Saviour: "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled" Matt.5.18. The Lord Jesus says that the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet (jot), and the smallest stroke used to distinguish letters of the Hebrew alphabet (tittle), shall stand for ever. In the mind of God, the smallest details of the letters of the original manuscripts are important. It is interesting to notice that the Lord Jesus attributed the same eternal character to His own words when He said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away but My words shall not pass away" Matt.24.36. The spoken words of the Saviour are of the same abiding character as the Holy Scriptures; and the Holy Scriptures have the same veracity and value as the spoken words of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is clear from Dan.12.8,9 that the authors of the Old Testament did not always understand the significance of what they wrote, "And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end".
When speaking of inspiration, we should understand from 2 Tim.3.16-17 that, strictly speaking, it applies to the words of Holy Scripture, and not the men who wrote the words: "all Scripture is God breathed". It is wrong to use the expression "God inspired the apostle Paul to write …". What we should say is "God inspired the words which the apostle Paul wrote." The activity of God by the Holy Spirit upon the writers of the Holy Scriptures is explained in 2 Pet.1.20-21.
2 Peter 1.20-21
"Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 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."
Paul’s statement in 2 Tim.3.16-17 emphasises the source and end result of inspiration; and these statements by Peter emphasise the process and power involved in inspiration. In order to produce the end result – the God-breathed Word – the Holy Spirit moved on human authors, and the Bible recognises this dual aspect of authorship. Using their own style and skill, men wrote the words given to them by the Holy Spirit; yet what they wrote were the very words of God. Peter verifies this dual authorship, "This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour" 2 Pet.3.1-2. He wanted these believers to call to mind the words of the prophets and the commandments of the apostles. Both the Old and the New Testaments are attributed to human authors (prophets and apostles). In 3.15-16 Peter acknowledges the wisdom given to Paul, manifested in what he wrote in his epistles, and goes on to explain how in Paul’s writings "the unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures". By so writing, Peter attributes to all the epistles of Paul the status of the Scriptures. All Scripture is God breathed, yet written by men.
By using the expression "according to the wisdom given unto him", Peter shows that the process of Divine inspiration makes use of the gifts given by God. Inspiration is not merely mechanical dictation, where the human author records words like a secretary. Paul’s epistles were written according to the depth and detail of knowledge specially gifted to him. However, 2 Pet.1.20-21 makes it clear that what Paul wrote was not of himself. It did not arise out of "any private interpretation" v.20; but he was "borne along by the Holy Spirit" v.21. God used the character and abilities of the men who wrote the Bible, and at the same time He controlled what they wrote, to the extent that what they produced is the breathed-out Word of God. The writers of the Bible were not left to their own devices when writing. The Holy Spirit miraculously operated in them as fallen men, so that the process of inspiration over-ruled their defects; yet guided them as Spirit-filled men to write exactly what God wanted.
When Peter says that they were "moved by the Holy Spirit", he uses an expression that conveys the idea of a ship being borne along on a wind. Just as a ship is controlled by its propelling power, so too the human authors of the Bible were controlled by the Holy Spirit. When the wind blows, the ship sails; when the wind stops, the ship stops. This expression used by Peter shows that the human authors were under the direct control of the Holy Spirit as they wrote. The process of inspiration was a fulfilment of the words spoken by the Lord Jesus in Jn.16.13: "Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will shew you things to come. He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall shew it unto you."
What a marvellous book we have in the Bible! Just as the Eternal Word of God is truly God and truly Man, so too in a sense the written Word of God is the words of God and the words of man.
The implications of Divine revelation and inspiration are at one and the same time comforting and challenging. When reading the Word of God, we can draw immense comfort from the fact that it is inerrant and can be depended upon. We should also be challenged as we read it, knowing that it is authoritative and must be obeyed. We will now deal briefly with the truthfulness and relevance of the Holy Scriptures.
It is beyond controversy that God is as He is described in the Scriptures: "the God of Truth", Deut.32.4; Isa.65.16; Ps.31.5. This is the resounding declaration from each of the three sections of the Old Testament; the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. It follows then that what the God of Truth says will be truthful. However, there are many who profess to honour the God of Truth, and yet deny the inerrancy of His Word – a contradiction they have variously tried to explain away, with no success. The aim of this chapter is to confirm its readers in their trust in God’s Word as being certain, truthful and accurate. One of the greatest statements to confirm this is found in the words of the Saviour in Jn.17.17, "Thy word is truth". Added to this the truth that all Scripture, as in the original manuscripts, is God breathed, we safely conclude that all Scripture is truth. As mentioned earlier in the chapter, the truthfulness of Scripture does not preclude a writer including information that is in itself erroneous, such as when Satan said to Eve "Thou shalt not surely die" Gen.3.4. In this case, the inspired record of Satan’s lie is absolutely true; while his lie remains as deceitful as ever. We can depend on the record being exactly what Satan said to Eve.
