God-Breathed: The Spirit's Work of Inspiration & Confirmation
SCRIPTURE IS GIVEN BY GOD, THE HOLY SPIRIT
In our prior lesson on in talking about the deity of the Holy Spirit, I used the following argument to show that the Holy Spirit is God:
· Who gave us the Bible?
o God (-17), or
o the Holy Spirit ()
We see in this argument not just that the Holy Spirit is a member of the Godhead and is divine, but also the fact that He is the member of the Godhead that gave us the scriptures. One of the most important works of the Holy Spirit, one that we greatly benefit from today is His revelation and confirmation of scripture.
WHAT IS INSPIRATION?
We are told in -17, “All Scripture is inspired by God…” Most translations use the term "inspiration." Whenever the Bible talks about inspiration, what does this mean?
WHAT INSPIRATION IS NOT
What it doesn't mean is that the Spirit motivated them or gave them insight, such as in the example of Looking at a sunset “inspires me” to write a poem. There are times in scripture (many of the psalms) where David is "inspired" to write a psalm of praise to God because of something God did in his life, but this is not what the Bible means when it uses the term "inspiration." As we will see shortly, inspiration is not the best translation of the word, and using the word unfortunately brings along with it misunderstandings such as this one.
"Inspiration" also doesn’t mean that the Spirit gave them general truths or ideas that they, after receiving, interpreted and wrote down in their own words based on the common beliefs of the day. I have recently studied with a brother who taught this kind of idea to show that God used evolution to create. His argument was that God gave them the general truth that God is the Creator, but how God created is not really taught in scripture. What we really see in is the Spirit "inspiring" the writers to give "truth" that God is creator based on the popular beliefs of the time when they wrote. But this is not what God teaches about inspiration. God did not give them a general truth (He is Creator) and then give them the freedom to write down that truth based on the beliefs of their times:
Turn to : “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation…” ().
Peter teaches against this idea. The prophets, when they wrote, did NOT take what the Spirit gave them, then interpret it to fit the times. Peter says NO PROPHECY OF SCRIPTURE was given this way!
Peter then goes on in this text to define how the Spirit does work in revealing scripture:
“But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” -
From this text in 2 Peter, we learn a few things about what it means when we are told that scripture is from God:
They spoke from God. What they have to say is not merely from their own limited perspective. They are not the origin of the truth they speak; they are the channel. The truth is God's truth. Their meaning is God's meaning. Not only is what they spoke from God, but how they spoke it is controlled by the Holy Spirit. "Men, moved by the Holy Spirit, spoke from God." God did not simply reveal truth to the writers of Scripture and then depart in hopes that they might communicate it accurately. Peter says that in the very communicating of it they were carried by the Holy Spirit. The making of the Bible was not left to merely human skills of communication; the Holy Spirit himself carried the process to completion. The Spirit, using the personality, vocabulary, experiences, and hand of the writer, gave His word as He wanted it.
We see this also in :
“which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit…”
The words they (the Apostles) taught were the words of the Holy Spirit, not the ideas or general truths of the Holy Spirit, but the very words of God.
"When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit” ().
When the Holy Spirit "inspires" one to speak, it is actually the Holy Spirit doing the speaking. God is speaking or teaching us through these men. They are the channel through which he reveals the very words that He wants us to have.
Let's go back to . Here is how the ESV translates this verse:
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness - (ESV)
This translation, which is the literal translation of the Greek word, shows more clearly what scripture shows us about the Spirit’s work in giving scripture. This is what we have seen up to this point in how the Spirit of God give God's word to us. This text shows us that even though He may use the vocal chords or hand of a man to give His word, the words themselves are His. Men are only the channels that God uses to deliver His word. In a sense, they are the "mail carriers," delivering His word in the state how and when He wants it given.
Brethren, we need to make sure that when we are developing our "doctrine of inspiration" that we are going to the verses that God gives us about this topic and allowing Him to define to us how He does it! When we do this, we see that God is the source of each word of scripture. He doesn't just give general truths that men interpreted based on the beliefs of their day. The men that God used were His "pens" that He used to give His word. Don't allow the "intellectuals" who are bringing all of these new ideas about inspiration get in the way of what God says about inspiration. May God be true, and every man a liar if they teach differently from Him, even on this subject.
