3. Testimony of the Powerful Perfection of Scripture
Chapter Nine: The Miraculous Power Of The Bible Shows Forth That Its Inspirer Is The Almighty
I. The Power Of God’s Word To Convict Men Of Sin.
In Hebrews 4:12 we have a Scripture which draws attention to this peculiar characteristic of the Bible - “For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” The writings of men may sometimes stir the emotions, search the conscience, and influence the human will, but in a manner and degree possessed by no other book the Bible convicts men of their guilt and lost estate. The Word of God is the Divine mirror, for in it man reads the secrets of his own guilty soul and sees the vileness of his own evil nature. In a way absolutely peculiar to themselves, the Scriptures discern the thoughts and intents of the heart and reveal to men the fact that they are lost sinners and in the presence of a Holy God.
Some thirty years ago there resided in one of the Temples of Thibet a Buddhist priest who had conversed with no Christian missionary, had heard nothing about the cross of Christ, and had never seen a copy of the Word of God. One day while searching for something in the temple, he came across a transcription of Matthew’s Gospel, which years before had been left there by a native who had received it from some traveling missionary. His curiosity aroused, the Buddhist priest commenced to read it, but when he reached the eighth verse in the fifth chapter he paused and pondered over it: “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” Although he knew nothing about the righteousness of his Maker, although he was quite ignorant concerning the demands of God’s holiness, yet he was there and then convicted of his sins, and a work of Divine grace commenced in his soul. Month after month went by and each day he said to himself, “I shall never see God, for I am impure in heart.” Slowly but surely the work of the Holy Spirit deepened within him until he saw himself as a lost sinner; vile, guilty, and undone.
After continuing for more than a year in this miserable condition the priest one day heard that a “foreign devil” was visiting a town nearby and selling books which spoke about God. The same night the Buddhist priest fled from the temple and journeyed to the town where the missionary was residing. On reaching his destination he sought out the missionary and at once said to him, “Is it true that only those who are pure in heart will see God?” “Yes,” replied the missionary, “but the same Book which tells you that, also tells you how you may obtain a pure heart,” and then he talked to him about our Lord’s atoning work and how that “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” Quickly the light of God flooded the soul of the Buddhist priest and he found the peace which “passeth all understanding.” Now what other book in the world outside of the Bible, contains a sentence or even a chapter which, without the aid of any human commentator, is capable of convincing and convicting a heathen that he is a lost sinner? Does not the fact of the miraculous power of the Bible, which has been illustrated by thousands of fully authenticated cases similar to the above, declare that the Scriptures are the inspired Word of God, vested with the same might as their Omnipotent Author?
II. The Power Of God’s Word To Deliver Men From Sin.
A single incident which was brought before the notice of the writer must suffice to illustrate the above mentioned truth.
Some forty years ago a Christian gentleman stood upon the quay of the Liverpool docks distributing tracts to the sailors. In the course of his work he handed one to a man who was just embarking on a voyage to China, and with an oath the sailor took it, crumpled it up and thrust it into his pocket. Some three weeks after, this sailor was down in his cabin and needing a “spell” with which to light his pipe felt in his pocket for the necessary paper and drew out the little tract which he had received in Liverpool. On recognizing it he uttered a terrible oath and tore the paper in pieces. One small fragment adhered to his tarry hand and glancing at it he saw these words, “Prepare to meet thy God.” When relating the incident to the writer he said, “It was at that moment as though a sword had pierced my heart.” “Prepare to meet thy God” rang again and again in his ears, and with a strickened conscience he was tormented about his lost condition. Presently he retired for the night, but sleep he could not. In desperation he got up and dressed and went above and paced the deck. Hour after hour he walked up and down, but try as he might he could not dismiss from his mind the words, “Prepare to meet thy God.” For years this man had been a helpless slave in the grip of strong drink and knowing his weakness he said: “How can I prepare to meet God, when I am so powerless to overcome my besetting sin?” Finally, he got down upon his knees and cried: “O God, have mercy on me, save me from my sins, deliver me from the power of drink and help me prepare for the meeting with Thee.” More than thirty-five years after, this converted sailor told the writer that from the night he had read that quotation from God’s Word, had prayed that prayer, and had accepted Christ as his Saviour from sin, he had never tasted a single drop of intoxicating liquor and had never once had a desire to craving for strong drink. How marvelous is the power of God’s Word to deliver men from sin! Truly, as Dr. Torrey has well said, “A Book which will lift men up to God must have come down from God.”
