Bible Studies

07-The Inspired Word

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The Inspired Word By E.J. Waggoner

 

  "But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 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, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." 2 Tim. 3:14-17.

So much effort has been made by unbelieving men, even in the ministry, to make the Revised Version appear to teach that some Scripture is not inspired, that it is necessary first of all to show that a literal rendering of the Bible does not diminish its claims to inspiration. In the Revision we read, "Every Scripture inspired of God is also profitable, etc. This is even stronger than the other, for instead of making a positive statement that all Scripture is inspired, it mentions it as a fact so well known that it needs no proof, and proceeds to a statement of the result. Without going into grammatical technicalities, it is only necessary to say that the present participle "inspired," limiting the term "all Scripture," conveys the simple idea that since all Scripture is inspired it is also profitable. Add to this the fact that the revisers placed in the margin the exact reading of the old version, it is evident that we are fully warranted in quoting 2 Tim. 3:16 as a positive declaration that all Scripture is inspired of God.

The word "Scriptures" is a term used to denote the sacred writings commonly known as the Old and the New Testament. It corresponds to the word "Bible." "Bible" means "book;" when we say, "the Bible," we really say, "the Book." Now the number of books in the world is almost beyond computation; yet the Bible is so prominent, and so much above all other books, that it cannot be classed among them, but is distinguished as "the Book," or the Bible. Everybody knows what book we mean when we so speak. It is the same way with the parallel term, "the Scriptures."

We read of Christ, when He walked with the two disciples to Emmaus, after His resurrection, that "beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself." Luke 24:27. Thus we see that the term "the Scriptures" includes the whole of the Old Testament. Therefore 2 Tim. 3:16 affirms that they are inspired. Indeed, when Timothy was a child there was nothing but the Old Testament written. It is especially to the Old Testament that the apostle Paul refers when he says that "all Scripture is given by inspiration of God," and that it is able to make a man wise unto salvation, and thoroughly furnish him unto all good works.

But the fact that the Old Testament is particularly referred to in 2 Tim. 3:16 does not exclude the New Testament writings from the term "the Scriptures." The apostle Peter refers to the writings of Paul, and says that they contain "some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction." 2 Peter 3:16. The popular idea is that the Old Testament is scarcely inspired, and it is thought a great concession to give it a place with the New; but this is directly opposite to the Scriptural idea. There we find that the writings of the New Testament are declared to be worthy of a place by the side of those of the Old. Both are from the same source; both were given by inspiration of God, and are of equal authority. He who regards the Bible as it should be, will make no difference between the Old Testament and the New.

Now that we have before us a plain statement of what is included in the declaration that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, we may consider the fact of inspiration itself. Not that we can understand it, or set forth any theory of inspiration, but that we may form some conception of its greatness. We consider the works of God in creation, not that we may understand the mystery of creation, but that we may glorify God, whose greatness it proclaims. So we consider the inspiration of the Bible, in order that we may rightly appreciate the infinite power of  the Word of God.

"Inspiration" means literally, "breathing." A full inspiration is a full breath. This is so common an expression that the reader does not have to know Latin or Greek in order to appreciate the statement that the term, "inspired of God," in 2 Tim. 3:16 means simply "God-breathed." The fact is, then, that all of the Scripture is the direct breathing of the Almighty. We are not required to explain how this can be, since it was all written or spoken by men, inasmuch as it does not rest with us to explain or understand how the omnipotent God works. No man can by searching find out God, and know the Almighty to perfection. We may, however, at some later time, note a few parallel cases, showing the fact that God does work directly through the agency of men, and even through the unwilling agency of evil men. What we are now concerned with is to show that the Scriptures declare themselves to be emphatically God's own word.

Let us read 2 Peter 1:20: "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." The Revision has it: "For no prophecy ever came by the will of man; but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Ghost." With this let us read a still stronger statement in 1 Peter 1:11. In order to get the full force of the verse, we will read the tenth verse also:--

"Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you; searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow."

Take the two statements from Peter, and put them together, and we find that the Spirit of Christ--The Holy Spirit--was in the men who wrote the Bible, and that it used their voices or hands to express its own words and thoughts. How this could be, and the men still retain their individuality, and write and speak from the fullness of their own hearts, we shall not attempt to explain. Illustrations will, however, be given later.

Additional proof of the statement that the Holy Spirit itself is the real author of the Scriptures, the men being only its agents, is found in the following texts:

"And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples and said (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty), Men and brethren, this Scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas." Acts 1:15, 16.

"But those things which God before had showed by the mouth of all His prophets, that Christ should suffer He hath so fulfilled." Acts 3:18.

"And when they [the disciples] heard that [namely, the report of Peter and John] they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, Thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is; who by the mouth of Thy servant David hast said, Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?" Acts 4:24, 25.

Speaking of the interview that Paul had with the Jews in Rome, the evangelist says: "And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, saying, Go unto this people and say, Hearing, ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing, ye shall see, and shall not perceive." Acts 28:25, 26.

Again, Peter said to the people who gathered to look upon the lame man that was healed: "And He [God] shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you; whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began." Acts 3:20, 21. See a similar statement in Luke 1:70. Also 2 Sam. 23:1, 2.

But there are still plainer evidences that the Scriptures are God's word alone, and not man's. In the book of Jeremiah (chap. 31:33) we read: "But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel: After  those days, saith the Lord, I will put My law in their inward parts, and write in their hearts." In the book of Hebrews this same language is quoted, thus: "Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us; for after that He had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them." Heb. 10:15, 16.

Although these words occur in the prophecy of Jeremiah, they are not his words. The Spirit of Christ was in that holy man testifying, so that when the writer to the Hebrews quoted the words, he credited them directly to the Holy Ghost, omitting all reference to Jeremiah. In this no injustice was done Jeremiah; he himself would have acknowledged that the words were the Lord's, and not his own.

In like manner we find in the first chapter of Hebrews several verses quoted from the Psalms, yet the writer of the Psalms is not once mentioned, but God is declared to be the speaker. See verses 7-12.

But this is all that the limits of this article allow. Let the texts herein quoted be pondered carefully, and in the next paper we shall, God willing, read some other Scriptures showing further that the Scriptures are wholly inspired by God, and that by whatever agency they come to us, they proceed from the Holy Spirit, and are as much the Word of God as though uttered by Him with an audible voice.

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