We decided that God has revealed information to man in our study of revelation. Now we must go a step further and study inspiration. The question might come up as to why inspiration is important. It is important to us because we know there is revelation, but we don't know what part of the information is revealed and what part is man's writings. Inspiration helps us distinguish between revelation and non-revelation.
Those writings that are inspired are from God Himself, while other writings are from all other sources. Before I am classed a heretic, let me explain that all of the Bible is inspired, is the Word of God, while all other books are the non-revelation.
We will look at the method of inspiration as well as the extent of inspiration.
1. Inspiration is the divine influence which renders a speaker or writer of scripture infallible in the communication of the scripture from God to man.
2. "The theological use of the term inspiration is a reference to that controlling influence which God exerted over the human authors by whom the Old and New Testaments were written. It has to do with the reception of the divine message and the accuracy with which it is transcribed." (Chafer, Lewis Sperry; "SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY"; Dallas, TX: Dallas Seminary Press, 1947, Vol I, p 61)
3. Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary states, "a divine influence or action on a person believed to qualify him to receive and communicate sacred revelation" (By permission. From Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary copyright 1991 by Merriam-Webster Inc., publisher of the Merriam-Webster (registered) Dictionaries.) Note "believed to qualify" - that is some statement of doubt!
We need to understand that inspiration was caused by the Holy Spirit via the human author's, and that it resulted in a revelation of God to man.
John R. Rice sets forth probably one of the wisest pieces of logic that I have run across to this point in time on this topic.
"There are only two honest and intelligent positions to take: 1. That the Bible is what it claims to be, dictated by the mouth of God, the infallible and perfect Word of God that cannot be broken. 2. That the Bible is merely the work of men, claiming to be what it is not, that the Bible is false and not true, and with no binding authority on mankind, no direct and authoritative revelation from God." (Rice, John R., "VERBAL INSPIRATION OF THE BIBLE AND ITS SCIENTIFIC ACCURACY"; Wheaton: Sword of the Lord Pub., 1943, p 5)
The term "inspiration" is found twice in the Bible: Job 32:8, "The inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding."; II Tim. 3:16, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God."
The term means "God-breathed": It is the Greek word theopneustos - "theo/God, pneus/breath, tos/the "tos" ending indicates the end result of what precedes it. Thus the result of the process is God breathed. Possibly a more technical way to put it would be OUTSPIRATION, for God breathed it out.
THE WHOLE OF THE BIBLE IS INSPIRED:
1. At the writing of II Tim 3:16 the Old Testament was certainly indicated. The Old Testament was complete at this time and Paul was attributing inspiration to it.
2. II Timothy would also relate to any New Testament books written prior to II Timothy. This covers all but John I, II, III, Revelation, Jude and possibly Hebrews. (It depends on who you believe wrote Hebrews and when you think that it was written.)
3. II Pet. 3:16 states that Paul's writings were scripture. "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."
4. Paul validates Luke by quoting Luke with Deut 25:4 in I Tim. 5:18. "For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the grain; and, The laborer is worthy of his reward." Deut 25:4 mentions, "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the grain" is a quote from Deut. 25:4 and Luke 10:7 states, "The laborer is worthy of his reward."
5. II Pet. 3:2 mentions, "That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior;" This places the words of the apostles on the same plain as the prophets. This includes the writings of Matthew, John, Peter and Paul. That includes the following: The entire Old Testament; All books written before II Timothy; All of Paul's writings; Luke; Matthew; John; Revelation, I & II Peter; Since Mark was one of the earlier books it would be validated; and if Paul wrote Hebrews it would be included.
James and Acts are the only books not given validity by Scripture itself. If Luke is valid it would be assumed that Acts, written by Luke would also be valid.
Thus we see that the Scriptures declare themselves to be the Word of God and all is inspired by Him. Now, let us move on to the discussion of inspiration.
VERBAL PLENARY INSPIRATION
Verbal, plenary inspiration is a very necessary doctrine. Verbal indicates that every single word is inspired. Plenary means that every part is from God. Every word and every part of the Word of God is the inspired Word of God.
II Pet. 1:21 states, "For the prophecy came not at any time by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." Moved is the term "Phero" which means to "bear" or "uphold." It is used in Acts 27:17, "Which, when they had hoisted it, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, struck sail, and so were driven." In this verse the term driven is used of a ship driven by the wind.