III. The Power Of God’s Word Over The Human Affections.
In thousands of instances men and women have been stretched upon the “rack,” torn limb from limb, thrown to the wild beasts, and have been burned at the stake rather than abandon the Bible and promise never again to read its sacred pages. For what other book would men and women suffer and die?
More than two hundred years ago when a copy of the Bible was much more expensive than it is in these days, a peasant who lived in the County of Cork, Ireland, heard that a gentleman in his neighborhood had a copy of the New testament in the Irish language. Accordingly he visited this man and asked to be allowed to see it, and after looking at it with great interest begged to be allowed to copy it. Knowing how poor the peasant was the gentleman asked him where he would get his paper and ink from? “I will buy them,” was the reply. “And where will you find a place to write?” “If your honor will allow me the use of your hall, I’ll come after my day’s work is over and copy a little at a time in the evenings.” The gentleman was so moved at this man’s intense love the the Bible that he gave him the use of his hall and light and provided him with paper and ink as well. True to his purpose and promise, the peasant labored night after night until he had written out a complete copy of the New Testament. Afterwards a printed copy was given to him, and the written Testament is preserved by the British and Foreign Bible Society. Again, we ask, what other book in the world could obtain such a hold upon the affections and win such love and reverence, and produce such self-sacrificing toil?
Chapter Ten: The Completeness Of The Bible Demonstrates Its Divine Perfection
The antiquity of the Scriptures argues against their completeness. The compilation of the Bible was completed more than eighteen centuries ago, while the greater part of the world was yet uncivilized. Since John added the capstone to the Temple of God’s Truth there have been many wonderful discoveries and inventions, yet there have been no additions whatever to the moral and spiritual truths contained in the Bible. Today, we know no more about the origin of life, the nature of the soul, the problem of suffering or the future destiny of man than did those who had the Bible eighteen hundred years ago. Through the centuries of the Christian era, man has succeeded in learning many of the secrets of nature and has harnessed her forces to his service, but in the actual revelation of supernatural truth nothing new has been discovered. Human writers cannot supplement the Divine records for they are complete, entire, “wanting nothing.”
The Bible needs no addendum. There is more than sufficient in God’s Word to meet the temporal and spiritual needs of all mankind. Though written two thousand years ago, the Bible is still “up-to-date,” and answers every vital question which concerns the soul of man in our day. The Book of Job was written three thousand years before Columbus discovered America, yet it is as fresh to the heart of man now as though it had only been published ten years ago. The majority of the Psalms were written two thousand five hundred years before President Wilson was born, yet in our day and generation they are perfectly new and fresh to the human soul. Such facts as these can only be explained on the hypothesis that the Eternal God is the Author of the Bible.
The adaptation of the Scriptures is another illustration of their wonderful completeness. To young or old, feeble or vigorous, ignorant or cultured, joyful or sorrowful, perplexed or enlightened, Orientalist or Ocidentalist, saint or sinner, the Bible is a source of blessing, will minister to every need, and is able to supply every variety of want. And the Bible is the only Book in the world of which this can be predicted. The writings of Plato may be a source of interest and instruction to the philosophic mind, but they are unsuitable for placing in the hands of a child. Not so with the Bible: the youngest may profit from a perusal of the Sacred Page. The writings of Jerome or Twain may please, for an hour, the man of humor, but they will bring no balm to the sore heart and will speak no words of comfort and consolation to those passing through the waters of bereavement. How different with the Scriptures - never has a heavy heart turned in vain to God’s Word for peace! The writings of Shakespeare, Goethe, and Schiller may be of profit to the Western mind, but they convey little of value to the Easterner. Not so with God’s Word; it may be translated into any language and will speak with equal clearness, directness and power to all men in their mother tongue.
To quote Dr. Burrell: “ In every heart, down below all other wants and aspirations, there is a profound longing to know the way of spiritual life. The world is crying, “What shall I do to be saved?” Of all books the Bible is the only one that answers that universal cry. There are other books which set forth morality with more or less correctness; but there is none other that suggests a blotting out of the record of the mislived past or an escape from the penalty of the broken law. There are other books that have poetry; but there is none that sings the song of salvation or gives a troubled soul the peace that floweth like a river. There are other books that have eloquence; but there is no other that enables us to behold God Himself with outstretched hands pleading with men to turn and live. There are other books that have science; but there is none other that can give the soul a definite assurance of the future life, so that it can say, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.”
