2 Timothy 3:15-17
Dr. S. Lewis Johnson continues his background of the authority of Scripture in setting forth God's plan of history. The specific meaning of inspiration is given in regard to the divine delivery of the Bible.
[Message] Let me go back to the beginning, and to our three important words. Now if you do not have these questions, you can get them from someone, I’m sure. I’m sure that someone has already written them all down. Our three important words, which we are using to introduce our Bible study of God’s plan of the ages, are the words, “Revelation, Inspiration, and Illumination.” These are very important. I started to say theological words, but that scares people if you say theological words. But nevertheless, that is exactly what they are, theological words, biblical words, doctrinal words, words that give us important and key concepts in the Bible, the three words, “Revelation, Inspiration, and Illumination.”
May I draw you a little picture. I’m not a very good artist, but perhaps this will illustrate, our first word, revelation. Revelation, we said, was the, I think I defined it something like this, the unveiling of God’s truth to men. Revelation, of course, comes from the word reveal, to uncover, to make known. So revelation is the unveiling of God’s truth to men. This is basic when we approach the word of God, which is God’s revelation. Let me draw this little picture. Let’s just call this heaven, and men might be puzzled about what heaven thinks about eternal truths. What is God’s thought with regard to eternal truths? This is a feeble attempt to draw the Bible. Revelation, which comes from heaven in answer to these truths that man is puzzled about, is contained in the word of God, which tells us about the past, the present, and the future.
Now, I said in the first lesson that revelation was in two parts. Revelation is natural revelation. I wonder if someone can tell me, what natural revelation is? Do you remember?
[Comment from the audience]
Right, revelation in nature, in history, in man’s conscious. Someone said, “Waterloo was God.” And this expresses natural revelation. That is, that God, in his providence, was overruling in the affairs of men when Napoleon and Wellington fought at Waterloo. In Proverbs chapter 21 and verse 1, the Proverbs writer says, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD,” and this is true. God’s providence overrules and rules in the affairs of men. He works all things according to the council of his own will. And he reveals himself in nature. He reveals himself in history. He reveals himself in the consciences of men. This is natural revelation. And we looked at the passage in Psalm 19. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork.” Then we also spoke of a second form of revelation which we call special revelation. Special revelation was what type of revelation?
[Comment from the audience]
Actually, primarily, in the Scriptures, and in the Scriptures we read of miracle, vision, dream, above all, in Jesus Christ. In Hebrews chapter 1 we read in verse 1, “God, who at sundry times and in diverse manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son.” God has revealed himself in Jesus Christ. And, preeminently, this special revelation is contained in the word of God.
Now this is the kind of revelation that I am specially having in mind when I drew this diagram here, or this picture. Heaven, with the question mark that men have about truths, special revelation is found in the word of God. In Jesus Christ God reveals to us the basic and important eternal truths. Such as, what about man’s past? Where has man come from? What is man’s origin? What is the basic nature of man? Why is man here? Man, in the present, what are we to be doing now, as men, as human beings? What is our destiny as men in the sight of God? In other words, what about man’s basic nature? What about his past? What about his future? Ultimately, what about his relationship to God? How may he know God? How may he do the will of God? This is found in the Scriptures. These are God’s special revelation of himself.
I said also some things like this, that since, in nature, we have methodology in revelation, we should expect to find methodology in the second book of God’s revelation. If nature is the first book of God’s revelation, and Scripture is the second book. And if we have method in God’s revelation in nature, if we see purpose, if we see design in the creation — I just illustrated that by saying that we see, for example, regularity in the seasons. We know when summer is coming. We know that fall is not far behind. And that soon, it will be winter, even in Texas, though it may not seem that way. Nevertheless, we know that it is going to be cold, and soon it will be spring again and then summer. There is regularity. And I suggested that since this is God’s revelation of himself and there is method and regularity and system in his revelation of himself in nature, it is logical to expect that he would be systematic in his revelation of himself in Jesus Christ with special reference to these eternal questions with which men are and ought to be concerned.