THE FIRST WRITTEN REVELATION
The first example we see in the Bible of God writing down His word is in .
"When He (YHWH) had finished speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God."
This, as far as we know, is the first time God had revelation written down. In this example, we see this revelation was written by the finger of God. Elsewhere in scripture, we are told what (better: who) this phrase, the ‘finger of God’, is talking about:
"But if I cast out demons by _the Spirit of God_, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” ()
"But if I cast out demons by _the finger of God_, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. ()
The Holy Spirit gave this law on the tablets, word for word, how He wanted it. It was given exactly as God gave it orally:
The Lord gave me the two tablets of stone written by the finger of God; and on them were all the words which the Lord had spoken with you at the mountain from the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly.
When Moses wrote these commandments in Exodus and Deuteronomy, he wrote them word for word how the Lord wanted them, how the Lord spoke (breathed) them. There is no evidence that God gave him liberty to write anything different, or that he merely wrote what he did based on common beliefs of the time. Word for word, they were from God. Many times within Moses writings we are told that Moses gave the Israelites the commands of the Lord. The giving of the Ten Commandments is a good illustration of how God gives scripture. He first spoke it to the people from Mt Sinai, the Spirit wrote it down onto the tablets, and Moses gave these commandments (among many others) word for word as God spoke them and wrote them.
We are told in scripture that many men had the Spirit and were spokesmen for God. I don’t have time to go through them all. I would continue through midnight if I did. Here is a sampling of them:
· Moses (; ). The people rejected and provoked the Spirit when they disobeyed the Commandments of Moses in the wilderness (, )
· David (; )
· The Prophets. The phrase, "thus says the Lord" is used over 400 times just in the writings of the prophets. The phrase, "the word of the Lord came to…" is used over 100 times. We are told that Elijah and Elisha (who were prophets) had the Spirit (; ). (also see ; )
· The Apostles. Jesus said that they would be given the Holy Spirit and led into all truth. (; ) They gave the truth that was revealed to them to us in God's written revelation so we also could have all the truth we need to be equipped for every good work. These men were inspired by God to reveal to us the gospel. They tell us the truth about what Jesus did in His ministry. They tell us the commands He gave and the miracles He performed. They tell us about His death for us and gave evidence to us of His resurrection. The Spirit's inspiration of these men is essential to our being able to come to a knowledge of these things and to have eternal life in Christ.
CONFIRMATION OF THE WORD SPOKEN/WRITTEN
Not only are we told that these men had the Spirit, the Holy made sure that He gave evidence that this was the case so we could know that they spoke as they were moved by the Spirit. He gave confirmation of His word in two ways: miracles (present confirmation) and fulfilled prophecy (future confirmation). Whenever men spoke from God, they either performed some kind of miraculous deed, such as:
· The signs Moses performed in Egypt and the wilderness (; );
· Elijah: raised the dead, parted the Jordan, called fire from Heaven, caused the rain to cease for 3 ½ years;
· Elisha: healed Naaman of leprosy, amongst many other miracles;
· Jesus proved He was speaking for God by His miracles (; );
· The Apostles confirmed the word through the signs that followed their words (see ; );
Or the word of God was confirmed by the prophecies that were given being fulfilled:
And if you say in your heart, 'How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?'-- 22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him. ()
· Moses’ prophecy of the Messiah/Prophet to come
· Daniel’s prophecy of the four kingdoms
· Isaiah’s prophecies of the Suffering Servant and His miraculous works
· David’s prophecy of the resurrection of the Messiah
· Joel’s prophecy of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit
· Jesus' prophecies about the destruction of Jerusalem, coming false teachers, and coming persecution for His Apostles and followers
The Implications of the Spirit's Work in Inspiration and Confirmation: Just think of the implications of all scripture being given to us through the Holy Spirit. Where whould we be without this work of the Holy Spirit? We would be in the dark without His work!
We as God 's people depend on the Holy Spirit each day in our lives. The work of the Holy Spirit is the reason why you can have direction from God's word. The work of the Holy Spirit is what shows us what we need to do to be pleasing to God and escape eternal damnation.