Though other books contain valuable truths, they also have an admixture of error; other books contain part of the truth, the Bible alone contains all the truth. Nowhere in the writings of human genius can a single moral or spiritual truth be found, which is not contained in substance in the Bible. Examine the writings of the ancients; ransack the libraries of Egypt, Assyria, Persia, India, Greece, and Rome; search the contents of the Koran, the Zend - Avesta, or the Bagavad-Gita; gather together the most exalted spiritual thoughts and the sublimest moral conceptions contained in them and you will find that each and all are duplicated in the Bible! Dr. Torrey has said, “If every book but the Bible were destroyed not a single spiritual truth would be lost.” In the small compass of God’s Word there is stored more wisdom which will endure the test of eternity than the sum total of thinking done by man since his creation. Of all the books in the world, the Bible alone can truly be said to be complete, and this characteristic of the Scriptures is another of the many lines of demonstration which witnesses to the Divine inspiration of the Bible.
Chapter Eleven: The Indestructibility Of The Bible Is A Proof That Its Author Is Divine
The survival of the Bible through the ages is very difficult to explain if it is not in truth the Word of God. Books are like men - dying creatures. A very small percentage of books survive more than twenty years, a yet smaller percentage last a hundred years and only a very insignificant fraction represent those which have lived a thousand years. Amid the wreck and ruin of ancient literature the Holy Scriptures stand out like the last survivor of an otherwise extinct race, and the very fact of the Bible’s continued existence is an indication that like its Author it is indestructible.
When we bear in mind the fact that the Bible has been the special object of never ending persecution the wonder of the Bible’s survival is changed into a miracle. Not only has the Bible been the most intensely loved Book in all the world, but it has also been the most bitterly hated. Not only has the Bible received more veneration and adoration than any other book, but it has also been the object of more persecution and opposition. For two thousand years man’s hatred of the Bible has been persistent, determined, relentless and murderous. Every possible effort has been made to undermine faith in the inspiration and authority of the Bible and innumerable enterprises have been undertaken with the determination to consign it to oblivion. Imperial edicts have been issued to the effect that every known copy of the Bible should be destroyed, and when this measure failed to exterminate and annihilate God’s Word then commands were given that every person found with a copy of the Scriptures in his possession should be put to death. The very fact that the Bible has been so singled out for such relentless persecution causes us to wonder at such a unique phenomenon.
Although the Bible is the best Book in the world yet is has produced more enmity and opposition than has the combined contents of all our libraries. Why should this be? Clearly because the Scriptures convict men of their guilt and condemn them for their sins! Political and ecclesiastical powers have united in the attempt to put the Bible out of existence, yet their concentrated efforts have utterly failed. After all the persecution which has assailed the Bible, it is, humanly speaking, a wonder that there is any Bible left at all. Every engine of destruction which human philosophy, science, force, and hatred could bring against a book has been brought against the Bible, yet it stands unshaken and unharmed today. When we remember that no army has defended the Bible and no king has ever ordered its enemies to be extirpated, our wonderment increases. At times nearly all the wise and great of the earth have been pitted together against the Bible, while only a few despised ones have honored and revered it. The cities of the ancients were lighted with bonfires made of Bibles, and for centuries only those in hiding dare read it. How then, can we account for the survival of the Bible in the face of such bitter persecution? The only solution is to be found in the promise of God. “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My Words shall not pass away.”
The story of the Bible’s persecution is an arresting one. During the first three centuries of the Christian era the Roman Emperors sought to destroy God’s Word. One of them, named Diocletian, believed that he had succeeded. He had slain so many Christians and destroyed so many Bibles, that when the lovers of the Bible remained quiet for a season and kept in hiding, he imagined that he had made an end of the Scriptures. So elated was he at this achievement, he ordered a medal to be struck inscribed with the words, “The Christian religion is destroyed and the worship of the gods restored.” One wonders what that emperor would think if he returned to this earth today and found that more had been written about the Bible than about any other thousand books put together, and that the Bible which enshrines the Christian faith is now translated into more than four hundred languages and is being sent out to every part of the earth!
