1. Revelation and InspirationRelated Media
This article is a lightly edited transcript of Dr. McRae’s audio message on the Scriptures. Appreciation for the transcription work goes to Marilyn Fine.
Our Father, we are thankful now that Thou in Thy grace have given to us a written revelation from Thyself. We thank Thee for the Word of God. We thank Thee for the privilege, Father, of gathering in the freedom of this land with a Bible in our own language, being able to own our own Bible, to read it and to study it. We approach this hour and this week of Bible study with the realization, Father, that it is through the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit that Thy Word is made clear and is a blessing in the lives of men and women. So, we pray that from this class through each of the classes to the end of the week there shall be the sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit teaching us and leading us into all truth. We pray that Thou will prepare our hearts and open our hearts, Father, and cause us to be responsive to Thy Word as we receive it through the teaching of the Holy Spirit. We thank Thee for each one who has come and pray, Lord, that this shall be a time of rich spiritual blessing for each of us as we spend it together. We ask it in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Our series for the entire week is related to the Christian in the 20th century. The Bible in the 20th century is somewhat paradoxical. There is a sense in which the Bible has never stood higher. It has never been held in higher esteem and there has never been as much external substantiation for the Bible as there is in the 20th century and in our particular age. And yet, there is another sense in which the Bible has never fallen so low. It falls under the attack of radical critics of rational students or materialistic persons and from almost every hand today. Perhaps as never before, the Bible falls under tremendous assault. So, although it has never stood higher in some circles, it has never fallen lower in other circles. What we sense as we come to our study this afternoon and during this week is that it is very important for the believer who is going to live in the midst of the 20th century to have some understanding of his Bible so that he may be able to place his faith with conviction and intelligently upon the Word of God.
We are going to approach our series this week by looking first of all at the historical process and this will be a synthesis really of an extended series that we gave two years ago on how our Bible came to us. We are going to first of all look at the historical process and we are going to spend three afternoons, three class sessions, looking at that process. Then, in our fourth session, we want to look at the contemporary problems and we are going to attempt to isolate the attacks that are made against the Bible from the various schools and see what position we can take. Then, our last class will be devoted to a consideration of the practical purposes of the Word of God.
Now, I hope you have a syllabus because I am going to be very dependent upon that syllabus this afternoon. What we are going to try to do is to give you a set of notes that you will be able to complete by the use of your syllabus so that through our seminar you will be able to have some concrete notes on your hand relating to the Christian and his Bible.
We begin this afternoon by first of all looking at the historical process. The first aspect of that historical process is the Word of God coming from the mind of God to the original manuscripts. Let us just give an overview of the historical process. This is a chart that we have duplicated and is on the front of your syllabus. If you just look at the front of that syllabus, you will see that we have suggested that there is a process whereby one can trace the coming of the Bible to us. It begins with a thought in the mind of God. The next step is the thought in the mind of the human authors of scripture and that, then, follows to the third step which is from the mind of the human author to the original Greek and Hebrew manuscripts. We are going to note today that on the basis of those first two major steps there are some implications that can be made which we shall make.
The next step is from the original Greek and Hebrew manuscripts to the collection of the 66 books into one. From there, we go to the modern Greek and Hebrew Bibles that are available to us today to study. Because most of us do not read the Greek and Hebrew Bible, we are thankful that the next step is our modern English Bible. From there, we move from the Bible that is in our hand to a thought in our minds. That is, we are moving from the written page before us into the mind of the believer. Then, from the mind of the believer, the next step is action in his life and from there communicating that which he has learned to others. Now, that is the basic process. We are not going to be able to take all the steps, but this afternoon we are looking particularly at the first line in this historical process. We want to move from a thought in the mind of God to a thought in the mind of the human author. Then, from a thought in his mind to the original Greek and Hebrew manuscripts that the writers wrote.
1. Thought in the mind of God
2. Thought in the mind of human authors
3. From the mind of human authors to the original Greek/Hebrew manuscripts
4. From the original Greek/Hebrew manuscripts to the collection of 66 books as 1
5. From original collection of the Bible to the modern Greek/Hebrew Bibles today
6. From Greek/Hebrew into English
7. Thought in our minds
8. Action in our lives
9. Communication what has been learned to others
1. From the Mind of God: Revelation
Revelation, what is it?
So, let us turn to page one, lesson number one, in our syllabus. We know that part one of the historical process is from the mind of God to the original Greek and Hebrew manuscripts of our Bible. As we have noted, there are two basic stages in this process and we want to look at the two stages.
