Scripture refers to writings that are considered sacred because they contain a record of divine revelation. The New Testament, the law of Moses, the writings of the prophets, the Psalms, and the letters of Paul are referred to as scripture.  –Lexham Theological Wordbook

As we ended the last blog, the question was:  if this collection was written over a time period of about 1,500 years and by over 40 different authors, why should we believe the Bible is God’s Word?  Wasn’t it just written by people?

Yes, it was written by people.  But they didn’t do it alone.  The Bible was written as a cooperative effort – with God.

To give a human example, Jerry Jenkins, co-author with Dr. Tim LaHaye of the best-selling Left Behind Series, talks about his journey in the writing process:

“The Left Behind series started when Dr. LaHaye and I were introduced by our mutual agent in the early 1990s. I was aware of his ministry and had seen many of his nonfiction books; I knew he had an idea for a novel and had even heard the title. He’d been kicking the idea around since the mid-’80s.

“He needed a writer, so we met and talked the idea through. His evangelistic spirit impressed me—the bottom line with Tim is winning souls, and it really moved me to hear him talk about that. At the same time, I wondered if the idea for the book was fresh and different enough, because there had been numerous other attempts at this subject. But as Dr. LaHaye and I talked about it, I started getting more and more excited about the possibility of writing this for him.

“I started by asking Dr. LaHaye what audience I would be writing for. Would I be writing for people who agreed with us, and thus encouraging Christians, or would I be writing for people who had no exposure to this idea and would find it very strange? He said he’d like me to do both. I kept telling him that a double-minded book was unstable in all its ways and that we really needed to pick an audience. I pushed him hard on this for several months, but couldn’t get him to change his mind.

“I remember that first day sitting before a blank screen trying to imagine who I was writing for, with the knowledge I was writing for two audiences. I knew I had to do justice to Dr. LaHaye’s interpretation and vision for the story, to the biblical account, and to the prophecies. At the same time, I felt a tremendous poverty of what I was bringing to the table. There really is a supernatural humility that comes over you in this process. You’d like to think, Yes, I’m ready for this. I’ve done other books. And yet you realize, nobody’s qualified for this task. I just had to give it to the Lord.”

Although Jerry was the one who put pen to paper (or in this case, keyboard to screen), using his creative abilities, the story line and facts came from Dr. LaHaye and the Bible.

People collaborate on writing projects all the time.  At some time in your education, you probably had to work on a group project and give a report.  Sometimes people didn’t contribute their fair share, which could be frustrating.  God always pulls His own weight.

The Bible says that God communicated with the human authors in several ways.  We see Him walking and talking in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve, our first parents, just after He created them.

Moses saw God face-to-face.  God gave him the early history of the world and the Law to govern the new nation of Israel.  Many think of the Law as the Ten Commandments, and those are foundational principles.  But the two greatest commandments, later repeated by Jesus, in Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV) are “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”   Within this framework, God gave the Israelites an extensive civil and religious legal code.

Some writers were given their messages through dreams and visions.  In the materials by and about the prophets, you will often read “Thus said the Lord.” Clearly these writings claim to be from God.

Some mistakenly think that God dictated all the text and the human authors just wrote it down like dictation machines or closed captioning.  God also guided the authors to select portions from records and writings that communicated His message to His people.  We find from archaeology and Middle Eastern history that much of what happened was left out because it was outside the scope of God’s purpose for His Scripture.   No book can contain everything; authors select materials based on their goals.

The result was a collection that Jesus recognized as sacred writings from God.   He frequently referred to the Old Testament as “the Scriptures” (Matthew 21:42).  After his resurrection, He met some of His followers and said to them, “You foolish people—how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!  Wasn’t it necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and enter into his glory?”  Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things written about himself in all the scriptures.”  (Luke 24:25-27).