Centuries after the persecution by the Roman Emperors, when the Roman Catholic Church obtained command of the city of Rome, the Pope and his priests took up the old quarrel against the Bible. The Holy Scriptures were taken away from the people, copies of the Bible were forbidden to be purchased and all who were found with a copy of God’s Word in their possession were tortured and killed. For centuries the Roman Catholic Church bitterly persecuted the Bible and it was not until the time of the Reformation at the close of the sixteenth century that the Word of God was again given to the masses in their own tongue.
Even in our day the persecution of the Bible still continues, though the method of attack is changed. Much of our modern scholarship is engaged in the work of seeking to destroy faith in the Divine inspiration and authority of the Bible. In many of our seminaries the rising generation of the clergy are taught that Genesis is a book of myths, that much of the teaching of the Pentateuch is immoral, that the historical records of the Old Testament are unreliable and that the whole Bible is man’s creation rather than God’s revelation. And so the attack on the Bible is being perpetuated.
Now suppose there was a man who had lived upon this earth for eighteen hundred years, that this man had oftentimes been thrown into the sea and yet could not be drowned; that he had frequently been cast before wild beasts who were unable to devour him; that he had many times been made to drink deadly poisons which never did him any harm; that he had often been bound in iron chains and locked in prison dungeons, yet he had always been able to throw off the chains and escape from his captivity; that he had repeatedly been hanged, till his enemies thought him dead, yet when his body was cut down he sprang to his feet and walked away as though nothing had happened; that hundreds of times he had been burned at the stake, till there seemed to be nothing left of him, yet as soon as the fires were out he leaped up from the ashes as well and as vigorous as ever - but we need not expand this idea any further; such a man would be super-human, a miracle of miracles. Yet this is exactly how we should regard the Bible! This is practically the way in which the Bible has been treated. It has been burned, drowned, chained, put in prison, and torn to pieces, yet never destroyed!
No other book has provoked such fierce opposition as the Bible, and its preservation is perhaps the most startling miracle connected with it. But two thousand five hundred years ago God declared, “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth, but the Word of our God shall abide for ever.” Just as the three Hebrews passed safely through the fiery furnace of Nebuchadnezzar unharmed and unscorched, so the Bible has emerged from the furnace of satanic hatred and assault without even the smell of fire upon it! Just as an earthly parent treasures and lays by the letters received from his child, so our Heavenly Father has protected and preserved the Epistles of love written to His children.
Chapter Twelve: Inward Confirmation Of The Veracity Of The Scriptures
We are living in a day when confidence is lacking; when skepticism and agnosticism are becoming more and more prevalent; and when doubt and uncertainty are made the badges of culture and wisdom. Everywhere men are demanding proof. Hypotheses and speculations fail to satisfy: the heart cannot rest content until it is able to say, “I know.” The demand of the human mind is for definite knowledge and positive assurance. And God has condescended to meet this need.
One thing which distinguishes Christianity from all human systems is that it deals with absolute certainties. Christians are people who know. And well it is that they do. The issues concerning life and death are so stupendous, the stake involved in the salvation of the soul is so immense, that we cannot afford to be uncertain here. None but a fool would attempt to cross a frozen river until he was sure that the ice was strong enough to bear him. Dare we then face the river of death with nothing but a vague and uncertain hope to rest upon? Personal assurance is the crying need of the hour. There can be no peace and joy until this is attained. A parent who is in suspense concerning the safety of his child, is in agony of soul. A criminal who lies in the condemned cell hoping for a reprieve, is in mental torment until his pardon arrives. And a professed Christian who knows not whether he shall ultimately land in Heaven or Hell, is a pitiable object.
But we say again, real Christians are people who know. They know that their Redeemer liveth (John 19:25). They know that they have passed from death unto life (I John 3:14). They know that all things work together for good (Rom. 8:28). They know that if their earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, they have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens (II Cor. 5:1). They know that one day they shall see Christ face to face and be made like Him (I John 3:2). In the meantime they know whom they have believed, and are persuaded that He is able to keep that which they have committed unto Him against that day (II Tim. 1:12). If it be asked, How do they know, the answer is, they have proven for themselves the trustworthiness of God’s Word which affirms these things.
