The Breath of God - Part 2

Tom Pennington • Selected Scriptures

  • 2003-12-07 PM
  • Systematic Theology
  • Sermons


That's a little bit of what goes on in this chapter. Notice verse 15, well, let's start at verse 1, "'Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!' declares the Lord." He's specifically going to talk about the prophets. Notice verse 15, "'Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts concerning the prophets, "Behold I'm going to feed them wormwood and make them drink poisonous water, for from the prophets of Jerusalem pollution has gone forth into all the land."'" Those people who ought to be bringing purity, who ought to be bringing the Word of God, have instead brought pollution into all the land. Verse 16,

Thus says the Lord of hosts,
"Don't listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you.
They are leading you into futility;
They speak a vision of their own imagination,
Not from the mouth of the Lord.
They keep saying to those who despise Me,
'The Lord has said, "You will have peace"';
And as for everyone who walks in the stubbornness of his own heart,
They say, 'Calamity is not going to come upon you.'
But who has stood in the counsel of the Lord,
That he should see and hear His word?
Who has given heed to His word and listened?"

Notice verse 21,

"I did not send these prophets,
But they ran.
I did not speak to them,
But they prophesied.
But if they had stood in My council,
Then they would have announced My words to My people,
They would have turned them back from their evil way
And from the evil of their deeds.
Am I a God who is near," declares the Lord, "And not a God far off?
Can a man hide himself in hiding places
So I don't see him? Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?" declares the Lord.

"I have heard what the prophets have said, who prophesy falsely in My name, saying, 'I had a dream, I had a dream!' How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart, who intend to make My people forget My name by their dreams which they relate to one another, just as their fathers forgot My name because of Baal?"

Now notice verse 28, "'The prophet who has a dream may relate his dream, but let him who has My word speak My word in truth. What does straw have in common with grain?' declares the Lord." Verse 29, "'Is not My word like fire?' declares the Lord, 'and like a hammer which shatters a rock?'"

The Word of God is an offensive weapon. In the analogy I began with, it's a fighter jet; it needs no defense. Or as my mentor has so often said, "The Word of God is like a lion, you don't need to defend it, you just need to open the cage and let it out. It can take care of itself." So when we talk about defending the inspiration of Scripture, we're not primarily talking about apologetic arguments to sort of convince somebody. The Scripture doesn't need to be defended in that way. Instead, we're talking about those arguments for the inspiration of Scripture which serve as a great source of encouragement and strength to those of us who believe.

So let's begin by reviewing a little bit of where we've been in our study. First of all, we looked last time at a history, and I'm not going to go back over that history, if you'd like to do that you can get, next week, by the way, we'll have the handouts from last week and this week in the back, so you'll be able to get them, but if you like you can listen on the internet. But we talked about the history of inspiration. I'm not going to do that, but let's review briefly what inspiration is.

First of all, a definition of inspiration. Inspiration is God's superintendence of the human authors so that using their own individual personalities they composed and recorded, without error, His revelation to man in the words of the original autographs. There is a lengthy definition. And we looked at each of those component parts last Sunday night. We looked specifically at 2 Timothy 3:16 where it says, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God." That's where we get our theological word inspiration. But as we noted last time, that word actually comes from the Latin Vulgate. Inspiro is the word Jerome used when he translated the Latin Vulgate. And it really is not a good translation of the word in 2 Timothy 3:16.

The word, as you can see on the screen, is theoneustos. Theos mean God; neustos is breath or spirit. So it means literally, and by the way, we looked last time at 1 Thessalonians 4:9 and saw a parallel sort of reconstruction, and when you look at it properly you could say this, "All Scripture is God breathed." It's breathed out by God. That means God is its source. No one can imitate the breath of God. When it says, "God breathed out the Scripture," it's saying that He and He alone is the source of its content.

So, when you look at what the Bible teaches about inspiration, we noted last time that there were essentially three components: God superintended the process, chosen men wrote the Scripture, and the result was God's error-free revelation. Those three components comprise, essentially, a Biblical view of inspiration.

