4-2-1 The Writers Of The Bible
Duncan Heaster’s First Speech
Is the Bible the Unaltered Word of God?
I submit without hesitation that the Bible is the unaltered word of God. I make no apology for quoting the Bible itself as proof of its authority. I want you to listen to the Bible speaking about itself, and then you can make your decision.
In the Bible we have God's written words, so that we might understand God's spirit or mind. David spoke of how God's word and " own heart" are parallel (2 Sam. 7:21); God achieved this miracle of expressing His spirit in written words by the process of INSPIRATION. This term is based around the word " spirit" :
" Spirit" means " breath"
or breathing. " Inspiration" means " in-breathing"
. This means that the words which men wrote, whilst under "
inspiration" from God, were the words of God's spirit. Paul
encouraged Timothy not to let his familiarity with the Bible lead
him to forget that it is the words of God's spirit:
" From a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures, which
are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith which is
in Christ Jesus. 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 (complete),
thoroughly furnished ('thoroughly equipped', N.I.V.) unto all good
works" (2 Tim. 3:15-17).
If the inspired Scriptures can provide such totality of knowledge,
then there is no need for another book to show us the truth about
God. The Israelites were reasonably interested in what God's Word
had to say, as are many " Christians" today. We all need
to carefully reflect on Hebrews 4:2:
" Unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them (Israel
in the wilderness): but the word preached did not profit them, not
being mixed with faith in them that heard it" .
This unwillingness to accept the huge spiritual power which is
in God's word has led many Christians to question whether all the
Scriptures are fully inspired by God and say that much of the Bible
was just the personal opinions of the writers. I do not share their
position. Peter effectively disposes of such reasoning.
" We have the word of the prophets made more certain, and
you will do well to pay attention to it...above all, you must understand
(this is vital!) that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the
prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin
in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried
along by the Holy Spirit" (2 Pet. 1:19-21 N.I.V.).
We must " above all" believe that the Bible is inspired.
The doctrine of inspiration is so often emphasized in the Bible
(e.g. Mk. 12:36; Acts 1:16; 28:25; Heb. 3:7; 9:8; 10:15).
The Writers Of The Bible
A solid belief in the total inspiration of the Scriptures is vital. The men who wrote the Bible were carried along by the spirit which inspired them, so that the words they wrote were not their own. The Word of God being the truth (John 17:17), it is not surprising that with many it is unpopular - for truth hurts. The prophet Jeremiah suffered much for speaking the words God inspired him with, and so he determined not to record or speak the words that he was given. But because the writing of God's Word is a result of God's will, he was " carried along by the Holy Spirit" so that he had no choice. " I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me...I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay" (Jer. 20:7,9).
A surprising number of those that God inspired to speak His word went through periods of reluctance to do so:
- Moses (Ex. 4:10)
- Jeremiah (Jer. 1:6)
- Ezekiel (Ez. 3:14)
- Jonah (Jonah 1:2,3)
- Paul (Acts 18:9)
- Timothy (1 Tim. 4:6-14)
- Balaam (Num. 22:24)
This all confirms what we learnt in 2 Peter 1:19-21 - that God's Word is not the personal opinion of men, but the result of men being inspired to write what was revealed to them. At times Moses lost the sense of his own personality, so strong was God’s inspiration: " All these commandments, which the Lord hath spoken unto Moses.." (Num. 15:22,23); these words were actually said by Moses (v. 17). Their mouth was His mouth. There are many writings of the prophets where it is hard to determine whether the personal pronouns refer to God or the prophet (e.g. Jer. 17:13- 16) - so close was the relationship and manifestation of God through them.
Sometimes the writers of the Bible realized that they did not fully understand the things that they wrote. They " searched" for the correct interpretation - " ..unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things" which they wrote (1 Pet. 1:9-12). . The following provide obvious examples: Daniel (Dan. 12:8-10); Zechariah (Zech. 4:4-13); Peter (Acts 10:17). The child Samuel likewise didn't know Yahweh but still spoke His word (1 Sam. 3:7).
If what they wrote really was the Word of God, then they had to be completely taken over by God's spirit during the inspiration - otherwise the product would not have been God's Word in purity. An acceptance that God's Word is completely His provides us with more motivation to read and obey it. Thus the books of the Bible are the work of God through His spirit, rather than the literature of men. This is demonstrated by considering how the New Testament refers to the Old Testament writings.
- Matthew 2:5 (R.V. mg.) speaks of how it was " written through the prophets"
- Matthew 2:15 quotes from Micah, but says: " [that] which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet…" . Hebrews 2:6: " one [actually David] in a certain place testified…" . . There are other examples where the name of the prophet is omitted to show it is not so relevant (Mt. 1:22; 2:23; 21:4).
The human writers of the Bible were therefore relatively unimportant to the early Christians; it was more important that their words were inspired by the spirit of God:
- Jesus plainly stated, " The words that I speak...are spirit" (Jn. 6:63); He spoke under inspiration from God (Jn. 17:8; 14:10).
- We must be re-born by both water and the spirit (Jn. 3:3-5) and the word of God (1 Pet. 1:23).
- " The words which the Lord of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the...prophets" (Zech. 7:12).
- " I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you" (Prov. 1:23) associates a true understanding of God's word with the action of His spirit upon us.
- There are parallels between God's spirit and His word in many passages: " My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth..." (Is. 59:21). Also 2 Sam. 7:21,Ez. 36:27; Jer. 31:33.
God is His spirit (Jn. 4:24), and God is His Word (" the word was God" John 1:1). Our attitude to God's Word is our attitude to Him. When we break commandments, we are despising God's Word (Am. 2:4). This is where belief in inspiration has a powerful practical effect.