The Inspiration of the Scriptures: 1. Divine Authority

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Chapter 1 Divine Authority
We open the Bible. Its first words are necessarily either a revelation or an imposture, either God's word or man's guess claiming His authority. A middle ground here is impossible.
The first and in extent the greatest of all miracles is revealed. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” There is no specific date given. It is expressly indefinite. Many have confounded ver. 3 with ver. 1, some with feelings hostile, others friendly, to revelation. Both were inexcusably wrong, because both carelessly overlooked the scripture before their eyes. For this scripture, even were there no other confirmatory, affirms in ver. 1 the original creation of the universe, then in ver. 2 its chaotic condition. The earth was not created empty and waste when first called into being (Isa. 45:1818For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else. (Isaiah 45:18)). It may have become so often, if able geologists are heeded. It certainly was so immediately before the days of man's world began, which commenced, not with creating light, but with its activity after ruin and darkness. “And God said, Light be, and light was.”
Then ver. 2 does not describe God's creation like ver. 1, but a state of utter contrast with it, when total disorder ensued for the earth. Neither the one fact nor the other called for more than passing notice, as being physical, and as in no direct way the sphere of God's moral dealings with man. Yet was it of moment to have facts of deep interest briefly disclosed, which were entirely beyond the ken of man, lost in contending dreams of eternal matter in the West, and of emanations in the East, illusion and falsehood both of them into which evolution, the fashion of our day, no less surely entices unwary souls. Whatever of detail Gen. 1 furnishes is solely about the formation of the world as it was prepared for the human race; eventually for Christ the Man of God's counsels. It was no speculation of some “Hebrew Descartes” or Newton, but God's account of His own work by His servant and prophet Moses. It is worthy of God, deigning in love to communicate what man could not discover and ought to know.
Science is powerless to speak of the beginning of things. So the inductive philosophers own, ashamed as they may well be of all the cosmogonists, Egyptians, Phoenicians, Greeks, Orientals, or any others. There stands God's revelation, simple, majestic, and complete for His purpose, without even a rival throughout all ages, against which the pride of man can allege nothing but his own errors of haste and misapprehension. How could such a chapter have been written but by divine revelation? Search, ye men of science, ransack all your stores; scrutinize the reports and transactions of the most renowned societies. Did not your wisest own himself but as a child picking up a pebble here and there on the ocean shore? Did not he own reverently this inspired record of creation?
But is there not what some foolishly call a “second account” in Gen. 2? The first chapter reveals simply that which Elohim “created to make,” closing with the sabbath He blessed and hallowed (chap. 2: 1-3). Then follows from ver. 4 Jehovah Elohim presenting man, formed specially and in moral relationship to Himself, and so not merely as in chapter 1 the head of creation. Hence it is that here, only in chap. 2, we have the garden with every tree pleasant and good for food, and the tree of solemn import to humanity, life and responsibility; the last, a moral test applied to a condition of innocence; man exercising his lordship over all the lower creation, yet with no like helpmate; and then woman's peculiar formation out of man. These and more pertain to God as moral governor (Jehovah Elohim), and therefore demand as they have a new section of scripture.
How quickly the fall brought in death and ruin on man, an outcast from paradise! But grace revealed the Second man, the woman's Seed, to crush the old serpent, the tempter. Clearly then, far from being another and inconsistent narrative, Gen. 2:44These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, (Genesis 2:4) as a new subject begins the moral trial of Adam, and in it his wife too playing so grave a part, in that scene of paradise formed, no less than themselves, to give it best effect in His wisdom Who put man to the proof. Hence chapter 3 under the same divine title reveals the result, so glorifying to God, so humbling to the creature, yet a needed key to all that followed here below, with assured hope of the conqueror of Satan in a bruised Savior to be born of woman.
In all the Bible there is not, save in Christ's person and work, a fact so momentous as the fall, nor a revelation more essential than Gen. 2; 3 God alone could have given us the truth as there made known. It is monstrous to conceive the guilty pair adequate witnesses. Who then else but God?