The force of this present argument will appeal to none save those who have an experimental acquaintance with it. In addition to all the external proofs that we have for the Divine Inspiration of the Scriptures, the believer has a source of evidence to which no unbeliever has access. In his own experience the Christian finds a personal confirmation of the teachings of God’s Word. To the man whose life which, judged by the standards of the world, appears morally upright, the statement that “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” seems to be the gloomy view of a pessimist, or a description which has no general application. But the believer has found that “the entrance of Thy words giveth light” (Ps. 119:30), and in the light of God’s Word and beneath the illuminating power of God’s Spirit who indwells him, he has discovered there is within him a sink of iniquity. To natural wisdom, which is fond of philosophizing about the freedom of the human will, the declaration of Christ that “No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me, draw him” (John 6:44) seems a hard saying; but, to the one who has been taught by the Holy Spirit something of the binding power of sin, such a declaration has been verified in his own experience. To the one who has done his best to live up to the light which he had, and has sought to develop an honest and amiable character, such a statement as, “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags,” seems unduly harsh and severe; but to the man who has received “an unction from the Holy One,” his very best works appear to him sordid and sinful; and such they are. The Apostle’s confession that “in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing” (Rom. 7:18) which once appeared absurd to him, the believer now acknowledges to be his own condition. The description of the Christian which is found in Romans ... is something which none but a regenerate person can understand. The things there mentioned as belonging to the same man at the same time, seem foolish to the wise of this world; but the believer realizes completely the truth of it in his own life.
The promises of God can be tested: their trustworthiness is capable of verification. In the Gospel Christ promises to give rest to all those who are weary and heavy laden that come unto Him. He declares that He came to seek and to save that which was lost. He affirms that “whosoever drinketh of the Water that I shall give him shall never thirst.” In short, the Gospel presents the Lord Jesus Christ as a Saviour. His claim to save can be put to the proof. Yea, it has been, and that by a multitude of individuals that no man can number. Many of these are living on earth today. Every individual who has read in the Scriptures the invitations that are addressed to sinners, and has personally appropriated them to himself, can say n the words of the well-known hymn: -
“I came to Jesus as I was.
Weary and worn and sad;
I found in Him a resting place
And He has made me glad.”
Should these pages be read by a skeptic who, despite his present unbelief, has a sincere and earnest desire to know the truth, he, too may put God’s Word to the test and share the experience described above. It is written, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved,” - believe, my reader, and thou, too, shalt be saved.
“We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen” (John 3:11). The Bible testifies to the fact that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God,” and our own conscience confirms it. The Bible declares that it is “not by works of righteousness which we have down, but according to His mercy” God saves us; and the Christian has proven that he was unable to do anything to win God’s esteem: but, having cried the prayer of the Publican, he has gone down to his house justified. The Bible teaches that “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new;” and the believer has found that the things he once hated he now loves, and that the things he hitherto counted gain he now regards as dross. The Bible witnesses to the fact that we “are kept by the power of God thro’ faith,” and the believer has proven that though the world, the flesh, and the devil are arrayed against him, yet the grace of God is sufficient for all his need. Ask the Christian, then, why he believes that the Bible is the Word of God, and he will tell you, Because it has done for me what it professes to do (save); because I have tested its promises for myself; because I find its teachings verified in my own experiences.
To the unregenerate the Bible is practically a sealed Book. Even the cultured and educated are unable to understand its teachings: parts of it appear plain and simple, but much of it is dark and mysterious. This is exactly what the Bible declares - “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (I Cor. 2:14). But to the man of God it is otherwise: “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself” (I John 5:10). As the Lord Jesus declared, “If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine” (John 7:17). While the infidel stumbles in darkness, even in the midst of light, the believer discovers the evidence of its truth in himself with the clearness of a sunbeam. “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (II Cor. 4:6).
Chapter Thirteen: Verbal Inspiration
Not only does the Bible claim to be a Divine revelation but it also asserts that its original manuscripts were written “not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Spirit teacheth” (I Cor. 2”13). The Bible nowhere claims to have been written by inspired men - as a matter of fact some of them were very defective characters - Balaam for example - but it insists that the words they uttered and recorded were God’s words. Inspiration has not to do with the minds of the writers (for many of them understood not what they wrote (I Peter 1:10-11), but with the writings themselves. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,” and “Scripture” means “the writings.” Faith has to do with God’s Word and not with the men who wrote it - these are all dead long since, but their writings remain.
