Psalm 119:160 “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth forever.”
The key battleground today in Christianity focuses on The Nature of the Bible and the meaning of the word INSPIRATION and the associated word PRESERVATION as applied to the Bible.
At one end of the spectrum is an influential “Critical Text” group of theologians who claim that the original text of the Bible have been so corrupted and manipulated that it is are lost. Therefore, they are seeking to “restore” the text so it is closer to the original, yet they are unsure if they will ever be able to do that. This is what the editors of the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament are seeking to do. They tell you this in the beginning of their 24th edition of the Greek New Testament –
Novum Testamentum Graece seeks to provide the reader with the critical appreciation of the whole textual tradition…It should naturally be understood that this text is a working text (in the sense of the century-long Nestle tradition); it is not to be considered as definitive, but as a stimulus to further efforts towards redefining and verifying the text of the New Testament.
To be sure, they are continuing on in their task. They are up to their 28th edition of the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. Dr. Bobby Adams has compared the 27th Edition to the 28th edition and finds that there are 35 changes made from the previous edition!
At the other end of the spectrum are those who believe…
The King James Bible is advanced revelation, the apex of Bible transmission. They claim King James Bible itself was given by divine inspiration and is superior to the Hebrew and Greek in which the Scripture was originally given and in fact even corrects the Hebrew
and the Greek. They assert that every foreign language translation made today should be based on the King James Bible.1
In light of the heated controversies over the issues of the nature of the Bible, inspiration and preservation I feel compelled to explain some of the different positions that are being promoted today and then articulate our own position on these essential Biblical truths. I have titled this presentation – What Inspiration Is Not!
Why Is There So Much Confusion About The Bible?
This book, the Holy Bible, is the MOST important book in the world! There is no other book that has ever been written or will be written that is more important than the Word of God. How a person views it and what your response is to this book and its message will determine your destiny! The Bible says, “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)
Know this, the Devil HATES people. He is ruthless and wants people to be damned to Hell which was created for the him and his angels. He hates mankind because we are the pinnacle of God’s creation, created in God’s image. He wants us to remain alienated from God. Remember, Satan is our adversary, a roaring lion, who seeks to devour us (1 Peter 5:8).
The Devil and his diabolical hordes hate the Word(s) of God. “What is certain is that Satan is fully aware of the Scripture, and he knows it inside and out. He has no doubt that God’s Word is infallible and true,”2 but he and his evil ilk, from the beginning, have done everything in their power to confuse people about the nature of the Bible and keep them from believing God’s Word(s). He has sought to corrupt it, compromise it, water it down, obscure it, make it unavailable, make people doubt it, and destroy it! He wants it hidden from the eyes of men and woman! 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” He wants people to ignore it.
“His (the Devil’s) assault began in the Garden of Eden. God had spoken to Adam in the garden and had commanded him, ‘Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die (Genesis 2:16, 17).’”3 Eve knew this command. Likely by observation the Devil knew that she was the weaker vessel, so he targeted her. Notes the assault on God’s Word(s).
#1 – God’s Word Was Questioned by The Devil
The Devil posed this question, “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (3:1).
#2 – God’s Word Was Subtracted From by Eve
Eve answered the Devil, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden,” (3:2) thus subtracting the word “every” from the words God had given Adam in Genesis 2:16.
#3 – God’s Word Was Added To by Eve
When Eve first answered the Devil about God’s command, she added the words “neither shall ye touch it.” (3:3) God did not say that.
#4 – God’s Word Was Softened By Eve
Eve answered the Devil that God had said they were not to eat of the tree “lest ye die.” In reality God had said, “for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (3:3) That is much stronger, fearful, and certain than Eve’s new softened paraphrase version.
#5 – God’s Word Was Denied by the Devil
The Devil blatantly stated, “Ye shall not surely die.” (3:4)
#6 – God’s Word Was Blasphemed by the Devil
The Devil further stated, “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (3:5)
#7 – God’s Word Was Ignored and Disobeyed
Eve ignored God’s Word and “took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (3:6).
To answer the question that I asked at the beginning of this section – Why is there so much confusion about the Bible? The dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan is still up to the same old tricks today. His purpose it the same! He tries to corrupt the Bible, compromise the Bible, water down the Bible, obscure Bible, make the Bible unavailable, make people doubt the Bible and lose confidence in the Bible that that they might be damned to the Lake of Fire!
What Inspiration Is Not
It makes sense to explain to you what the Bible says about INSPIRATION before I make known conflicting views propound.
There can be no doubt that “the Bible itself claims that every word in every part of the Bible comes from God (1 Corinthians 2:12-13; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20- 21). This view of the Scriptures is often referred to as ‘verbal plenary’ inspiration. That means the inspiration extends to the very words themselves (verbal)—not just concepts or ideas—and that the inspiration extends to all parts of Scripture and all subject matters of Scripture (plenary).”4
Full Verbal Plenary Inspiration is an essential characteristic of the Word of God. All other views fall short of the Bible’s claims about itself.
