Paul wrote, All Scripture is given by inspiration of God (2 Tim. 3:16). The expression inspiration of God means literally God-breathed. Just as we exhale air across the vocal chords to speak, God breathed into the minds of select individuals His word so they could speak His message. Inspired men spoke as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:4). For instance, David said, The Spirit of Jehovah spake by me, and his word was upon my tongue (2 Sam.23:2). And Paul affirmed that the things the apostles spoke were, not in words which man s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches (1 Cor. 2:13). This passage teaches the verbal inspiration of the Bible, that is, that the very words of the Scriptures are given by God. Although He used the talents, backgrounds, personalities and writing styles of the inspired writers to convey His message, what these inspired men wrote expressed with absolute precision God s word. These biblical scribes claimed no originality for what they wrote. Instead, Paul said, The gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came by the revelation of Jesus Christ (Gal. 1:11, 12). And so, men wrote by inspiration the revelation of God and we have it today the Bible.
In describing his revelation from God, the apostle Paul says, He made known to me the mystery (as I wrote before in a few words, by this, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) (Eph. 3:3, 4). This passage not only confirms the understandability of that revelation, but the way in which it was transmitted. God chose to have men record His word in a written text. Are any of these original manuscripts of that revelation available today? No they are not, and doubtless for good reason. It s likely that if those original autographed manuscripts were available today men would worship them rather than their Author. Does this suggest that the copies we now possess are not reliable collections of truth? Absolutely not! Divine oversight has accurately preserved the Scriptures, and biblical record bears this out. Paul points out that Timothy had known from childhood the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation (2 Tim. 3:15). The Holy Scriptures referred to are the books of the Old Testament. What was available at the time were copies of the original Old Testament manuscripts. The integrity of these manuscripts was so preserved that by inspiration Paul could affirm that their original design remained intact thus making men wise for salvation.
We ve established that the Bible is literally the word of God as men wrote by inspiration the revelation of God. The original text of the Bible was in three languages as the Old Testament was written in Hebrew with some minor portions in Aramaic, and the New Testament was written in Greek. Since most of us do not read these original languages we are dependent upon an English translation to read God s truth. Can we know that we are reading the genuine word of God even though we are reading a translation? Of course we can. The fact is, Jesus employed the use of a translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into the Greek as the Septuagint is quoted some three hundred times in the New Testament. For instance, Jesus asked, Have you not read what was spoken to you by God? He then quotes from the Septuagint Version of the Old Testament, a translation of the Hebrew into Greek (Matt. 22:31, 32). This demonstrates that the process of translating the Scriptures from one language to another does not destroy the revealed word of God. We must, however, use caution to make sure we use a reliable translation of the Scriptures; that is, one translated by many scholars from different backgrounds who have faithfully translated each word from the Hebrew or Greek into English thus preserving God s truth.
For the past several weeks we have been studying the origin, transmission and translation of the Bible in an attempt to show the Scriptures to be literally the word of God. But even if one grants that the Bible has be faithfully transmitted and translated is it not a fact that it is so completely shrouded in mystery that supernatural guidance is essential to understand it? Absolutely not! Neither is man so hopelessly corrupt that he cannot understand it without God s help. The fact is, God has given us His revelation so that we can read it and know His will. When Jesus gave the parable of the sower He made it clear that the seed sown on the good ground represented the heart of an individual that hears the word and understands it (Matt. 13:23). Such individuals possess an honest and good heart that desires and is able to receive God s word (Luke 8:15). Not only so, Paul proclaimed that he wrote God s revelation so that when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ (Eph. 3:4). Later in the same letter to the Ephesians he admonished, Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is (Eph. 5:17). Any person with an honest and good heart that wants to understand can, with honest and deliberate study, comprehend the essential truth of God s word.
The Bible is literally the revealed word of God, transmitted and translated so that we might read it and understand what God would have us to do to be pleasing in His sight. James says that we are to, lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls (James 1:21). He then tells us how we receive that word, But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves (v. 22). We can read, study and understand the Bible, but if we do not apply it to our lives and obey it we will not benefit from God s revelation. Jesus declared, Blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it (Luke 11:28). And Paul says it is the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified (Acts 20:32). When we acclaim the Bible as the truth of God, and yet do not obey it, we demonstrate our lack of trust in God Himself. As Jesus put it, Why do you call Me Lord, Lord, and do not do the things which I say? (Luke 6:46) Jesus is the perfect example of one who exercised truth both in word and in deed. In fact, His life was summed up in His prayer to the Father, Not as I will, but as You will (Matt. 26:39). Is that your prayer as well? It should be.
Jesus gave the apostles the great commission saying, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned (Mark 16:15, 16). The apostle Paul says, Preach the word! (2 Tim. 4:2). Why are these commandments to teach and preach the word of God given? No one today has access to divine truth through any personal or direct interview with deity. God does not speak to man today through visions, or dreams, or by some direct or miraculous manifestation of the Holy Spirit. There was a time when God did communicate with man directly, but those days have long since ceased (1 Cor. 13:8-10). God s word has been revealed in its completeness (2 Tim. 3:16, 17) and recorded so that all mankind can understand it (Eph. 3:3-6). That word, the gospel of Christ, is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes (Rom. 1:16), for when it is received that word saves (James 1:21). But How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? (Rom. 10:14). The seed of the kingdom of heaven must be sown into the hearts of men (Luke 8:11). But the lost will only be exposed to the saving message of the Scriptures as they are taught by other men.