And this is what the Bible states, for remember we looked at Ephesians chapter 3. And we read the passage in chapter 3 in which this is specifically stated. In Ephesians chapter 3 and verse 11, Paul says, “According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” In other words, God has an eternal purpose. He is moving things in accordance with a plan. We can see design in God’s activities in the affairs of men. We can see design in God’s revelation of himself in the Bible. And I suggested that God has revealed himself in different ages in different ways. And in each one of these ages, he systematically sets forth certain things with regard to himself. Now as we get along in our studies and we start in the word in the beginning, we will look at the systematic way in which God has revealed himself in the ages, how that in each age he revealed certain things about himself, certain things about man in order that there might be a certain response on the part of men.
I did not say anything the other night about this revelation of God in the Bible from the standpoint of its outward and inner characteristics. But I would like to just very briefly point out something which probably all of you know, but the Bible is made up, outwardly, of a series of sixty-six books. There is, of course, one division, the Old Testament, and there is another division, the New Testament.
These words, by the way, are not so good for the designation of the Bible. For the Old Testament, is a term that means really, “old covenant,” and it is designed to be a title representing the Mosaic Covenant which God made with the nation Israel on Mount Sinai when the ten commandments were given. And that’s why the Old Testament is called the “old covenant.” Strictly speaking, there is more in the Old Testament than facts about the old covenant. For, the old covenant is not even given until we get into the second book of the Bible, in Exodus. And it is not really right to call the Old Testament, “the Old Testament,” or “the old covenant.”
As a matter of fact, the Jews do not call the Old Testament, “the old covenant.” They call it “the Torah,” “the law.” The whole of the Old Testament, to them, is the law. Specifically, the Law of Moses is the law, but they speak of the Bible, itself, as the law too, the Torah.
But in the Old Testament, there are in general, and this is not exactly accurate, but I think it’s enough accurate so we can put it on the board, and you’re not really wrong when you say this, there are seventeen historical books in the Old Testament. There are five poetical books. Can you give me one of the poetical books?
[Comment from the audience] “Psalms”
Psalms, right. And there are seventeen prophetical books in the Old Testament. God’s revelation, his special revelation in the Old Testament, seventeen historical books, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and so on, five poetical books, and seventeen prophetical books for thirty-nine books in all, the Old Testament. There is a wonderful unity in the Old Testament.
I don’t know whether you’ve ever heard this story or not, but it’s suppose to be true. A Jew once took the Old Testament, he was not acquainted with it very well, he took the Old Testament, and he began to read through the Old Testament. He began at Genesis chapter 1– I’ve done this myself, this is good exercise, by the way, to find out something about the Bible, just start at the beginning and read it through, when I came to know the Lord as my savior, after I’d been in the insurance business for some years in Birmingham, that was one of the first things I did, to read the Bible through, every page of it, every verse of it. — This Jew, when he began at Genesis and he read through Malachi, he was reading from our English version, the Hebrew Old Testament is not arranged exactly as our English Old Testament, but he read through, and when he finished the Book of Malachi, he said this, “Where is he?” Because, you see, all of the thirty-nine books, while they’re written by many different men, at many different times, have one primary theme, the theme of the Messiah to come, the Lord Jesus Christ. And he said, “Where is he?” because he sensed this unity that bound the books of the Old Testament together.
Then in the New Testament, we have five historical books. We have twenty-one, it’s difficult to know exactly what to say of the twenty-one books, but let me just use this term, doctrinal. These are, primarily, epistles, or letters. We could say twenty-one epistolary volumes, and then one prophetical book, for twenty-seven books in the New Testament. Twenty-seven is three times nine. And, of course, thirty-nine is the number of the books in the Old Testament. So if you have difficulty, if you just remember thirty-nine in the Old Testament and three times nine, twenty-seven in the New, for a total of sixty-six books. Sixty-six books make up the Bible. The unity of the sixty-six books is just as remarkable as the unity of the thirty-nine of the Old Testament. Here are sixty-six books written by, most scholars feel, at least forty different men over a period of two thousand years, and yet they have this one theme of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah. This, in itself, is evidence, of course, of the remarkable inspiration of Scripture. Where could you ever get a volume of sixty-six books written by forty different men who lived over a period of two thousand years, and yet gather the books together and find one theme through that book, the theme of Jesus Christ?
Remember in the Old Testament from Genesis chapter 4, actually from chapter 3 I think, but definitely from Genesis chapter 4 we have the theme of the sacrificial lamb, Genesis chapter 22, then the Passover lamb, which Israel, the nation, slew every year. The other sacrifices, all through the Old Testament, then Jesus of Nazareth and John the Baptist, the ambassador of the King, says when he sees him, “Behold the lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” Paul says, “Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us.” And in the Book of Revelation, the last book of our English Bible, Jesus Christ is referred to almost thirty times as the little lamb. This is the theme of the Bible, throughout, Jesus Christ the Lamb of God, God’s sacrifice. Now, this is important because this, you see, is connected with God’s special revelation of himself.
