The Bible --Part 5

The Bible
Part 5

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

The Extent of Inspiration

The inspiration of the Old Testament is conclusively confirmed by a number of facts: first, “Holy men of God spake as they were moved (borne along) by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21); second, the prophets claimed to be writing the very words of God (Deuteronomy 17:18; 30:10; Joshua 24:26; 1 Kings 16:5; Nehemiah 8; Isaiah 34:16; Nahum 1:1). Third, the Lord Jesus frequently endorsed the Old Testament as the Word of God; He constantly referred to it saying, “It is written” (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 14:27; Luke 4:4-12). Fourth, the apostles of our Lord repeatedly quoted from it as infallible and attributed its words to the Holy Spirit (Ephesians. 4:8; Hebrews 2:7). Fifth, many of the predictions of the Old Testament have already been fulfilled; for example, the birth of Christ (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:1), His ministry (Isaiah 61:1-3; Luke 4:16-21), His death (Isaiah 53, Acts 8:32-33; Psalm 22:18; John 19:24; Exodus 12:46; Psalm 34:20; John 19:36; Psalm 69:21; John 19:28).

The question might well occur, is there any such internal evidence of the inspiration of the New Testament? Yes. New Testament writers were also guided and influenced by the Holy Spirit. They claimed to have received truth directly from God, and some of their fellow-writers quote them as they do those of the Old Testament attributing to them the same authority and infallibility.

The New Testament writers and the Holy Spirit: The men who were with the Lord Jesus in the Upper Room were those who were going to make Church history, and those who were going to write part of the New Testament Scriptures.

What the Lord said in regard to them would also be true of others He might choose for similar purposes. He revealed much to them about the person and the work of God the Holy Spirit. He told them just how the Spirit of God would influence them after He, their Master, had left them. It should be remembered that what the Lord said to them in this connection had an immediate and primary application to those apostles.

Three of the Lord’s statements indicate the Spirit’s power in the production of the New Testament. First, Jesus said, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26). It was through this faculty of the Holy Spirit to activate the memory that we received the four Gospels. In second place, the Lord Jesus said to those same disciples, “When He the Spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13a). As the Spirit of God guided them into every phase of truth, they were enabled to write the epistles which bear their names. In third place, the Lord made reference to prophecy: “He will shew you things to come” (John 16: 13b). In doing this the Holy Spirit made possible the Book of the Revelation, 2 Peter, and other prophetic passages of the New Testament.

Through these predictions of Christ, we know that the Holy Spirit, in even a closer operation than with the writers of the Old Testament, worked with the human authors of the books of the New Testament.

The New Testament writers and direct revelation: Some might feel that Paul, the writer of most of the New Testament epistles, was not included in the predictions made by Christ in the Upper Room. This objection is answered by the fact that no writer of the New Testament received so many direct revelations from God, and these covered large areas of New Testament doctrine.

The gospel: Of the gospel Paul wrote, “I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man, For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:12-13). Through this revelation Paul was fully fitted to write his two gospel epistles, Romans and Galatians.

The Church: Paul claimed a special revelation of the mystery that God intended to make Jews and Gentiles fellow-heirs and members of the same Body of Christ (Ephesians 3:1-6). Since this was true, we know that Paul was prepared to write the Church epistles, Ephesians and Corinthians.

Other subjects: By special revelation Paul was able to write about the Lord’s supper (1 Corinthians 11:23), the death, burial and resurrection of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-3), and many other important subjects (2 Corinthians 12:1).

Furthermore, the Lord gave to the Apostle Paul a very special ministry in writing; he indicates this in his Epistle to the Colossians, “The dispensation of God which is given to me to fulfil (complete) the Word of God” (Colossians 1:25).

It must be admitted also that what was claimed by the Apostle Paul was, in part at least, true of the other apostles and writers of the New Testament. They too experienced direct revelations (1 Corinthians 2:9-13); they too were equally empowered for their ministry. In 1 Peter 1:11-12 the Old Testament prophet and the New Testament apostle has equal power, illumination, and authority.

The New Testament writer and apostolic endorsement: If we are willing to accept as a proof of the inspiration of the Old Testament the fact that it is quoted by Christ and His apostles as Holy Scripture, we must also accept this same type of proof for the inspiration of the New.

In speaking of some recompence and honour for the elders in 1 Timothy 5:18, the Apostle sustains his argument by two quotations, both of which he claims are Scripture. The first is from the Old Testament. “Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn” (Deuteronomy 25:4), and the second is from the New, “The labourer is worthy of his reward” (Luke 10:7). In Paul’s argument the New Testament is as much Scripture as the Old.