I have always been drawn to pictures of the old Tea Clipper ships that roamed the Seas many years ago. They are so graceful being driven by the wind under full sail. The sailers worked with the wind to produce the transportation of their product. The authors of Scripture were borne along by the Holy Spirit to set down the record that God desired us to have, yet within the confines of their own writing style, time and emphasis.
The tense of the term in II Peter is passive showing that the ship was driven by the wind - something that was acting on the ship, thus when we apply this to the authors of Scripture, we can see that they had nothing to do with the influence. They were carried along as the sailors of the ship were driven by the wind. The sailors were free to do what they would on the ship but the wind and the sea determined their course. The authors of scripture were carried along and their course was determined by the Holy Spirit yet they were free to use their own style and language.
The fact that God and man were involved in the production of the Bible gives us the term of "dual authorship" which you may run across from time to time.
VERBAL IS THE DEPTH OF THE WORD
PLENARY IS THE BREADTH OF THE WORD
Some might wonder what difference it makes if we have a verbal plenary inspiration. We need to consider this for a moment.
1. Some today would have us believe that there are new revelations being given. Verbal Plenary Inspiration must be proven for them, or we can not know they are false.
2. Some today would have us believe that the Bible has mistakes and errors in it. Again, Verbal Plenary Inspiration refutes that thought.
3. Some today would have us believe the Bible is only the work of intelligent men who tricked the world with a hoax. Again, the Verbal Plenary Inspiration refutes that thought.
THE FACT OF INSPIRATION: "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." II Tim. 3:16,17
THE NATURE OF INSPIRATION: "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." II Peter 1:21
Not by private interpretation. It isn't from the writer's thoughts, nor is it from their own research, although both may be involved in the gathering of the information. The gathering of information is not the end result however (Luke the historian, for example gathered information for his writing). It was by the words of men as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
THE RESULT OF INSPIRATION: I would like to list a quote from Unger. (It is broken into paragraphs for ease of presentation and understanding.)
In speaking of the "verbal, plenary inspiration" he mentions the "dynamic view." Beware! Dynamic view according to some is the same as the mystical view. Use Verbal plenary.
"This view holds that the superintendency of the Holy Spirit rendered the writers of Scripture infallible in their communications of truth and inerrant in their literary productions." This is required for the Scriptures to be the very Word of God.
"Yet it leaves room for the fullest play of the personality, style and background of the individual authors." This is needed because of the vast difference in writing style and even languages involved in the entirety of the Word. (There are three languages involved, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.)
"By verbal inspiration is signified that in the original writings the Holy Spirit led in the choice of each word used (cf. I Cor. 2:13; John 10:34-36)...." ("the choice of each word," may make some nervous. If this is the case then how can style of the individual come into play? To say that the Holy Spirit chose each word, you would have to state that the Spirit, understanding the author's style assisted in the choice of each word.)
"By plenary inspiration is meant that the accuracy which verbal inspiration insures is extended to every portion of the sacred revelation, so that it is as a whole and in all its constituent parts, infallible as to truth and final as to divine authority."
"This is the traditional teaching of the Church, and is that doctrine set forth by Christ and the apostles." This teaching preserves the dual authorship of Scripture (the divine and the human) in perfect balance, ascribing to each that consideration which is accorded in the Bible." (Taken from: "UNGER'S BIBLE DICTIONARY"; Unger, Merrill F.; Copyright 1957, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago; Moody Press. Used by permission. p 528)
THEORIES OF INSPIRATION:
1. DICTATION THEORY: When I consider this theory, I am reminded of the idea of padlocking someone's mouth so that they can say nothing.
In this line of thinking, they tell us that the Holy Spirit took the message from God and imposed it upon the writer, and that the writer just recorded the words, much as a stenographer would record the words of an employer.
In short, man opened brain, and God poured it in. It then flowed out through the man's hands. This is disproven by the many styles of writing that we have in the Scriptures. The styles fit the life and times of the author. Not only are there different styles but there are different historical backgrounds involved in the scriptures.
If dictation were the method, then the texts that speak of the author's great love, or remorse over sin would become phoney and empty if the person penning the words weren't involved (The Psalmist, Daniel in his prayers, etc.).
