A GOD-BREATHED BOOK

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

What is more refreshing or invigorating than to step out into the garden first thing on a summer’s morning? Hardly a soul is about. The dew lies thickly on the blades of grass and droplets sparkle on the plants. The air is fresh and cool. At the top of a tree, a blackbird sings its tiny heart out, a dog barks in the distance. The flowers stretch upwards on their stalks, opening their petals in a display of glorious colours. The believer joins in chorus with the blackbird, if only inwardly.

Heaven above is softer blue,
Earth around is sweeter green;
Something lives in every hue
Christless eyes have never seen:
Birds with gladder songs o’erflow,
Flowers with deeper beauties shine,
Since I know, as now I know,
I am His and He is mine.

Whilst the whole of creation cries out daily in praise to God, only men remain silent. They who more than any have reason to be thankful to God fail to recognise Him. God manifests Himself as Creator in all that He has made, around us, but also within us. The believer rejoices on recognising the revelation of God in creation. To those still in unbelief, creation indicates a breach with God before whom we are all born as guilty sinners. The godless man strives energetically to deny his Creator. Isaiah laments over Israel,
“The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.” (Isaiah 1:3)

That which creation recognises, sinful men deny. This revelatory common grace of God, ‘common’ because it touches all men, condemns all, for we all without exception ought with all creation to praise our Maker but by nature do not do so.

In an act of special grace, God has revealed Himself in the Bible as the Inspirer. God steps into our world, as it were from outside. Special revelation is not intrinsic to creation. However, things were not like this at the beginning before sin entered. This would not have been how God entered our consciousness before the fall. The present dualistic nature of revelation and of grace, common and special, will only disappear when in glory our consciousness is fully renewed. In our sinless Saviour, there was no such distinction. That which is today supernatural knowledge will one day be natural to us. In the place of our present incomplete understanding will come a  seeing ‘face to face’.

“…whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” (1 Corinthians 13:8-10)

All one work of God’s grace towards sinners

We will be touched by Scripture effectively only when we recognise that a breach exists between God and all mankind. We reach for Scripture in earnest when we realise all other channels to God have been stopped up and that there is no other route to Him. We cannot climb over the wall and enter in by another way. Only when we see that knowledge of God does not come to us along purely natural channels, will it dawn upon our souls that something more is needed. Then, we take down our Bible. Only when we recognise that we are cut off from a knowledge of God, once natural to mankind, will we be disposed to accept the divine witness in Scripture.

The Bible is a book for sinners. Driven by the Holy Spirit, as we are touched by Scripture, a deep sense of sin and alienation from God will intensify and incline us to seek salvation in Christ Jesus. The more powerfully this inward conviction of being a sinner is upon us, the more ready we shall be to accept the Scriptures. The very presence of the Bible tells us the world has sinners in it. Those who refuse the testimony of Scripture will also refuse Christ and thus be lost. This work of God’s Spirit as to the authenticity and veracity of Scripture can always be traced to the starting point of a conviction of sin. Equally, the degree of certainty with respect to the divine origin of Scripture runs parallel with our sense of being sinners in need of God’s grace.

Knowledge of God has gone out from Him, first breathed into the minds of His chosen instruments, who then, being carried along by God’s Spirit, infallibly recorded this same knowledge in writing for the rest of mankind. God then gives assurance to those reading that these words are indeed from Him.

The content and the eventual form as the written words of Scripture both spring from a special work of God’s grace.

When speaking of inspiration we may distinguish between the in-breathing of the content of the revelation into the mind of the individual writer and the inspiration of the actual words recorded in Scripture, we are not at liberty to look at these two elements as being separate from each other. They stand in an indissoluble union. We are looking at one work of God. One aspect may be viewed as the process of inspiration and the other as the product of inspiration. In this sense we can speak of having an inspired Bible, every word of which was God-breathed. Both aspects of inspiration are expressions of the one intention of God to put an authoritative revelation within reach our lost race for all time.