A similar deduction may be made from the statement of Peter in his second letter (chapter 3:16): “Paul…according to the wisdom given unto him hath written … things hard to be understood, which they that are unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction.” Here he places the epistles of Paul in the very same category as all the other Holy Scriptures.

All this evidence leads to but one conclusion, the Bible is the Word of God and by Him in its entirety is inspired.

The Limitations of Inspiration

There are two important limitations upon divine inspiration which require some attention:

Limitations upon the human authors: It must be understood that the writers of the books of the Bible were not always so under the influence of the Holy Spirit as to always write by inspiration. When not moved (borne along) by the Holy Spirit, they were as others. During their lives and ministry, the human authors of the Bible were only temporarily inspired as God required for the accomplishment of His purposes. Some of them were used in this way repeatedly by the Lord, men like Moses and David, John and Paul. Others were used only once, for example, Jonah and Amos, James and Jude.

Limitations upon the manuscripts: It is well to realize that divine inspiration is true only of the original manuscripts.

There is mention made in the Old Testament of books which the Lord has not been pleased to preserve: “The Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel” (1 Kings 14:19), “The Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah” (1 Kings 14:29). In this connection it seems that some of the prophets wrote books of their own, probably diaries. Mention is made of three such books: “Now the acts of David the king, first and last, behold they are written in the Book of Samuel the Seer, and in the Book of Nathan the Prophet, and in the Book of Gad the Seer” (1 Chronicles 29:29). Obviously, Samuel wrote some things when under the influence of divine inspiration, and some other things when he was not under the influence of divine inspiration.

Luke makes mention of a number of written accounts of our Lord’s life (Luke 1:1), but these have not been preserved for us. It is safe to consider as inspired of God, only those books which the Lord has kept and incorporated in the Canon of Scripture.

Furthermore: In spite of the claims of certain, divine inspiration is not applicable to any apocrypha book whether ancient or modern. The writings of such persons as Mrs. Baker Eddy and Joseph Smith did not originate in the mind of God.

The Purposes of Inspiration

Communication: Without doubt, the primary purpose of inspiration is communication, God breathing out His heart to man. God has much to say to man: first, about God Himself; second, about man, his creation and fall; third, about Satan, his fall and deceptive ability; fourth, about the world, its creation and future; fifth, about the great plan of redemption and how it will effect man and creation. God has much to say to humanity; this He does through the pages of inspiration.

Inerrancy: Inerrancy is to be understood as the equivalent of being absolutely true. The word emphasizes the perfect veracity of the Holy Scriptures. Divine inspiration assures all that the Bible is positively true and completely without error as it was originally written.

Infallibility: Inspiration, as herein discussed, results in the infallibility of the Word of God, and presents it to all as trustworthy. The Lord Jesus believed that the Old Testament Scriptures were inerrant and infallible, He said, “The Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). “It is easier for Heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail” (Luke 16:17). “Till Heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18).

Uniqueness: In the study of comparative religions, the impression may be received that the Bible is only another sacred book among many sacred books, that the text books of all the various religions are equal the one to the other. This is not true of the Bible; divine inspiration makes this holy book unique; there is only one of its kind in all the world; there is no other. Through it God speaks; the Infinite communicates with the finite.

Intrinsic value: “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” (2 Timothy 3:16).

A paraphrasing of this text may help in the understanding of the ultimate purpose of divine inspiration, a very practical purpose: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for the teaching of the ignorant, the reproof of the wayward, the correction of what is wrong, and the training of all in righteousness; in order that the man of God may be complete, and fully equipped for every good work.”

Inspiration and Unity

There is great diversity in the Bible, diversity of vocabulary, style, and type in writing; yet, withal there is a definite unity. There is a cohesive that binds all together into one whole.

That there are differences between the two Testaments all acknowledge; nevertheless, they are united for both are given by inspiration of God. Their divine unity may be demonstrated in several ways. First, all the authors wrote under the influence of God the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21; John 14:26; 16:13). Second, their subject was the same. Old Testament writers wrote of the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow (1 Peter 1:11), and so did the writers of the New Testament (Luke 24:46), with this difference, the Old Testament writers wrote prophecy and the New, history, at least in part. Third, the same way of salvation is presented in both Testaments; in fact, the justification of believing Abraham provides the illustration of the justification of the believer today. Four, prophecy is a strong bond that binds the two Testaments together. Many of the predictions of the former are seen fulfilled in the later. Fifth, Unfulfilled prophecy or eschatology unties the whole Bible.

There is perfect agreement among all parts of Scripture relative to the matters of the last times. This is illustrated by the fact that in many respects the Book of the Revelation compliments the Prophecy of Daniel. This positive unity could only result from divine inspiration.