The inspiration of the Scriptures is one of the major doctrines of our church and of Christianity in general.What is the difference between the idea of Biblical inspiration and the inspiration that a novelist might have for his next book? Have you ever been inspired by a beautiful sunset? What does that mean? (Moved?) Have you ever been inspired by a sermon or by an example – to make some improvement in your life? Even if you were led of the Holy Spirit through that sermon is that the same thing as Biblical inspiration? Elihu in Job 32:8 said, “But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.” The inspiration of the Holy Spirit very often does give us the ability to understand some difficult doctrine or scripture, but that is different from the inspiration what was given to the word of God which was written by Paul or Isaiah.
“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 furnished unto all good works.” The words “inspiration of God” are a translation of “theopneustos.” “Theopnuestos” is a compound word made up of “theos” and “pneustos” which mean what? Remember that “pneustos” which literally means “breathed” is related to “pneuma” which means “Spirit.” This verse tells us two things about the scriptures, the first is that it is inspired of God. What is the second? (Profitable.) Is something very profitable if it is not honest or accurate? This is the result of the inspiration of God – absolute accuracy. Nothing less than plenary, verbal inspiration of the scriptures explain the demands of the scriptures themselves. What does “plenary” mean? (Complete in every respect, entire.) What does “verbal” mean? (Words.)
The inspiration of the Scriptures was primarily the work of the Holy Spirit.
But keep in mind what I said last week: Whenever we picture one person of the Trinity doing something, we need to picture the rest of the Trinity in the background. This holds true of Bible inspiration. The Holy Spirit may be the agent of inspiration, but the Father is the source and the Son is the theme. Or is it the Son who is the source and the Father or the God-head is the theme? Remember that one of the Names given to the Son is “The Word.” Why is that?
II Peter 1:20-21 – “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” The words “knowing this first” imply that this is foundational doctrine. What does the word “scripture” mean? (Holy writing.) No prophecy of the scripture, poetry of the scripture, history of the scripture or gospel of the scripture was written by the private mind or heart of any man. All scripture was given to us through holy men of God, who were moved by the Holy Ghost. Why would it be foolish for me to say that the word “moved” in II Peter 1:21 is the same word that we looked at in Genesis 1:2: “And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters”? Even though those are not the same word, I don’t think that it’s a mistake to place them side by side.
Think of the inspiration of the Old Testament Scriptures. Did the writers of the Old Testament always understand what it was that they wrote or prophesied? What might be some examples? Nevertheless, did they realize that they were giving forth the Word of God? Just because not every paragraph begins with a statement of God’s inspiration, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t an implied understanding. Did David, Moses, or Isaiah ever say, “I don’t know if the Lord agrees with this or not, but here is what I think?”
Turn to the first verses of II Samuel 23, written toward the end of David’s life. “Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said, The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue. The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me….” Not only did David say that God spoke to him and through him, but wasn’t he more specific? What does that mean: “and his word was in my tongue.” Listen to Isaiah 59:21 – “As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever.” Jeremiah 1:9 – “Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.” Guess how many times we find the words “thus saith the Lord” in the Bible? (413 times.) And that doesn’t include all verses which give us words like: “the Word of Jehovah,” “thy word”, “my word,” “the words of His mouth,” “the words of the Holy One,” and “His words.” Does the fact that we don’t have clear and frequent references to the Holy Spirit inspiring this word mean that it is not the Spirit speaking? Remember that the Holy Spirit does not bring attention to Himself, except when necessary.
Nevertheless, there is New Testament and Christological proof that the Old Testament scriptures were inspired by the Holy Spirit. Matthew 22:41-46 – “While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David IN SPIRIT call him Lord, saying, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.”
Mark 12:35 – “And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ is the Son of David? For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The LORD said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool. David therefore himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son? And the common people heard him gladly.”
Acts 1:15 – “And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,) Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood. For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take.”
When Paul was talking to the Jews at Rome in Acts 28:25 he said, “Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.”
II Peter 1:20-21 – “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” The Holy Spirit moved those Old Testament writers and prophets; He carried them along. Someone has estimated that there are about 3,000 references to the divine inspiration of the Scriptures and many of them refer specifically to the work of the Holy Spirit.
Now think about the extent of that Holy Spirit inspiration.
How did Adam know about his own creation? How did Isaiah and Ezekiel know about Lucifer’s rebellion and fall? These were things revealed to men by God Himself – particularly by the Holy Spirit. But what about the argument that heathen writings also refer to these sorts of things?
How is it that hundreds of prophesies were spoken or written hundreds of years before their fulfillment? Were they guesses? What was the source of those prophesies?
What was the source of the law which Moses recorded? In both these cases we are talking about revelation. How is revelation different from inspiration, even though the source of both is the same?
Was the poetry of David dictated by God? Were the histories of Joshua and Judges dictated by God? Were the proverbs dictated by the Lord? If they weren’t dictated then how or what was inspired? Remember that Christ said that the words of David were actually Holy Spirit inspired. Peter said that David and the others were “carried along” by the Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit inspiration in the New Testament.
Is there any difference between inspiration in the two Testaments? Are the writings of the New Testament of a different authority or authenticity than those in the Old? Just because Peter says that the prophecies of the Old Testament were Holy Spirit inspired, does that mean that the prophecies of the New Testament are not?
The penmen of the New Testament indicate that they considered what they wrote as scripture. Listen carefully to I Timothy 5:17-18 – “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.” Who can quote the scripture which says, “The labourer is worthy of his reward?” The word cannot be found in the Old Testament. But when the Lord Jesus was instructing his evangelists in Luke 10, He said,“And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house.” Paul equated Deuteronomy 25:4 and Luke 10:7 as equally inspired of God. In this case he equated the words of Moses and the words of the Lord Jesus Christ. Then Peter confessed his own difficulty with the scriptures written by Paul. II Peter 3:14-16 – “Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”
Now let’s conclude with a little math exercise: If all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and what Paul wrote was scripture, Who gave Paul His New Testament books? If the inspired scriptures were actually the writing of holy men as they were moved by the Holy Ghost and the Paul’s writings were inspired, then by whom was he moved as he wrote?
The doctrine of Bible inspiration is the same in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. And it was the third person of the Trinity who brought about the inspiration of the scriptures.