The action of God did not finish once His work of revelation and inspiration was over. Whilst God is near and His glory is manifested all around us, He is also afar off. He approaches us at a distance through His Word. Yet, here He reveals His presence, speaks to us as though He were at our elbow. The Bible was not simply placed in the world, at which point God simply stood back to see what men would make of it. Now follows the continuing work of God’s special providence in preserving, interpreting, and applying what He has given. This too is all part of one work in bringing His truth to our hearts. God has brought the Bible to us and subsequently He brings us to the Bible – and all by His grace. It is not that men seek and in stumbling around somehow find the Bible and so are led to God. From beginning to end, there is one unbroken action of grace going out from God by which He still works upon men to bring them to a knowledge of Himself. It is all one work of God.

The work of God in giving the Scriptures is not finished until it brings forth fruit in us to His glory, His Word returning to Him.

This is the true sense of the much-quoted verses from Isaiah.
“For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”  (Isaiah 55:10-11)

We must remember that in Scripture, knowledge of God is invariably linked with salvation itself. The redemptive power of God has been continuously at work in the world since man first fell into sin. It is God, who by His power introduces a knowledge of Himself into the human consciousness. The objective product of this activity is the Holy Scripture. The action by which this comes forth we call inspiration. Inspiration is not to be viewed in isolation from the whole redemptive purpose of God. This would reduce it to a purely mechanical inspiration, exclusively an intellectual product remote from reality. The Bible is not given solely for the purpose of abstract intellectual contemplation but that men might be saved and “that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works”(2 Timothy 3:17).

The power of God is directed to carrying through the redemptive purpose of God in the world. The Bible has not been given just as a record of God’s redemption, but is itself a redemptive act. God gave His Son and has given us the Bible as part of this work of redemption. Sin is not just intellectual in nature. It affects the whole of our lives and so the Bible speaks to the whole of our lives. Sin has corrupted the whole of our nature and being and brought a curse upon the whole of creation. The divine power of God could not overcome the opposition of sin without directing itself at the whole of our human existence. In the face of the present disorder, God will bring about that which has been predetermined by the counsel of His will. The entire life of the cosmos will realise that purpose of glory God always intended for it. The regenerative work of the power of God that shows itself in a radical renewal of the life of man in new birth into a new humanity of which Christ is the Head will also at the end bring to pass a similar radical renewal of all creation.

Scripture is not the dictation of a law or doctrine, but is a divine in-breathing of a revelation of God Himself into the world as one element of His redemptive action towards us. Inspiration cannot be isolated from the rest of God’s redemptive working in human history, but itself forms part of it. The same grace of God going out to the sinner to save him has also given us an infallible Bible.

It is God in grace, who bears witness to our hearts as to the divine origin and authenticity of His Word as one step along the road of bringing salvation to our lost souls. The Holy Spirit convinces us of the sufficiency of Scripture as He does of the sufficiency of Christ. Finite reasoning can never achieve an infinite result.

We can no more reason our way into a belief in Scripture than we can reason our way into heaven.

We trust the Bible; we trust the God of the Bible. Those who doubt the Bible will doubt the Saviour too. Those who refuse the authority of the written Word will surely refuse the lordship of the living Word.

Were it ever the case that God should withdraw His grace from an individual soul, should He no longer bear witness to His Word, that person would no longer believe it. No apologetics, however brilliant they may be, would ever then be able to restore the blessing of believing the Bible. Faith in God’s written Word is given by God Himself to bring us to faith in Christ, the living Word. It is invincible. Pseudo-faith worked up from ‘evidences’ and human reasoning is devoid of all spiritual reality and will burst like a soap bubble in the chill wind of godless human logic. The special and particular grace of God operates from the inception of revelation, through the inspiration and preservation of the written page and until that moment and beyond, when our heart has been reached and touched by it. All is of God’s grace. The heart touched by God in this way can do no other than respond in faith. All faith in Scripture comes by the quickening of God’s Spirit and, in turn, our faith is quickened by Scripture.

