The Bible's Claim For Itself
Does the Bible claim to be a direct revelation from God? Are men claiming more for the Bible than it claims for itself when they state that the Bible is inspired of God? These questions need to be answered. The number of men who have accepted the tenets of religious modernism are increasing; indeed, some among the liberals are already writing articles regarding the clashes between the gospels, Paul's prejudice against women, the documentary hypothesis for the authorship of Genesis and the Law, and the form criticism approach to the authorship of the gospels. Is there a reasonable ground for holding the Bible to be inspired of God?
What Do We Mean By Inspiration?
When we state that the Bible is "inspired" very few people would disagree. However, all of those who believe that the Bible is inspired do not mean the same thing when they make the statement, "The Bible is inspired." The word "inspiration" is used to mean "an inspiring or being inspired mentally or emotionally; an inspiring influence; any stimulus to creative thought or action." When some refer to the Bible being inspired they have no higher meaning than that the Bible inspires them like viewing the Grand Canyon also inspires them or that the Bible is inspired in the same sense as Shakespeare's writings are inspiring.
When I speak of "inspiration," I am referring to a "superintendence of God the Holy Spirit over the writers of the Scriptures, as a result of which these Scriptures possess divine authority and trustworthiness and, possessing such Divine authority and truthworthiness, are free from error" (Edward J. Young, Thy Word Is Truth, p. 27). God so superintended the writing of the Bible that His word was communicated to man, preserving the authors from making historical or scientific blunders in the writing thereof.
Is Inspiration Possible?
Some deny that inspiration is possible because of the weakness of human language or for other reasons. There is nothing too hard for God to accomplish (Jer. 32:17,27). When one admits the existence of an Almighty God, the possibility of a divinely inspired revelation follows. If one admits that God exists and is the Creator of man, it should follow that the Creator would likely make contact in some way with His creation. The probability of a revelation is thereby given. Revelation is also a necessity. If a finite man is going to know anything definite about God, he can only learn it through God revealing it to him. Man's reason alone can never deduce the Christian's God. Our arguments for the existence of God cannot tell us if there is one God or many gods. Granting the existence of one God, the creation cannot tell us anything about His character; we cannot know whether He is a loving God or hostile God without divine communication. Therefore, if man is going to positively know anything about God, He must reveal Himself to us.
The ability of revelation to be given can be illustrated by Matthew 16:16. There Peter made the good confession, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus replied that "flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven" (16:17). Peter's knowledge of Jesus did not come through someone telling him who Jesus was or because he was exceptionally perceptive. God the Father revealed to Peter that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God. Either revelation is possible or we cannot know who Jesus is. Was it possible for God to reveal who Jesus was? Could that revelation which Peter spoke be reduced to writing? Did it have any less intelligibility because it was reduced to writing? Matthew 16:16 contains a direct revelation from God which was reduced to writing.
Results From Denying The Inspiration of the Bible
If one denies that the Bible is divinely inspired and, therefore, preserved from containing errors, there are certain conclusions resulting therefrom. The admission that the Bible contains errors has certain logical conclusions. Consider some of them with me:
1. Man must be the end of all knowledge, not the Bible. When one admits that errors are in the Bible, man must pass judgment on every statement in the Bible to determine whether or not it is in error. Hence, man becomes the standard for right or wrong instead of the Bible.
2. The Bible is not an infallible guide for doctrine and morals. If the Bible has errors in it, those errors might relate to doctrine or morals. If the Bible's doctrine of inspiration cannot be trusted, how can we be sure that its doctrine about God can be trusted? How can we be sure that its doctrine about Jesus, the atonement, or salvation is truthful?
3. The Bible is full of lies and myth. If the Bible contains errors, it is filled with the ignorances, prejudices, and mythological concepts of men of a bygone era. Those who deny the inspiration of the Bible generally deny its historicity. The historical records of the miraculous is assaulted; miracles become myths. Divine revelation becomes man's lies, ignorances and prejudices.
4. The Bible is not authoritative. The bottom line is that the Bible is not authoritative to man in his life. He feels no obligation to obey this book, because its morals and doctrines are merely man's reflections - reflections with which he may or may not agree. Having cast aside the Bible an authoritative man is left with nothing but his subjective judgment for determining right and wrong. Every man becomes a law unto himself.
Hence, the Bible is altogether undermined by those who deny its inspiration. We must be willing to go back to the Bible and let it become our all-sufficient revelation from God.
