The Bible --Part 4

The Bible
Part 4

James Gunn

Thy Words were found and I did eat them; and Thy Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart. Jeremiah 15:16

Divine Revelation In The Bible

The Perfect Law of Liberty: Although this paradoxical name for the Bible occurs but twice, and both times in the Epistle of James, it is very significant. The combination of law and liberty does not suggest conflict but control; Christian freedom is controlled freedom. The believer looks into the Perfect Law of Liberty and governs his behaviour accordingly (James 1:23-25), and knowing that his conduct is to be judged according to its standards (James 2:12).

The Law: Several different sections of the Old Testament are called the Law: for example, the Pentateuch (Matthew 5:17; Luke 16:16; 24:44; John 1:45, etc.), the Psalms (John 10:34), Isaiah and Ezekiel (Romans 3:19; 1 Corinthians 14:21). It seems that the name Law, in the times of Christ, embraced the entire Old Testament.

The Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms: The Lord Jesus, when He addressed His own after His resurrection, divided the Old Testament into three (Luke 24:44): “The Law of Moses,” and this embraced the first five books of the Bible; “The Prophets,” and these included both the historical as well as the prophetical books. The historical writings from Joshua to Esther were called by Jewish students the early prophets, and the other books from Isaiah to Malachi the late prophets. To these two divisions Christ added a third, “The Psalms,” all the poetical books. It is used with the definite article as it is in connection with the Holy Scriptures, it singles out the volume they occupy from all other books; there is none other like it.

The Manner of Biblical Revelation

The manner by which God has revealed Himself in the Bible is stated most concisely and significantly: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16). The Greek word translated here, we are told is in the passive voice and means that which is breathed out by God, and that this He did by His Holy Spirit. Consequently, frequently we find throughout the Old Testament the clause, “I am the Lord”. This was God’s challenge to Pharaoh and others who questioned His existence. It is still a challenge to atheism and agnosticism. The Bible is the inaudible voice of God manifesting His presence and His will.

The Content of Biblical Revelation

Since the Bible is a revelation of God, in what manner does it reveal Him? This subject is important and comprehensive; we may divide it into several aspects and consider a few of these.

In His essential oneness: The essential oneness of God is clearly stated in both the Old and New Testaments (Deuteronomy 6:4; Zechariah 14:9; Ephesians 40 4:6; 1 Timothy 2:5). This fundamental truth separates both Judaism and Christianity from the pagan world around them. The divine Essence as revealed in Holy Scripture, the monotheism of Judaism and Christianity, refutes the error of polytheism which consists in a belief in many supernatural personal beings, gods of greater or lesser influence. It also negates the evil philosophy of pantheism. Pantheism teaches that what the human soul is to the physical body so God is to the material Universe. It more or less identifies God with creation and makes Him a part of it, not its originator and sustainer (Colossians 1:16-17). If in Romanism there is a slant toward a modified polytheism, in many of the modern cults there is a definite inclination toward pantheism. This is particularly true of those cults that are based upon oriental religions.

In His triunity: The Bible not only declares that God is one, but also that He manifests Himself in the threefold distinction: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The word Trinity does not appear in the Bible, but the doctrine of the Trinity is found everywhere throughout all the Holy Scriptures. The Holy Trinity is revealed in Sacred Scripture by various methods: significant language, ceremonial allusions, prophetical inferences, personal identifications, and spiritual analogies.

Significant language: Within the Godhead, the decision to create man was stated in language that suggests the Holy Trinity: “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). Similar language was used in the hearing of Isaiah the Prophet, as in vision he witnessed the glory of the Lord: “Whom shall I send (Divine Oneness), who will go for Us? (Divine Triunity).”

Ceremonial allusions: In the Aaronic benediction we see beyond the allusion to the reality for in it the Trinity is involved. We might set it out in this way: “The Lord (Jehovah the Father) bless thee and keep thee: The Lord (Jehovah the Spirit) make His face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord (Jehovah the Son) lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).

There is also an allusion to the Holy Trinity in the vision seen by Isaiah. He heard the seraphim cry, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts.” In New Testament language that would be: Holy Father, Holy Son, and Holy Spirit.

Prophetic inferences: Notice the Trinity in the prophecy that was fulfilled by Christ as He stood up in the synagogue at Nazareth (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18-19). “The Spirit (the Holy Spirit) of the Lord God (Jehovah the Father) is upon Me (the Lord Jesus).” There are a number of such references to be found throughout the Book of Isaiah.

When we come to the New Testament, this revelation of God becomes more clear and more defined.

Personal identifications: The Lord Jesus during His discourses in the Upper Room (John 13-17) clearly identified each person in the Godhead. He spoke of the Father who had sent Him, the Father to whom He was returning. He spoke of the personal coming of the Holy Spirit to abide with the disciples. Throughout the discourses in the Upper Room, as in all His discourses, He Himself claimed to be the Son of God who was to be glorified with the glory that had been His from before the world existed.