Belief in the divine authenticity of Scripture that derives its assurance from any other source than the Spirit of God will surely fail. The alternative is that each person must reason everything out for himself and not everyone has either the time or the means to do it. Such matters are then left to a privileged few upon whom everyone else will depend. This would mean having faith in human scholars and their fallible reasoning in the place of a sure and personal trust in God. Those who trust the work of ‘scholars’ will find one contradicting the other. One book brings one set of difficulties, another advances new objections, and so we become embroiled in an unending confusion and are torn between doubt and faith. Much that parades as ‘Christian scholarship’ rests on the treacherous sands of fallible human reason.

It is faith that gives the highest and only certain assurance. Here our heart rests upon the immediate testimony of God.

Rather believe the revealed Word of God, eternally in the heart of God that can never pass away, than to flirt with the fading words of fallible men. Rather believe what the Bible says about men, than what men say about the Bible. The Bible is the highest authority on the Bible.

Inspiration and illumination

Many confuse inspiration with illumination. Illumination is an enlightenment upon that which is already given. Illumination enables the appropriation of that which has been revealed. Illumination neither increases nor changes that which God has given by inspiration, but takes from that which is there. Inspiration is an extra-ordinary work of God and takes its place among accompanying miraculous works such as healings, tongues, and other wonders. For as long as the process of revelation was still on going and not yet complete, the manifestation of these extraordinary powers continued as a corollary. All these signs disappear when revelation is complete. In order for revelation to exist objectively, it must of necessity be completed. As long as it was not finished, Scripture lacked its objective and absolute character and remained attached to the persons and sphere from whence it arose.
Those who believe that God speaks to men’s hearts today as He did in apostolic times in addition to Scripture will usually also believe that the day of healings, tongues and the like continues. Belief in an ever-continuing inspiration in any form and under any name amounts to a denial of the absolute authority of the Bible upon all men. Without this universal and final authority, it would be restricted only to those inspired, those alone to whom inspiration comes. To claim absolute authority for Scripture, we are bound to insist upon a completed Bible, a finished revelation with no competing voices. Inspiration is necessarily transitory in nature, so that when its immediate purpose is completed it disappears along with those miraculous workings that accompanied it. Inspiration is a temporal activity bringing about a specific result, one Word to our entire race. It has a beginning; it has an end. The benefit we derive does not come from a continuing inspiration, but from the finished product of it.

Inspiration is an activity of God in bringing about a particular end product. What we now derive from the pages of God’s inspired Word is not continuous revelation, but the fruit of a finished work of inspiration. A work that is not yet completed cannot save us. An incomplete Word cannot bring to us that which we need to know in order to be saved. Inspiration is an in-working by the Spirit of God upon the mind of His chosen instruments by which He makes Himself known, communicating His will or His thoughts. By contrast, mystics falsely assume God will speak individually to each and every man, first to one then to another. Inspiration repeats itself over and over again. This is a false view of inspiration. Inspiration is not an in-shining of the Spirit of God that endlessly repeats itself in an endless number of people, but is limited to a definite period and bound to definite conditions. That which is revealed within this given time forms one whole, not by adding one revelation to another, but as one thought of God develops from one germ. This has now ended.

The process of revelation having ended, the need for inspiration has also ceased. The work of the Holy Spirit today is to illumine to our minds that meaning of that once-for-all-time revelation. The illumination to our hearts of that which God has inspired is also a work of God’s special grace and without it, inspiration is of little use to us and the Bible remains then a book beyond us. One presumes the other, requires the other. The Holy Spirit explains to us the fruit of inspiration. All these operations of the Spirit of God are distinct, yet at the same time are one redemptive work.

That God has not spoken since apostolic days cannot be attributed to a diminishing of His power, but that it seemed good to Him not to do so. Having spoken once in Scripture, He is now silent in order that we should honour His Word. It is necessary that the one revelation should address itself to the human race as one. The Bible is the special Word of God to the whole world. God has nothing to say to anyone other than that which He has recorded without error in the Bible. To deny the authority of a completed, God-breathed Bible is to remove a stepping-stone along the path that leads to a saving knowledge of Christ. Those who diminish the Book can make no claim knowing Christ. Those with a purely human bible will have a purely human saviour, neither of which can lead to salvation.

