In any field of study and endeavour the researcher, at the very beginning, must make himself fully acquainted with the known rudiments of the matter he is to investigate. In the intensive study of God’s word we must definitely accept without question certain basic elements. Some of these we shall review briefly.
The Miracle Of The Bible
To explain humanly the miracle of the Bible is utterly impossible, God is its only explanation.
An official organ is one of the first prerequisites of any organization. This book places in a permanent form the terms under which the Corporation operates, its Charter, its by-laws, its objects, and purposes. Consequently in this manner a fixed and detailed record of the constitution of the Corporation is preserved. The statements in this book are all prepared systematically, legibly, and intentionally. The Church of God, so comprehensive, extensive, and enduring, has a Book, the Bible, in which her constitution appears along with every principle necessary for her administration, yet it was never the intention of the Church to produce such a book. We never read of the Head of the Church, the Lord Jesus Christ, writing a formal letter much less a book. Not one of its many authors produced his section of the Bible with the purpose of setting forth an official Church document. The production of the Bible is a miracle, for holy men of God wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they wrote all unconscious of the full purpose of God to give the Bible. The preservation of the Bible is an equally great miracle. The existence of the Bible can be explained only in the existence of God. The Bible is a perpetual miracle.
The Inspiration Of The Bible
Much has been written on the interesting subject of the verbal inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, but there are a few points that we ought to consider. First, Divine inspiration is true only in the original manuscripts, and not in translations. We are most thankful to God for the devoted men who have given us the English Bible, but the work of translation is not infallible. Second, we must differentiate between revelation and inspiration. Revelation embraces the unfolding of the mind of God to man, but inspiration is the preservation of that Divine revelation for others. God spoke to men by revelation, and men delivered that message to others, and by means of inspiration God has given that same message a perpetual application.
Inspiration may be viewed under two aspects, the temporary and the permanent. All that the Holy men of God, who were the human authors of the Bible, said and wrote has not been preserved for us. That God spoke to them specifically for certain occasions, and that they communicated correctly the particular message of the Lord is beyond question, but such limited ministry was temporary. This aspect of inspiration is readily illustrated by the New Testament prophet. When God led men to write His message, and when He preserved their writings throughout the ages, inspiration became permanent, and remains with us for all time.
There is another matter we should understand in regard to the fact of inspiration, all that is thus Divinely preserved for us in the Bible, is not necessarily Divinely revealed; for example, the actual words of Satan have been kept by inspiration, but they were not given to Satan by Divine revelation. The words of Job’s friends were not given them by divine revelation, but they have been preserved by Divine inspiration. Examples could be multiplied but these are sufficient to elucidate the point.
The Divine Unity Of Scripture
That our Bible is divided into sections and subdivided into chapters and verses is a very great convenience, but these facts can be quite misleading, and the student must ever keep in mind the Divine Oneness of the Bible. This blessed Book is organically related in every part. We are very apt to think of the two Testaments as being separate, but this is not the case. They are one. First, because of AUTHORSHIP, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” (2 Tim. 3:16). In his second letter, the apostle Peter classifies the writings of the New Testament as Scripture along with those of the Old Testament, (2 Pet. 3:15-16). Second, because of their MAJOR THEME. The Old Testament has been referred to as the history of Israel, while the New Testament has been presented as the history of the Church. This is but partly correct, a more correct approach to the Bible would be to consider it as a revelation of Christ, Christ in Israel and Christ in the Church. To those who walked to Emmaus, we read, “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he exponded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself,” (Luke 24:27). Third, because THEY ARE COMPLEMENTARY the one to the other. It has been well said that the New Testament lies hidden in the Old, while the Old Testament is interpreted by the New. In the New Testament we have doctrine taught by the Holy Spirit, while in the Old Testament, we have illustrations furnished for this doctrine.
The absolute oneness of Scripture is very evident in a consideration of the closing verses of Revelation as being complementary to the opening chapters of Genesis. In the former we have paradise lost, and in the latter, paradise regained.
The Progress Of Doctrine
It must be obvious to every sincere mind that the Divine revelation that is preserved for us by Divine inspiration has been given to man progressively. “The word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little and there a little,” (Isa. 28:13). The full revelation of the Church was purposely hidden until the proper season, it came as a climax to all that had gone before. The apostle Paul writes to the Ephesians, “How that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery… which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by His Spirit,” (Eph. 3:3-4).