Category: Scripture, Word: INSPIRATION
June 26, 2015 | by: Kendell Easley, prepared by Dave Maniquis | 0 Comments
Posted in: 52 Words
Without a right understanding of the nature of the Bible, the church will cease to exist. Unless God has used His voice understandably, there is no way to know whether Christianity is true. For good reason the word “Word” is applied both to written and speech communication as well as to Jesus Christ, God’s personal revelation. “In the beginning was the Word” (Jn 1:1).
Without right interpretation of the Bible, God’s voice becomes so muddled that evil persons can manipulate it for evil ends. Even the best of interpreters may confess uncertainty for certain difficult tests. Of course, the question of who has the right to interpret the Bible’s message has provoked many a discussion and debate. One factor separating Roman Catholicism from other branches of Christendom is its claim to provide the right interpretation of the sacred text, to the exclusion of all who differ. Protestant interpretation has sadly suffered from many, often-contradictory voices that claim, “Thus saith the Lord.”
Yes not all is bleak. During the past five centuries, the evangelical consensus about the nature of the Bible has been challenged but not destroyed. Multiplied millions around the world believe the Scripture is the true Word of God. Further, the classic understanding of the main message of the Bible—that which is necessary for the soul’s salvation and for safely arriving in the Lord’s presence—remains clear. The six studies in this section explore terms related to Scripture that need urgent attention by twenty-first-century followers of Jesus Christ.
All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
DEFINITION: Biblical inspiration refers to the work of the Holy Spirit by which He produced the words of the entire Bible, using the personality and literary skill of its human authors, so that the resultant written text is God’s authoritative Word to mankind.
Many works of literature, music, and art have been called inspired, meaning that the author was brilliant. The effect of such work on others is inspiring (moving or inspirational). When Christians refer to the Bible as inspired, they really mean something else, although no doubt the authors of Scripture were brilliant and their work is moving indeed. Biblical inspiration involved both the processes by which Scripture was produced and the end product.
“Inspiration” comes from a Latin term meaning “to breath in,” referring to God’s Spirit at working the lives of the authors of the Bible. God used a variety of means to reveal Himself to these writers. Moses heard from God directly on Mt. Sinai (Ex 20:1). The Lord said to Isaiah, “I have put My words in your mouth” (Is 51:16). Daniel and others saw visions from God (Dn 7:1). Jesus promised His official ambassadors, the apostles, that the Spirt would guide them into all truth (Jn 16:13). One apostle described the process like this: “no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, moved by the Holy Spirit, men spoke from God” (2 Pt 1:21). Inspiration also included such ordinary things as historical research. Luke, for example, introduced his Gospel with the note that he had “carefully investigated everything from the very first” (Lk 1:3).
Thus, on one hand, we refer to the inspired writers of Scripture. On the other hand, however, stands the inspired writing itself: Scripture, the end result. One reason for believing this distinction comes from noting the words “inspired by God” in 2 Timothy 3:16 cited above. The term in the original is theopneustos, meaning “breathed out by God.” The Scriptures proceed directly from God’s inner self, just as the expulsion of human breath comes from within one’s body. The Scriptures could not be more divine if they had been dropped down from God’s throne engraved on granite pages. Scriptures are therefore rightly called the Word of God. Careful students of the Bible’s inspiration refer to “verbal, plenary inspiration.” The term “verbal” refers to the very words of the sacred text, for God not only inspired the ideas in the Bible but also the exact words required to express the message. The term “plenary” means full. Every bit of Scripture is equally inspired. We do not have the luxury of accepting some parts of the Bible as more inspired than others.
Contemporary interpreters of Scripture, therefore, are never inspired in the sense that the original authors were. Yet we certainly may ask that the same Spirit will illumine both the message of Scripture and our own minds to understand the meaning of the inspired text.
REFLECTION: Why believe that the Bible itself (in addition to the Bible writers) is inspired? What is the difference between inspiration and illumination? Have you every prayed for illumination?
PRAYER: Spirt of God, You worked in the lives of such persons as Moses, Isaiah, and Paul to bring Your very Word to the World. Thank You for the inspired Word, now available to me. I ask for the same Spirit to illumine me this day to understand the divine message. Amen.
Dave Maniquis is a Teaching Elder at Restoration Church. He holds a BA in History from Rutgers University and an MA in Biblical Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary. He enjoyed a 23-year career in the U.S. Government, working and traveling extensively in Western and Eastern Europe. He has been a Christian for most of his adult life and has been involved in church planting, overseas as well as here in Port Orange, teaching the Bible and speaking into others’ lives with the Gospel. He is married to Maureen and they have two wonderful sons, Dylan and Evan.