...

The Scriptures are the Word of God. This expression implies three things. In the first place, the Bible is the Word of God because it was spoken by God. All Scripture, we believe, was given by inspiration of God. The Bible is the only book which can trace its origin directly to the Lord. In the second place, the Bible is the Word of God because it is the infallible record of the Word of God. I now refer to God’s Word as a word which God alone can speak and as He alone can speak it. When God speaks, as God, He speaks efficaciously, irresistibly, with almighty power. “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth …. For He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast”—Psalm 33:6-9. “Wherefore He saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light”—Eph. 5:14. This latter passage speaks of a divine speaking which causes the sleeping to awake and the dead to arise. It is therefore beyond all doubt that the Scripture speak of a Word of God in the Creative, efficacious sense of the word. Man can only speak about, concerning the things, brings them forth. The Lord is not determined in His speaking by the things; the things are determined by His speaking. Hence, we can speak of the Bible as the Word of God because it is the infallible record of this creative, irresistible Word of the Lord. In the third place, the Bible is the Word of God because it is the medium through which God continues to speak His almighty, efficacious word. God’s people experience the Scriptures as the living Word of God. Why? Because the Lord continues to speak His own powerful word through the Bible. The Lord continues to speak the Scriptures in the hearts of His people. Consequently the Bible is full of life for the child of God and he experiences its truths as living truths. If this were not true, how could the Word of God be a lamp before our feet and a light upon our path, actually enlightening our pathway and giving us comfort in an otherwise hopeless world? Yea, it is exactly this inner, powerful testimony of the Holy Spirit which the child of God experiences in connection with the Scriptures which causes him to cling unto those Scriptures regardless of all the evil attacks of an evil world upon their infallible character. Hence, also in this sense we can speak of the Bible as the Word of God. However, in this article we refer primarily to the Bible as the Word of God in the sense that it is God’s own inspired, infallible Word.

That the Bible is the inspired Word of God is substantiated, first of all, by the Scriptures themselves. There is, in the first place, the testimony of our Lord Jesus Christ. He surely regarded the scriptures (of course, the Old Testament) as the infallible Word of God. This is of the utmost importance. For Christ is Immanuel, God with us, and therefore the living God Himself. When Jesus therefore quotes from the Old Testament and recognizes the authority of those Scriptures it is God Himself Who quotes from them and sets His stamp of approval upon their authenticity. In those divine Scriptures Christ, for example, found the entire program for His life (His suffering, death, resurrection, and glorification). “Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with Child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us”—Matt. 1:22, 23. And again, “And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called My son.”—Matt. 2:15. And this: “And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the wav of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: The people which sat in darkness saw great light: and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death, light is sprung up.”—Matt. 4:13-16.

And finally: “When the even was come, they brought unto Him many that were possessed with devils: and He cast out the spirits with His word, and healed all that were sick: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.”—Matt. 8: 16-17. The Bible abounds in passages of this nature, as the following: Matt. 12:15-21; 21:4, 5; John 13:18; Matt. 26:31; 27:35; John 19:36, 37. Moreover, Christ the Lord of His church, testified of the Scriptures in such a way that it is beyond all doubt that He maintained those Scriptures as the Word of God. Those Scriptures were and are His own word, are they not? He Himself spoke them through the prophets whom He inspired through His Spirit. Hence, He quotes them as having absolute authority. Three times He answers the devil with a quotation from the Old Testament, a literal quotation. That written word, therefore, has authority, does not tolerate contradiction, has “the last say”. Even the devil does not dare to contradict Christ’s quotations from the Old Testament. How could the written word have such authority if it were not the infallible word of God? Of these Old Testament Scriptures, called the “Law and the Prophets” in the Bible, we read in Matt. 5:17-19: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. 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. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” And in Luke 24:44 we read: “And He said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning Me.” Unto the unbelieving Jews Jesus declares in John 5:39: “Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me.” And He identifies the written word of Moses with His own word when He speaks unto them in verses 45-47: “Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed Me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe My words?” Christ, therefore, identifies His words with the words of Moses and thereby confirms the authenticity of the words of the lawgiver of the old dispensation.

That the Bible is the inspired Word of God is evident, in the second place, from the fact that everywhere in the Scriptures God or Christ or the Spirit of the Lord appears as the speaking subject. How often do we not read in the writings of the Pentateuch: “And the Lord spake unto Moses.”! Over and over again the expression occurs in the Old Testament: “Thus saith the Lord.”

