Study of God – Part 4
By: John Ankerberg Show
I.Inspiration of Scripture
While the revelation of God may come in visions, dreams and direct speech, inspiration is concerned with securing the infallibility of the revelation and placing it in written form. Therefore there is much more revealed than has been written.
The Latin word inspirare means “to breathe in.” The Greek word theopneustos in 2 Timothy 3:16 is from Theos (God) and pneo (to breathe), thus, “God-breathed.” God is the originator, the words being literally “breathed out from God.” Technically, the Latin word “expire” is more accurate, so we could rightfully say that Scripture has been expired, “breathed out,” from God.
A.Verbal, Plenary Inspiration
- Verbal indicates a word for word inspiration, while plenary means “full, complete” so that inspiration extends fully to each and every part.
- Full Definition:
Inspiration is the act of God the Holy Spirit by which He supernaturally directed the writers of Scripture, without excluding their human intelligence, their individuality, their literary style, their personal feelings or any other necessary human factor, so that God’s own complete and coherent message to man was recorded in perfect accuracy, and that the very words of the Bible in the original writings bear the absolute authority of this divine authorship inerrantly in every part.
- Proof of verbal, plenary inspiration from 2 Timothy 3:16.
Pasa graphe Theopneustos. Pasa means “every” in the singular, without the article, as here. It thus speaks of each separate passage considered as a unit. Every part, or unit, of Scripture is inspired. Graphe means “writings” and is used in the New Testament to refer to the sacred writings, both O.T. and N.T. Theopneustos means “God-breathed.” In this verse the word Scripture is the subject of the sentence. Thus, a verb (is) must be inserted, so the translation is, “All Scripture is breathed out from God.”
- Proof of verbal, plenary inspiration from 2 Peter 1:20-21
- a.Scriptures did not originate from man’s will or initiative: “For not by the will of man was prophecy ever borne along” (aorist tense, passive voice)
- b.The real source was from God: “they spake (aorist) from God, that is men.”
- c.They wrote and spoke, yet not from themselves: “by the Holy Spirit being borne along” (Present passive participle). The words were His words, yet they were perfectly ordinary human words with precise meanings understandable by humans.
- Specific extent of verbal, plenary inspiration.
- Specific word; 1 Corinthians 2:13 “…not in words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Spirit teacheth.”
- b.A specific word; Matthew 22:34 “How then, doth David, in the Spirit, call him Lord” (Lord, not LORD).
- c.A specific tense of a word; Matthew 22:31-32 “…have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham…God is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Present tense, not past tense).
- d.A specific form of a word; Galatians 3:16 “Now to Abraham and his seed He saith not, And to seeds, as of many, but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ” (singular, not plural).
- e.A specific letter, or even a part of a letter Matthew 5:18 “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot (yodh ‘) or one tittle, (keraia=a horn, or a part of a letter) shall in no way pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”
B.The Dictation Theory, or Mechanical Inspiration
It is claimed by some that verbal, plenary inspiration is equivalent to dictation, and that the writers were mere automatons. If dictation had been the method:
- There would be one style, the style of God.
- There would have been one vocabulary. All four Gospels would have been identical and thus, unnecessary, since all personal factors within the writers would not have been considered nor permitted.
- Statements as Paul makes in 1 Corinthians 7:12, 40 where his own judgment is used and his suggestions preserved as inspiration from God, would not have been permitted.
- Conclusion: All of these indicate that verbal, plenary inspiration is not dictation. God did dictate the Law on Mt. Sinai and the handwriting on the wall to Belshazzar in Daniel 4. There were times when God spoke directly to the prophets and they gave His exact words, such as Jeremiah 36; but aside from this, all the writers used their own style and personalities in presenting God’s message.
II.Illumination of Scripture
Illumination is the specific ministry of the Holy Spirit to the believer by which He enlightens the mind and heart, thus enabling him to understand the meaning of the Scriptures and the truth taught in them. John 16:12-15; I Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 1:17-19.
III.Interpretation of Scripture
The entire Bible should be interpreted in its plain, ordinary, natural meaning unless there is a good reason why this is impossible. Dr. David L. Cooper’s “Golden Rule of Interpretation : “When the plain sense of Scripture makes good sense, seek no other sense. Therefore take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths, indicate clearly otherwise.”
The historical-grammatical method should be applied, considering normal rules of grammar of Hebrew and Greek, asking why, when, and to whom it was written, recognizing the importance and use of symbols in the light of the culture and times.
I.The Substance of God
God is a being, having real existence, not merely a power or an idea, but a Person. In His nature, God is a substance, or Essence, who is infinite, eternal and unchangeable. He is the common subject of all divine perfections, and the common agent of all divine acts. The only way to describe substance is through attributes. Therefore, as to substance, God is spirit; John 4:24. As spirit, He is incorporeal, Luke 24:39; invisible John 1:18; alive, Hebrews 10:31; and personal. A substance without attributes is nothing, no real existence. We say that matter has certain properties; without properties it ceases to be matter; it is a contradiction. In like manner, spirit, as a substance has certain attributes, or characteristics, or it, too, would be a contradiction.
II.The Personality of God
- A. Comparisons with man
Since man was created in the image and likeness of God, Genesis 1:26-27, there must be similarity. Scripture presents God as a person with elements which constitute personality in man, namely, intellect, sensibility and will.
- Intellect, which must define and direct. God is all-wise, knowing all things. Psalm 139:1-6; Hebrews 4:13.
- Sensibility, which must desire. God loves infinitely, John 3:16; 2 John 4:18.
- Will, which must determine the end. God wills sovereignly; Psalm 115:3; Daniel 4:35.
- B. Differences from man
- God has no human body; He is spirit, John 4:24 Yet, many terms are used when God reveals Himself, as though He has a body, such as arms, Deuteronomy 33:27; hands and ears, Isaiah 59:1; face and back parts, Exodus 33:23. These terms are called anthropomorphisms; speaking of God in terms of the form of man. God is capable of performing all that man can do and infinitely more.
- God possesses none of the weaknesses and sin of man. God’s actions are expressed in human terms; anger, Deuteronomy 9:8; repentance, Genesis 6:6; or hatred, Malachi 1:3. Such terms are called anthropopathisms; speaking of God in terms of the passions of man.
- C. Conclusion
If God is not a personal being, the alternative is either atheism (no God) or pantheism (everything is God). Then here would be no purpose for the universe or man, no moral responsibility and no need for worship. All that remains is a dark nothingness. But Scripture proves He is a real being, and this gives to all things a sufficient reason for existence.