The first stage takes us from a thought in the mind of God to a thought in the mind of the human author. What you want to do is to note that that gap is bridged by the doctrine of revelation. Now, that is a very important thing for us to understand. When we speak theologically of revelation, we are speaking of that which bridges the gap from a thought in the mind of God to a thought in the mind of the authors of the Word of God. Now, what we must first of all do then is have a definition of the word, “revelation.” Perhaps the simplest of all would simply be to say that revelation is “making known to others what was previously unknown to them.” That is what revelation is. It is making known to others what was previously unknown to them. That is, when God reveals, He reveals to men or He makes known to men what was previously unknown by those men.
Let me ask you to turn in your Bible to Ephesians 3 for an illustration of this word and this doctrine. I want to begin reading at verse 1 of this chapter. Ephesians 3:1. It says,
For this cause I, Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, if ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God, which is given me to you-ward: how that [and there is our word] by revelation, [by revelation!] he made known unto me the mystery; (Eph. 3:1-3a)
So, the verse is telling us that God made known to the apostle Paul the mystery and He made known that mystery to Paul by revelation. Now, the question is what is that mystery? Well, let us read on. He says,
(as I wrote afore in few words, whereby when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) [Now, here it is.] which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; [Here is the mystery. This is what has been revealed] that the gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: (Eph. 3:3b-6)
That is what is revealed. We do not have time to expound the revelation, but it is simply the revelation regarding the Church, whereby Jew and Gentile would be together as fellow heirs, as fellow members in the body of Christ, and as fellow partakers in Christ. Now, that was not known in the Old Testament. That was not known to Daniel. It was not known to David. It was made known to the apostle Paul.
Now, how did God make that truth known to the apostle Paul? He tells us it was by revelation. So, revelation, in the Bible, theologically is “God making known to the human authors things which they had not previously known.”
Revelation, the Need
We are in need of revelation in four particular areas. Man is entirely dependent upon revelation first of all for his knowledge of God. We are entirely dependent upon revelation for our knowledge of God. Theology differs from every other area of knowledge and study in this one particular sense. Every other area of study and science places itself above that which it is studying, but the theologian, the Christian, places himself under that which he is studying and he knows only about God as God makes Himself known to men. So, we are entirely dependent upon revelation for our knowledge of God. You cannot put God in the test tube. You cannot work Him out mathematically. Whatever you know of God you know because He has revealed that to us.
We are also entirely dependent upon revelation for our knowledge of the origin of men. Lord Kelvin once said something to the gist of that there is nothing in science that reaches the origins of anything at all.1 True science does not deal with origins so we are entirely dependent upon revelation for any knowledge of the origins of men.
We are also entirely dependent upon revelation for our knowledge of our responsibility to God. That is, the only way you can know what your responsibility is to God is, is for God to tell you what that responsibility is. It is totally futile for you to sit down and for you to establish what you think your responsibility is to God. God is the one who must tell you that. So, we are entirely dependent upon revelation to know what our responsibility is to God.
The last thing is that we are entirely dependent upon revelation for our knowledge of the future of man and his universe. John Montgomery has suggested that because we are on the road of history we are unable to know the future of history. We are in the process. We are in the midst of it. Although we may think that we can look ahead and make plans for tomorrow and next year, the fact is that we have absolutely no facilities at our disposal to know what tomorrow is going to bring. We have no way of knowing what the future of the universe is. We have no way of knowing what the future of mankind is apart from someone who is above the historical process and who can see that and who knows that. So, what we are saying then is that man is entirely dependent upon revelation to know anything of the future of man and his universe.
You see the central contention of Christianity is this: that God has satisfactorily and completely met these needs.
- He has given to us a revelation of himself.
- He has given to us a revelation of the origins of men.
- He has given to us a revelation of our responsibility to God.
- He has given to us a revelation of the destiny of man and his universe.
That is the central contention of Christianity.
Revelation, General and Special
That brings us to the third item that we want to mention. Revelation, per se, may fall into two major classifications. You will note that generally, by students of the Bible, revelation is considered to be either “general revelation” or “special revelation.” General revelation falls into three categories: creation, providence, and conscience.
We see creation mentioned in Romans 1:19-20, and Psalm 19:1-2. Both of which texts indicate that God has revealed Himself in creation.