Now that is revelation. Revelation is twofold. Revelation is natural, and revelation is special. Natural revelation, let’s think of Psalm 19, “The heavens declare the glory of God.” Special revelation, let’s think of Hebrews chapter 1, “God has spoken in his Son.” And the revelation of the Son is found in the Bible.
Our second word, and this is the word I want to spend a little more time on tonight because these are so fundamental, these words, to the study of the Scriptures. The second word is the word “inspiration.” Let me define inspiration for you. Perhaps it would be good for me just to put it on the board so you can write it down. Inspiration, is the means whereby God secured, obtained, an infallible, now I know all of you know what infallible means, but I’m going to treat you in this class like you don’t know what these words mean, though you do, just in case maybe you’re not to clear about it. What does infallible mean?
[Comment from the audience] “Without a doubt.”
Without a doubt, or without a mistake, right, secured an infallible revelation to men. Revelation has to do with content. Inspiration has to do with the conveyance of that content. So, here we have, in the Bible, God’s revelation concerning himself, his plans, his purposes for man. Revelation contains the content of his unveiling of truth. Revelation is the content. Inspiration is the means whereby God secured an infallible revelation to men. You see we must have a revelation that is reliable. It is not enough for God to reveal himself if in the process of it coming to us it should be contaminated and become full of error. Then, of course, God’s purpose is defeated. So inspiration is the means whereby he secures an infallible, perfect, without mistake, without error, revelation to men. This is inspiration.
Now let’s try to separate in our minds, then, revelation, which is the content of the truth, the Bible, this is the revelation of God, the special revelation of God, the Bible. Inspiration you cannot see. In fact, you cannot see revelation because this is merely a record of it in the sense that here are words. It is the truth that is, of course, the revelation of God. But inspiration is the means whereby he secured an infallible revelation to men. May I draw another stupid diagram? This diagram is taken from Donald Grey Barnhouse’s book, Teaching the Word of Truth. If you ever have a chance to get this book, you’ll find it of some value to you. But this is designed to represent inspiration. Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit is the third person of the trinity, God the Father, the first person, God the Son, the second person, God the Holy Spirit, the third person, one God who subsists in three persons, not three gods, three persons, one God, three persons, the Holy Spirit. Let’s just write, “How we got our Bible.” We could say, “How we got our special revelation.” That might even be plainer. “How we got our special revelation.” Now this is going to be hard. You know what that is?
[Comment from the audience] “An ear.”
Right. Boy, I’m really proud of myself. An ear, well I think I can do this now.
[Comment from the audience] “A hand.”
Yes, anybody can do that, even a professor. Now this is going to be harder. In fact, I’m sure I’m not going to do to good. This is a pen, p-e-n, pen of the writer, let’s put. And over here, here is our book. Now, this is designed to represent inspiration for inspiration is the means whereby God, the Holy Spirit, secured by the use of the ear, the hand, and the pen of the writers of holy Scriptures an infallible revelation from God contained in the Bible. So, inspiration, then, is the means whereby God secured an infallible communication or an infallible revelation to men. Do we understand that? Inspiration is the means whereby God enabled us to have a reliable, in fact, an infallible revelation of God in holy Scriptures.
The third word, which we will talk about next time, primarily, but since we had a visiting speaker last time, I think it’s helpful to have a little continuity. And anyway I have some special things I wanted to say anyway, so. Illumination is our third word. Illumination is the work of the Holy Spirit in granting understanding, the work of the Holy Spirit in granting understanding. Now the important words here are “granting understanding,” “Granting understanding” of what or enlightenment of what? Of the,
[Comment from the audience] “Inspiration.”
No, not of the inspiration,
[Comment from the audience] “Revelation.”