We must distinguish between that which is completed once for all men, and that which continues and is realised within the individual. That which the Holy Spirit continues today to apply to the hearts of individuals is drawn from a work once completed for all. It is to be expected that the work of inspiration would finish, for its completed end, the Bible, is given for all. That which goes out from God to all men must appear in the completed objective form in which it is to continue down through the years and spread from nation to nation. Illumination in contrast to inspiration is directed not to all men, but to the individual. It remains subjective and mystic in the proper sense of the word. Inspiration completed revelation, now through illumination this finished work of God in the written Word performs its work in individual believers.

The process of inspiration was necessarily linked to the unfolding of time. Many years passed from the fall of man before the Lord Jesus took upon Himself flesh and made His appearance. Nevertheless, there came a moment in time when this actually happened. In the same way, however many years there were before its completion, there came a moment when the written Word too came forth and was completed. What incarnation is for the living Word, inspiration is for the written Word. The Scriptures can only be a universally objective Word when written down, even as the Lord Jesus could only be a universally objective Saviour when manifest in human flesh. As the Scriptures are the only Word of God to all men, so the Lord Jesus is the only Saviour to all men. The incarnation brought life into the centre of human being, inspiration brings the knowledge of God into the centre of human thought.

An objective finished work must become a subjective experience. That which was completed universally and objectively, must then be experienced individually and subjectively, if we are to benefit from it. We experience salvation individually as we participate personally in that which was accomplished outside ourselves on our behalf by our Saviour. We obtain a saving knowledge of God individually as we access personally that which was given outside ourselves to all men in Scripture. This does not demand the continuance of inspiration, but excludes it.

Included in any definition of false mysticism must be all who regard inspiration as something subjective rather than objective, individual rather than central or universal. Were the inspiration of God something individual as the mystics claim, those who do not feel this inspiration as they read the Bible can justifiably claim it has no authority over them. Where inspiration stands apart from the individual, then the authority of the Bible is the same for all men irrespectively. Many deny or relativise the inspiration of Scripture and imagine thereby to have escaped its authority over them. The Bible speaks to you but it does not speak to me, or it spoke to me yesterday but has nothing to say to me today. All this is woolly-headed mysticism. Here authority is determined subjectively by the reader and not by God. In truth, the Word of God speaks objectively to all men at all times and its authority is universal. If there is one authoritative Word for all, irrespective of the individual stance or experience, then all are under its rule whether they accept it or no.

There is no inspiration going out to individuals one by one. The content of such inspiration could never be the same in each case. There could be no universally authoritative absolute Word of God. How we read the Bible is important. Is the meaning to be recovered or created from the text? God has spoken to us once in His Word. From its depths, individual believers draw for themselves their knowledge of God. God has once given one Word for all, which neither repeats itself nor continues to expand. It is given that believers of all times and all places may draw upon the knowledge of God. Those indwelt by the Spirit of God will be driven to the Scriptures for what they need to know, notto visions, ‘baptisms’ or tongues and other individual mystical experiences that are a denial of the faith.

The self-testimony of Scripture: the Lord Jesus and the apostles

Inspiration is something to which we ourselves are strangers, but not to those called of God to pen the words of Scripture. To understand inspiration, we must look to them, to what they wrote under inspiration, and what they taught. In them dwelt that Spirit who animates the whole of this sacred book.

In an absolute sense, only in the Lord Jesus did the self-consciousness of the Scriptures fully express themselves. When He walked this earth, the Scriptures of the Old Testament were already completed. Consequently, it is of importance for us to know exactly what the Lord Jesus Himself thought of their inspiration. In the same way, the apostles also clearly understood the idea of inspiration.
“And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:4)

Here the apostles uttered sounds not produced of themselves but that were the result of an action going out of them from the Holy Ghost. This is inspiration in the fullest sense of the word.