Here it is the unadorned truth, still more profound morally than chapter i., in Christ revealing the grace of God to the Highest, God's glory in His person with man's ultimate deliverance, and thus of the utmost moment to the salvation, well-being, and happiness of the believer. All comes out in plain facts, such as a child could take in, yet involving principles truer and deeper than any ideas evolved by the most philosophic of mankind. Herein lies an essential difference between revealed truth, and all its rivals. Take Vedaism, Brahmanism, Buddhism, Lamaism, or aught else in India and the adjacent lands; take Confucianism, Taoism, Foism, in China; take Sabaism, Jovism, Fetichism ancient and modern: can anyone of these systems allege a single fact as their basis? The religion of the Bible, O. or N. Testament, Judaism or Christianity, rests on facts, on realities, not on mere ideas of man's mind.
Whether a partial dealing of a moral nature by law within a particular people, or the full world-wide revelation of grace and truth in the Lord Jesus Christ, God's word was the divine communication of immensely momentous facts. The related divinely inspired writings are precisely those which rationalists, claiming to be Christians, devote their efforts to dislocate, discredit, and destroy, like Pagan philosophers of old. Like fallen Adam, I am born and have lived an outcast from God. Revelation, God's revelation, His word, is the only possible way of making God known to me. Now rationalism has no more than Paganism or its philosophy any just sense of the fall, or of sin, or of God's remedy for it in Christ. Here in the earliest revelation we have the fact unmistakeably brought out in its relation to present government on the earth, with light sufficient for faith to higher and everlasting things, as we see in Abel, Enoch, &c.
Nor is it otherwise with the law any more than the promises. As the latter was no aspiration proceeding from the heart of the fathers by the Spirit, but an objective revelation made to Abram, Isaac, and Jacob; so still more manifestly was the giving of the law by Moses for the sons of Israel. Not the least detail was left to the genius of that great man: everything was presented and regulated by the commandment of Jehovah.
So it is in Christianity, wherein is the revelation to us by the Holy Spirit of what is wholly beyond man's eye, ear, and heart; in the written word is the unswerving standard as well as the richest means of communicating all. All is established on sure and infinite facts; for the Incarnation, the Ministry, the Atoning death, the Resurrection, and the Ascension, of the Lord Jesus are such realities. No doubt they may well exercise heart and mind, now that the believer's conscience is purged, and to the uttermost by the word and Spirit of God. Still they are facts, attested by divine testimony to God's glory through man and for man, to be made good also in man by faith and love, by experience and obedience, by life-service and worship. There can scarce be a stronger contrast than between law and gospel, the earthly calling and the heavenly. But this at least is common to them both, that their groundwork is one of facts, not mere thoughts of the mind; and these facts are communicated to us with the known certainty of God's mind and word, such as the Holy Spirit alone could give.
Hence we may observe there is no formal claim in the opening of the Bible. The great of this world may enter with a flourish of trumpets, naturally if not necessarily. Not so the divine record. Who could speak of creation but God? or tell it adequately in its relational light but Himself taking His relative name to His people? Who but He in both ways could fully let us know the cause, history, and consequences of the deluge? Who else, what led to the rise of nations, languages? or to the call of Abram and the fathers who followed of His chosen and separate people? Yet even here throughout we have “God said” and wrought; and so with Him as “Jehovah.” He is an enemy who denies its absolute truth and divine authority.
