Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Scripture: Inspiration

Scripture: Inspiration
     The word “inspiration” literally means “breathed out” or “exhaled.” The word of God, the Bible, is breathed out or exhaled by God. The inspiration of Scripture, therefore, is the supernatural influence by the Holy Spirit which resulted in the biblical writer's writings being trustworthy, authoritative, inerrant, and the very words of God. God is the author of Scripture. Scripture is the creation of God's creative breath. Yet mysteriously, he used fallen human beings to communicate and record his words.
     There are several theories of inspiration. The last of these is the classical view and is the most accurate and biblically sound. First, some believe that the Bible is not inspired as we have defined above, but only inspirational. The Bible is just like other books in that it inspires people. Second, some teach that the Bible is only partially inspired. The theological parts of Scripture are inspired, but not the scientific or historical. The Bible, then, is only a record of God's saving acts. It contains the words of God but is not the word of God. Obviously, this is flawed for many reasons. To mention only a few, if this was the case, who determines what is inspired and what is not? Can we even trust the Bible? Can we trust the God of this Bible if he cannot even give us an inspired word? Who determines what is the word of God from the words of man?
     A third theory is that the Bible is inspired without the use of human authors. This view is explained by insisting that the writers only wrote what was dictated to them. This is often called the mechanical dictation theory. This fails because the Bible is clearly written in the styles of the authors. The Spirit “carried along” the authors and used their backgrounds, words, experiences, gifts, and own styles to accurately record the word of God (2Pet. 1:21). There is no evidence of dictation; Scripture is the word of God written by living personalities, and those personalities come out and shine throughout Scripture. This is why the word of God is so amazing- God used sinful men to pen his word to sinful men!
     The fourth theory, and the most logical and biblical, is that the Bible is the divinely inspired word of God because he concurrently acted on and with human agents to produce the written words he desired. The authors were not mere robots or secretaries recording dictation. God sovereignly acted upon, guided, and carried along the authors in such a way that they wrote what God wanted them to write, but it was from them- their minds, hearts, personalities, etc. What this means is that God used men to pen his words, but because God is sovereign and providentially guides all history to his desired end, the authors wrote exactly what God wanted and only what God wanted. Yet, they were not infringed upon. God orchestrated this in such a way, that the authors were driven to write but they desired to write because their hearts overflowed with the glory of God, and hearts as these naturally obey and do the works of God because of his supernatural work within them.
     Is this indeed scriptural? Two passages will be quoted and briefly commented on to demonstrate the biblical teaching of inspiration. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness...” (2Tim. 3:16). This passage teaches that all Scripture is breathed out by God. Scripture, then, is inspired and is the very words of God. This means much more than the idea that the Bible inspires readers or the fact that the authors of Scripture were inspired. This verse shows that Scripture is inspired, Scripture is the word of God- all of it. The Bible is what God desires for man to possess. It is his word of redemption to fallen humanity.
     “For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, 'This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,' we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2Pet. 1:17-21).
    These verses teach that humans were instruments used by the Spirit to communicate God's word, but the origin of Scripture is God himself. Men were carried along by the Spirit. This means more than merely guiding and directing. The Spirit determined, constrained, and influenced the writers. The Spirit achieved this by using the human agent, as well as his style, personality, abilities, experiences, vocabulary, strengths, weaknesses, etc. The end result was the actualization of the divine initiative- the inspired word of God.
     The words of Scripture are God's words. Old Testament passages identify the Law and the messages of the prophets as God's words (1Kng. 22:8-16; Neh. 8; Ps. 119; Jer. 25:1-13, 36). The New Testament views the Old Testament as the very oracles of God, prophetic, and written by men carried along by the Spirit (Rom. 3:2, 16:26; 2Pet. 1:21). Christ and the Apostles quoted Old Testament passages not merely as what men said, but as what God said (Mk. 7:6, 12:36; Rom. 10:5, 20, 11:9; Acts 4:25, 28:25). And, Old Testament statements that were not made directly by God are quoted in the New Testament as God's words (Matt. 19:4; Heb. 3:7; Acts 13:34, citing Gen. 2:24; Ps. 95:7; Is. 55:2).
     Scripture, therefore, is the inspired word of God. As such, it is profitable. Believers need to hear the word of God proclaimed and taught, read it themselves, know it, memorize it, treasure it, pray it, believe it, follow it, and praise God for it. It is the word of God that sanctifies us, equips us to do the works of God, convicts us when we sin, guides us, soothes us, comforts us, corrects us, and penetrates our souls with the very words of our great God. God gave us his word. We have the privilege of reading of his glory and grace, his salvation, his plan of redemption, but most of all- Him. We get to read about God!