Of the inspired revelation, right, in granting understanding of the inspired revelation, so, revelation has to do with content, the content of God’s truth, as contained in the Bible. Inspiration has to do with the means or the process whereby we got this truth from God. And illumination is God’s work in enabling us, as we read it, to understand the revelation of God. Do we get that? Revelation, inspiration, illumination, tremendously, if I may use that word, tremendously important, highly significant in the study of the holy Scriptures, Revelation, the content, inspiration, the means or process whereby God secured an infallible communication of this revelation, and illumination, the work of the Holy Spirit, or the work of God, in granting us understanding of this inspired revelation which has come to us. This is specifically explained, illumination, in 1 Corinthians 2:6 through 3:4. And this is why I want you to read this next time with this theme in mind. So when you think of revelation, in its two-fold aspect, you think of Psalm 19 and you think of Hebrews chapter 1. When you think of inspiration, we shall see, you will think of 2 Timothy, chapter 3 and 2 Peter chapter 1 and also Matthew chapter 5. These are the Scriptures here in this schedule of classes. And when you think of illumination you think of this passage.
Now, it is 8:30, so I want to spend the rest of the time now in going over again with you inspiration, the means whereby God secured an infallible communication of God’s revelation to men. Let me divide up what I’m going to say to you under three heads. First, the fact of inspiration, and I want you now to take your Bibles and turn to 2 Timothy chapter 3 verses 15 through 17, 2 Timothy 3:15 through 17, perhaps the most important passage in all of the Bible on inspiration. 2 Timothy, where is that, by the way, Old Testament or New Testament?
[Comment from the audience] “New.”
You’re smart. This is one of Paul’s, so called, Pastoral Epistles. It is called pastoral because it is written to Timothy. However, Timothy was not a pastor, and so again, the name is not too good, but this is just a general name. Timothy was an apostolic legate, a representative of Paul. He was not a pastor in the sense in which we use the term today.
Now, 2 Timothy chapter 3 and verse 15, if you have a Schofield Edition of the King James Version, it’s on page twelve eighty-one, and I will, in the future, just give you that page number, if you happen to have a Schofield Edition, it’s easy. If you don’t happen to have it and you hear something like twelve hundred and eighty-one, you know that’s near the end, but remember we said in the first time together, you’re free to use the index, not only free, but exhorted, to use the index because I want you to look at this passage for yourself. You get so much more out of the Bible if you read it with your own eyes.
Now, 2 Timothy chapter 3 and verse 15, Paul is talking to young Timothy, and he says, “And that 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.” Now, Paul says, simply, this is not the important verse for us, but very simply, in this text he has said Timothy you were brought up and nurtured on the holy Scriptures. For Timothy, what did this mean? Did it mean the New Testament?
[Comment from the audience] “No, the Torah.”
Yes, the Torah, the Old Testament, because you see the New Testament was not written at this time. So this was a reference to the Old Testament, when he says the holy Scriptures. “And that from a child Timothy thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation,” In other words, he says, Timothy you can know how to be saved. You can know how to be right with God, how to have eternal life through the holy Scriptures. And it is done, it is yours, through faith which is in Christ Jesus. Isn’t it interesting he does not say through joining the church? He doesn’t say through good works. Isn’t that startling? He doesn’t even say that salvation is through reformation. He doesn’t say it’s through religion. Surely, he should have said religion. Doesn’t a religious man, isn’t he assured of salvation? Never, in the Bible do you have this statement. In fact, religion can very often be a great hindrance to knowing the God of the Bible.
He says, “Through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” Do you know what faith is? I sit down in this chair because I have confidence in the fact that this chair will hold me up. I exercise faith or trust in the chair. Now, when Paul says, “The holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus,” he, simply, means through trust in Christ Jesus. He says, in effect, Timothy, that which you could not get by doing good works, by joining a church, by praying through, by having religion, by being cultured, by being educated, you can obtain by trust in Christ Jesus. For you see to Paul Jesus Christ had done for men that which the church, no individual, reformation, good works, these things could not do, for Christ was the Messiah of Israel who came to die for the sins of men, and in his death he removed the barrier between God and men. And in removing the barrier between God and men which was sin, Jesus Christ made it possible for us by simply trusting in what he has done to receive salvation as a free gift. Paul, elsewhere says, “The wages is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” I hadn’t intended to say a word about that but there it was, [Laughter] right before us in verse 15.