A writing that is inspired by God self-evidently implies, in the very expression, that the words are the words of God. To say that the inspiration of the Scriptures applies to their concepts and not to their words; to declare that one part of Scripture is written with one kind or degree of inspiration and another part with another kind or degree, is not only destitute of any foundation or support in the Scriptures themselves, but is repudiated by every statement in the Bible which bears upon the subject now under consideration. To say that the Bible is not the Word of God but merely contains the Word of God is the figment of an ill-employed ingenuity and an unholy attempt to depreciate and invalidate the supreme authority of the Oracles of God. All the attempts which have been made to explain the rationale of inspiration have done nothing toward simplifying the subject, rather have they tended to mystify. It is no easier to conceive how ideas without words could be imparted, than that Divinely revealed truths should be communicated by words. Instead of being diminished the difficulty is increased. It were as logical to talk of a sum without figures or a tune without notes, as of a Divine revelation and communication without words. Instead of speculation our duty is to receive and believe what the Scriptures say of themselves.
What the Bible teaches about its own inspiration is a matter purely of Divine testimony, and our business is simply to receive the testimony and not to speculate about or seek to pry into its modus operandi. Inspiration is as much a matter of Divine revelation as is justification by faith. Both stand equally on the authority of the Scriptures themselves, which must be the final court of appeal on this subject as on every question of revealed truth.
The teaching of the Bible concerning the inspiration of the Scriptures is clear and simple, and uniform throughout. Its writers were conscious that their utterances were a message from God in the highest meaning of the word. “And the Lord said unto him (Moses), Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? Have not I the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say” (Exod. 4:11-12). “The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and His word was in my tongue” (II Sam. 23:2). “Then the Lord put forth His hand, and touched my mouth. and the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put My words in thy mouth” (Jer. 1:9). The above are only a sample of scores of similar passages which might be sighted.
What is predicted of the Scriptures themselves, demonstrates that they are entirely and absolutely the Word of God. “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul” (Ps. 19:7) - this altogether excludes any place in the Bible for human infirmities and imperfections. “Thy Word is very pure” (Ps. 119:140), which cannot mean less than that the Holy Spirit so superintended the composition of the Bible and so “moved” its writers that all error has been excluded. “Thy Word is true from the beginning” (Ps. 119:160) - how this anticipated the assaults of the higher critics on the Book of Genesis, particularly on its opening chapters!
The teaching of the New Testament agrees with what we have quoted from the Old. “Take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: for the Holy Spirit shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say” (Luke 12:11-12), - the disciples were the ones who spake, but it was the Holy Spirit who “taught them what to say.” Could any language express more emphatically the most entire inspiration? and, if the Holy Spirit so controlled their utterances when in the presence of “magistrates,” is it conceivable that He would do less for them when they were communicating the mind of God to all future generations on things touching our eternal destiny? Assuredly not. “But those things, which God before had showed by the mouth of all His prophets, that Christ should suffer, He hath so fulfilled” (Acts 3:18). Here the Holy Spirit declares thro’ Peter that it was God who had revealed by the mouth of all His prophets that Israel’s Messiah must suffer before the glory should appear. “But that I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets” (Acts 24:14). These words clearly evidence the fact that the Apostle Paul had the utmost confidence in the authenticity of the entire contents of the Old Testament. “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (I Cor. 2:4). Could any man have used such language as this unless he had been fully conscious that he was speaking the very words of God? “The prophecy came not at any time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (II Peter 1:21). Nothing could possibly be more explicit.
Dr. Gray has strikingly and forcefully stated the necessity of a verbally inspired Bible in the following language: - “An illustration the writer has often used will help to make this clear. A stenographer in a mercantile house was asked by his employer to write as follows:
“Gentlemen: we misunderstood your letter and will not fill your order.”
Imagine the employer’s surprise, however, when a little later this was set before him for his signature -
“Gentlemen: we misunderstood your letter and will not fill your order.”
The mistake was only of a single letter, but it was entirely subversive of his meaning. And yet the thought was given clearly to the stenographer, and the words, too, for that matter, Moreover, the latter was capable and faithful, but he was human, and it is human to err. Had not his employer controlled his expression, down to the very letter, the thought intended to be conveyed would have failed of utterance.” So, too, the Holy Spirit had to superintend the writing of the very letter of Scripture in order to guarantee its accuracy and inerrancy.
Many proofs might be given to show the Scriptures are verbally inspired. One line of demonstration appears in the literal and verbal fulfillment of many of the Old Testament prophecies. For example, God made known thro’ Zechariah that the price which Judas should receive for his awful crime was “thirty pieces of silver” (Zech. 11:12). Here then is a clear case where God communicated to one of the prophets not merely an abstract concept but a specific communication. And the above case is only one of many.
