The Inspiration of the Scriptures: 2. Apostolic Authority

 •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 9
Chapter 2 Apostolic Authority
In ordinary thoughts and discussion on inspiration it is not always remembered that the apostle claims it authoritatively for “every scripture.” This goes far beyond what men uttered from God, moved or borne along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:2121For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (2 Peter 1:21)). For we are taught, not only what the Holy Spirit gave by His living instruments, but that what is written by Him abides now of at least equal divine authority. It is painful to see the readiness of any Christian to allow the compatibility of this divine power with historical or any other inaccuracies, natural enough to man's spirit. But the apostle Paul in the text before us leaves no room for evasion or uncertainty. “Every scripture” is either assumed, as some argue, or asserted as others believe, to be God-inspired. Does He fail to exclude verbal errors? Is He capable of historical or any other inaccuracies?
The imputation really leaves God out, as every measure of skepticism does. It dwells on human infirmity and ignorance, which no believer ought for a moment to forget. But God's inspiration of “every scripture” gives to faith the certainty that no such inaccuracies attach to the written word as it came from Him; and this is all that plenary inspiration means. It in no way excludes mistakes in transcription, translation, or interpretation. But it is an abuse of language, calculated to deceive the simple and gratify the enemy, if one allow divine plenary inspiration in word and then annul it in deed. For as God cannot lie, so He does not pledge His inspiration so as to sanction errors ever so small. He used men of God as the vehicle for carrying out His purpose in giving His word; He employed their mind and heart as well as their language and style; but He communicated His own wisdom in fulfillment of His design beyond the measure of the instrument, and in absolute exclusion of mistake.
For any then to contend that plenary inspiration admits of “leaving” inspired men to themselves in any respect is really to leave out God, and to blow hot and cold in the same breath. It is openly and absolutely to contradict the apostolic canon here laid down. Not only were the writers moved by the Holy Spirit, but “every scripture is God-inspired.” Scripture is no mere accident, nor simply a providential arrangement, where blemishes may naturally be. If God's purpose intended to give us His word, the Holy Spirit wrought to effectuate it in a wisdom, power, order, and end which bespoke Himself. One can understand unbelief blind even to the grace and the truth which came through Jesus Christ, and seeing only discrepancies and blunders in the Gospels, where spiritual intelligence finds the deepest demonstration of the divine mind which produced a perfect result to Christ's glory before the eyes of faith. How strange and distressing that any who hear Christ's word and believe Him Who sent the Lord fail to perceive that, of all theories, none is less satisfactory, tenable, or reverent! For is it not that the Holy Spirit Who inspired the evangelists recalled facts and words imperfectly to their remembrance, and stamped misleading memoirs with the authority of God's word? It is the more inexplicable that there should be no less than a divine Person for such compilations, supposed to be mutually inconsistent as well as defective in small points!
Here is not the place to show, not only how baseless is this unbelief, but the divinely admirable truth which the Holy Spirit set out in these inspired accounts of our Lord as everywhere else in the Bible. It would demand volumes and can be found by those who seriously inquire. But such speculations ought never to have been entertained for a moment. Their source is evil, though good men be ensnared by them. “Every scripture is God-inspired.” We are entitled as believers to set one's seal to it that He is true; so is His word. We are bound in simple faith to deny errors or discrepancies in scripture as He wrote it. We may not be able to answer every objection, or to clear up every difficulty which ingenious ill-will or even weakness may muster; for this depends on our intelligence, which may be small. But if we believe the apostle's deliverance on the Bible to be “the commandment of the Lord” (as he claims generally and for smaller things in 1 Cor. 14), we are warranted to rest in the peaceful certainty that “every scripture is inspired of God.”
So our Lord acted with friend or foe. So He taught His own, as He had confronted the great enemy. “It is written” was the conclusive answer to temptation and to question; and if scripture were perverted, “It is written again” is the short and best refutation. What an example for us, so ready to trust in our dialectic skill of defense or in dissecting an adversary's ignorance and error? The simplest believer can reckon on the word and Spirit of God. This honors Him and His word, and is for us the humblest, holiest, and safest ground.
In vain then do men argue that there are many things in the scriptures which the writers might have known, and probably did know, by ordinary means; that for some things they must have been supernaturally endowed; and that other things again required nothing less than direct revelation. The aim of this is unconsciously to lower scripture, and bring as much as possible within man's capacity. Now no believer need question God's use of means, if He pleases, or rising above them if for His glory. But “Every scripture is inspired of God” settles all questions. We have there wicked men's hypocritical words, and their rebellious ones; we have even Satan's temptations and his accusations in scripture; but “every scripture is inspired.” To present the least fact, to record the simplest word in scripture, was as truly of God's inspiration, as to reveal “the mystery” or to disclose the future glory of heaven and earth. Documents or none, the insertion in scripture was God-inspired: else the apostolic rule were infringed. But as our Lord said (John 10:3535If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; (John 10:35)), “the scripture cannot be broken.”
As Jehovah magnified His saying above all His name, so did our Lord take His stand on the written word, the scriptures, as the most authoritative of all testimonies. All scripture, every part of it even, is God-inspired for permanence, and the true end of controversy for those that believe; while such as believe not must learn their sin and folly in the judgment. The question is in no way, whether the writer knew or did not know what they wrote (for both are found abundantly in scripture), but whether they were inspired of God to write it. And “every scripture” is so inspired. This alone makes it God's word, not its known truth or usefulness, but His inspiring it; and this we have in every scripture. Some writers may be sublime and others simple; some may be pathetic and others severe; but all are God-inspired; and the plain proof is that they are part of the scriptures. In the N. T. we have differences as wide as sever the Epistle of James from those of Paul, and the Gospel of Mark from that of John. But inspired they are equally, as their writings are part of the scriptures. Inspiration of God is a fact, and does not admit of varying degrees.
It is quite within the power of the Holy Spirit in giving God's word to adopt the style of each individual writer. But no effort on a writer's part could make his words to be God's. Even before the adversary the Lord told the twelve to have no anxiety how or what to speak, for in the hour of need it should be given. “For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you” (Matt. 10:2020For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. (Matthew 10:20)). How much more was that divine energy wanted and given, when not their vindication was in question, but the communication of God's mind and will for His own and forever? Indeed it is no more than the certain fact; for every scripture is God-inspired.
Speculation into the “how” of inspiration is a prying into what is not revealed, and therefore unwise and unbecoming. We are not told how God inspired the writers of the scriptures. It is probable that none could know save those who were so energized. Theories “mechanical” or “dynamical,” so called, are out of place and explain nothing. As 1 Cor. 2 maintains the principle, the necessity, and the fact of Spirit-taught words, so 2 Tim. 3:1616All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (2 Timothy 3:16) speaks, not of the revelations before the mind only, but of “scripture;” and decides for it as inspired of God. This is the all-important truth conveyed. It is God Himself in scripture removing all doubt about scripture, and even about every part of it. One can conceive no other communication more distinct or conclusive. The language is as plain as its aim is spiritually momentous, and its intimation is of the utmost practical interest and value. (To be continued, D.V.)