“Prior to 1580 the inspiration of the books of the Canon (the 66 book of the Bible) were taken for granted.”5 But, with the advent of German Higher Criticism in the early 1700’s belief in the inspiration of the Bible came under attack.
The Father of German Rationalism, Johann Salomo Semler (1725-1717) rejected Jesus Christ and believed that the Bible was to be judged by human reason. He taught that “The sophisticated human mind should have no obligation to believe what is ‘unreasonable’ in the Bible.”6
Alternate views of inspiration propounded today:
Intuition or Natural Inspiration View
This view held by the typical Modernist today. They believe there is NO supernatural element associated with the writing of the Bible. They believe the Bible is the product of intelligent and gifted men. These men had highly developed natural insight into spiritual truth that motivated them to write the Bible from those insights. The Bible would be on the level of other great books written by men with insight in a particular field, like Homer’s ancient Greek epic poem The Iliad, the works of Shakespeare or Einstein’s book Relativity: The Special and General Theory.
Here is the problem with this view – “…the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14.
1 Corinthians 1:19-21 “For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent (Isaiah 29:14). 20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
Intuition or Natural Inspiration is NOT inspiration! It falls short what the Bible claims about itself.
The Illumination or Mystical Theory
This position holds that the Bible is not the Word of God, but only contains the Word of God, and that not the writings, but only the writers were inspired. They contend that the Holy Spirit illuminated the writers mind, elevating his religious perception.
Certainly there is illumination of the believer’s mind by the Holy Spirit as we look into the Word of God, but this illumination only allows us to understand that which has already been written by inspiration, it cannot impart new truth (John 14:26; Romans 8:14).
Mystical Inspiration or Illumination is NOT Inspiration! It falls short what the Bible claims about itself.
“Partial inspiration claims that only certain portions of Scripture are inspired, such as prophetic passages, or that certain portions of the Bible are more, or less, inspired than others. All forms of partial inspiration leave the reader to be the final judge of what is and is not inspired, meaning there is no ultimate, discernable, overarching truth presented by God in the Bible.”7
Matthew 4:4 “But he (Jesus) answered and said, It is written (Deuteronomy 8:3), Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”
Partial Inspiration is NOT Inspiration! It falls short what the Bible claims about itself.
The Dictation or Mechanical View
While God did, at certain time, dictate portions of the Scriptures, this theory holds that the writer was passive. They became passive instruments of the Holy Spirit. The writers mind was suspended and he mechanically wrote down what was dictated to them. The inspiration of god did not obliterate the personality, outlook or style of the author. A dictated Bible would present a consistent level of style and vocabulary, rather than the diversity that we see in the different books of the Scripture.
Mechanical Inspiration is NOT Inspiration. It falls short what the Bible claims about itself.
Dynamic or Conceptual Inspiration
“The conceptual view of inspiration, either deliberately or unintentionally, weakens the concept of biblical inspiration, maintaining that God only inspired the concepts, and not the individual words, penned by the original authors.”8
This view holds that the Scriptures contain a human as well as a divine element, so that while they present a body of divinely revealed truth, this truth is shaped in human molds and adapted to ordinary human intelligence, and is thus conceptual (the idea, or thought, or concept is inspired) rather than verbal (the very words are inspired) in its view of inspiration.
This is the view held by many fundamentalists today, and is the basis for the proliferation of the many English language translations of the Scriptures now on the market, each one trying to put into different words the inspired thought, or idea, or concept of the original, while glossing over or even ignoring the words inspired by God.
Clearly God did inspire the WORDS of the Scripture. We read in Isaiah 59:21 “As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever.
We read the words of our Lord in Matthew 24:35 “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”
God did NOT just inspire the concepts. He inspired the WORDS!
Dynamic or Conceptual Inspiration is NOT Inspiration! It falls short what the Bible claims about itself.
Here is the problem with the above views of inspiration. If the Bible is NOT fully inspired, then it is NOT a reliable standard.
Biblical Inspiration Explained More Fully
We looked at this passage early on in the message but I want to have you look at it again – 2 Timothy 3:16 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”
The word inspiration is derived from the Greek word θεοπνευστος –theopneutos (2 Timothy 3:16), which literally means “God breathed” or more accurately, “breathed into by God.” Charles Ryrie writes that inspiration is —
“God’s superintending of human authors so that, using their own individual personalities, they composed and recorded without error in the words of the original autographs His revelation to man.”