Furthermore, each of the three persons in the Godhead are identified in their individual personalities by the apostolic writers. There are so many references to the three members of the Godhead in Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians that it has been called the Epistle of the Trinity.

Paul’s benediction for the Corinthians is one of the clearest statements we have regarding the Holy Trinity: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all. Amen” (2 Corinthians 13:14).

Spiritual analogies: One of the simplest analogies used in the Bible relative to the Holy Trinity is that of light: “God is light” (1 John 1:5). God is as ready to reveal Himself to man as light is to shine. Solar light is a combination of the three primary colours: green, red, and blue, and is therefore a befitting symbol of the Triune God. The perfect combination of these three primary colours results in whiteness, the absence or absorption of all three results in darkness. Truly God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all, no ignorance, no evil; nothing but purity, righteousness, and knowledge.

The Character of Biblical Revelation

Veracity characterizes God’s revelation of Himself through the Scriptures. He is the God of truth (John 3:33; 17:3; Romans 3:4; 1 Thessalonians 1:9), and He cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18). The Lord Jesus is full of truth (John 1:14), and is the very personification of truth (John 14:6; Revelation 3:7; 19:11). In like manner, the Holy Spirit is truth; He bears the title, the Spirit of Truth (John 14:17; 15:13; 15:26; 1 John 5:17).

Biblical revelation must be considered as the self-manifestation of the true and only God, given with full veracity in every degree and aspect thought by Him as necessary for man’s welfare.

The Inspiration Of The Bible

Since through the Bible God reveals Himself to man, may this sacred volume be considered as a self-manifestation of God only? Does the Bible not contain other facts?

Here we must proceed with caution lest a misunderstanding occur. The Bible in its entirety was given by inspiration of God, but to affirm that it contains nothing but a self-disclosure of God is to ignore certain important passages. The Lord has recorded the account of Satan’s deception in Eden (Genesis 3:14), the devil’s tactics with Job (Job 1-2), and warns the Christian against the fiery darts of the wicked one (Ephesians 6:12). The Lord uncovers for us the influence of Satan in the world today; he blinds the minds of them that believe not (2 Corinthians 4: 4), and gives a detailed account of the stupid statements of Job’s three friends. He likewise exposes many evils and wrongs from different sources. None of these could be said to contain a revelation of God in the sense of a self-manifestation. Notwithstanding, the Lord wants us to learn the many things that He has written in His Word: the manifestation of His own Divine Person and sovereign will, the exposure of all that is evil, and the commendation of all that is good. If we understand these, even in a limited measure, they will help us to distinguish between revelation and inspiration.

The Meaning of Inspiration

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). The words “inspiration of God” in this verse mean God-breathed. To elucidate this meaning, an illustration from the creation of man has been used. God made man out of the dust of the earth; He breathed into this human form the breath of life, and man became a living soul. The Bible, so it is reasoned, has a very human appearance and looks very similar to many other books. It is printed on paper, made up of paragraphs, sentences, clauses, phrases, words and letters, but into this book of human appearance God has breathed and it has become a living book. The Bible is indeed The Living Book.

Scholars inform us that the words “inspiration of God” are in the passive voice, and actually mean the out-breathing of God, so that the Bible is a book the words of which are breathed out by God. Since this is the meaning of the word, and the force of 2 Timothy 3:16, we believe what God breathed out is perfect in every detail.

The Means of Inspiration

God has stated explicitly the means that He employed to produce the Holy Scriptures: “God who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets” (Hebrews 1:1). “The prophets have enquired and searched diligently,… the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify” (1 Peter 1:10-11). “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21). Men were God’s instruments to give us the Bible.

To some this may be difficult to believe, and the question may occur to them; how could God produce a perfect, inerrant book through imperfect agents who themselves are subject to frequent error? Two theories have been propounded to answer this and other similar questions, the mechanical and the potential means.

The mechanical: This theory reduces man to almost a mechanical tool, a pen, a typewriter. It pictures God using the human hand but not the human heart or head. This theory fails to explain many of the obvious facts of divine inspiration.

The potential: If we are to have a proper explanation of divine inspiration, we must take into consideration that in the reading of the Word of God, we can detect the vocabularies, the styles, and the knowledge and circumstances of the human writers. The potential theory of inspiration does take these into consideration. Obviously God used all the ability and all the natural accomplishments available to Him in each human agent. He used the court and legislative language of a prince and statesman like Moses; He used the reasoning powers and convincing style of a logician like Paul; the poetical talent of a composer like David, and the terse and abrupt speech of a fisherman like Peter.

The miracle: Divine inspiration is a miracle. God by His Spirit so possessed and controlled prophets, apostles, and all the writers of sacred text so that, although imperfect and frail in themselves, they produced an inerrant and infallible volume.

Christians accept and revere the miracle of the incarnation. In that event God bound together the human and the divine natures in one glorious personality, the Lord Jesus Christ. In the work of inspiration, the Holy Spirit, in a different manner again brought together the human and the divine and produces another miracle, an inerrant and infallible book, the Bible.