Now, let’s look at the 16th verse. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.” Here is the fact of inspiration. The fact of inspiration, all Scripture is given by inspiration of God. I want to say just a word about a Greek word. Now this is not to show you that I know Greek. I don’t have to do that. I have taught Greek for fifteen years, and so I do know something about Greek, but I’m not trying to show you that I know something about Greek. I merely want to try to get over to you the exact meaning of Paul’s expression. He uses a word which I’m going to transliterate for you, so you can say it too and startle your friends if you want to. It is a word which means, simply, “God breathed.” And it is transliterated theopneustos. Theos is for the word, “God.” Pneustos is a form of a word derived from a word in Greek which means “to blow,” from which we get spirit, Pneuma, spirit. Have you ever heard of pneumatic tool, a pneumatic drill? Well, theopneustos means “God breathed,” “God-breathed.” All Scripture is “God breathed,” Timothy, Paul says. What does he mean by this?
Now when Paul says, “All Scripture is inspiration by God,” or God breathed, he does not mean that which you might think he meant form the English text. “To inspire” means to breathe into something. For example, let’s suppose, just for a moment, that I am Moses. And I am writing, and I suddenly, as I write, think now wouldn’t it be wonderful if I’m able to write a history of mankind so that men might read it? I think I will take my pen, and so I take the pen, and I sit down, and I start to write, and I say, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, and the earth was without form and void, and so on.” And so I write it, and so God is looking over my shoulder, and so he looks down and he says, “My Moses is writing a wonderful book. In fact, it just a miracle, but Moses has not made a single mistake. I like this book so much that I will inspire it.” And so God breathes into Moses dead writing and it suddenly becomes the word of God.
Now that is what the English word inspired means. “All Scripture is inspired of God,” means “breathed into,” but that is not what the Greek word means. The Greek word simply means, “God breathed,” not breathed into, but breathed out, is Paul’s thought. Actually, the Greek word refers not to inspiration but spiration, spiration. So, what Paul means is not that Moses wrote something and then God said, “It’s good. It’s good. I’ll make it the word of God.” But rather, that God initiated the writing of Scripture, and that when Moses sat down and wrote, he was writing things that God was speaking through Moses. So the Bible is not the work of man raised to the power of inspiration by divine power, but rather, the Bible is the produce of God through the instrumentality of a man. Moses is an instrument. Moses is a channel. Moses is a vessel for the breathing out of the truth of God. God is the speaker. Moses is the mouth. That’s what Paul means. This is what he means when he says, “All Scripture is inspired of God,” breathed out by God.
Now if this be true then, of course, this means that Scripture is God’s word. And if it’s God’s word then we’re not surprised that it is infallible in the original writings. Not in the translations, we do not believe the King James Version is infallible. In some parts of the mountains of Tennessee, North Carolina, and Alabama, South Carolina, this is my home country, you know, in some places there they do believe that. And you know you can settle any scriptural argument in the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina by simply saying, “Show it to me in the red.” That means, you know, in the red letter edition of the Bible, if Christ said it, that’s it. And then you know that old statement about, “The King James Version was good enough for Paul. It’s good enough for me.” That is pure ignorance, of course. We do not believe that the King James Version is inspired verbally. It is a good rendering of the word of God, but it is not infallible. The original manuscripts are infallible. The autographer, that’s a technical word. It means the writings themselves, that is, the very manuscript that Paul wrote when he wrote Romans. We do not have the autographer today. We’ll talk about this sometime in our questions if you want to talk about it, but at any rate, Paul says, “All Scripture is inspired of God,” God breathed.
Now let’s take an illustration. I think we have time for one illustration. Let’s turn to Matthew chapter 1 verse 22, and I want you to see how that this is not just Paul’s thought about the Bible. This is the thought of all of the New Testament writers. In fact, this is the thought of all the biblical writers, for that matter. Matthew chapter 1 verse 22, page nine hundred and ninety-four in the Schofield Edition of the King James Version, now this is Matthew’s account of the birth of Christ. He is describing the virgin birth of Christ. And he wants to show, here that the birth of Christ is according to Old Testament Scripture. In other words, he wants to say Christ was born of a virgin. And this agrees with holy Scripture, which says, in Isaiah, that he would be born of a virgin. And so, verse 22 is his way of introducing a passage from the Old Testament, a quotation. Now I want you to see what he thinks of the Old Testament as he introduces this quotation. Well, that’s the thing we are interested in, not so much what he says, but how he says it because we’re talking about inspiration.
