The Inspiration of Scripture
E. L. Lovering, Ilfracombe
"Inspiration "—a fascinating word and so full of meaning! But what does it mean ? Some will say, Shakespeare was "inspired" to write his plays, Bacon his essays, Tennyson his poetry, Handel his music. Though this is true in part, it is not the kind of inspiration with which we are now concerned, for that originated in the mind and emotions of the writers themselves.
What then do we mean when we speak of the Scriptures being inspired? We mean the manner in which God communicated His thoughts and words to the writers of the Scriptures. Apart from the writing on the wall during Belshazzar's impious feast, we only read of two occasions when Deity wrote—(a) upon tables of stone in Law, and " the writing was the writing of God " written with " the finger of God " (Exod. 31. 18; 32. 16), and (ft) upon the Temple floor in grace when " Jesus stooped down, and with His finger wrote on the ground " (John 8. 6, 8).
How then were the words of Holy Scripture placed on record ? Broadly, the Theories of Inspiration are three in number -
(1) The Mechanical Theory, by which we mean that the writer, like a recording tape, placed on record a mechanical dictation from God. If, however, we carefully read the books of the Bible we cannot but notice that, whilst they are stamped by the mark of Deity, they also betray the individuality of the writers themselves. In Luke we note the careful detail of the doctor ; in John the sentiments of the apostle of love ; and in the letters of Paul the mind of the cultured scholar.
(2) The Liberal Theory interprets this as suggesting a possibility of human error. It is clear from the Scriptures themselves that neither of these theories is the correct one.
(3) The Dynamical Theory, as it is sometimes called, is surely the correct answer, for Peter tells us in his letter that " no prophecy of Scripture is of special interpretation, for no prophecy ever came by the will of man. but men spake from God, being moved (or borne along) by the Holy Spirit " (2 Pet. 1. 21).
Further let us note that it is not the writers only, who were inspired of God, but the writings themselves, for Timothy tells us " every Scripture is inspired of God (or is God-breathed) and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for discipline which is in righteousness " (2 Tim. 3. 16).
What then of-
Some may say that God inspired not the words of Holy Scripture but the thoughts, leaving the writers to choose their own words. This is not true, for God always gave the words, though He did not always give the thoughts. The prophets who wrote of Christ, did not fully understand what they wrote, but inspired and searched diligently the matter for themselves. (1 Pet. 1. 10, 11).
In Daniel 12. 8, 9 we read that the prophet " heard, but understood not " and God commanded him to go his way for " the words are closed up and scaled till the time of the end."
Testimonies to Inspiration
Four instances of testimony to the inspiration and veracity of the Scriptures occur to us—
(1) The spade — external evidence. Again and again recent discoveries in exploration have proved the truth of Holy Scripture, but space will not here permit us to discourse upon them.
(2) The Scriptures — internal evidence. We have already referred to 2 Pet. 1. 21 and 2 Tim. 3. 16 ; but here are some others— 2 Sam. 23. 2 " Thc spirit of the Lord spake by me and His word was in my tongue." Jer. 1. 7, 9 " Whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak—
behold, I have put My words in thy mouth." Ezek. 2. 7 " Thou shalt speak My words unto them." Acts 1. 16 " The Holy Spirit by the mouth of David spoke concerning Judas."
Such passages might easily be multiplied, as any concordance will show.
(3) The Saviour—eternal evidence. And if no other testimony existed, surely this would be sufficient. Matt. 5. 15 " Verily I say unto you, until heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled." This asserts that not only are the words from God but even the fractional parts of the letters themselves. John 10. 35 " The Scripture cannot be broken." Lk. 24. 44 " All things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses, and in the Prophets and in the Psalms concerning me—this takes in the whole range of Old Testament Scripture, as expressed by the Jew.
To those on the Emmaus road the Saviour said, " O foolish ones and slow of heart to believe all that the Prophets have spoken," and then " beginning from Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures, the things concerning Himself " (Lk. 24. 27).
(4) The Sinner—practical evidence. To the foregoing undoubted testimonies we may add yet our own ; for we who were " dead in trespasses and sins " have been made alive by the living, life-giving Word of God, the " incorruptible seed, which liveth and abideth for ever." (1 Pet. 1. 23).
" Cling to the Bible !—this jewel and treasure
Brings life eternal, and saves fallen man ;
Surely its value no mortal can measure :
Seek for its blessing, O soul, while you can I "