The Subject of Divine Inspiration
In the previous article pondering the incarnation, we referenced our Lord’s using the Word of God to combat the enemy of our souls. Flowing from this, we now consider the topic of inspiration, acknowledging the monumental importance of Holy Scripture in the life of each individual. What does inspiration mean? It’s the revelation of divine truth by God Himself. Once in each of the testaments, the translators of the AV used this word describing something as divinely breathed out (Job 32:8; 2Ti 3:16). For the salvation and preservation of our souls, individuals were chosen by divine authority, and with divine authenticity God breathed out His Word, communicating to them His purpose to be left indelibly on record. Divine inspiration is not to be confused with something that’s merely inspiring. While undoubtedly there are inspirational writings from human history, no mere human work can claim to be the infallible “breathed out” Word of the eternal God. Multiple times, the Bible asserts itself to be so – without error, credible and worthy of our trust. In this article, we will note the undeniable stamp of divine perfection in the Bible; the fingerprints of God are all over it!
The Source of Divine Inspiration
From the beginning of time, it’s been the desire of God to communicate with humanity. Among other portions of Scripture, Psalm 19 and Romans 1 explicitly set forth that, through creation, God graciously left ample evidence of His glorious and eternal existence. By itself, though, creation is unable to convey such attributes as His love, justice, mercy, grace or forgiveness. God would accomplish this by sending His Beloved Son into the world, paying the ultimate price for sin. But His appearance in this world was limited, and only one generation from one tiny nation was privileged to have Him in their midst. How, then, could God unmistakably communicate His purpose to a world separated from Him by sin? This He did through specific divine communication, recorded and compiled for us by about 40 different human writers. For any honest person, the Bible has to be acknowledged as a truly unique masterpiece. To date, it’s the world’s bestselling book, translated into 700-plus languages, more than any other book in the world.
The title “Bible” comes from Latin and Greek, simply meaning “the book,” a relevant name since the Bible is one volume for all people. Sixty-six individual books – historical, poetical, prophetical, biographical, ecclesiastical and eschatological – comprise the Bible, written over a period of about 1500 years by men from three continents, writing in three languages (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek) from various countries, with diverse backgrounds. Kings, fishermen, priests, government officials, farmers, shepherds and a medical doctor all contributed to this inspired document. From Genesis to Revelation its theme, message, ethics and purpose are utterly consistent in perfect unity and harmony, interconnecting the entire divine volume. The Bible’s unity is singularly due to the fact that it has one Author – God Himself. The Bible is “God-breathed” (2Ti 3:16), those holy men of God speaking things not of their own private suggestion, invention or determination, but under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God, being moved to write and given even the very words to use (2Pe 1:20-21; 2Sa 23:2).
The Signs of Divine Inspiration
Moving about, one of the common objections I come up against for trusting God’s Word is that “the Bible was just written by men.” On one occasion, I responded to such a statement by asking the objector what he believed. Stating he subscribed to the theory of evolution, I asked where he got this information from. Yes, he had to acknowledge that it was from books written by mere men. One could then challenge him to consider the possibility of the Bible having a divine author by looking at the internal evidence from the Scriptures themselves. I’m thankful that God doesn’t require anyone to have blind faith, but in typical gracious fashion, He has littered Scripture with unmistakable verification that this Holy Book is nothing less than divine in its inspiration. Let us consider some significant points:
The Perfection and Completion of Prophecy
The Bible is a book containing prophecy from beginning to end, with hundreds having been fulfilled and many yet to come. J. Barton Payne’s Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy lists 1,239 prophecies in the OT and 578 prophecies in the NT, for a total of 1,817. These encompass 8,352 verses. It was no vain thing to be a prophet; God laid out stark warnings for false prophets, the offense being punishable by death (Deu 18:20-22). Many Bible prophecies were humanly impossible to orchestrate. For example, it was foretold that Abraham and Sarah would have a son. Twenty-five years passed before it was fulfilled and by this time Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah 90. How could they have possibly reversed menopause or, much less, arranged the gender of their child? Isaac was born, just as God said. In his famous literary work, The Life and Times of Jesus The Messiah, Alfred Edersheim highlights 456 OT verses pointing to the expected Christ; and others have concluded that there are in excess of 300 OT specific prophesies to be fulfilled by Christ, with at least 27 being accomplished in 24 hours at Calvary.
The Specification of the Scriptures
Single words matter; maybe one of the most famous is the Genesis prophecy of “seed,” not “seeds,” mentioned in Galatians 3:16 as fulfilled by Christ. Further, the Lord said not one jot or tittle shall fail from the law till heaven and earth shall pass away (Mat 5:18). Space in this article does not permit, but details such as prepositions and tenses are extremely significant in the fulfilment of the inspired Word. Consider the numeration and variation of writers, and while there is progression to revelation, there is never contradiction. Truly, inspiration is one of the many wonderful works of our God.
The Synchronisation of Old and New Testaments
It’s been said that the NT is in the OT concealed and the OT is in the NT revealed! The NT frequently quotes the OT, and when Paul cites Deuteronomy 5:24 and Luke 10:7, he places both on the same level as “Scripture” (1Ti 5:18). The Lord Himself frequently quoted the OT as authentic, and during His famous “Sermon on the Mount” He astounded His listeners by stating, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time … [OT] but I say unto you” [NT]. In 2 Timothy 3:14-16, Paul instructs Timothy to continue in the things he’d learned [NT], and that from a child he had known the Holy Scriptures [OT]. Putting the two testaments together, the Spirit affirms, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God.”
Lord willing, in the subsequent article we will conclude this topic, addressing the Silence of Divine Inspiration.