ISSUE: 2017, Volume 14, Issue 4
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MEN’S PENS 2 Pet. 1. 20-21
'No prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit’, 2 Pet. 1. 20-21 NKJV.
Previously we saw that the Bible is God’s complete, written revelation to us. It is 'God-breathed'; God is the source of the Bible. His word is perfect, and has the authority to tell us what to believe and how to live. This is the first aspect of inspiration.
In this study, we will consider the second aspect of inspiration and see how God used human beings to write down the scriptures.
The Bible contains writings from numerous different authors, addressed to diverse groups of people, written over many centuries. It includes a tremendous variety of subject matter, literary genres and writing styles, yet has an overall unifying theme and harmonious message. This unity and diversity is explained by the process of inspiration.
Peter says that Bible writers were ‘moved’ by the Holy Spirit. Elsewhere, this Greek word is translated ‘bear’ or ‘carry’, John 21. 18. In Acts chapter 27 verse 17 it is used of a sailing boat being ‘driven’ by the wind. The idea is that the Holy Spirit was the wind in the sails of the writers. Their hand was on the rudder, so to speak, using their own words and phrases, but the Spirit guided and influenced them; God’s breath breezed them along. The final result is writings which fully convey the style, feelings and intent of the human authors, and at the same time perfectly express the mind of God.
Some religions believe this is how they got their holy book, and, had He so desired, God could have used that method, dictating to a scribe, or engraving golden plates. He could have handed Adam a leather-bound, gold-leaf, red-letter, wide-margin, chain-reference Bible on the evening of Day 6. But He didn’t, because that was not the best way.
Imagine Adam opening his Bible to Genesis chapter 2 where he learns that he can eat, almost, any fruit, but he must be vegetarian; all well and good. But he reads on and discovers in Genesis chapter 9 that, actually, he can eat meat – any animal he fancies. But when he reaches Leviticus chapter 11, he finds that the seafood is off. He follows a restricted diet until he reads Acts 15, where everything is back on the menu again. It might be quite perplexing! (And the same confusion would exist for topics as varied as worship, washing and warfare!) God’s best way was to reveal truth ‘at various times and in various ways’, Heb. 1. 1 NKJV. He told Adam everything he needed to know. He told Moses everything the Israelites needed to know. The Lord Jesus told the disciples everything they needed to know. And He told Paul everything the body of Christ needs to know.
The Bible is a book for people. God wants to communicate with us in language we understand. Although some of the Bible is cold, hard, law, most of it is exciting stories, beautiful songs, vivid pictures, and personal letters.
Perhaps God could have written Proverbs and told us how to be wise, but He could hardly have written Ecclesiastes with His own hand! Ecclesiastes is the diary of a man who is out of fellowship with God. A holy God could not tell us that there is nothing better than to ‘eat, drink and be merry’, Eccles. 8. 15 NKJV. but when a sin-sick Solomon says this, we get the point!
God could and did write the words, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery’ with His own finger, but David’s brokenness in Psalm 51 touches our hearts in a way letters engraved in stone cannot.
God does not write prayers to Himself in the Epistles, but Paul’s expressions of thanksgiving encapsulate the response of a human soul overwhelmed by God’s grace.
In all these writings, the hand of man is easily discerned, but the breath of God is unmistakeable. No wonder the psalmist exclaims, ‘My heart stands in awe of Your word’, Ps. 119. 161.