Tonight I want us to move on and look at a defense of inspiration. I want us to examine the proof of inspiration. And we're going to look at three separate lines of argument. Tonight, my guess is that we will only make it through two of these, but we'll see. Internal arguments, that is, those arguments that are from within the Scripture. We're going to look tonight at what the Scripture says about itself. What does it claim about itself? It is an internal witness, it makes internal testimony to its inspiration. We're going to look as well at external arguments. That is, those arguments that are outside the Scripture. There are arguments that can be made to support the inspiration of Scripture from outside the Scripture. That we will definitely get to next time and not tonight. The third line of evidence that we can muster for a defense of the biblical doctrine of inspiration is that that is within the reader, the work of the Holy Spirit to authenticate the Word of God within you as the reader.

So there are basically those three lines of evidence. What the Bible teaches about itself, what arguments we can make about the Bible from the outside looking in, and then the argument, if you will, although it's not really an argument as much as it is the Scripture by the work of the Spirit is self-authenticating, that's what theologians say. We will look at that when we get there. But those are the three lines of argument we're going to look at as we examine the doctrine of inspiration.

So let's look tonight at the internal arguments. Now, when we look at what the Scripture teaches about itself, in terms of its inspiration, there are essentially three arguments I'm going to make there as well. So we're dealing now with the first line of evidence, but we're going to look at three lines of argument within that argument. First of all, the Bible claims to be the Word of God. The Bible's claims, I should say, to be the Word of God. Secondly, the New Testament writers identification of the Old Testament as God's Word. And the third approach we're going to take is Christ's authentication of Scripture, which I think is a powerful one. I don't know if we'll make it to the third one tonight or not, but we're going to get through at least those first two in our time of study tonight.

So when you look at the Scripture and you come to the pages of Scripture to see what it says about its own origin, about its own source of being from God, these are the three lines of arguments you will find, within the Scripture. It's that the Bible makes a claim within itself to be the Word of God. And then, that the New Testament writers, as they write about the Old Testament, identify it as the Word of God. And then finally, a powerful, powerful argument for the inspiration of Scripture is what our Lord had to say about it in His days on Earth. And so we're going to look at those three together.

So let's begin with internal arguments, the Bible's claim to be the Word of God. We're going to start with, as we should, the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, more than 3800 times the Old Testament writers use phrases like "thus says the Lord," or "the Word of the Lord came to," or "the Lord said," or some equivalent to that. That phrase, "thus says the Lord," is identical in form to a common secular phrase in ancient history, and that was, "thus says the king." If you read any secular writings from the times that the Old Testament was written, you will occasionally, in the edicts of the kings of the ancient world, find this phrase, "thus says the king." It's a phrase which was used to preface the decree of a king to his subjects. His decree could not be challenged, could not be questioned, and it could not be changed. So when the prophets say, "thus says the Lord," listen carefully, they are claiming to be the official messengers of the sovereign King of Israel, God Himself. "Thus says the Lord." They are claiming that their words are absolutely authoritative.

Let me show you, in our next passage or our first passage I should say, God's perspective on the words of the prophets. Let's look first at Exodus 7. Exodus 7, very interesting because in some ways it's the first reference to the role of the prophet and what a prophet does. Chapter 7 verse 1, "Then the Lord said to Moses, 'See, I make you as God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet.'" So God's making an analogy. Moses, you're acting like God and Aaron is going to be your prophet. So what does that mean? Verse 2,

"You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall speak to Pharaoh that he let the sons of Israel go out of his land. But I will harden Pharaoh's heart that I may multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. When Pharaoh does not listen to you, then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring out all My hosts, My people the sons of Israel, from the land of Egypt by great judgments."

