NOTES ON INSPIRATION
Who really is the Author of the Bible? Inspiration is a fundamental subject for the Christian. The Bible itself is the clearest evidence of its own inspiration.
It is a wonderful thing in regard to inspiration that human language has been lifted up to its highest function in revealing God’s Son and God’s truth in the inspired Word of God. We need faith to receive it as a truth. If we cannot receive this truth, then there is some grave deficiency in us, but those who are able to receive it as the truth of God and to use it and regard it as such, they enter into a realm of absolute wonderment – a realm that is unspeakable in its wealth and a field of discovery which is never limited.
Take 1 Thess. 2,13. “When ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” That is a very clear and blessed declaration by the Apostle Paul writing under the inspiration of the Spirit-a clear testimony to the nature and character of the Word of God and it does not limit the Word of God but embraces all of it. As all God’s work is perfect (Deut. 32,4) “His work is perfect”. It is a foundation which is essential because if we regard, as some people do, that the Bible is imperfect or limited, then the whole of it cannot be truly and heartily received, held and believed. There can be no partial belief in his; it must be absolute and entire. Modern translators believe the Bible contains the Word of God, but not all of it. Who is to decide-what man is capable of deciding -which in the Bible is the Word of God and which is not? So immediately confusion and unbelief is introduced and the Bible itself is impaired in the eyes of such and the confidence in it is undermined, and there can be no satisfaction for a person who takes that view of the Bible because they must be always coming across portions of the Scripture where they have to stop and think whether they believe it is God’s Word or the word of men.
Now we must lay down emphatically at the outset that what we are endeavouring to prove, to further study and to gain further light upon, is the whole entire Word of God from Genesis to Revelation, as being the inspired Word of the Lord, and as perfect. As a work it must be; that is one of the great foundations of the faith of the church of God; the Divine authority of the Scriptures. The unfeigned acceptance of the Bible is vitally necessary to Christian experience.
Seven cogent arguments in which the Scriptures bear
evidence that they are the Word of God:-
First, the antiquity of it. There is no book in the world that goes back so far in the history of man as the Bible does.
Second, its preservation. This is a miraculous feature of the Bible, that it has been preserved all through the ages in its purity and in its entirety – a wonderful thing indeed – specially as you can realise that there would be a great force at work all through history to blot out or to hinder or to destroy the Bible as it is the Word of God. That force has never succeeded in destroying God’s Word.
Third, in the matter of its contents. When we come to consider that here in the Bible we have the vast wonder of the declaration of the incarnation of the Son of God, that is the greatest matter that the Bible contains – eternity entering into this world, taking a place in time – that the One who thunders in the heavens should lay also in the cradle, and that that same One should be put to death and then also He should rise from the dead. These are the matters of the Bible -they are so vast-so wondrous and so profound that they themselves stamp the Bible with a divine authority and character.
Fourth, the predictions of the Bible. Many there are, some of them are concerning time events, others eternal matters, but where fulfilment can be traced there is in every case a complete fulfilment of all the predictions that the Bible has made. There is not one that has failed to be carried out to the very letter. For instance, we have in Isaiah 7,14, the prediction that “A virgin shall conceive and a bear a son and shalt call his name Immanuel.” Then many centuries after, the Son of God, exactly born in that way, came into this world. That is the greatest of all predictions and it was fulfilled to the very letter, and there are many others.
No book could have these predictions completely fulfilled without one single flaw unless it was a Book from Him who knows the end from the beginning.
Fifth, the impartiality of the Bible. We see a great contrast here between the works of men and works of God. Here we find men writing of themselves and revealing the worst aspects of their own character. David tells us of his sin, and we are told of Peter’s denial. These men hid nothing in what they wrote of their real nature. There is no gloss, no dressing up of men in the Word of God. Everything is for the glory of God. They wrote for one object and for one purpose, and that was the glory of God, and therefore it is stamped throughout with striking impartiality.
Sixth, power and efficacy. It has a power to change the heart of man. There is nothing in the world that can do that. The Word of God can. The testimony and the proof of it has been throughout the ages that the Word of God has a power in it under God’s blessing to vitally change, fundamentally change man’s heart, man’s character and man’s life.
Seventh and last of these evidences is its miracles. Miracles by Moses. These miracles were oftentimes done in the very presence of those who, if they could have done, would have denied them. There were many miracles that were wrought by Moses under God’s command, not only those miracles in the house of Pharaoh when he stretched out his rod and it became a serpent, and then became a rod, etc., but there were miracles in the wilderness that were wrought by Moses. There were miracles by Elijah the prophet and the miracles of the raising of the dead. Then the great miracles of Christ some of which He performed in the very presence of a society that was ready to deny Him and reject Him, and yet they remain unquestioned and undoubted. Miracles of the Apostles, Peter and John and others of the Apostles. They were given a power by God to do miracles that has never been handed down to others in the history of the church of God. These miracles all support what we are now attempting to look into and to lay hold of which is, the divine inspiration of the Word of God.
Now I come to Inspiration itself, what its character really is. There are three things I want to mention:-
First, There is organic inspiration; His use of men, as they are themselves. The inspiration of the Bible is not an automatic thing. God uses the characters of His penmen – He uses their temperament and their environment and their upbringing. He uses these, but He is not dependent on any of these things for the producing of His holy Word.
Paul was a learned man. God used Paul to pen those wonderful Epistles, but Peter was not a learned man, but a rugged fisherman, and yet Peter was used by God to pen the sacred truths of the Word. Also Amos who was a farm labourer, a gatherer of the sycamore fruit, a husbandman, he was as much used of God as the priest and prophet Ezekiel was. God used different sorts of men and harmonized them in this one great accomplishment. His holy Word. God’s preparing of His instruments. God’s use of these instruments, just as they are, as He has prepared them, and, so much so, that their very temperaments and characters come out and are stamped upon their writings. Big differences we can trace in some of the books of the Bible in the character of the writer.
The difference between James, for instance, and the Apostle Paul, but it is the same truth, the same Word; the substance is the same.
Second, the plenary inspiration of the Bible – simply this – the truth of the matter, the true teaching, the doctrine that is revealed in the Word of God.
We will now come to 2 Timothy 3,16. “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 and furnished unto all good works.” The original Greek of this verse cannot be properly or truly translated in any other way than it is in our Authorised Version, “All Scripture.” Modern translators have varied this and some have said “All Scripture that is given,” which implies that there is some part of Scripture that is not given, and therefore adulterates the purity of this truth. The great teaching of the Bible is Christ-all that is concerning Him.
Third, the verbal inspiration of the Bible word for word. We do not hold that these men did not know what they were writing. It needs no automatic method to produce the Bible. God’s sovereignty and power presides over men’s thoughts and words, and they are perfectly in accord with His mind and will. The Bible contains words of wicked men. These were not inspired words, but the record of those words is inspired by God. There are the words that Job’s friends used when they came to comfort Job in his great distress. Many of those words are clearly seen to be contrary to some of the teaching of the Bible – they were not inspired words, but the record of them was inspired.
1. Cor. 2,12 & 13. “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” Matthew 22, vs. 43-45. Christ’s own testimony to the importance of one word in the Scriptures. “If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?”
Galatians 3,16. “He saith not. And to seeds, as of many; but as of one. And to thy seed, which is Christ.” Emphasis upon one single word of Scripture.
G. J. Collier
The author of these notes was a Vice President of The Trinitarian Bible Society – a warm interest he maintained to the end of his life.