Another evidence of verbal inspiration is to be seen in the fact that words are used in Scripture with the most exact precision and discrimination. This is particularly noticeable in connection with the Divine titles. The names Elohim and Jehovah are found on the pages of the Old Testament several thousand times, but they are never employed loosely or used alternately. Each of these names has a definite significance and scope, and were we to substitute the one for the other the beauty and perfection of a multitude of passages would be destroyed. To illustrate: the word “God” occurs all thro’ Genesis 1, but “Lord God” in Genesis 2. Were these two Divine titles reversed here, a flaw and blemish would be the consequence. “God” is the creatorial title, whereas “Lord” implies covenant relationship and shows God’s dealings with His own people. Hence, in Genesis 1, “God” is used, and in Genesis 2, “Lord God” is employed, and all thro’ the remainder of the Old Testament these two Divine titles are used discriminatively and in harmony with the meaning of their first mention. One or two other examples must suffice. “And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life. And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him” - “God” because it was the Creator commanding, with respect to His creatures, as such; but, in the remainder of the same verse, we read, “and the Lord shut him in” (Gen. 7:16), because God’s action here toward Noah was based upon covenant relationship. When going forth to meet Goliath David said, “This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand (because David was in covenant relationship with Him); and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcasses of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth (which was not in covenant relation with Him) may know that there is a God in Israel. And all this assembly (which were in covenant relationship with Him) shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear” etc. (I Sam. 17:46-47). Once more: “And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, It is the king of Israel. Therefore they compassed about him to fight: but Jehoshaphat cried out, and the Lord helped him; and God moved them (the Syrians) to depart from him” (II Chron. 18:31). And thus it is all thro’ the Old Testament.
The above line of argument might be extended indefinitely. There are upwards of fifty Divine titles in the Old Testament which are used more than once, each of which has a definite signification, each of which has its meaning hinted at in its first mention, and each of which is used subsequently in harmony with its original purport. They are never used loosely or interchangeably. In every place where they occur there is a reason for each variation. Such titles are the Most High, the Almighty, the God of Israel, the God of Jacob, the Lord our Righteousness, etc., etc., are not used haphazardly, but in every case in harmony with their original meaning and as the best suited to the context. The same is true in connection with the names of our Lord in the New Testament. In some passages He is referred to as Christ, in others as Jesus, Jesus Christ, Christ Jesus, Lord Jesus Christ. In every instance there is a reason for each variation, and in every case the Holy Spirit has seen to it that they are employed with uniform significance. The same is true of the various names given to the great adversary. In some places he is termed Satan, in others the devil etc., etc.; but the different terms are used with unerring precision throughout. A further illustration is furnished by the father of Joseph. In his earlier life he was always termed Jacob, later he received the name of Israel, but after this, sometimes we read of Jacob and sometimes of Israel. Whatever is predicted of Jacob refers to the acts of the “old man;” whatever is postulated of Israel were the fruits of the “new man.” When he doubted it was Jacob who doubted, when he believed God it was Israel who exercised faith. Accordingly, we read, “And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost” (Gen. 49:33). But in the next verse but one we are told, “And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father: and the physicians embalmed Israel (Gen. 50:2)!! Here then we see the marvelous verbal precision and perfection of Holy Scripture.
The most convincing of all the proofs and arguments for the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures is the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ regarded them and treated them as such. He Himself submitted to their authority. When assaulted by Satan, three times He replied, “It is written,” and it is particularly to be noted that the point of each of His quotations and the force of each reply lay in a single word - “Man shall not live by bread alone” etc.; “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God;” “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” When tempted by the Pharisees, who asked Him, “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?” He answered, “Have ye not read?” etc. (Matt. 19:4-5). To the Sadducees He said, “Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures” (Matt. 22:29). On another occasion He accused the Pharisees of “Making the Word of God of none effect thro’ their tradition” (Mark 7:13). On another occasion, when speaking of the Word of God, He declared “The Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). Sufficient has been adduced to show that the Lord Jesus regarded the Scriptures as the Word of God in the most absolute sense. In view of this fact let Christians beware of detracting in the smallest degree from the perfect and full inspiration of the Holy Scriptures.
Related Topics: Inspiration