Now, with that in mind, turn back to chapter 4 because God had made this point before chapter 7. I want you to see what he says. Now the scene, of course, is the scene of the burning bush. It always fascinates me how after 40 years of silence in Moses' life God shows up and he arrests his attention with a burning bush in the middle of the desert; he's keeping his father-in-law's sheep. Now watch what happens. The Lord has just said, listen, I'm going to send you to Egypt and you're going to be the one I use to bring My people out of Egypt. Verse 10, "Then Moses said to the Lord, 'Please, Lord, I've never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past,'" it's hard to become eloquent speaking to sheep I guess, "'nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.'" Literally, "heavy of speech and heavy of tongue." "The Lord said to him, 'Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?'" By the way, there is a powerful verse that you should mark because God claims to be the one who for His own purposes brings about those realities in people's lives.

Verse 12, "'Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.'" Now at that point I think it's time to move on. Moses has obviously not learned first-time obedience, because he's going to argue some more. Verse 13, "But he said, 'Please, Lord, now send a message by whomever You will.'" In other words, Lord, I appreciate what You're trying to do, I think it's a good thing, but send somebody else! Verse 14, "Then the anger of the Lord burned against Moses, and He said, 'Is there not your brother Aaron the Levite? I know that he speaks fluently. And moreover, behold, he is coming out to meet you; when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart.'" Now watch verse 15, here it is, "'You are to speak to him and put the words in his mouth; and I, even I, will be with your mouth and his mouth, and I will teach you what you are to do.'" Verse 16, "'Moreover, he shall speak for you to the people; and he will be as a mouth for you and you will be as God to him.'"

Do you see what God is saying about the role of a prophet? He's saying, listen, you simply, if you're going to play the part of God Moses, and that's what I'm kind of assigning you in this role, you're going to play the part of God, then you are going to tell Aaron exactly what to say and Aaron's job is very simple. All he has to do is take what you tell him and communicate it to Pharaoh; he's acting like a prophet. You see, for Aaron to be Moses' prophet, number one, he could not speak for himself; he had nothing to say. I was talking to someone after the service this morning and they mentioned the fact that I fill my messages with Scripture. And I commented that long ago I learned that I had nothing worthwhile to say, so it was far better for me to try to just say what God was saying. That's the role of a prophet, he could not speak for himself.

And secondly, he had to speak only on behalf of Moses, who was in the place of God to him. You see, a true prophet was one who did not speak out of his own heart but rather as an appointed regular speaker for a divine superior and what he said carried the authority of his superior. In short, the prophet was solely and only God's messenger. I love the analogy that my friend and mentor John MacArthur uses often in terms of this. He says the role of a prophet, or he uses it in terms of a preacher but it's true of a prophet as well, "The role of a preacher is not a chef, it's not my job to make the food. I'm simply the waiter. My job is to get it to the table without messing it up. God is the chef and I'm just a waiter." That's the role of a prophet. He was simply to be a mouth. You see that over and over again, that expression, in this passage. He was simply to be a mouth for God. So when you see him saying, "thus says the Lord," that was his role. He was saying, I don't have my own message, I'm simply being a mouth for God; here's what God says.

The second passage I want us to look at, Deuteronomy 18:14, Deuteronomy 18:14. We're going to look at a number of Scriptures tonight. The context of these words is, you've got to remember now, the children of Israel are on the opposite side of Jordan of Jericho, ready to take Jericho. They have been in the wilderness for 40 years and now shortly they're going to go into the land they're going to take it. And Moses really provides for them his last sort of speeches before his death and then under the leadership of Joshua they enter the land. It's in the context of the pagan practices of the Canaanites that these words are said. Remember the Canaanites were an awful people. God in His mercy spared them for 400 years so that they could come to repentance and yet they refused. These people practiced sorcery and divination to determine the will of their deity. But Israel would be different.

Notice verse 14, "'For those nations, which you will dispossess, listen to those who practice witchcraft and diviners, but as for you,'" Moses says, "'the Lord your God has not allowed you to do so.'" So how are we going to know when God speaks? Verse 15, "'The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countryman, you shall listen to him.'" Now, you have here both a reference to those series of prophets that will come along in Israel's history and you also have a reference to the greatest prophet, the Lord Jesus Christ, who would someday come. But notice what he says, God's going to raise up this prophet like me, verse 16, "'This is according to all that you asked of the Lord your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly, saying, "Don't let us hear again the voice of the Lord our God, let me not see this great fire anymore, or I will die."'"