First, the Lord Jesus and the apostles saw the Scriptures not simply as a varied collection of many different books, but as one organic whole having absolute authority. Quoting Psalm 82:6, the Lord Jesus answers the Jews,
“Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken.” (John 10:34-35)

As Psalm 82:6 occurs in Scripture, hence it cannot be broken. In saying that the “Scripture (singular) cannot be broken”, the Lord Jesus is identifying the Old Testament specifically as one whole having an absolute character, but He is also stating a truth generally applicable to all that can be called Scripture. He speaks of the word of God, again singular, word not words, indicating a single whole – “unto whom the word of God came”. Jesus is saying here that whatever is Scripture cannot be broken. Today, we have also the New Testament. By implication therefore, the New Testament, because it is Scripture, cannot be broken. Otherwise, it simply cannot be Scripture – this is the nature of Scripture. We conclude that if we accept the New Testament as Scripture in like manner as the Old, then it cannot be broken. On another occasion, the Lord Jesus uses the word ‘Scriptures’ (plural) to indicate the same thing – an organic whole. Again referring to the Old Testament, He asks, “Did ye never read in the Scriptures…?” (Matthew 21:42). Although He is quoting from one passage in one book, the Psalms (118:22-23), by saying the Scriptures (plural), He is identifying the one place with the whole. The one is the same as the whole.

According to Hebrews 1:1, Scripture derives not from any human insight, but God himself spoke to the fathers by the prophets.
“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets.” (Hebrews 1:1)

Even although this took place ‘in divers manners in times past’, it was all one, God’s testimony to the fathers and to us. The apostolic manner of quoting the Old Testament demonstrates this. Omitting the name of the individual author, the apostles simply say something like “as it is written…” (Romans 4:17), “for the scripture saith” (Romans 10:11), “according as it is written” (Romans 11:8). In this way they head off all opposition to what they are saying. They viewed the Scriptures as a whole, and as authoritative because it was the written Word of God. In Romans 11:2, the prayer of Elijah is quoted as “what the scripture saith of Elias”. In Romans 3:10-18, Paul constructs one single argument and yet it is made up of no less than six different passages from the Old Testament (Psalm 14:1-3; 5:9; 140:3; 10:7; Isaiah 59:7 & Psalm 36:1). The quotations are preceded by “it is written” and explained by “whatsoever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law”. No importance is made of David or Isaiah, for the authority of these words does not lie with them, it is sufficient that they are found in holy writ.

Second, the Lord Jesus and the apostles recognised that in Scripture a single word, or a fragment of it, was just as authoritative as the whole. It could be appealed to as the final authority. Pilate said, “What I have written I have written” (John 19:22). In a similar way, what God has written, He has written. It is final, authoritative and irrevocable. The authority of what is written stems from the One from whom it came forth. The Lord Jesus continually uses all kind of quotations from the Old Testament in His arguments and reasoning, indicating that this was an absolute Word, a final Word not to be questioned.

Matthew 4:1-11 describes the temptation of the Lord Jesus. On each occasion, He meets every temptation with “it is written”. It is not simply that the Lord meets Satan with some quotation to support His argument, but He appeals to an authority that bears no contradiction. There is no other way in which the appeal to Deuteronomy 8:3 that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4) can be understood. It is significant that the Lord Jesus does not say, ‘Moses said’, but uses the formula, “It is written”. The word cited derives its divine authority from the fact that it is written. There is no possible mistake, but that Jesus attributed absolute and divine authority to every single word written down in Scripture.

In many cases, an argument will hang on a single word. This being so we must be sure that we still have the precise wording given by God. Only a verbally inspired Bible can provide this. Here is an example.
“The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?” (Matthew 22:44)

Citing Psalm 110:1, the whole strength of the argument made by the Lord Jesus hangs on the single word my, or to be more precise, in the original Hebrew on a single iod. This isa precise example of what the Lord Jesus meant when He said, “And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail” (Luke 16:17). Divine authority extends even to each individual letter. The Lord Jesus does not tell us here that just meaning is inspired and preserved, but assures us that the actual written words down to the very smallest detail cannot fail. Not one ‘tittle’ can fail, therefore neither can it be lost. God’s preserving work did not cease with the original autographs but is with us today. The ‘tittle’ refers to the apostrophised iod, the smallest letter. To say that not even one tittle shall fail means that the Scriptures are given, inspired, preserved, and are therefore authoritative down to the last detail.

