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March 4, 2012
The Bible is Inspired
In this day of uncertainty,one thing we can know is that the Bible is the inspired word of God. Understanding inspiration is fundamental to all else we believe and do in our service to God. If the Bible is not of God, what value is it to us?
What is Inspiration?
Inspiration is “the supernatural influence exerted on the sacred writers by the Spirit of God, by virtue of which their writings are given Divine trustworthiness” (B.B. Warfield, ISBE, III, 1473). Perhaps David said it best, “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, And His word was on my tongue” (2Samuel 23:1-2). Paul said all scriptures is given by the “inspiration of God” (2Timothy 3:16). The terms “inspired of God” means “God breathed” (A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures of the New Testament, Biblesoft). This does not have reference to the effect that the Scriptures have on the one who reads it, rather it tells us of its Divine origin.
Old Testament Writers were Inspired
1. Moses spoke and wrote as God directed. When giving the ten commandments, Moses said, “And God spoke all these words, saying …” (Exodus 20:1). After the return from Babylon Ezra was told to bring the “Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded Israel” (Nehemiah 8:1). Later in the same book we find the statement, “God’s law, which was given by Moses” (10:29). Later when Moses reiterated the law to Israel he attributed every word of the law to God:
And Moses called all Israel, and said to them: “Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your hearing today, that you may learn them and be careful to observe them. The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The LORD did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, those who are here today, all of us who are alive. The LORD talked with you face to face on the mountain from the midst of the fire. I stood between the LORD and you at that time, to declare to you the word of the LORD; for you were afraid because of the fire, and you did not go up the mountain. He said: ‘I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage (Deuteronomy 5:1-6).
2. The prophets spoke as God directed. Isaiah was preaching what the “Lord has spoken” (Isaiah 1:1-2). Chapter 6 tells of his call to be a prophet. God also called Jeremiah to be a prophet saying, “And whatever I command you, you shall speak … Behold I have put my words in your mouth” (Jeremiah 1:4-9). God told Ezekiel, “But when I speak with you,
I will open your mouth, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD.’ He who hears, let him hear; and he who refuses, let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house” (Ezekiel 3:27). Zechariah spoke of the inspiration of prophets before him and how the people refused to hear: “Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the LORD of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great wrath came from the LORD of hosts” (Zechariah 7:12).
3. New Testament writers said the Old Testament was inspired. Peter said, “knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2Peter 1:20-21).
Jesus endorsed Old Testament stories. Jesus believed what was recorded in the Old Testament to be fact and not fiction. He endorsed the story of creation (Matthew 19:4), Noah and the flood (Matthew 24:37-38), Sodom’s judgment (Matthew 11:24), Lot’s wife (Luke 17:32), and Jonah and the whale (Matthew 12:40).
New Testament Writers were Inspired
1. The apostles claimed to speak and write by inspiration. Paul said, “now the Spirit expressly says” (1Timothy 4:1). Peter referred to Paul’s writings as “Scripture” (2Peter 3:15-16). Paul explained that the apostles and prophets were guided by the Spirit of God to write down the things that were in the mind of God (Ephesians 3:3-5). The same apostle claimed that what he spoke at Thessalonica was the “word of God” (1Thessalonians 2:13). He told the Galatians that he received his gospel, not from man, but God (Galatians 1:11-12). What he wrote to the Corinthians and others was the “commandments of the Lord” (1Corinthians 14:37). These writers could make this claim because Jesus said the Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth (John 16:13).
2. The apostles were directed in what and how to speak. The apostles were told, “But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you” (Matthew 10:19-20). Notice that they would be told both what (the content of the message) and how (the words to express the message).
The Nature of Inspiration
1. Plenary inspiration. This refers to the fact that all of the Bible is inspired. Paul said all Scripture is inspired (2Timothy 3:16). The Psalmist said that all God’s precepts are right (Psalm 119:128). Peter’s reference to the prophets included all the Old Testament prophets (2Peter 1:20‑21). Thus, what is true of one prophet (inspired of God) was true of others. One Bible writer was just as inspired as the others.
2. Verbal inspiration. This refers to every word being inspired of God. Some believe in “thought inspiration.” That theory says that God gave the writer the thought to teach, but the writer was left to choose his own words. Such thinking would make the Bible subject to error. The Bible claims that not only is the entire book inspired, but that every word was chosen by the Holy Spirit. Paul said, “These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (emphasis mine DVR). Notice that the words were chosen by the Holy Spirit. That is verbal inspiration.
3. The scriptures are reliable down to the smallest detail. Jesus said, “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18).
A “jot” is the smallest Hebrew letter. A “tittle” is the small stroke distinguishing one Hebrew letter from another. A jot and tittle is much like our dot of the “i” and the cross of the “t.” Jesus said that there would not be one jot or tittle to pass until all was fulfilled. His point is that the Scriptures are true and reliable down to the smallest detail!
Evidence of Inspiration
1. The resurrection of Christ. If Jesus was raised from the dead, that proves there is a God, Jesus is divine and what he says is true (Romans 1:4). The empty tomb (Matthew 28:6) is just one of many proofs that Jesus indeed arose from the dead. This assures us that the Bible is indeed from God.
2. The unity of the Bible. The Bible was written over a period of 1500 years with forty different writers from different parts of the world. They used three different languages. Yet, there is not a single contradiction. Thus assures us that there is one mind (the mind of God) behind the scriptures.
3. Prophecy and fulfillment. Man cannot foreknow the future, only God can. Thus, if men foretold the future, they had to be speaking by the inspiration of God. There are over 300 prophecies concerning the Messiah that were fulfilled in every detail. Thus, the prophets of old were inspired of God.
—Donnie V. Rader