Seeing that every Scripture is in all its parts Divinely inspired, of what relevance is that to us today? One of the primary results of the Divine inspiration of the Word of God is its authority. The central issue is whether believers should regard the Word of God, not just as an authority but as the final authority for their lives.
It is an old heresy of the Church of Rome that, while the Word of God has some authority, final authority is vested in the Church’s interpretation of it. Coupled to that ancient error is the more recent attack by Postmodernism, whose proponents say that different people have different standards of truthfulness and morality. They further add that the individual has a right to regard the Bible according to his own desires. These attitudes are foreign to the Word of God, and are the opposite to what Paul commends the Thessalonians for in 1 Thess.2.13, "For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe". The implication of Paul’s statement is searching: the inner working of the Word of God to bring life to sinners is manifested in their subsequent acceptance of that same Word. When anyone refuses continually to bow to the Word of God in its truthful claims, he calls into question whether the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures have ever worked within his soul to bring him spiritual life.
The authority of the Word of God is like the authority of God Himself: it proceeds from His very nature. A direct consequence of Divine inspiration is that the Word which is inspired is invested with all the authority of the One Who inspired it. For those who by faith accept the Word of God, it is settled beyond all dispute that the authority of the Holy Scriptures is a truth to be bowed to in obedience and reverence.
Postmodernism rejects that the Word of God is fully truthful and immediately relevant to us today. Postmodernism is an amalgamation of ideas that run from the period of the Enlightenment, right through to the Twentieth century. The errors of Schleiermacher (1768-1834); Wellhausen (1884-1918); Barth (1886-1968) and Pannenberg (1928- ) among others, have been combined into a poisonous mix that elevates human reasoning, and degrades Divine inspiration to the point where it is denied. In an attempt to answer many of the deepest questions of man’s heart, they have raised more questions than answers; and in many minds those questions have destroyed the solid foundation of "Thus saith the Lord". Only by accepting the Biblical truth that in the Holy Scriptures God has revealed Himself and His will for us, will we find satisfying answers to those deep, ponderous questions of human existence. We assert that a believer who is fully yielded to the guidance of the Holy Spirit is able to understand Scripture in the way God intended it to be understood.
It is beyond the scope of this chapter to answer the question, "Are any of the Apocryphal books inspired?" save to note the observations of those who have made a thorough study of the matter. The fuller argument given by Geisler and Nix3 is well worth reading. They state the following reasons for rejecting the apocryphal books:
- They advance the errors of prayer for the dead and salvation by man’s works.
- They advance ideas that are morally wrong, especially moral decision based upon expediency. This is recognised as the foundation of today’s ‘Situation Ethics’.
- Josephus, in his work Against Apion, reasoned that, since the Holy Spirit departed from Israel after the ministry of the latter prophets, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, there was no further Divine Revelation until the time of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Throughout the Apocrypha, there are ideas that are simply fiction and full of man’s imagination, with a strong bias towards mysticism.
- The early church Fathers and leading Jewish scholars of that period rejected them as non-biblical and never questioned their rejection from the Canon of Holy Scripture. Augustine accepted them but he was strongly opposed in this by Jerome (A.D. 340-420), the translator of the Latin Vulgate.
3 Geisler, N. L. and Nix, W. E. "A General Introduction to the Bible", Published by Moody Press, 1971, pp.92-175.
The Divine inspiration of the Holy Scriptures is affirmed in the Law, the Prophets, the Writings; the teaching of the Lord Jesus in the Gospels; by the preaching of His apostles in the Book of the Acts; in the New Testament Epistles and the book of Revelation. There is complete agreement throughout the Bible that it has come in its totality from the mouth of God. The Source of the Holy Scriptures determines its substance, and both Source and substance bestow it with supremacy.
- Precious Bible! What a treasure
- Does the Word of God afford!
- All I want for life or pleasure,
- Food and medicine, shield and sword;
- Let the world account me poor –
- Christ and this, I need no more.