Fundamentalists are accused of holding to this mode of inspiration but most do not. Most hold to verbal, plenary inspiration. There may be a few very strong "sovereignty of God" men that hold to the dictation theory.
2. PARTIAL INSPIRATION THEORY: This theory allows my mind to imagine the Sunday School teacher getting up to teach the class and presenting an overlay of Scripture. He has marked only three verses in red and mentions that these are the only verses that are inspired in that portion of the Bible, and that is what will be studied for the day. Ridiculous? Yes.
This theory originated in answer to the problem that many think that the Bible has errors of history and nature in it. They felt that they had to devise a theory that would allow for those errors. (Heaven forbid that they take the Bible by faith and prove the historian and scientist incorrect - which has been done in most if not all of those "error" passages.)
This position holds to two authors as we believe, however is limited to only the doctrinal parts of scripture, and not the other areas such as history and science.
If only the doctrinal parts are inspired then why carry all the uninspired around with us? Let's just rip all that uninspired stuff out and have smaller Bibles.
The problem arises - which sections are doctrinal and which are not. When Christ turned water into wine - was this section doctrinal or historic? It could be teaching miracles thus doctrinal, or trying to explain science, and not inspired. Who is the judge?
This view and the concept view are held by New and Young evangelicals. These people are probably Christians, however they are far afield of fundamentalism, and in reading some of their writings they seem more political than spiritual in emphasis.
3. CONCEPTUAL THEORY: The concept that God wanted to communicate was given to the author and the author was then free to put the concept into his own words and record those words as the Scriptures. This position even allows for the author to make up a story to show the concept. This is the basis for the thought of some that Jonah is "just a story".
This idea that God gave a concept and the man put it to words, is not a logical theory. How can one being communicate with another being without the words being important. They suggest that Jonah being in a fish, or not being in a fish is not the point. It was a story. It needn't be true - only that the reader know that he was punished for his wrong doing.
The Jews killed after David's sin of numbering the people is only to show the result of sin. It didn't really happen. No one really died.
Example: I want to communicate something to you. There was a man driving down the road and his car suddenly swerved out of control into a deep lake. The car began to sink. Luckily he was able to climb out of the window. What point was I trying to make? If you guessed that the building is on fire and you should climb out a window, you are right. Wouldn't the phrase "FIRE" have communicated the facts more readily? This theory can only lead to great confusion.
4. INTUITION THEORY: The men that authored the scriptures were functioning only on insight which they had, and there is no divine author or interference.
Now, to put that into perspective, let's assume that I have great insight into things, and indeed I feel that I do. In fact I think that I should author a book based on my great intellectual insight. Now, how many of you would like to base your eternal destiny on that book when it is written?
5. ILLUMINATION THEORY: The men were inspired and given much illumination and they recorded their own thoughts and words as they saw fit.
6. DYNAMIC THEORY: Some list this as the same as mystic, while others as verbal plenary, and some believe that both the men and words were inspired. God supernaturally inspired the man to write the words.
7. LIMITED INSPIRATION THEORY: This is the theory held by many Young Evangelicals. The Bible is inerrant in the matter of salvation, but it has errors in the historical and scientific areas. The next logical step is to question the Bible in the matters of salvation. If part is false then how can we determine which is true?
8. NEOORTHODOX THEORY: The Bible gives witness to God, however it has errors due to the infallibility of it's writers.
9. NATURAL INSPIRATION THEORY: This view would have us believe that God sought out gifted men to write His message to man. Some men are great writers of poetry, some are great artists, some are great politicians and some are just great writers of things that inspire people to do things. The writers of scripture were only men gifted in this area.
If this theory be true then we can look to the great novels of man such as Giant, the Caine Mutiny or Hawaii for general guides for our lives.
Indeed, if this theory be true then there are no guides for our lives.
10. MYSTICAL INSPIRATION THEORY: This idea might be called the mystical zap theory as well. God mysteriously zapped the authors of Scripture and they wrote. God empowered the authors to write. This was some mystical empowerment to record God's Word. I personally don't feel comfortable using the results of a persons "mystical high" to guide and pattern my life. Indeed, I do not want to trust my eternal destiny to such theories.