From the opening verse of Genesis to the last verse of Revelation, we are at liberty to change precisely nothing, not a word, not an apostrophe!

“If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” (Revelation 22:18-19)

Bearing in mind that every single word carries with it the authority of the whole book and were one word missing the Bible would be incomplete and imperfect, we ought not to be surprised that subtracting of even a single word put in place by God or adding a word of our own incurs a penalty of eternal loss. The book of Revelation being inseparable from the whole, this warning must apply to all Scripture. What is said about the part must be said about the whole.

Often the argument made by the apostles in their writings will rest on the importance of single words or even single letters. Unless they regarded the text as perfect because inspired, they could in no way use Scripture in this way. The entire argument of Paul in Galatians 3:16 rests on a single letter both in Greek and in English.
“Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.”

Were the plural used, the argument would have been lost. This kind of accuracy must be applied to whole of Scripture, both Old and New Testaments. A similar kind of situation is found in 1 Peter 3:5-6 where the exhortation rests on the fact that Sarah called her husband ‘lord’. It is impossible for the apostles to have made their argument with the same authority, if it were not that they knew inspiration extended to every word, every letter.

Third, Scripture is grounded in every detail in the eternal counsel of God. What men devise or think out can always be changed or corrected should things not work out quite as expected. The word of men can most certainly be broken. The only thing on this earth that ‘must be fulfilled’ and ‘cannot be broken’ is the eternal purpose of God revealed and given in definitive form in Scripture.
“For I say unto you, that this is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end.” (Luke 22:37; quotation from Isaiah 53:12)

The Lord Jesus points to a specific written text and declares that it must be fulfilled in Him. The Lord Jesus does not act in omnipotence, nor does He call upon a legion of angels to save Him as He faces the cross. There can be no going against the Scripture for down to the last letter it reveals the eternal purpose of God regarding His Son. Nothing God ever said, nothing God ever gave us in writing, can ever fall to the ground. Because it is written in Scripture this prevents anything else happening than that which is written there. Nothing else can happen than that which is written in the Bible, quite impossible. “But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” (Matthew 26:54). The prophetic programme must be carried through.

The Bible is a carbon copy of the counsel of God concerning His Son and for this reason nothing in it can fail.

Even the manner of His betrayal by Judas is unavoidable in order that the Scripture may be fulfilled.
“I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.” (John 13:18)

Jesus did not just choose a particular text to illustrate the occasion. On the contrary, the Scripture is seen in its entirety as speaking of Him “they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39). As a whole the Scriptures point to the Lord Jesus and nothing concerning Him can fail.

The apostles too saw Scripture as the transcript of the eternal purposes of God. Peter, in his sermon on the day of Pentecost, says that the God raised up the Lord Jesus “because it was not possible that he should be holden of it” (Acts 2:24). Why was this? Was it because He was the Son on God? Most certainly, but this was not the reason Peter gave, rather he quotes Psalm 16 and bases his argument on the words of David,
“For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” (Psalm 16:10)

It was impossible for Christ to remain in the grave because the Scriptures say so, they give us details of what must come to pass because God has planned it that way. Peter mentions this specifically saying that the Lord Jesus was “delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” (v.23) and the Bible is a transcript of that counsel.

Something similar appears in Acts 1:16.
“Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was a guide to them that took Jesus.”
Here we are told quite specifically that David was in fact the mouthpiece of the Holy Ghost in the utterance of prophetic words. What the Holy Ghost was revealing was part of the eternal counsel of God and therefore had to be fulfilled. It is this fact that renders the Bible an entirely trustworthy book.