He also has revealed himself in providence. According to Acts 14:17 we learn about Him in the giving of the rain, in the shining of the sun, in the coming of the snow, in the seasons of the earth, and so on. All of that is His providence, and God thereby reveals His goodness and kindness
The third area of general revelation is man’s conscience. In the conscience of man, God has given a revelation of Himself. Now these three areas comprise general revelation. As we have noted, general revelation is “God’s testimony to His existence and His character.” It is a testimony to all men and it is discovered by human reason as one looks at the sun and the moon and the stars and sees the plants, and so on, and it is designed to lead us to enjoy God.
It is in special revelation that we are particularly concerned about in our class this week, because special revelation deals with the Bible. Special revelation has come through the prophets in the Old Testament and through the Lord Jesus and His apostles in the New Testament. You must note the major distinction between special revelation and general revelation. Special revelation is “God’s testimony to the plan of salvation.” It is given to sinners. It is understood only by faith and through the illuminating work of God the Holy Spirit. It is special revelation that leads to our salvation.
So, when we are talking of the revelation, we are talking either of general revelation given to all men in their conscience, in the providential affairs of life, or in creation. Or, on the other hand, we are talking of special revelation, the revelation that God has given to us in the Word that relates to His plan of salvation for men.
Revelation, Claims to be Divine
Now, from here on then, in our course, we are going to be talking about special revelation. Let us turn over to page 2 and note that the product of special revelation that relates to salvation is the Bible. We want to note first of all that the Bible claims to be a divine revelation. Turn in your Bible to Genesis 15. Notice the striking words in verse 1. We read,
After these things the Word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision saying… (Gen. 15:1a)
Now, that is a very striking phrase: “the Word of the Lord came to Abram.” There are about 3,800 occurrences of a phrase like this in the Bible. So, the first reason for saying that the Bible claims to be a revelation is that on 3,800 occasions there is a phrase that says, “God said” or “Thus saith the Lord” or “the Word of the Lord came.” The verse that I have read to you, Genesis 15:1, is the first of those 3,800 instances in the Bible. Now, you know what I am talking about. As you have read through the Bible you have seen that phrase time after time after time. “God said”; “the Word of the Lord came”; “thus saith the Lord.” The prophet stood before the people and as he stood he said, “This is a Word from God.” There is a claim to revelation. Do you see that? Every time a writer would write that, every time a prophet would speak that he is saying “here is a claim of revelation. God has revealed this to me.” So, the first evidence of the Bible’s claim is this reoccurring phrase that is found many times in the Bible.
The second way in which the Bible claims to be a divine revelation is this. The words of men are often attributed to God. Now, that is a remarkable one. The words that men write are sometimes in other instances attributed to God Himself. Let me ask you to turn to Hebrews 1. Notice very carefully verse 7, Hebrews 1:7. This is a very, very remarkable verse. Hebrews 1:7 reads, “And of the angels, He saith, who maketh His angels spirits and His ministers a flame of fire?” You will note that this is a quotation. It comes from the Old Testament, Psalm 104:4. This is a Psalm of David and David wrote, “Who maketh His angels spirits and His ministers a flame of fire.” Notice very carefully, in Hebrews 1 it says, “And of the angels, He saith.” Look in your Bible. Who is the he? Who is the antecedent to that pronoun? Who can tell me? Think, think. Anybody see it? It is God. What is the very first word in the book, Hebrews 1:1, God “who at sundry times in a diverse manner.” As you read down through the verses, it is God who is speaking. Notice verse 6 says, “And again when He bringeth in the first begotten into the world, He saith.” Who is that? God. In verse 7 it says, “And of the angels, He saith.” Who is the he? God saith. Now, that is very important, students, for you to realize. You see what the writer to the Hebrews is saying? The words that David wrote in Psalm 104 were the words of who? God. God wrote those. So, this is a remarkable claim to revelation in the Bible. The words that men wrote are attributed to God by other persons who are writing later in the Bible. So, note that very carefully.
The third way in which the Bible makes a claim to be a revelation from God seems to me to come from the way our Lord authenticates the Bible. I want to ask you to turn to Matthew 5. I have tried to pick out some of the key verses in the Bible in relation to the subject that we are studying this afternoon hoping that many of you will memorize these verses and use them as a framework for your apologetic in relation to the use of the Bible. Matthew 5 contains one of the key verses that every Christian ought to know in relation to the subject we are studying. Our Lord is the speaker, 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, [notice] til heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, til all be fulfilled. (Matt. 5:17-18)
Now, that is remarkable and we have pointed out to you on many occasions in various classes that the jot is the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The tittle is a little horn that distinguishes between the Hebrew “r” and the Hebrew “d”. There is just a little wee mark right at the end as it comes around. Most scholars feel that that little protruding line, that little horn, is the tittle. It is one of the smallest marks that distinguishes between two letters in the Hebrew alphabet.