Verse 22, “Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet,” “Spoken of the Lord by the prophet.” Now the little word “of” here in Greek is a word that would really be better rendered “by” than the second preposition, “by the Lord,” and then the one rendered “by” would be better rendered “through.” At any rate, the first preposition before Lord, “of the Lord,” is a word that indicates direct agency. The second preposition translated “by” in the King James Version, “by the prophet,” is a word that refers to intermediate agency. So, that when Matthew says, “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet,” he says, directly “By the Lord,” through, the intermediate agency “of the prophet.” So Matthew agrees perfectly with Paul when he says, “All Scripture is ‘breathed out,’ by God,” so, the fact of inspiration.
Now, I’m sure there are questions that you have. So, if you have a question, put it down in the margin there. And in a moment, if we have time for questions, why, ask the question. You can talk for a long time on every aspect of this because this is a very important full subject. Secondly, the process of inspiration, this would be interesting, you know, if God breathed out Scripture, how did he do it? How was this actually carried out? God spoke directly, the prophet was the intermediary. How was it done? Does the Bible give us any light here?
Well, the Bible doesn’t tell us everything about this because this is a supernatural work of God, of course. But, we do have a passage of Scripture that explains, in a little more detail, this process of inspiration. It is 2 Peter chapter 1 verses 19 through 21. So let’s turn to this one. 2 Peter, thirteen hundred and eighteen, you had it before I did. I thought you were talking about the verse 13 through 18, page thirteen eighteen, right. Thank you, Mr. Lewis. Now, Peter says, 2 Peter 1, do we all have it? Thirteen eighteen, page thirteen eighteen, 2 Peter, chapter 1, by the way you can remember these verses on inspiration by the fact that one is in 2 Timothy and the other is in 2 Peter.
Now 2 Peter, chapter 1 verse 19, Peter has been talking about the Mount of Transfiguration, and how on the Mount of Transfiguration, they saw the Lord Jesus and all the promises with regard to the Kingdom of Christ, they saw with their eyes. And so now the things that they knew by faith have added to them the sight that they had of the Lord Jesus on the Mount. So he says, “ We have also a more sure word of prophecy,” now. We’ve actually seen these things when Jesus Christ was transfigured because that was fore view of the Kingdom to come.
“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation.”
“No prophecy of Scripture,” springs from one’s own unfolding. No prophet sat down and said, “I will write a book.” No prophesy of Scripture springs from one’s own unfolding. Moses did not say, “I will write an inspired book.” But, “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man.” No man, like Moses, said, “I will write God’s word.” “But holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” Now notice that last expression, “Moved by the Holy Ghost.” The Holy Spirit moved them, “Men spake.” The Spirit moved, men wrote. Remember my diagram, the Holy Spirit, the ear, the hand, and the pen? The Holy Spirit moved, men spake. This is the process of inspiration. It is the product of the Spirit’s moving. “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
This means that the Scriptures were the products of time, Moses wrote in his day, and he spoke in Hebrew. He wrote in Hebrew. Isaiah wrote in Hebrew. Daniel wrote partly in Hebrew, partly in Aramaic. All of the New Testament writers wrote in Greek. The Holy Spirit moved, the men wrote. They were prepared by their environment, by their training, by their geography and other things. So, that we do not have one style through the Bible. It is not mechanically dictated. These men were not God’s secretaries. But they wrote out of their experience, out of their environment, out of their training, out of their preparation. Luke was an historian and a very good historian. Modern critics are finally discovering. Luke wrote as a historian. He did research. He said he did research. You read the opening verses of the Gospel of Luke and you will find that he says,
“Many have taken in hand to write an account of the things which have happened among us, but I, having followed out these things from the beginning, am going to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, in order, giving Thee an accurate account of the thing that have happened.”
And so he studied writings. He studied accounts, and Luke’s gospel is the product of it. Paul’s letters are the product of a man who knew logic. He knew the method of the diatribe, and so Romans is written in that style. “What shall we say then,” Paul says. He throws out questions, you see, and answers these questions which he, himself, is posing. This is his method. He writes out of his background and out of his training, out of the preparation that God gave him providentially. “God spake.” He moved these men. The men spake, the Spirit moved.