You remember last time we looked at, or maybe it was two times ago now, we looked at that amazing scene at the foot of Sinai when the people said to Moses, look, you go and talk to God, we don't want God talking to us anymore directly; you go get the message and come back to us. And so Moses says, okay, God's going to do that and it's going to be in the form of a prophet. God would raise up a prophet like Moses and God would put His words into that man's mouth. Verse 18,

"I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And it shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him."

So God says, look, I'm going to speak through the prophets.

Verse 22, by the way, "'When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing which does not come about,'" or come true, "'that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.'" Implied in that verse is the fact that the prophets are not only going to preach the truth but they're also going to have the capacity to foretell the future, and if it doesn't happen then they weren't speaking for God, because what God has to say always comes to pass.

Again, you get the message that God is going to put His words in the mouths of the prophets. What we have in the Old Testament is called what? The law and the prophets. When you have the prophets speaking and the prophets writing, that is in itself a claim to inspiration. "Thus says the Lord," the words I'm going to speak to you are coming from the mouth of God to you.

Jeremiah 1, let's look together at that prophecy that was given to him. Verse 4, "Now the word of the Lord came to me saying." See, even that is introduced with that formula, God is speaking now,

the word of the Lord came to me saying,

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
And before you were born I consecrated you;
And I have appointed you as a prophet to the nations."

Verse 6, he's got a little bit of the Moses syndrome here,

Then I said, "Alas, Lord God!
Behold, I do not know how to speak,
Because I'm a youth."
But the Lord said to me,
"Don't say, 'I'm a youth,'
Because everywhere I send you, you shall go,
And all that I command you, you shall speak.
Do not be afraid of them,
For I am with you to deliver you," declares the Lord.

Then the Lord stretched out his hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me,

"Behold, I have put My words in your mouth."

There it is again. God commissioned Jeremiah before he was ever born; while he was still in the womb He commissioned him to be His prophet. And now He appears to him and He says, listen Jeremiah, you have a very simple job; I'm going to put My words in your mouth and you're going to speak them. He was under obligation to speak God's words. His message had to originate with God.

There's another passage in Jeremiah that I think is fascinating because it provides a sort of picture of inspiration, of the prophet speaking and then it being, or of God speaking to the prophet rather, and then it being written down. Turn to Jeremiah 36:1, "In the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying." Again you see that formula and folks it's throughout the Old Testament. That is a claim to inspiration. This word of the Lord "came to Jeremiah from Yahweh, saying," here's what I want you to do,

"Take a scroll and write on it all the words which I have spoken to you concerning Israel and concerning Judah, and concerning all the nations, from the day I first spoke to you, from the days of Josiah, even to this day. Perhaps the house of Judah will hear all the calamity which I plan to bring on them, in order that they'll turn from their evil way and I'll forgive their iniquity and their sin." [Verse 4] Then Jeremiah called Baruch, and Baruch wrote on a scroll at the dictation of Jeremiah all the words of the Lord which He had spoken to him. [Jeremiah's taking a similar approach to Paul, isn't he?] Jeremiah commanded Baruch, saying, "I am restricted; I cannot go into the house of the Lord. So you go and you read from the scroll [that I have just dictated to you] which you have written at my dictation the words of the Lord to the people in the Lord's house on a fast day. And also you shall read them to all the people of Judah who come from their cities. Perhaps"

and he basically says the same thing the Lord has said, maybe they will repent and the Lord will turn away His wrath. So, verse 8, "Baruch did according to all that Jeremiah the prophet commanded him, reading from the book the words of the Lord in the Lord's house." Now, the people heard it and "Baruch read from the book the words of Jeremiah," verse 10, "in the house of the Lord," and all these people heard it. "Now when Michaiah," verse 11, "heard about this he went to the king's house and all the officials were there and he told them all that Baruch had read in the book," verse 13, "and so they said, 'Look, we've got to hear about this and so read it to us and so Baruch read it to them," verse 15. "And they asked Baruch," verse 17, "saying, 'Tell us, please, how did you write all these words? Was it at his dictation?'" Literally, from his mouth. "Baruch said to them, 'He dictated all these words to me, and I wrote them with ink on the book.'"

