The Holy Spirit: The Spirit and the Inspiration of Scripture

An excellent article for young believers to increase confidence in the Word of God.

A deer makes running through underbrush and over fences look effortless. A skilled athlete makes his feats look easy, too; but when more limited mortals try to imitate these feats, they develop a deeper appreciation for the gifted. Likewise, the more we examine the work of the Spirit in using man to accomplish the purpose of God, the more we marvel.

The body of the Virgin was not merely the vehicle by which our Lord entered humanity; in some profound way she participated in the Incarnation, for Gabriel’s words were, “thou shalt conceive in thy womb” (Luke 1:31). Apart from this, the incarnation would have been a creative act of God, and our Lord could not have been of our race and therefore could not have been our kinsman Redeemer. Nevertheless, the Incarnation was an act of God by the Holy Spirit, and the power of the Highest preserved the “Holy One” in Mary’s womb from any taint of sin and from any possible harm (verse 35). “The Word became flesh” through human instrumentality; yet, by the power of the Spirit, the One who was essentially and eternally God “took upon Him the form of a servant,” being made in the likeness of men (Philippians 2:7).

There is a parallelism between this and the Spirit’s work in producing the written Word. Men’s participation in writing the Scriptures was genuine. David wrote many of his psalms as a reflection of his feelings and experiences. Jeremiah felt deeply the emotions that brought tears over the condition of his beloved nation and city. Daniel’s royal lineage and training produced the concerns which formed the background of the revelations given to him. Matthew’s love of the ancient Scriptures affected his record of the promised King who fulfilled the Scriptures. Mark’s companionship with Peter (1 Peter 5:13) provided the material for his gospel, in which, incidents regarding Peter are more prominent than the other gospels. Luke, “after careful investigation of the facts from their commencement” (Luke 1:3, Weymouth), wrote his presentation of the Christ. John drew his record from his intimate experience with the Lord (1 John 1:1-3). Paul’s being brought up at the feet of the renowned Gamaliel and being “taught according to the perfect manner of the law” (Acts 22:3) uniquely fitted him to write Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews. His training no doubt formed the capability to express the magnificent heights of truth found in Ephesians. James’ personal knowledge of the life of the Lord must have formed the godly, practical bent of his character and epistle. David learned the literary forms of his psalms, as did Isaiah the poetic style of his prophecy. These but serve as examples of the effect the writers’ innate capabilities, personality, experiences, training, circumstances, and research had on their writing of the Scriptures.

The Spirit superintended the events that molded the lives of those who wrote the Scriptures. For example, Jeremiah was set apart from the womb for his work (Jeremiah 1:5). Moses’ removing his shoes on holy ground must have been part of his preparation for recording God’s holy law. Even their lives before conversion knew the touch of the Spirit’s hand, as is evident in Paul’s education and Matthew’s employment with the Roman government. The Spirit of God carefully selected his instruments as a master artist distinguishes among his various brushes and his palette knife. These men who wrote the Scriptures were “holy men” (2 Peter 1:21). “Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians” (Acts 7:22). “Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom” (1 Kings 10:23). The advanced class of Babylon’s elite school was tested, and “among them all was found none like Daniel” and his companions (Daniel 1:19). Paul’s education was second to none. In many ways, Bible authors were the best of men, and they brought their best to the feet of the Spirit to be used for the noble work entrusted to them.

But the best efforts of the best men were not enough in recording God’s Word. There were times when these men wrote beyond their own experience. Psalm 22 is an example of this. At times, they wrote beyond what they understood, “searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when [He] testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow” (1 Pet 1:11). When prophets spoke, they said with authority, “Thus saith the Lord.” David gives this description, “The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and His word was in my tongue” (2 Sam 23:2). “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Pet 1:21). The Holy Spirit so superintended the writing of these men, that what they recorded was the Word of God, “forever.., settled (established) in heaven” (Ps 119:89). “The volume of the book” (Ps 40:7) was not merely writings based on what God knew men would write; it was established by God eternally. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God (“God-breathed,” Young’s Translation) (2 Tim 3:16). This foundational truth, the inspiration of the Scriptures by the Spirit, assures us that the Scriptures are without error, are categorically and definitively authoritative, and are God’s sufficient provision for His people in every century, in every culture, in every condition, and every crisis.

We are not, however, to think of the authors of Scripture as being robots in the hand of the Spirit. Their writings were overseen by the Spirit so that no taint of human imperfection or limitation stained the sacred page. The Bible does not reflect the bias of its authors. Scripture is not the cultural expression of its times. It is indeed the infallible and inerrant Word of God. Yet, as men wrote under the inspiration of the Spirit, their knowledge, personality, writing style, capabilities, experiences, and background flowed through their pens. In a remarkable way, which only God could accomplish by His Spirit, men “under the power of the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet 1:21, JND) wrote a Book distinct from every other book that men could ever write; they wrote the Word of God.

We are not only indebted to the Spirit of God for the inspiration of the Word of God, but for its preservation through the centuries, for the collection of its books into the canon of Scripture, and even for its arrangement in the order in which its books appear. The Spirit likewise motivated and enabled the work of translating the Scriptures, although we must distinguish between the inerrant, inspired Word and even the most skillfully executed translations.

The truth of inspiration is, at the same time, foundational, crucial, marvelous, and unique. The more we consider the Scriptures, the more our wonder regarding this God-breathed Book grows. What a debt of gratitude we owe to our God for the Spirit’s inspiration of this indispensable Book!