The Bible's Claim For Itself
Some might object to letting the Bible speak in its own defense. I do not use the Bible to prove that the Bible is inspired in a circular type of reasoning. I am using this material to show (1) that the Bible claims to be inspired and (2) the degree of inspiration being claimed by the Scriptures. This is designed to show that we are not claiming more for the Bible than it claims for itself.
The evidence of the Bible's claim for itself is overwhelming. "The Old Testament alone affirms 3,808 times that it is transmitting the very words of God" (Rene Pache, The Inspiration and Authority of Scripture, p. 37). Thousands of times the writers would begin, "Thus saith the Lord . . ." (Isa. 66:1) or ". . . the word of the Lord came to me, saying . . ." (Jer. 2:1). These statements are either the truth or a lie. Men either received and delivered a word from God or they passed off their subjective conclusions as the word of God. The Bible affirms that God was speaking through. these men.
Consider these following evidences:
1. 2 Peter 1:20-21. Discussing the origin of Scripture, Peter wrote, "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 Old Testament did not come from the "will of man" (i. e. man's own reasoning, investigation, or conclusions from observation); it came as a revelation from God.
2. 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Paul wrote, "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 of the Bible are "breathed of God" (inspired: theopneustos).
3. 1 Corinthians 2:6-13. The things which God has prepared for them that love God have been revealed to the apostles by the Holy Spirit. That revelation has been communicated to man under the direction of the Holy Spirit who combined spiritual things with spiritual words. The very words used by the apostles were given to them by the Holy Spirit.
To further illustrate how the Holy Spirit divinely revealed to the apostles what'they were to write and say, consider this promise:
And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you (Matt. 10:18-20).
God would reveal to the Apostles how and what they should speak.
Furthermore, Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to the Apostles to "teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (Jn. 14:26) and "to guide you into all truth" (Jn. 16:13). Consequently, the things which the apostles wrote were the word of God (1 Cor. 14:37; 1 Thess. 2:13). They were "scripture" (2 Pet. 3:16; 1 Tim. 5:18) in the same sense as the writings of the Old Testament were considered authoritative Scripture.
4. Luke 16:17. Speaking regarding the Old Testament, Jesus said, "And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail." Regarding His own spoken words, He said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away" (Matt. 24:35). "Scripture cannot be broken" (Jn. 10:35).
5. John 12:48. The revealed word of God shall judge us. Jesus said, "He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken of myself; but the father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak" (12:47-48).
6. 1 Peter 1:24-25. The living and abiding word will endure forever. "For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: but the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you."
The Word of The Writer Was The Word of God
It is interesting to notice how the New Testament authors refer to the Old Testament to understand Jesus' (see parallel article on Jesus' testimony about Scripture) and other writers' concept about the Holy Scripture.
Psalm 95:7-11 is quoted in Hebrews 3:7 and 4:7. In 3:7 the passage is introduced by saying, ". . . as the Holy Ghost saith . . . ." In 4:7, it is introduced as follows: "Again, he (God) limiteth a certain day, saying in David . . . ." In Matthew 15, Jesus carefully contrasted the traditions of men from the word of God in quoting Exodus 20 and 21. A statement worded by Adam in Genesis 2:24 is attributed by Jesus to God in Matthew 19:4. In quoting Psalm 110, Jesus attributed it to David in the Spirit (Matt. 22:43).
This line of argument could be extended for pages to show that the New Testament speakers and writers attributed what was written in the Old Testament to the Holy Spirit who inspired the holy prophets. What was spoken and recorded in the Old Testament was the revelation from God.
Men may reach the conclusion that the Bible is not a revelation from God. However, there is no way possible for men to reach the conclusion that (1) the Bible does not claim to be inspired from God and (2) the Bible refers to itself as being the word of God. There can be no doubt that the first century church accepted the Old Testament as a direct revelation from God and the apostles doctrine as being a revelation on the same level with the Old Testament.
The other articles in this issue are designed to examine the evidences for sustaining the claim which the Bible makes for itself. Are there grounds for accepting the Bible's claim to be a revelation from God? Can reasonable men conclude that the Bible is a divine revelation? Or, can man accept the Bible as a divine revelation only by burying one's head and ignoring the facts? The rest of this issue shows reasons for accepting the Bible's claim for itself as a divinely inspired revelation from God.
Guardian of Truth XXVII: 1, 2-4