Tuesday, September 27, 2022

The Doctrine Of Scripture Series: Scripture Is The By-Product of Divine Inspiration


    Our last two posts have devoted time to understanding what is meant when we talk about "Divine Inspiration". We noted in the first post how Divine revelation is the source of inspiration, which readers can review at the following link here We then devoted time in the last post on how Christ's work in His incarnation is the focus of the inspiration of the Scriptures, which readers can review here As a final introductory note, our working definition of "inspiration" in the last two posts has been as follows: God’s revelation is put into written form by the Holy Spirit as He operates through the personalities and writing styles of the Biblical authors. Put another way, “revelation, put into writing, equals inspiration”. As we round out our series of posts on the doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture, we will focus today on how the Scriptures themselves are the by-product of inspiration.

The Writing of Scripture - The By-product of Inspiration.

    In this final point, I want to first define more in detail what we mean by inspiration, then explain why we need the inspired Scriptures. Let me repeat yet again a simple definition of inspiration: revelation, put into writing, equals inspiration. In 2 Peter 1:12-21, Peter has prepared us for these last remaining verses. It merits us illustrating what we mean by “Divine inspiration”, attempting to explain how it works, followed by a practical application of this doctrine.

A. Illustrating Divine Inspiration.

    Peter writes in 2 Peter 1:20-21 

“Understanding this first, that no prophecy of scripture is made by private interpretation. 21 For prophecy came not by the will of man at any time: but the holy men of God spoke, inspired by the Holy Ghost.”

    I think of those bicycles you see now that have little motors. On one of our main roads coming out of our city, there is a long and steep bridge. Over the years, I’ve watched bicyclists ride up and down on that bridge. Most people will walk their bikes up the bridge, due to its steepness, and due to what they are able to do in their own strength. The riders of those bikes, and the bikes themselves, may illustrate the Biblical authors, and their situations, giftings, abilities, and authorship. But now I’ve noticed what happens whenever some of those same bike riders have those little motors attached to those bikes. The bike riders are still the same – no different. They still have bikes, which they can pedal. Yet they zoom up and down that steep bridge, attaining speeds of up to 30 mph! How so? That little motor is aiding, enabling, moving upon the rider and his bicycle. That motor enables the rider to attain feats they could not otherwise accomplish. 

    So, it is with the Biblical authors in the Spirit’s work of Divine inspiration. He moves, works, enables the human authors of Scripture to produce written works without error, incapable of error, and authoritative for all time.

    Peter’s description of Divine inspiration is illustrative. In his day he would have witnessed sailing vessels on the sea of Galilee. Peter and his companions were often portrayed in simple little row boats, casting their nets for fish. They would row, and row, and row. But now, whenever they saw a boat with a sail, I can imagine their desiring to have a sail to get them across the Sea of Galilee. This imagery of wind filling a sail is what Peter uses to describe the act of Divine inspiration. The boat remained a boat. The sailors remained sailors. Yet, the wind in the sail enabled them to attain speeds they otherwise could not had achieved by mere rowing. Divine inspiration is the Spirit’s work of operating in and through the Biblical authors without divesting them of their personalities or writing styles. What resulted were documents free from error, and incapable of failure. They wrote as they did with natural pens, natural personalities, and natural situations. However, the Holy Spirit came alongside them, worked in them, through their personalities, and writing styles. The result? Supernatural documents. This is what makes the sixty-six books of the Bible unique.

B. What happened in Divine inspiration?

    I had mentioned at the beginning of this series on Divine inspiration that the doctrine  is found in two key tests in the New Testament. We’ve observed one of them – 2 Peter 1:19-21. Now we consider the second – 2 Timothy 3:15-17. Paul writes these words in 2 Timothy 3:15-17 

“and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.(ESV). 

    I chose the ESV translation due to its accurate rendering of the word we typically see translated “inspiration”. The underlying Greek word is “theopneustos”, a word crafted by Paul to describe God’s “outbreathing” of His words through the Biblical authors to produce the Scriptures. Just as a musician exhales to bring forth music from a woodwind instrument, God “exhaled” as-it-were through the writing styles, personalities, and words of the Biblical authors to bring forth Scripture.

    As I’ve stated already, revelation put into writing equals inspiration. We can define it. But can we explain it? Several minds, greater than my own, have attempted. Norman Geisler notes, 

“Inspiration is that mysterious process by which the Divine causality worked through the human prophets without destroying their individual personalities and styles to produce divinely authoritative and inerrant writings.” (A General Introduction to the Bible, pg 39).

    What is Geisler meaning here? To state it plainly, if God wanted sweeping narrative and history, he raised up a Moses, an Ezra, or a Luke. If God decided to convey His words through gripping poetry, he would work through the pen of a David or a Solomon. If God chose to foretell future events which had yet to occur, He would utilize the stately imagery of an Isaiah, the simple prose of a farmer named Amos, or the vivid imagination of an Ezekiel or a John. What if God decided to lay out His revelation of salvation in an airtight form of correspondence, complete with logic and exhortation to godliness? He would raise up a scholarly Paul or a zealous fisherman named Peter.

    Herman Bavinck notes this about inspiration, 

“Inspiration was always an action of God’s Spirit in the consciousness and was intended to guarantee the content of Scripture.” 

    B.B Warfield gives this clear explanation of what occurs in inspiration, 

“The Biblical writers do not conceive of the Scriptures as a human product breathed into by the Holy Spirit, and thus heightened in its qualities or endowed with new qualities; but as a Divine product, produced through the instrumentality of man.”

C. Applying the truth of Biblical inspiration.

    Look at 2 Timothy 3:16-17 again, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." (ESV)

    Why does it matter if the Bible is inspired? Divine inspiration is the only act that guarantees the Bible’s capability of carrying on its authority, its power to convert sinners and keep the saints. Notice….

*it is profitable for teaching, that tells me what is right. 

*it is profitable for reproof, that tells me that I need to get right.

*it is profitable for correction, that tells me when I am not right. 

*it is profitable for training in righteousness, that tells me how to remain right.

*then verse 17 reminds me that this quality about the Bible gives me the power I need to live right.


    As we have considered this important doctrine of Divine inspiration in these last three posts, we have looked at it from three important considerations:

1. Revelation is the source of inspiration. 
   2 Peter 1:12-15

2. Incarnation of the Son, the supreme focus 
    of inspiration. 2 Peter 1:16-18

3. Writing of Scripture, the by-product of 
    inspiration. 2 Peter 1:19-20

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