The Inspiration of Scripture
This is our first Friday of the month look at one of the booklets that are provided by The Committee on Christian Education (CCE) of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
Today’s booklet is, The Inspiration of Scripture. There are a few copies of this booklet in the bookcase at the church building in the foyer if you would like a hard copy. This booklet is not available to read online at this time.
Today’s booklet ties into last weeks sermon on The Blessing of God’s Word, http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?sermonID=101171434250. The booklet is divided into four sections: What is Scripture? What is Inspiration? The Implications of Inspiration and The Challenge of Faith.
What is Scripture?
The author, James W. Scott writes, “Scripture, then, consists of the writings (usually called “books”) that are contained in the Bible, both the Old Testament (originally written in Hebrew, during the time of the old covenant) and the New Testament (originally written in Greek, during the time of the new covenant).” Protestants recognize 27 books in the New Testament and 39 books in the Old Testament for a total of 66 books in the Bible. Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox include additional books, called Apocrypha, in their Old Testament canon. The author speaks of how we recognize these 66 books as Scripture.
The author also speaks of the original text of Scripture and discusses translation and copying issues that have taken place over the centuries. Copyists are not always perfect in their copying, but we can trust in the providence of God to preserve His Word for His people. Scripture is “God-Breathed,” 1 Timothy 3:16. “Scripture, then, is the written word of God, consisting of the written oracles of God, which have been given to us by divine inspiration.”
What is Inspiration?
“One of the most important texts on inspiration, 2 Peter 1:20-21, clearly states that “men spoke” when Scripture was being written.” God used human writers to convey His words to men. In inspiration, the Holy Spirit works in various ways upon the mind of the inspired person. The Holy Spirit can simply cause the recollection of information, or the Spirit may simply select, organize and formulate things already known to the writer. “This divine acting upon the mind of the writer of Scripture is described by Peter as being “carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21).” The author also points out that the inspired writers of Scripture were not random people, but they were people God had prepared and called to receive inspiration and to be conveyors of God’s Word.
The Implications of Inspiration
Because God knows everything and always speaks the truth and does not change, His written word is free from all inconsistencies and contradictions. God’s message unfolded over the centuries as redemptive history unfolded. “Because the author of Scripture is all-knowing, truthful, and unchangeable, it follows that Scripture cannot contain any error; that is, it is infallible. And because it cannot contain any error, it does not contain any error; that is, it is inerrant.” To have a Bible with error would be inconsistent with the very nature of God.
The Challenge of Faith
The unbeliever finds the words of Scripture foolish. The believer finds redemptive words of life. How we view Scripture says a lot about how we view God. Reason alone will never convince a person that the Bible is the very Word of God. Only the Holy Spirit can do that.
The author ends this booklet by speaking of “apparent” problem passages in Scripture and states that God has placed them there to: 1) Test the faith of readers (believers from unbelievers), and 2) To deepen the faith of believers. May we ask God, the giver of wisdom, for the wisdom to read and understand His Word better. I encourage you to take a few minutes and read this booklet on, The Inspiration of Scripture.
Many of you may be aware that October 31st marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, where Martin Luther, a German monk, posted ninety-five theses for debate on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg.
We look to the cross of Christ as the center of history. As Christians, we look at history as moving in a linear direction from creation to consummation, with the cross of Christ and the power of the Gospel as being central to God’s story.
We look back to Martin Luther and the other Reformers not because they came up with something new, but because they rediscovered a message that was buried in tradition, ritual, and performance.
Michael Reeves in his booklet, Freedom Movement, writes; “Five hundred years on, we remember the Reformation because it was not just another call to do better. It was the recovery of a message that has got buried — a world changing message good for all centuries.”
That message of good news is the still the same message we proclaim today. This October we have several opportunities to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
First, our morning messages in October will focus on those five “solas” of the Reformation looking at these great blessings of God.
October 1 — The Blessing of God’s Word.Sola Scriptura
October 8 — The Blessing of Faith Sola Fide
October 15 — The Blessing of GraceSola Gratia
October 22 — The Blessing of Christ Sola Christus
October 29 — To God Alone be the GlorySoli Deo Gloria
Second, in celebration of the Reformation, each October our fellowship meal at the manse has a German theme to remember Martin Luther and the beginnings of Reformation.
Third, we have been invited by our sister church in Westfield to join them on the evening of October 31st for a Reformation Celebration. This begins at 6PM with dinner, followed by the movie Luther (2003), and activities for the whole family.
I hope you will take some time in October to reflect back to the Reformation and the simple things in our faith that you and I take for granted as Christians in the year of our Lord, 2017. Also in the early 1500’s William Tyndale set about his life’s work of translating the Bible from its original Greek and Hebrew into English. At that time it was illegal in England to own or even read such a translation. The penalty was death. The next time you open your Bible, give thanks to God for the courage of those who gave their very lives so that you and I may read and believe the truth of God’s Word.