Now, if you put that into our text what the Lord is saying is this. That all of the Old Testament is very reliable and heaven and earth will not pass away until it is all fulfilled. That is our Lord’s testimony to the Old Testament. So, He is surely telling us, do you not see, that the Old Testament is not the words of men. The Old Testament is not the speculation of philosophers. The Old Testament is not just a conglomeration of stories and myths. Heaven and earth will not pass away until it is all fulfilled. That is what your Lord said. That is His evaluation of the Old Testament. So, in that I think there seems to be some claim to the fact that the Old Testament is from God.
Revelation, Evidences of Divine Origin
All right, so those are your three ways of indicating that the Bible claims to be a revelation from God. Now, I want to notice last in connection with this that there are some evidences that support its claim. You see, the point is this. Anyone could claim to have a revelation from God. I could make that claim this afternoon. I could stand in front of you and say, “This morning as I was studying in my study, I received a revelation from God and stand up and give you that revelation.” I could make that claim. There are 11 world religions. Every one of them has a sacred book and every one of them claims to be a revelation from God. The Bible is one among the 11. Now, the fact that the Bible makes a claim to be a revelation from God is really incidental unless there is some evidence to support its claim. So, I would like to give you three evidences in support of the Bible’s claim for itself.
The first and surely the greatest is the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Whenever a person begins to question the revelation of the scriptures, one of the first areas that you will want to move in is the area of the fulfillment of prophecy. I am going to ask you to turn in your Bible to John 19. Let me just show you one that to me is just sort of a little bit remarkable. John 19 is in relation to the death of our Lord Jesus. John 19:23 says,
Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: (John 19:23a)
How many parts? Four. To every soldier a part. So, how many soldiers were there? Obviously, four soldiers, and also His coat. So, the coat was left over. Every soldier was given a part of His garment. How many pieces were there to His garment then? There were four pieces to His garment plus the coat. They gave a piece of the garment to every soldier. There were four soldiers. Each of them received a piece of the garment and the coat was left over. We know that the way men dressed in the days of the New Testament there were, in fact, four pieces to the garment that they would be wearing, including their under garments and their outer garments. So, the garments of our Lord were taken and divided among the soldiers. First of all, it was divided into four parts because there were four parts to the garment. Every soldier was given a part and the coat was left over. Then, we go on and read,
Now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, ‘Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be’: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, ‘They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots.’ (John 19:23b-24)
That, you see, is a prophecy from the Old Testament, Psalm 22. What I want to suggest to you is this that in the prophecy of Psalm 22, there is the understanding of God as to how many pieces there would be in the garments the Lord would be wearing the day He is crucified. There is even an understanding of how many soldiers there would be at the foot of the cross the day He is crucified. Is not that remarkable? You see what would have happened if there had been five soldiers who were responsible for the immediate crucifixion? That prophecy would never have been fulfilled. What would ever have happened if the Lord had only been wearing three pieces to His garment besides His coat? Well then there would be the three pieces to the garment and the coat making the fourth and that would have been divided among the four soldiers. So, the prophecy of Psalm 22 is an amazing prophecy, anticipating how many pieces of clothing our Lord would be wearing and how many soldiers would be responsible for the crucifixion at the foot of the cross.
Now, as you come across a verse like this you would say how could that ever be known in the Old Testament. How could that ever be contained a way back there a thousand years before Christ as born. That is one of literally hundreds of prophecies that I could draw to your attention this afternoon and you know many others. So, the fulfillment of prophecy is one of the evidences that supports the Bible claim that is a revelation from God. It was prophesied that He would be born of a virgin. It was prophesied that He would be born of the tribe of Judea, of the family of David, that He would be born in Bethlehem, and the list is just beyond exposing. Tremendous, the various prophecies are. So, as one is confronted with the prophecies, his response is, how could that ever be known if it were not given by revelation from God? It is remarkable that the Bible puts upon itself a test and the test it puts is the fulfillment of prophecy, as seen in Deuteronomy 18. No other of the religious books puts on itself any test, let alone the test of the fulfillment of prophecy.
The second evidence that supports it is the unity of the Bible. There is an amazing unity. The unity can be traced in regard to the plan of salvation. It can be traced in regard to the person of our Lord Jesus. The unity of the Bible testifies to the single authorship who was revealing what is being recorded.