There it is, you see the picture of inspiration? God says to the prophet, all right, I've been speaking to you, I've been revealing myself to you, now I want you to write it down. And that's exactly what happened. In this case Jeremiah dictated to this man Baruch and he makes it very plain, verse 18, "'The prophet dictated all these words to me, and I wrote them with ink on the book.'" "And so the officials," verse 19, "say, 'You and Jeremiah go hide; we want to tell the king about this.'" "So," verse 20, "they had hidden the scroll, and they reported all the words to the king." And the king said, oh, listen, I've got to hear this book, so you bring it. Verse 22, "Now the king was sitting in the summer house in the ninth month," it's winter time, "in the winter house" (I think I said summer, didn't I?) "the winter house in the ninth month, with a fire burning. And when Jehudi had read three or four columns, the king cut it with a scribe's knife and threw it in the fire, and so all the scroll was consumed." Verse 24 is a frightening verse, "Yet the king and all his servants who heard all these words were not afraid nor did they rend their garments."

So what happens? Verse 27, "Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah after the king had burned the scroll and the words which Baruch had written at the dictation of Jeremiah, saying," here it is again, God speaking to Jeremiah, "'Take again another scroll and write on it all the former words that were on the first roll which he burned. And then you're supposed to say some more." So verse 32, "Jeremiah took another scroll, he gave it to Baruch, the scribe, and he wrote on it at the dictation of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire; and many similar words were added to them." Okay, you didn't like what I had to say before? I've got more to say. There's a beautiful picture of the process of inspiration, laid out for us in the writing of Jeremiah. So the Bible's claims about itself are that it is the Word of God, that God is speaking "thus says the Lord" and when you have the prophets writing down what God said, it's God putting words in their mouths; that's what the prophets claim.

That brings us to the New Testament. Galatians 1. What does the New Testament claim about itself? Well, let's look at what Paul said. Galatians 1:11. By the way, Galatians 1 is, records for us, and the early part of chapter 2, records for us what I believe was the darkest day in the history of the church. You know, if I were to ask you, what was the darkest period in church history, you might say, well, it was obviously that period of the Middle Ages when the gospel was almost lost in the tradition of the Roman Catholic Church. As bad as that was, I don't think it's as bad as what you have in Galatians 1-2. Because when you get to Galatians 2 Paul is going to tell us about an occasion, a situation, a circumstance in which every apostle except Paul capitulated to the Judaizers. Even Peter gave in to the Judaizers. He was willing to sell the gospel. And only Paul stood. And it says, and it's really amazing, in God's providence and grace, Paul says, listen, when I came "I opposed to Peter to his face, because he stood condemned." And God used one man, the Apostle Paul, in the early days of the church to save the gospel. Enough of my side track

All right, so Paul is talking in Galatians 1, he's sort of setting up the stage for what he's going to say about that, and he says this in verse 11, he's defending his ministry, he says, "For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man." It didn't originate with me, Paul says. "For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it from a man, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ." When you read Paul's letters, when he lays out the gospel, you know what Paul is claiming about that? He is claiming inspiration. He's saying, look, I didn't make any of this stuff up; the glorified Christ appeared to me and He taught me these things. He's claiming that both his factual content and his own interpretation of that content, originated not with him, but with Christ Himself. There can be no clearer claim to inspiration than that. It wasn't from a man, it wasn't from me, it came from Christ.