Thirdly, as far as the New Testament is concerned, we would point to the fact that several passages emphasize the truth that the apostles spoke through divine inspiration. Thus we read in John 16:12, 13: “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will shew you things to come.” And in John 14:26 we read: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, Whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” In Rev. 1:1 and Rev. 22:6 we read: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to shew unto His servant things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by His angel unto His servant John. . . . And He said unto Me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to shew His servants the things which must shortly be done.” In addition to these passages are the various salutations by which the apostles introduce themselves to the churches, always emphasizing the truth that they speak not of themselves but by the will of God. And in 2 Tim. 3:16 and 2 Pet. 1:19-21 we read: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. … We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. For 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.”

That the Bible is the inspired Word of God is not only substantiated, however, by the objective testimony of the Scriptures itself, but also, subjectively, by the testimony of the Holy Spirit within our hearts. This lies in the very nature of the case. The Spirit within us will surely verify His own work in the Bible. He will certainly confirm His own testimony. And this He does, also, by causing us to experience the truths of the Word of God as living realities. The testimony of Holy Writ, as for example in connection with our natural depravity, our hatred of God and the neighbor, our own utter helplessness to save ourselves, the only possibility of salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ, our Lord, and the complete folly of another way of salvation, is confirmed by the Spirit of Christ Jesus within our hearts. And let us not forget that the Holy Scriptures, also in this respect, are wholly unique. The Bible alone speaks this language of the natural man, of you and of me. Either God is a liar or man is a liar. And the Church experiences within her heart the living reality of the Word of God, through the Spirit of Christ Jesus, her Lord.

Hence, we believe in divine inspiration. What is divine inspiration? Divine inspiration is that work of God whereby He moved and illumined holy men to write His Word. We must not confuse inspiration with dictation. Also a stenographer writes only that which her employer would have her write. However, such a stenographer is merely passive. She has no personal interest in the dictation. She is paid for her work and is only interested in the producing of a perfect copy. In the work of divine inspiration, however, holy men were moved and illumined. Indeed, they wrote only that which the Lord would have them write. God is the primary author. But the apostles and prophets are the secondary authors. And as such they were moved. They themselves were heart and soul in their work. And, although inspired and illumined by the Lord, each secondary author wrote according to his own character and peculiar adaptation. John wrote as John and Jeremiah as Jeremiah. This we believe to be divine inspiration, God writing His will through the instrumentality of holy men.

It should not be difficult to understand the necessity of this truth of divine inspiration. Some would deny that all of Scripture must be regarded as divinely inspired. They declare that we have the Word of God in the Bible and that therefore the whole of Holy Writ is not the inspired Word of God. First of all, however, if this were true, who then would determine what is or is not the Word of God? Who will separate the word of man from the Word of the Lord? Then we could not know of any particular passage of Holy Writ whether it is the Word of God. Personal assurance and certainty would become impossible. Secondly, God could surely not entrust His Word to the imagination of mortal men. In all reverence, He could not take that “chance”. Would passages such as Ps. 137, Eph. 1, and Rom. 9 ever have been written if the matter of writing the Word of God had been left to mortal man? In support of this fear all we need do is point to the conflict which has been raging within the church of God throughout the ages. Throughout history the truth of the sovereignty of God and the utter depravity of man has been attacked. Are not the Three Points a striking illustration of this fact? What, think ye, would have been the result if the Lord had entrusted the writing of His will to man, yea, His church? Thirdly, the doctrine of divine inspiration is necessary because God alone can reveal hope and life, etc., in the midst of our world of death and despair. Salvation and the glorious renewal of all things in heavenly glory are truths which could never enter into the heart of man. We all like sheep have gone astray and we all have gone our own way, but to return into the fellowship and communion of God is humanly impossible. The Scriptures, as the revelation of God as the God of our salvation in Christ Jesus, our Lord, could never have been delivered unto us except by the living God Himself.

We distinguish between “plenary” and “organic” inspiration. This distinction is important. The word “plenary” means: full, complete, entire. This implies, in the first place, that all of Scripture is inspired. All of the writings of the apostles and the prophets, in every detail (we, of course, no longer have the original manuscripts), are the inspired word of God. Plenary inspiration also implies, however, that Scripture is the complete revelation of the will of God as the God of our salvation. To be sure, the Bible is no dictionary. It does not tell us what we may or may not eat, what we must or must not put on, etc. It is spiritual, ethical. The miserable and constantly reappearing questions, such as: What may or may we not do, which moving pictures may we or may we not see, will be answered automatically if only our heart is right and the love of God dwells within our hearts. The Scriptures reveal unto us all we need know as far as our salvation and spiritual calling in the midst of the world are concerned.