Then, the third is the historical and scientific accuracy of the Bible. That also is an indication that it is a revelation from God. In Leviticus 17:11 we read that “the life of the flesh is in the blood.” That is a remarkable statement. “The life of the flesh is in the blood.” It was William Harvey just a few centuries ago who was the one who discovered the circulation of the blood. That, in fact, the life of the flesh was in the blood. The whole life principle of the flesh related to the blood. So, hundreds of years after this was written in Leviticus 17 it has become part of medical science. The same thing could be said for many historical incidents.
There are three evidences, students, have you got those three? I want you to memorize those three. The Bible claims to be a direct revelation from God. How do I know? All right, now you know. “Thus saith the Lord.” That is one of the great indications of its claim that it is a revelation from God. Now, what is it that demonstrates that it is a revelation? What are the evidences that support that? There are these three that are so important: the fulfillment of prophecy, the unity of the Bible and the accuracy of the Bible in historical events and in scientific events.
2. Writing it down: Inspiration
Inspiration, what is it?
Now, let us come to the second step of the historical process. We are not going to be able to exhaust this, but we just want to be familiar with it. After the truth of God was revealed to the mind of the author, the next step is from the mind of the human author to writing it down on a piece of paper. It was written down in the original Hebrew for the Old Testament or the original Greek for the New Testament manuscripts. That gap from the mind of the author to writing it down on the paper is bridged by the doctrine of inspiration. We want to look at inspiration, then, for just a moment. It is inspiration that takes us from the mind of Paul to the original writing of that first epistle to the Corinthians. First of all, a definition of inspiration. This, I believe, is Dr. Ryrie’s definition and it is a very, very helpful one for me, at least, and I have recorded it here for your benefit. Inspiration has been defined as “God superintending”—that is very important—“superintending the human authors so that using their own individual personalities”—they were not robots, they were not in a trance, they used their own vocabulary, their own background—“using their own individual personalities they composed and recorded without error His revelation in the words of the original manuscripts.” Now, that is what we mean by inspiration.
It was not then like listening to Handel’s Messiah and getting up and saying, “Boy, that really inspires me.” It was not like listening to a very dynamic sermon and saying, “Boy, that was inspiring this morning.” It is not like standing in front of a sunset and saying, “My, doesn’t that inspire you.” That is not the way that we are using this word. When we are speaking of inspiration theologically, we are speaking of God superintending Paul in such a way that as he wrote that first letter in the original manuscript he was being superintended by God, by the Holy Spirit. Thus what he wrote was correct, accurate. It was an accurate record of what God had revealed to his mind. It is what is written then that is inspired. It is not the man, although oftentimes we refer to that. We say the inspired apostle. That I do not think is exactly correct. It is what he wrote that was inspired. God superintended him so that what he wrote was an accurate composition record of what he had revealed to the mind of the author.
Inspiration, Three Specific Internal Evidences
Now, let us note secondly some evidences of inspiration. There are really two categories of evidence for this inspiration. First of all there is specific evidence and then there is some general evidence. I want to look at the specific evidence and ask you to turn to a couple of verses, the two major verses. First of all, II Timothy 3. The specific evidence involves direct or indirect statements in the Bible. In II Timothy 3:16 you get the testimony of Paul. He says in verse 16,
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, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Tim. 3:16)
There is our word in verse 16. It says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God.” That word translated inspiration of God literally means “God breathed.” So, we could literally say all scripture is God breathed. Is not that very graphic? All scripture is God breathed. So, what Paul wrote as he was writing that first letter to the Corinthians in that first manuscript was “God breathed.” There is a very clear indication of the inspiration of the Bible.
The second verse that I want you to note is in II Peter. Let us turn to II Peter 1. Now, these are the verses, students, that you ought to memorize. If you can memorize the verses, that is fine, but you surely ought to know the references because these are the key verses in all the Bible on the subjects we are talking about. II Peter 1. In the last two verses, we read,
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. (2 Peter 1:20)
Now, although there is some debate as to the significance of that phrase, generally, I think, it is understood to suggest that it did not originate with the man. No scripture, no prophecy of the scripture is of private interpretation. That is, it did not originate with the man. For, he says,
For the prophecy came not in the old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:21)
So, here again, is an evidence in the Bible that as the holy men of God in the Old Testament wrote what God had revealed to their minds. They wrote it being moved, being really carried along by the Holy Spirit. It is the same word that is used in Acts 27 for the sailboat that the apostle Paul journeyed in as he crossed the Mediterranean. It was carried along by the wind. That is what these men were in the Old Testament as they wrote. The Holy Spirit carried them along. They were borne along by the Holy Spirit. So, Peter, again, is indicating to us that what they recorded was a result of the superintending work of God, the Holy Spirit. That is the testimony of Peter and of Paul.