The second passage is 1 Thessalonians 2:13, 1 Thessalonians 2:13. Paul writes, "For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God," notice what he claims, "when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is." By the way, that phrase, "what it really is," translates a word that means basically or fundamentally, "you received it for what it basically or fundamentally is, and that is the word of God." He is claiming that what he taught the Thessalonians when he was with them, and by implication what he's writing them in this first letter, was not the word of men as it appeared to be, but was in fact, the word of God. Paul refers here not to a written document but to the message he spoke in Thessalonica. But it's still significant that he characterizes his message as the Word of God.

Now let me move on to maybe the most significant passage in the New Testament, and one that's often overlooked, and that is 1 Corinthians 2, 1 Corinthians 2. Now this is a very complex passage, in some ways a complicated argument. Let me see if I can simplify it for you because Paul's intention in this passage is clear. Let's start with verse 6. He said,

Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers this age, who are passing away; but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; [now watch this, verse 9,] but just as it is written,

"Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard,
which have not entered the heart of man"

Stop there. This verse is often quoted to say, we can't even imagine what God has prepared, and there's a sense in which that's true, but that's not what this verse is saying. Read the rest of it, "'All that God has prepared for those who love Him.'" Verse 10, "For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God."

Now, let me give you his rationale in these two verses, verses 9 and 10. In verse 9 Paul is saying this, when I proclaim Christ crucified, I'm speaking God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that none of the worldly wise knew. Verse 10, the way he came to know this wisdom, or the gospel, was that God revealed it to him by His Spirit. We're talking about revelation; God revealed this wisdom, that is, the gospel, to Paul by His Spirit. Verse 11, the reason the Spirit can reveal the mind of God is because He is God and therefore He knows the mind of God. "For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God." He said, listen, I got a revelation from the Spirit and the reason it had to come from the Spirit was because "nobody knows the mind of God except the Spirit of God."

Now, that brings us to the crux of the passage. Verse 12,

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, [underline words] but in those words taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.

He's saying, God reveals something to us and He did it by the Spirit, because only the Spirit could do it, because only the Spirit really knows what God is thinking. And this Spirit taught Paul these thoughts of God and even the very words to use to communicate those thoughts. Did you see that in verse 13? We speak these thoughts given to us by God, "not in words taught by human wisdom, but in words taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words." Verse 14, a familiar verse that we often quote, "a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised," or examined. You see, a person has to have the Spirit to understand the things of the Spirit.

This past week I had a great illustration, it hit me in the face. I can credit Larry Snyder; he and I were talking about home networks. Perhaps you're familiar with wireless networks, you may have one in your office, you may have one in your home. For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, I'm sorry. But essentially, you can set up your home where you don't need to run wires between your computer and the Internet, you don't need to run a wire between your computer and the printer, it's all done through the air. You can send a document from your computer through the air to your printer and it prints the document.

But there's a problem, because if you can turn on your computer and pick up what you're sending through your house, someone can pull in your driveway or on the curb next to your house, turn on their computer, and receive what you're sending as well. So the computer gurus have come up with a way to deal with that problem, at least that's what they say; you never know for sure because none of us can really validate that this is true. But what they stay is that there is a way to make, to so scramble the signal that's sent that you have to know exactly how to unscramble it on the other end to receive it. And so anybody else turning on their computer and trying to get that signal won't have the right key, if you will, the right electronic key and they won't have a clue what it is you're saying over your home wireless network. But because you have someone, or a computer on one end encoding it a certain way and the piece of equipment on the other end has the key to uncode it the same way, they can receive it.

That's exactly what Paul is saying in verse 14. He's saying listen, speaking of electronic gadgets, that always happens to me, but in verse 14 this is what he's saying, he saying, the Spirit sends an encoded signal and to understand it, to interpret it, to get it, you have to have the right key on the other end. And that's what the Spirit gives the believer; he gets it, he understands it, the signal comes through. But an unbeliever doesn't have the right decoder, he doesn't get it. Oh he can read the words on the page, but he doesn't understand.

