The Inspiration of Scripture (Pt.2)

Part One

The Divine over the Human

What all this does is that it causes us to conclude that as evangelical Christians we should emphasize the divine aspect of the Bible more than the human element, though not neglecting the human aspect.  This is the biblical pattern:

Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the LORD.” Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the LORD said to me, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. – Jeremiah 1:4-9

O LORD, you know; remember me and visit me, and take vengeance for me on my persecutors. In your forbearance take me not away; know that for your sake I bear reproach. Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts. Therefore thus says the LORD: “If you return, I will restore you, and you shall stand before me. If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall be as my mouth. They shall turn to you, but you shall not turn to them. – Jeremiah 15:15-16, 19

 

There is much in Jeremiah 15 which is somewhat obscure and which we don’t have the time here to exegete, but the emphasis of Jeremiah, especially in 15:19, was on the fact that his predictions, his prophecies, were God’s words first and foremost not his own. Therefore the Divine element is far greater and far more important than the human element, in a Doctrine of Inspiration.

I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint. And the LORD answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. – Habakkuk 2:1-2  

Again the emphasis falls on the divinity of Scripture and the person who reads it will act upon it because it is from God, not just from Habakkuk.

I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. – John 17:6, 17

Now just look at the implications of that verse: man is not the fount of truth, therefore man cannot be the source of the truth that is in the Word.  Ergo, the humanity of Scripture, which would have to mean fallibility, has to be overcome by the divinity of Scripture which is infallible. I believe a great deal of harm has been done within evangelicalism, and particularly in the realm of hermeneutics, by over-emphasizing the humanity of Scripture.  The humanity of Scripture would, if left to itself, tend towards some truth and a lot of falsehood and certainly no definitive truth, but the divinity of truth, coming from the source of all truth, makes the whole Word, even when it is written by human agents, the truth, because it witnesses to its divine author.

Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”– these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. – I Corinthians 2:6-13

The whole basis of Paul’s argument here is rooted in the Word of God, he even quotes the Word of God in verse 9 and continues to do so throughout his letters. In other words, his truth is based on Scripture’s truth.  And he is also superintended by the Spirit himself.

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, ‘Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.’ – Revelation 1:10-11

What we see here is the Lord himself giving the revelation, also giving the commandment, and the ability through the Spirit for John to write down this inspired book.

Now it is because of the relationship between the Scriptures and God himself, because of their God-breathed character even though using human instruments, that we have some rather startling sayings about the Bible.

And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” – Galatians 3:8

Now here, what Paul is arguing is that the Scripture itself, because of what is written in Genesis 12:3, foresaw the importance of justification by faith.

For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Romans 9:17

Paul doesn’t say ‘God said to Pharaoh’ he says ‘the Scripture said to Pharaoh’. Why does he say that? Because what God said to Pharaoh through Moses is what Scripture says; the words are the same…they are God’s words.

This is why the writer of Hebrews can write:

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. – Hebrews 4:12-13

The Word of God, because it is living, discerns our thoughts and intents – what’s going on in our hearts, in our minds, and in our thinking. Now the “him” in verse 13 is not the Scriptures, it is God himself. Because the Word of God searches us out and discerns where we are in relation to God himself, the relationship between God and his Word is such that in verses like this, they actually coalesce; the writer having no problem going from the One – the Scripture, to the other – the person of God himself.

Two verses come to mind:

And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” Galatians 3:8

For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Romans 9:17

 

Now if we look back at Galatians 3:8 and Romans 9:17, we’ll see that something very interesting comes to the surface when we think about them.  Both of them quote the Old Testament – Galatians 3:8 quotes Genesis 12:1-3, whereas Romans 9:17 is quoting from Exodus 9:16.  Now what’s interesting is that in both cases the Scripture, as in a book, didn’t yet exist; Moses hadn’t written by that time, therefore it was not Scripture itself that was saying these things, but God.

These acts could be attributed to Scripture only as the result of such a habitual identification in the mind of the writer of the text of Scripture with God as speaking, that it became natural to use the term ‘Scripture says’ when what was actually intended was ‘God has recorded in Scripture said. – B.B. Warfield, The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible, 299-300

Morton H. Smith, Systematic Theology, 1, 80 gives us some more examples of passages in which God is spoken of as if He were Scripture: Matthew 19:4-5; Acts 4:25; Hebrews 3:7; Acts 13:34-35; Isaiah 55:3; Psalm 16:10; Hebrews 1:6; Deuteronomy 32:43; Psalm 104:4; Psalms 95:7; Psalm 102:26

Smith finishes off by saying,

Originally the words quoted as from God in the New Testament passages are not found so directly quoted from Him in the Old. They again can be attributed to Him because of the association of all that Scripture said is coming from God Himself. – Ibid

 

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