Then comes Exodus, where the redemption of His people appears first, with the bitter bondage and oppression that preceded and brought judgment on their enemies, and His dwelling in their midst that followed, with the law but not without the shadow of the good things to come. Then accordingly we have His name of relationship specially, explained. Here yet more abundantly “Jehovah said” and acted. But, either historically, or when nature is introduced, it is God as such, i.e. Elohim. No man or varying document has the least to do with this, but His own wisdom in the inspired word. The book must be a romance or imposture like the Koran, if it be not God through Moses. The peculiarities of it (such as reserving to chap. 30, where it even looks out of order, the altar of incense, the atonement-money, the holy anointing oil, and the holy incense for Jehovah) flow from the deep design of God, instead of the blunder of legends, or the incapacity of an editor, to which the imbecility of “higher criticism” rashly and ignorantly ascribes them. The repetitions, as of the sabbath, &c., which they regard as self-evidence of several scribes, are due to a like divine design; and they only learn and profit who bow to divine authority.
Leviticus is even more manifestly Jehovah speaking from first to last, with the least of history in it but this as manifestly by divine authority. It deals with access to Him, and hence begins with sacrifices and offerings, and priesthood. Thence it treats of unclean things and state; and the central truth of the Day of Atonement, and of blood reserved to God; then of evil relationships and holy ones; the feasts, &c.
Numbers is a book too varied for so brief a notice as the present; but treats it has the people's journeyings, and its characteristic moral facts are selected by the inspiring Spirit for God's permanent record, above all the wisdom of the writer or of any man at any time. The apostle in 1 Cor. 10 declares the typical character of the events recorded, for which God alone was competent, to say nothing of copious and special injunctions to Moses, to Aaron, and to both, or of the wondrous predictions Jehovah spoke through Balaam compelled to bless Israel.
Deuteronomy has not only its task of rehearsal in a way beyond human thought, but is anticipative of their possession of the land, and solemnly insists on obedience of Jehovah's word, and on a covenant distinct from that of Horeb. But we need not say more than express the horror which a believer unsophisticated by the spirit of the age must and ought to feel at the blasphemous denial of the N. T. testimony to Moses as the writer, and of its divine authority.
It would be too much to glance at every book, as we have at those which compose the Pentateuch. But all else in the O. T. as in the New has the same authority of God. Hence the O. T. scriptures are called as a whole by the apostle Paul (Rom. 3:22Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God. (Romans 3:2)) “the oracles of God;” as Moses is said by Stephen (Acts 7:3838This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us: (Acts 7:38)) to have received “living oracles” (not dead legends) to give unto God's people. And the Lord Jesus when risen said to the disciples, “These are the words which I spoke unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses and prophets and psalms concerning me” (Luke 24:4444And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. (Luke 24:44)). This covers the entire Hebrew O. T. as the Jews present it to us. And herein the Latin church has proved a faithless guardian by adding apocryphal Greek writings to that Canon, which even Jerome in his Prologus Galeatus to the Vulgate admits to be not properly included. So similar unfaithfulness was essayed in early days by reading publicly uninspired writings, and joining them, as an Appendix, to the copies of the Greek N. T. But even Rome did not commit itself to so gross an imposture as this last.
The great apostle in his First Epistle to Timothy (v. 18) quotes Deut. 25:44Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn. (Deuteronomy 25:4) and Luke 10:77And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the laborer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house. (Luke 10:7) as “the scripture.” He might have quoted Matt. 10:1010Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat. (Matthew 10:10) from one an apostle like himself; he was led of God to quote from one who was a prophet, not an apostle. For we are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets (Eph. 2:2020And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; (Ephesians 2:20)). This stamps Luke as no mere amanuensis expressing but as an inspired writer whom the apostle cites Paul's mind, according to the tradition of Eusebius, when writing in the Spirit. So 2 Peter 3:15, 1615And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:15‑16) shows us the apostle of the circumcision referring in this inspired document to Paul's Epistles as part of the scriptures. Thus we learn the unerring and far-seeing provision of allusion, which might to some seem casual, but the fruit of infinite wisdom, and weightier to faith than a world of human reasonings. Indeed the intrinsic character of the N. T. is so unequivocally self-evidencing, that only the pride of unbelief in Jew or Gentile can account for one who accepts the Old as divine hesitating about the New as no less. (To be continued, D.V.).