Now, let's look at this passage. Let's step back and look at it for what it's teaching. Here's Paul's point, and it's very important, he says that both the thoughts and the words the authors of Scripture used were not ultimately the human authors but originally they were the Spirit's thoughts and words. This is what we call verbal inspiration. That is, the words themselves, not merely the concepts, were breathed out by God. I don't know how Scripture could claim any more clearly to be the product of God.

Second Peter 3, we're looking at the Bible's claims to be the Word of God, 2 Peter 3:15, "just as," middle of the verse,

just as our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, [Isn't that encouraging? Even Peter thought Paul was sometimes hard to understand.] which the untaught and the unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.

That is a key phrase. He talks about the letters of Paul and then he says, "the rest of the Scriptures." What does that imply? That the letters of Paul are themselves, from God, Scripture, inspired or breathed out by God. Paul's letters had divine authority and those who distort them, he goes on to say, are destroyed. Even Peter, one of the original Apostles, was willing to put himself under the authority of the apostolic word given to Paul and to acknowledge its divine origin and authority.

And then, 2 Timothy, we're not going to spend a lot of time here because we've spent some time before, but I just want to note a couple of things for you. Second Timothy 3:16. There are two key concepts I want to define for you, one of them we defined last week. But the first one, "All Scripture," that's a key phrase, what does that mean, "All Scripture"? Well, it means the Old Testament, notice in verse 15, he's talking about "the sacred writings." He's talking about the Old Testament. And the word Scripture is graphe, a Greek word which is a technical term for the set of books we call the Old Testament. It's used 51 times in the New Testament and every time it's used it refers to the Old Testament. So we know he's talking about the Old Testament when he says "All Scripture" – that is a technical term for the set of books that you and I have in our Bible called the Old Testament.

But what else does it include? Well, you may not know this offhand but it also includes the New Testament books. How is that? Let me show you a very interesting passage. Keep your thumb in 2 Timothy 3 and turn over to 1 Timothy 5, just a couple of pages before. First Timothy 5 and verse 17, he's talking about elders and he says, "The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at teaching and preaching." Now, Paul is about to quote two passages. The first one, verse 18, "For the Scripture says," there's that technical word again graphe, "the Scripture says, 'You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing.'" That is from Deuteronomy 25:4. He's referring to the Old Testament and he's calling it Scripture. Notice the next phrase, verse 18 again, "and 'The laborer,'" here's another something the Scripture says, another phrase the Scripture uses, "'The laborer is worthy of his wages.'" Guess what Old Testament passage that comes from? It doesn't. It comes from Luke. It comes from Luke 10:7. And Paul calls both of them Scripture.

So come back now to 2 Timothy 3:16. When he says, "All Scripture," what does he mean? He means, not only the Old Testament, that set of books that we have we call the Old Testament, but he means the writers of the New Testament as well, because in 1 Timothy 5:18 he calls them Scripture. So "All Scripture" encompasses what we currently have in our Bible.

In a few weeks, maybe a month, we will get to The Canon of Scripture, how is it that we have these books in our Bible and not other books? Why not the Apocrypha? And why do we have the books we do? We'll get to that. But for now, suffice it to say that the books you have in your Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is what Paul means when he says "All Scripture" – and then he says this, "it is God breathed." And that's what we touched on last time, it's breathed out by God, it's of divine origin.

So the Scripture, all of it, is the product of the breath of God. That means, by the way, that these views of inspiration are unacceptable. Unacceptable views of inspiration, I used a wolf for obvious reasons. First of all, degree inspiration, degree inspiration. This faulty view teaches that within the inspired Bible, some parts are more inspired than others, but all are not inspired to the same degree. Listen to a man who claims to believe this, Marcus Dodd writes, "The inspiration of Isaiah or Paul is different from that of the compiler of Proverbs or the analyst who drew up Chronicles." Where did you get that Marcus? This view, by the way, was ultimately replaced by the second one here, partial inspiration. This view teaches that not all of the Bible is inspired. The Bible contains the Word of God. If you ever hear that phrase, run the other direction, because they don't mean what you think they mean. What they mean is that part of this is the Word of God. The Bible contains the Word of God.