The Apostle Paul wrote many letters in the New Testament.  Near the end of his life, while he was in prison because he illegally preached about Jesus, he wrote a letter to a young man he had mentored in the ministry:

You, however, must continue in the things you have learned and are confident about. You know who taught you and how from infancy you have known the holy writings, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work.”  (2 Timothy 3:14-17)

This passage makes it clear that every scripture is from God.  Many translations use the word ‘inspired’ to describe the process, but I feel that the range of meaning for the word “inspired” is too broad to accurately describe what is going on in the Greek original.  In English, ‘inspire’ can mean divine/supernatural influence or guidance, but can also refer to drawing out (elicit an idea), giving the confidence and desire to do something (encourage, motivate,), or having an animating or exalting effect (arouse, awaken, ignite).   Inc Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003);   Those other meanings leave God out of the equation.

Writers of the Bible were not just motivated to write about their religious experiences.  Something much deeper was happening.

The English Standard Version (ESV) translates this phrase differently: “All Scripture is breathed out by God . . . .”

The Greek word behind ‘inspire’ in this passage is theopneustos, or more literally, God-breathed.  Jon Laansma explains it this way:  

“. . .  it is God’s own personal speech breathed out by God. . . . This does not negate the active involvement of human authors, but it does affirm that God is fully responsible for Scripture, and it is therefore as true, reliable, authoritative, permanent, and powerful as is God himself. Its message is coherent and consistent. . . .” – Jon C. Laansma, “Commentary on 2 Timothy,” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary: 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, and Hebrews, vol. 17 (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2009), 197–198.

The Apostle Peter expands on this idea.  He was a leader of Jesus’ followers and a member of the inner circle.  He wrote two of the New Testament letters, and probably Mark based his Gospel biography of Jesus on Peter’s personal recollections of the ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus.  Peter also claims to have based his writings on messages he received from God to give to others and explains a bit more about the process:

“We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.  Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”   (2 Peter 1:19-21)

Peter also states that Paul’s letters are inspired. If you have tried wading through some of Paul’s letters, you know they can be heavy going.  His run-on sentences are even longer in the Greek!  But despite Paul’s sometimes cumbersome writing style, the Apostle Peter recognized that Paul’s letters were from God when he equated them to ‘the rest of the Scriptures.’

“Regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation; just as also 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, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.” (2 Pet. 3:15–16)

This short review of the biblical data concerning inspiration demonstrates that God superintended the process to ensure that His message was communicated accurately, but allowed the personalities of the human writers to show through.

The Word Is Alive            

Author(s): Mark Hall, Steven Curtis Chapman      CCLI Song Number 5077377

 Verse 1 

Looking out from His throne 
the Father of light and of men 
Chose to make himself known 
and show us the way back to Him 

Speaking wisdom and truth  
into the hearts of peasants and kings 
He began to unveil the word  
that would change the course of all things 

With eyes wide open, 
all would see 

The Word is alive 
and it cuts like a sword through the darkness 
With the message of life to the hopeless and afraid 
Breathing life into all who believe 

The word is alive 
and the world and its glories will fade 
but Him truth, it will not pass away 
It remains yesterday and forever the same 
The word is alive 

Verse 2 
Simple strokes on a page 
Eternities secret revealed 
carried on from age to age 
It speaks truth to us even still 

And as the rain falls from Heaven 
feeds the earth before it returns Lord, 
let your word fall on us  
and bring forth the fruit you deserve 

(Repeat Pre-Chorus & amp; Chorus) 

The word is alive 
His word is alive

Copyright:  2007 Primary Wave Brian (Chapman Sp Acct) (Admin. by BMG Chrysalis), My Refuge Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing), Sparrow Song (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing), Be Essential Songs (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC)

One thought on “What Does The Bible Claim About Itself?

  1. Wow. Powerful explanations. Wonderful illustrations. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard or read an explanation and word pictures that have described the inspiration process as clearly as this. Thanks so much for this, my friend. It’s not only food for thought but fuel for conversation.

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