Previous article in this series: January 1, 2014, p. 151.
Scripture is “the oracles of God.” This is the apostle Paul’s description of Scripture in. What this means is that Scripture is the Word of God. Scripture is not the word of man and the Word of God. Scripture is rather the Word of God and the Word of God alone. As the oracles of God, Scripture is infallible, inerrant, and authoritative over the individual believer and over the church as a whole.
That Scripture is the oracles of God has important implication for translations of Scripture. What the apostle teaches has a unique application to the original writings of the prophets and the apostles, what we refer to as the autographs. But what he teaches here also applies to faithful copies of the Scriptures and to faithful translations of the Scriptures into the languages spoken and understood by God’s people. The apostle was himself using a translation at the time that he penned Romans 3:2, the earliest of all Bible translations, the Septuagint. The Septuagint was the translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek, the language that was spoken the world over in the days of Jesus and the apostles. About that translation, as he quotes from that translation repeatedly in Romans 3 and throughout the Epistle to the Romans, Paul says that it is the oracles of God. Believers may say that about faithful translations into their own language—English-speaking Christians about the translation of Scripture into their own language. This may certainly be said about the King James Version, or the Authorized Version, of the Bible. It is the oracles of God, the very Word of God Himself. Let there be absolutely no doubt about that.
The Implications of the Truth That Scripture Is the Oracles of God
There are three significant implications of the great truth that Scripture is the oracles of God. First, the truth that Scripture is the oracles of God has the most significant implication with respect to the men who wrote the Scriptures. If the Scriptures are the oracles of God, the very Word of God, the men who wrote down the Scriptures were merely God’s instruments to make known His Word. What they wrote was not their own word. The thoughts that they expressed by means of those words were not their own thoughts. The whole doctrine of the divine inspiration of the Scriptures is implied in the truth that Scripture is the oracles of God. To be sure, the human writers of the Bible were not merely machines, robots, or computer keyboards on which God typed out His Word. Rather, the Holy Spirit used them so that they were active and conscious in the work of writing the Bible. And certainly the Holy Spirit used them as the men that they were, with all their own unique backgrounds, personalities, education, life experiences, and writing styles. Nevertheless, God used the human writers in such a way that what they wrote down was not their own word, but His Word and His Word alone—the oracles of God.
This is the miracle of Scripture! This explains the miracle! How is it possible that many different men, no fewer than forty different men, all of them weak, fallible, sinful human beings just like ourselves, could write down in many different books, chapters, and verses a writing that is not the word of man, but the Word of God—the oracles of God? How is it that so many different books, written by these different men, some of them kings and scholars, others of them lowly fishermen and shepherds, could contain not one contradiction among them, but all alike proclaim fundamentally the same message of God’s great salvation in Jesus Christ? How is it that men could write that book over a period of some 1,500 years and that book be one harmonious whole? How is it that that book could contain no errors or contradictions? The only answer is that this is a miracle, a stupendous miracle! This is a miracle as great as the miracle of the creation of the world in the beginning, or the miracle of the incarnation, the virgin birth, and the resurrection of Jesus, or the miracle of the resurrection of our dead bodies at the end of time when Jesus comes again. This is a work of God! That is clearly implied. That is clearly implied inasmuch as these oracles are the oracles “of God.”
In the second place, that the Scriptures are the oracles of God implies the authority, the absolute authority, of Scripture. Because Scripture is the oracles of God, the very Word of God, Scripture is authoritative. Its authority is the sovereign authority of God Himself. Its authority is the highest, the ultimate authority. Its authority is really the only authority that there is. The authority of Scripture is its authority over the faith, what we believe, and over all our behavior, how we are to live. The apostle recognizes the absolute authority of Scripture in this third chapter of his Epistle to the Romans. He appeals to Scripture over and over again in order to prove the truthfulness of his teachings. And he appeals to Scripture in order to demonstrate the error of those who oppose his teaching. Scripture settles every doctrinal dispute, distinguishes truth from error, and establishes that which is right, in distinction from that which is wrong. It does so because Scripture is the oracles of God.