I'll never forget one of my first classes in seminary. I think I may have told you this before, but bear with me. I had this professor who was really a brilliant man, Dr. Bell was his name, but he was a little frail man and he had this really nasal whiny voice. And he stood on this wooden platform so he could sort of be seen and he had this penchant for carrying about, in the old classrooms there were these high windows to let, we didn't have air conditioning, so there were these high windows to let air in, so he'd go up with his pole and he'd pull down on the window and open it. Well, he carried that pole around with him and he'd be walking on that wooden platform, and I'll never forget, one of the early days of seminary, he said, "Now students, let me ask you a question." He said, "Does the Bible contain the Word of God?" And this unsuspecting student raised his hand in the back of the room and the rest of us are kind of chuckling and thinking, uh oh, he's about to get it. And sure enough, he says, "Yes, it does; it contains the Word of God." And he took that pole and he jammed it down on that platform so that it just shattered the room with the noise, and he said, "No! What are you, a liberal?"

And he went on to explain that this is a faulty view of inspiration. The Bible doesn't contain the Word of God; the Bible is the Word of God. By the way, usually those who hold this view of partial inspiration argue that those passages that reveal things that are otherwise unknowable are inspired, things like the creation, nobody was there to witness it, but those things that are like history, which can be discovered in contemporary documents, don't need to be inspired. And therefore, those things were taken from other sources and they may very well be in error. The contemporary expression of this view is this, that all that pertains to salvation is inspired while the rest is not necessarily so. God preserved the message of salvation from error, but that may not be so with the rest of Scripture, such as history, science, and other non-salvation issues. Paul says, absolutely not

The next faulty view of inspiration is, I'll have to tell you, it's not showing up, there we go, concept inspiration, that the concepts of the Bible are inspired but not the words. That one is obvious, I won't spend much time there. And the final one is neoorthodox inspiration, the Bible is a human product full of errors, but it becomes the Word of God (Sounds so spiritual, doesn't it?), it becomes the Word of God when it overpowers us. The Bible becomes God's Word when Christ speaks to us through its pages. The Bible is not the substance of the Word of God, but rather a witness to the Word of God, and it becomes the Word of God as the reader encounters Christ in his own sort of subjective experience. So the history isn't important, that stuff can all be wrong, it's only helpful as you encounter Christ. That's what's important, is your experience. Those are faulty views.

So, let's look at one more passage and we're done. I didn't get as far even as I thought I might get. First Peter, there's one final New Testament passage that highlights the Bible's claim to be the Word of God and it's 1 Peter 1:10. Peter writes,

As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.

By the way, it's an interesting verse, notice what it doesn't say. It doesn't say that they didn't understand that the Messiah would suffer and then be glorified. It doesn't say that. It says, they were seeking to know what? The time and the person, that's what they didn't understand. But what I want you to see is that when the prophets spoke of future things, that is, the coming of the Messiah and His death and His resurrection and His glory, the origin of those prophets is what? The Spirit of Christ who was in them. They didn't come up with it on their own.

Listen folks, you can be confident that the Bible is inspired because the Bible internally claims to be that. The Bible's claims to be the Word of God are absolutely crystal clear. There is no doubt. There is absolutely no question what the internal evidence is, what the Bible says about itself is clear. You can refuse to believe it's testimony, but no one can reasonably argue that it doesn't claim to be the very words of God. And we'll see more of that next time. Let's pray together.

Father, thank You for our study this evening. Thank You that we sit today with Your Word in our hands and we have in it a firm foundation. Lord, we're grateful that You have laid a foundation for us who are the saints of the Lord, in Your excellent Word. Lord, I ask that You would make us appreciate it, You would make us students of it, and make us obedient to it. We pray in Jesus's name, amen.

Systematic Theology