Saturday, April 18, 2020

The Word of God, Session 2

Today we continue our study on how the Word of God came to us by looking a little closer at the issue of inspiration.

Teaching Notes
That leads us to our next subject; which is inspiration. Obviously, one can have a revelation without it necessarily resulting in inspiration, but one cannot have inspiration without first having received a revelation. The word "inspired" literally means "God-breathed" or as Erickson puts it, "breathed into by the Holy Spirit". It is seen in 2Ti 3:16 where it says that "All Scripture is inspired by God." 

The inspiration spoken of here is more than just that of an artist or a musician being inspired to create something. Instead, it is a unique event in which God speaks words to man and man in turn, writes those words down. When speaking of these words as contained in the Bible, Peter said in 2Pe 1:16-21 that the Bible is the "prophetic word made more sure". In the context of that statement, Peter had just stated that even though he and the others who were him had seen Christ transfigured before them on the mountain (Mat 17:2-5); their testimony was not to be compared to the testimony of the Bible itself. In other words, the Bible, by its own claim to inspiration, is always the superior witness.

A. Views of Inspiration

There are several views as to inspiration that we are going to briefly look at. 

1. First, there is the natural view which totally denies any supernatural element in the process. Those who hold this view merely see the Bible as a great work of art on the level of Shakespeare or any other great artist. 

2. A second view is that of partial inspiration which believes that while not all of the Scriptures are inspired, some are. 

3. The third view is what is called conceptual inspiration. In this view, it's not necessarily the words themselves that are inspired, but the concept behind those words, i.e. the overall message. 

4. A fourth view is what some would call encounter inspiration. In other words, the Bible "becomes" inspired to each individual reader as they "encounter" perceived truth. 

5. And finally, there is the correct view which is called plenary verbal inspiration.

a. In this view, not only is the message of the Bible inspired, but the very words of that message are inspired. 

b. The word "plenary" simply means "full" or "all".

c. The word "verbal" actually means "by means of words" or "word for word". Jesus said in Luk 16:17 "And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail." That same language is found in Mat 5:18 where it says, "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." The word for "tittle" in this verse is the Hebrew word iota and the word for "stroke" is the Hebrew word keraia. The iota, or jot as it is sometimes called, refers to the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet which is a small appendage that differentiates two similar letters. In our English language, it would almost be the equivalent of what we would call the dotting of an "I" and the crossing of a "T".

Now, some would argue that verbal inspiration of necessity requires dictation. Grudem is quick to point out that even though the words in the Bible are indeed God's words, we are talking more about the "result" than the actual words themselves. He further points out that God actually used a "wide variety of processes" to bring about the desired "result".

However, that is not to say that dictation is not to be found in Scripture. It is obvious from the text at times that the author did indeed pen the words verbatim as they were spoken to him. For example in Rev 2:1 it says, "Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;" It's obvious from the text that the Apostle John was told emphatically to write exactly what the angel said to write. In the end, it means that God made sure that the human personalities and the individual writing styles of each were under the oversite of God and He directed each of them to write exactly what He wanted them to write. Therefore, plenary verbal inspiration simply means that all of the words in the Bible are God-breathed.

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