In the third place, that Scripture is the oracles of God implies the trustworthiness of Scripture. What would it be like if Scripture was not the very Word of God, the oracles of God? Where then would we be left? We would be left wondering which parts of Scripture were true and which parts were not. We would be left wondering which parts are the word of men and which parts are the Word of God. That is destructive, utterly destructive, of the believer’s confidence in the Scriptures. But since Scripture is the oracles of God, the very Word of God, they can be and they must be trusted. We must and we can believe Scripture’s promises, receive its instruction, be comforted by its assurances, be corrected by its rebukes, and be motivated by its admonitions, warnings, and threatenings.
Honoring Scripture As the Oracles of God
Because the Scriptures are the oracles of God, we must honor them as the oracles of God. We honor them, first, by submitting ourselves to them. And then it does not matter who we are or what our social standing is, whether we are rich or poor, learned or unlearned, mighty or lowly, we are called to honor the Scriptures as the Word of God by submitting ourselves to the Scriptures. Since Scripture is the oracles of God, our attitude should be that of the child Samuel when God brought His word to him: “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth” (I Sam. 3:10). Do we submit to the Scriptures? Do we live antithetically over against the world, rather than as friends with the enemies of God? This is the life to which Scripture as the oracles of God calls us. Do we live for God and for the glory of His name, rather than for self, for riches, or for the abundance of the things of this earth? This is the calling that the Scriptures present to us as the oracles of God. Do we live peaceably in the church, loving and at all times seeking the good of the brother or the sister before self? This is the way in which Scripture as the oracles of God calls us to live. Do husbands love their wives, nourish, cherish, and provide for them, at the same time surrounding them with the assurances of their love for them? This is the way godly husbands are called to behave according to the Scriptures, which are the oracles of God. Do wives honor and submit to their husbands, rejecting the godlessness of the feminist movement that rebels against the headship and authority of the husband in marriage? This is the way believing wives are called to behave in the Scriptures, which are the oracles of God. Do the children and young people honor and obey their parents, their Christian school teachers, and all who are in authority over them for Christ’s sake? This is the will of God for the younger members of His covenant and church, as expressed in the Scriptures, which are the oracles of God.
Secondly, we honor the Scriptures as the oracles of God by diligently reading, studying, and discussing these Scriptures. If the Scriptures are the oracles of God, there are depths to the Scriptures that a lifetime of reading and studying will not exhaust. As the oracles of God, the Scriptures are set apart from every other book that has ever been written. It is the only book about which it can be said that it is the oracles of God. That ought to inspire in us a fervent desire to know its content, to become thoroughly acquainted with its content, and to understand its content. That ought to motivate us to study and discuss the Scriptures with fellow believers in a Bible study society in the church.
And third, we honor the Scriptures as the oracles of God, the very Word of God, by believing the message of the Scriptures and by believing on Jesus Christ, who is the Word of God. That is the heart of the oracles of God—the Word of God concerning His Son, Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul makes that plain a bit later in the third chapter of the Romans. The central message of Scripture consists in this: “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” ().
It was in this respect that the unbelieving Jews of Paul’s day refused to honor the Scriptures. They refused to believe in Jesus Christ promised and prophesied in the Scriptures. This is how many in our own day show their contempt for the Scriptures as the oracles of God. They reject Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior as He is revealed in the Scriptures.
We are called to honor the Scriptures as the oracles of God, the very Word of God. We are called to honor them by hearing them preached on the Lord’s Day, twice each Lord’s Day. We are called to teach them and to see that they are taught to our children in the catechism room. We are called to see to it that they are the basis for the instruction in our Christian day schools. We are called to study and discuss them in the Bible study societies. We are called to read them and meditate on them in our homes and families.
This is the honor that the Scriptures deserve because the Scriptures are the oracles of God, God’s very Word.