11. DEGREES OF INSPIRATION THEORY: Some parts are more inspired than others. When God spoke from the burning bush, or wrote the ten commandments - that's really inspired! When Luke records the remembrances of Mary there was much less inspiration involved. If this be true then who is the judge of which is the "really inspired" and which is the "not so inspired"? There would be no basis for truth if this theory were true. Can we sin a little if its not "really inspired" then sin lots when its not so inspired? If this theory was true I'd probably use the not so inspired part of the Scripture for devotions!
12. VERBAL PLENARY INSPIRATION: God in some manner moved the author along as he wrote. The author used his own style of writing, yet the Holy Spirit was moving him along so that the result is God's Word - true and complete. There were a number of methods by which He communicated with man. We have discussed these but will mention them again. Verbal communication, Dreams, Visions, Trances, Theophanies and Written communications.
The doctrine of inspiration would seem to be directly related to that information which the writer put into writing from verbal communication, however Scripture would also bear out the fact that other forms of communication were also inspired, and were also God's own message.
This is the only view that allows for differences of style and language. It is the only view that allows God to communicate with man in a logical, real manner.
THE IMPLICATION OF INSPIRATION:
The Bible is the Word of God: "And the Lord said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven." Ex. 20:22 The words of God Himself! God has spoken to man!
The Bible is perfect, settled, and eternal: "The law of the Lord is perfect..." Ps. 19:7; "Forever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven." Ps. 119:89; "Thy word is true from the beginning; and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever." Ps. 119:160
The Bible is from God: "Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth." Jer. 1:9; "The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord God of Israel, saying, Write thee all the words that I have spoken unto thee in a book." Jer. 30:1,2
The Bible is a message to man: "But when I speak with thee, I will open thy mouth, and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God" Ezek. 3:27
The Bible is a unit: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." Mat. 5:17,18
The Bible will stand: "The scripture cannot be broken." Jo. 10:35
The Bible is inspired: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God." II Tim. 3:16
The Bible is not from man: "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." II Peter 1:21
Miscellaneous texts that relate to the subject: II Sam. 23:1,2; I Kings 16:1; Jer. 13:1; Ezek. 1:3; Eph 3:1-10 indicates Paul considered that he spoke from direct revelation; Heb. 1:1,2; John 10:34-36; Matt. 1:22; 2:15,23; 4:4,7,10; 8:17;12:17.
SOME THAT HAVE HELD TO THE INSPIRATION OF SCRIPTURE:
John R. Rice, Charles H. Spurgeon, B. H. Carroll (Who said, "Any talk about revelation without inspiration of the words is fool's talk,"), D. L. Moody, R. A. Torrey, Wesley, Finney, A.J. Gordon, Chapman, Billy Sunday, and many others.
Application of the doctrine of inspiration:
1. This is God's complete word and revelation. Nothing else will follow so we shouldn't look for it, nor desire it.
EVEN THOUGH you may have seen the commercials on television that there is more information about the life of Jesus. It is called another testament of Jesus, and is available by calling an 800 number. Yes, it is the Mormon's. They are not the only group that feel inspired revelation continues. Many Charismatics feel that the messages while speaking in tongues is revelation.
2. This is God's complete word and we have no need of psychology nor the other ologies of our day to be able to live and walk with our God.
3. The word is complete and trustworthy. When a seeming contradiction comes up in your study, you may have confidence that it isn't a mistake. You may have a confidence that you will find an answer to the problem if you are diligent and seek after an answer. Example: II Sam 24:1 mentions that God moved David to number the people. This numbering resulted in the loss of life for many Israelites. The term "moved" can be translated tempted. With James 1:13 we might see a contradiction. "Let no man say when he is tempted I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man." The answer: Read I Chron 21:1 and see that God allowed Satan to tempt David. Add to this the information from Job that God allows Satan to test man, and you have no hint of contradiction.
4. If this is the complete word then we can find many things that will help us with everyday life situations. If it were only concepts then why bother.
5. A proper view of inspiration will lead to a proper theology and doctrine.
Example: If you hold to Verbal, plenary inspiration you will hold to a literal six day creation. If you hold to some of the other theories you will hold to other ideas. (Six days, six ages, or just that God created.)
The Bible is the inspired Word of God, our trusted companion in life. (Yes,
the double meaning was intended.)