We also believe, however, in organic inspiration. This implies, in the first place, that Scripture itself is an organic whole. It is characterized by one central thought: God’s revelation in Christ. Christ is the chief cornerstone, Eph. 1:20-22. In Him all things, in heaven and on earth, will be united in heavenly glory, Eph. 1:9-10. All things are related to Him. In and through Him the elect obtain salvation and are heirs of everlasting life. In relation to Him the ungodly stumble unto their eternal damnation, unto which they have been appointed, 1 Pet. 2:8. Organic inspiration also implies, however, that in the writing of the Scriptures the writers occupy their own divinely ordained place. Indeed, we must not speak of the “divine” and “human” factor. It is not God and man who write the Bible. It is God who writes His Word through man. Yet, in the writing of the Word of God each writer occupies his own place in this divine scheme. God causes each writer to be born with his own peculiar character, gifts, and talents, according to the place he occupies in the divine scheme of the writing of His Word. Only Jeremiah can write as Jeremiah, etc. God calls each writer out of darkness into His marvelous light. God causes each writer to experience in his own life the things he is ordained to write. Then we can understand that it was particularly Peter who could exhort the Church to take heed that they stand lest they fall. Did not he thrice deny his Lord when he stood in his own strength? And the apostle Paul surely knew whereof he spake when he declared that our present light affliction which is but for a moment works for us an exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Of all the apostles, he surely was acquainted with affliction and suffering for the cause of Christ. And finally, it is God who inspires them by His Holy Spirit, moves and illumines them, so that they reveal unto us the full and complete will of God as the God of our salvation in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

As far as the content of the Bible is concerned, it is the revelation of God as the God of our salvation in Christ Jesus. It is this, first of all, in distinction from “nature”. This does not deny the relation between “nature” and Holy Writ. The former is surely adapted to the former, serves the latter. Creation is a symbol of the heavenly renewal of all things. The sun speaks of the sun of righteousness. The seed which only in the way of death produces its fruit speaks to us of the good-pleasure of God whereby He wills to call life out of death. The world of color, of plants, and of the animals, etc. speaks a symbolic language. And this is due to the fact that the Lord created the earthy a symbol of the heavenly. Hence, “nature” is adapted to and serves the revelation of God in Christ in His Holy Word. However, this language of the works of God’s hands we understand only in connection with and through the Holy Scriptures. This world is the revelation of the wrath of God and speaks of death. That God will erect His eternal kingdom out of this death we know, not from “nature” apart from the Scriptures, but only through the Word of God. The Bible, therefore, reveals unto us God’s salvation in Christ Jesus. Consequently, as far as the reprobate wicked are concerned, the Word of God reveals the utter and complete nature and character of sin. Sin not only rejects the living God. This Adam did in Paradise. But sin also rejects the living God when revealed as the God of salvation. To reject the living God also in His revelation as the only possibility of salvation signifies that man’s love of sin and his hatred of the living God is complete. To the godly, however, the Scriptures speak of the counsel of divine redemption. This salvation is bestowed upon them only in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. Moreover, this redemption must be understood in connection with all things. According to Eph. 1:9-10 it was the eternal wisdom and counsel to gather together in one, namely Christ Jesus, all things in heaven and on earth. This, we understand, was the eternal wisdom and counsel of the Lord. From the very beginning, therefore, even before the fall of Adam, it was the purpose and also the operation of God to realize His eternal kingdom in Christ Jesus. The Scriptures know of only one counsel and plan of God. The “Common Grace Interim”, which would ascribe a special significance to this earthly apart from the heavenly, is surely foreign to Holy Writ. All things, including the fall of Adam and sin, are instruments in the hands of the Lord unto the realization of His eternal kingdom and covenant in heavenly glory. And all this is presented in the Scriptures as the work of the alone sovereign God who worketh all things according to the counsel of His sovereign will.

What, then, should be our attitude toward Holy Writ? The answer is plain. The Bible must be to us the authoritative Word of God. We cannot and may not be neutral here. To assume an attitude of higher criticism is surely the height of conceit. The Bible is the Word of God. We do not stand above it but it stands above us. It speaks to us with divine authority. Let us therefore submit to it. Prayerfully. Let us never question the Word of God but embrace its truths and teachings. And let us, above all, make it the object of all our study and meditation. Sad to say, this cannot be said of our rising generation. The desire to study the Word of God does not seem to characterize the young people of the present day. May we take inventory of ourselves and, wherever needed, mend our ways. May the Bible be a lamp before our feet and a light upon our path. May the Word of God of 2 Tim. 3:17 be applicable to our young men and women: “That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”