The testimony of our Lord is in Matthew 5:18 and we have already looked at that verse where He says that not one jot (the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet), nor one tittle (the smallest little mark that distinguishes Hebrew letters)—not one of those—shall ever pass until it is all fulfilled. Heaven and earth will not pass until all of it is accurately fulfilled. So, our Lord surely is indicating then that when David wrote, when Moses wrote, when Solomon wrote, they were writing under the influence of the Holy Spirit because every single thing they wrote, down to the smallest letter, was accurate and was going to be fulfilled. Those are the three men, the three testimonies, that are worthy of our consideration.
Inspiration, Three General External Evidences
Now, the general evidence in support of the inspiration of the Bible comes from several sources. First of all, there is the testimony of history. We will not take time to read any, but there are many men we could bring to the fore who have testified to the remarkable uniqueness of the Bible. I have an amazing quotation from Josephus who speaks of the Jews attitude toward their own testimony. The recognized it as the Word of God. There is the testimony of history.
Secondly, there is the testimony of influence. Its influence upon men and women has been remarkable. H.A. Ironside was once preaching on a street corner and an atheist passed by and challenged him to a debate. Ironside said yes under one or two conditions. One of the conditions he said is that if you will bring with you one person who will testify that his life has been changed and enriched and greatly blessed by your atheistic teaching, I will bring a hundred people with me who will testify how their lives have been greatly enriched and blessed through my teaching of the Word of God. The debate never materialized. You see, the fact is that the influence of the Bible in enriching lives and in blessing lives is one of the great evidences that it is the Word of God. It is an indication that it is from the Lord.
Then, the third comes from the testimony of its preservation. It has been preserved remarkably. Again, we do not have time to go into all the illustrations. One out of every 20 books lasts for seven years. How many books last for 500 years? Very, very few and the Bible has lasted for 2,000 years in its completion and from its inception for 3,500 years. The preservation of the Bible is very remarkable. That, of course, is all the more so when we think of all the attacks against the Bible. When Voltaire was writing, he said that in his estimation in a hundred years the Bible would no longer used. On the 100th anniversary of Voltaire writing that, the British and Foreign Bible Society purchased his home in France and put up a printing press in that home to print the Bible. The Bible has been preserved against all the attacks of the skeptics and the critics.
So, what I have given you now, students, is six lines of argument that you can use as evidences in defense of the fact that the Bible is the revealed Word of God and the inspired Word of God. There are six lines of evidence. We started off, in relation to revelation, with fulfilled prophecy, and then the unity of the Bible. Remember how we were talking about how amazingly unified it is and then noted the accuracy of the Bible in scientific and historical areas? Now, I have given you three more in relation to inspiration: The testimony of men from history, the influence of the Bible on countries and in individual’s lives, and the last one we talked about here is the amazing preservation of the Bible against all the assaults and the attacks against it.
I am just going to mention in closing that the extent of inspiration is to its very words: We believe in the verbal inspiration of the Bible. It is the inspired Word of God to its very words. I think that Matthew 5:17-18 indicate that. It is to the smallest letter that it is given by God. So, even the very letters of the Bible are under the superintending work of the Holy Spirit, says our Lord Jesus. So, we believe in the verbal inspiration of the Bible. We believe in the plenary inspiration of the Bible, which means that all the Bible is inspired and it is a full revelation of what God intends for us to have at this time. II Timothy 3:16 says that all scripture is God-breathed. So, we believe in the verbal (its words) and the plenary (all of it) inspiration of the Bible.
What we have done this afternoon is that we have moved from a thought in the mind of God to a thought in the mind of the human author which the author wrote down on pages. That has taken us through the doctrine of revelation and inspiration. The implications of those two doctrines are these: what was written down was inerrant. It was without error and that is, obviously, the implication if God revealed it and superintended its writing. It is without error.
The second implication is that it is authoritative. It is an authoritative book. If God revealed it and God superintended its writing, then it is authoritative in our lives.
We are going to look at both of those implications in our lesson on Thursday when we talk about contemporary problems in relation to the Bible, because both the inerrancy and the authority of the Bible are widely challenged today.