The Bible, Old and New Testament, has only one Author

The Old Testament cannot be considered apart from the New. Without the New Testament, we could not consider the Old as Scripture. First came the Old Testament, then came the living Word, God clothed in flesh. Only after our Saviour had completed His redemptive work could the New be written and together the Old and New Testaments make up sacred Scripture.

In the process of inspiration, God by His Holy Spirit enters into the spirit of man and introduces into his consciousness thoughts clothed in words that this man could not conceive on his own, nor derive from other men. Peter’s confession was not something he produced himself nor gained from others, but it came directly from God.
“Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”  (Matthew 16:17)


Prophecy did not have a human origin within the will of the prophets themselves. As men of God, that which they spoke had entered into their consciousness as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
“For 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.” (2 Peter 1:21)

The ministry and preaching of the prophets of the Old Testament and the apostles of the New were all done in the same Spirit of Christ. Very clearly, this passage teaches the spiritual unity of the Bible, revealed and inspired by one Holy Spirit. What the Lord Jesus and the apostles testified of the Old is equally true of the New Testament.

“Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.” (1 Peter 1:10-12)

We see here that both the prophecy of the Old Testament and the reporting of those same things by the apostles, now recorded for us in the New Testament, were inspired by the same Spirit.

The New Testament contains many passages that indicate God the Holy Spirit is the speaking subject of the Old Testament. “And God spake on this wise…” (Acts 7:6; see also Acts 1:16; Romans 2:4; Hebrews 1:6,13; 10:15). On many occasions, the apostles string together a whole series of quotations from different parts of the Old Testament, the significance of the individual authors falling into the background. What was important was that it was clear that they understood there to be one divine Author behind the Scriptures (see Acts 1:20; Romans 11:8,26; 15:9; 1 Timothy 5:18).

This appears even more clearly in those passages where we are told that the words written contain far more than the human writers ever understood themselves. In Romans 4 there are words from Genesis 15:6 where we are told that the expression referring to Abraham, “imputed to him for righteousness”, did not simply refer to Abraham as intended by the writer, but also to us. “Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.” (Romans 4:23-24)

Again in Romans 15, Psalm 69:9 is cited. The prophetic messianic utterances coming though David are used by Paul to make this general statement,
 “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” (Romans 15:4)

This could not have been part of the intention of David as he wrote. David sang when his heart was full, Jeremiah prophesied when fired burned within his bones – but both under the direction of the Holy Spirit.

As we examine the quotations of the Old Testament made by the writers of the New, we notice that they cannot be understood to be a word for word translation into Greek of the original Hebrew. This would perhaps, on a human level at least, have been understandable had they not been conversant with Hebrew, but they all invariably were. Various explanations have been offered nearly all of which are unsatisfactory to say the least. To say that they spoke Greek to Greek-speaking Churches is insufficient, to say that they always followed the Greek version of the Old Testament is inconsistent and can be objected to on many grounds. When, however, we understand that the writers of the New Testament were themselves inspired as they wrote, the question assumes an entirely different perspective. Usually, in quoting from someone else one must take care to do so precisely and literally. A writer quoting from himself is clearly allowed more liberty and is bound only to the content. It being the Holy Spirit who spoke through the prophets and at the same time inspired the apostles, it amounts to the same Author quoting Himself. He is therefore free to quote Himself in such a manner that applies His words to the argument in hand for which the quotation is being made, and to modify it accordingly. Only the Author Himself is competent to quote freely in this way.

The Lord Jesus accepted the verbal inspiration of Scriptures in the same way as did all believers of His day and since down to the present. Those who deny this teaching have departed from Christ. In view of how the Lord Jesus Himself viewed the Scriptures, it is not possible for anyone claiming to be His follower to take any other view than His. Our Lord shows Himself as being bound to the Word of God, the Scriptures. We cannot measure with two measures. Either what Jesus said about Scripture is true and we should kneel before Him, or it is false and He is an impostor.

David W. Norris

Taken from David's book THE BIG PICTURE: the authority & integrity of the authentic Word of God. See publications page.