Now I want you to turn with me to a passage that might illustrate what I’m driving at. It’s in Acts chapter 27, verse 15. Acts chapter 27 verse 15 and verse 17, actually, in 2 Peter chapter 1, when Peter said, “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost,” he used a word, which in Greek means “to be born along.” Now Acts 27 and verse 15, now in this chapter, which is a famous chapter, it’s got a lot of very difficult words in it. And if a Greek professor ever wants to stump a pupil who thinks he knows Greek, Acts 27 is the chapter to turn to because these words occur here and only here in the New Testament, and it’s almost impossible for a man to remember them all. In verse 15 he says, “And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive.” Now in the American Standard Version it reads, “We were driven.” “We were born along.” And so you get the picture, you see, of a sailing vessel begin born along by the wind. This is the same verb that is used in 2 Peter and translated, “Holy men of God spake as they were moved (born along, driven) by the Holy Ghost,” the holy wind, you see. Spirit means wind in Greek. The word pneuma means both wind and spirit. These men spake as they were blown along by the holy wind.
Now verse 17, “Which when they had taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, strake sail, and so were driven,” were born along. Now this figure of men on a boat who are being blown along, or driven, by the wind is the exact figure of the men as they wrote the Old Testament. They wrote. They were born along by the Holy Ghost. They had freedom in the storm, Paul and the others on the boat had freedom on the boat, but they were at the mercy of the wind. They had a limited freedom on that boat, not outside it. And so, the men of God who wrote holy Scripture, reflect their freedom in their different styles, in their different backgrounds. But, ultimately, it is the Holy Ghost who moves the men.
So, the process, 2 Peter, chapter 1 verse 21, really, is the verse moved by the Holy Ghost. Finally, the extent of the inspiration, the extent, is the Bible inspiration in all its parts? Is every book inspiration? Or is not John more inspiration than Ecclesiastes? This is the question we attempt to answer when we talk about the extent of divine inspiration. Does it extend to every book equally? And does it extend to the very words of every book? Now I think that I can answer this by simply saying that the Bible is verbally and plenarily, this is a big word I’ll explain it, not so big, but really sort of difficult, plenarily. By the way, I wonder, if someone might just take a guess at that, what do you think that means?
[Comment from the audience]
Yes, it means all, but how many of you had Latin? You remember the word “plenus?” What does “plenus” mean? Remember? I know that’s unfair to say, “How many of you had Latin?” you raise your hand, then I give you a Latin word and you’ve forgotten it. “Plenus” means “full.” And so, “plenarily” means “fully” inspired, and, of course, “verbally” means, “to the word.”
Now, our passage in 2 Timothy, chapter 3 verse 16 said, “All Scripture is inspired of God.” So that tells us that the Bible is plenarily inspired. In Matthew chapter 5 and verse 18 tells us that the Bible is verbally inspired. Now there are many other lines of proof and support for this. If I just were to give you this, perhaps if you were to hand this to a scholar, he would say, “Well, that’s insufficient evidence.” I have sufficient evidence, but after all, we can’t stay here for three hours. I’m giving you, however, that which I think is true and is demonstrable. 2 Timothy 3:16 shows that the Bible is plenarily inspired. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God. Every Scripture is inspired by God, breathed out by God, whether it be in Genesis or Revelation, every Scripture, all Scripture. But now, Matthew 5:18, and I have fifteen seconds, let me just read it. I’m going to take one minute because this is sort of important. Matthew 5 verse 18, the Lord Jesus is speaking here, and he says, “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 title shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Did Mr. Prier say something about this last time?
[Comment from the audience]
All right, the jot is the smallest Hebrew letter. It’s like our apostrophe. That is a yodh, and translated here, “jot,” “yot,” or yodh. The title is the extension on the letter on the letter “cheth” which distinguishes it from another letter, or let me use a different one, not “cheth,” though it is involved, this is a clearer illustration. It is the extension on the daleth. This is the Hebrew D, “daleth.” A resh is the R. This is the difference between the two, that here on the end of the “daleth,” you see, there is a little extension of this horizontal line beyond the vertical. That is the title, that extension, which distinguishes this letter from this letter, and that is the only thing that distinguishes them. So that when the Lord Jesus Christ says, “Not one yod, or one title, shall pass till all be fulfilled.” This is the strongest possible way of saying that the Scripture is inspired to the very words of Scripture, in fact, to the very letters of Scripture.
Well, I had intended to give you a conclusion, but our time is up. We want to try to stop fairly regularly. Let’s close with a word of prayer…
[RECORDING ENDS ABRUPTLY]