Dr. Thomas Strouse puts it this way – “Inspiration is the process whereby the Holy Spirit led the writers of Scripture to record accurately His very words; the product of the process was an inspired original.”9
The best definition of inspiration that helps me to accurately understand what happened is by Dr. H. D. Williams. He wrote –
“Inspiration is the miracle whereby the Words of the Scripture in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek were God- breathed and ‘once delivered’ using ‘holy men of God’ and their vocabulary, who perfectly recorded them ‘once’ as they were ‘moved’ along by the Holy Spirit in such a way that ‘all’ the Words written are infallible and inerrant in the in the sixty-six books of the canon of Scripture.”10
There is an important fact you must know when it comes to biblical inspiration. It was the WORDS that were inspired, not the men! God worked through men by His Holy Spirit with the result of the WORDS being inspired. That is what 2 Peter 1:20-21 is saying, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
Let me explain what is being said in verse 21. The idea is that Scripture neither proceeds from the prophet’s own knowledge, thoughts, ideas or inventions, nor was it rooted in the calculation or conjecture of the one to whom it was revealed. As one commentator put it, “this means that the origin of the Scripture was not of anyone’s private or personal ideas.” The Scriptures were of the Lord! It was the Words that were inspired or breathed out by God (see 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21; Jude 1:3).
God Only Inspired His Words Once
You will note that in each of the above definitions of inspiration that the Bible talks about, God only inspired the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek writings, the originals! He has not done it again. The natural question is, if we do not have the originals, do we have the Word of God? The answer is YES! God HAS preserved His Word for Us!
Preservation Is Not Inspiration
A Bible that was perfect, full inspired by God only in the original autographs would be of no value to us today unless God had preserved His Word perfect for us today.
Dean John Burgon wrote this on the preservation of the Scriptures:
“There exists no reason for supposing that [God], who in first instance thus gave to mankind the Scriptures of Truth, straightway abdicated His office; took no further care of His work; abandoned those precious writings to their fate.”11
God HAS preserved His words for us!
Psalms 119:160 “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.”
Psalms 33:11 “The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.”
Isaiah 30:8 “Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever:”
Isaiah 40:8 “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.”
Psalms 12:6-7 “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. 7 Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.”
I hold to what Baptists have historically held to. God HAS preserved His WORDS as He Promised! London Baptist Confession of 1677 and 1689 says, “The Old Testament in Hebrew, (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament Greek (which at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations) being immediately inspired by God, and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages and are therefore authentical…”
I believe that God Inspired His Words once and that God has preserved His Words in the Hebrew, Aramaic Masoretic Text of the Old Testament and the Traditional Text of the New Testament . “God’s preservation maintains all the authority and Holy Spirit power that God originally placed on and in His words.” 12
Now, you must understand that just as there is a preserved line of manuscripts (the Masoretic Hebrew – Ben Chayyim or Bomberg edition – and the Greek Traditional Text also called the Textus Recptus). There is also a corrupt line of manuscripts as well. The Ben Asher Hebrew exhibited in Kittel’s BIBLICA HEBRAICA and the eclectic Greek text rooted in a very small number of corrupt Greek manuscripts, which the Modern Versions of the Bible are translated from.
God HAS preserved His Words Masoretic Hebrew text of Ben Chayyim and the Traditional Text of the Greek! But preservations is NOT inspiration.
Translation Is NOT Inspiration
Is our King James Bible Inspired?
Did God again speak to the King James’ translators in like fashion as He spoke through Moses, David, Isaiah, Paul, or John? Or, “Did God re-inspire the King James’ translators? There are many who believe that He did. But a translation is NOT inspiration.
Dr. David Sorenson gives us a clear answer –
There is absolutely no record or claim that the King James’ translators, erudite and godly as they were, received any such second inspiration. A careful study of their work and the subsequent publishing process absolutely militates against any such notion. The King James Version as a translation is not inspired!”13
God inspired His words only when they flowed from the tip of the pens of the various Scriptural authors. He has not done so again. I do NOT believe in double inspiration of any type, no matter who promotes it.
While God has not re-inspired the King James Bible, “ I believe that the King James Bible is God’s Word kept intact in English.”14
The King James Bible translators had God’s preserved words in front of them as they worked with the Hebrew Masoretic text and the Greek Traditional text! They did NOT need to be re-inspired, they simply needed to faithfully and accurately translate those preserved Words and that is what they did! That outcome is that the King James Bible is God’s Word kept intact in English.
“Has God preserved His Word perfect for us today, or was it only perfect in the ‘original’ autographs? If God has not preserved His Word perfectly, we must assume that we are preaching and teaching from a book that is not completely reliable as the “original” autographs are no longer accessable.”15 Our King James Bible, because of it meticulous and accurate translation of the preserved words of God maintains all the authority and Holy Spirit power that God originally placed on and in His Words.
1 Peter 1:25 “…the word of the Lord endureth for ever….”