I was asked a question over text message and I thought it needed a little more response space than a typical text message, so I’m adding a blog post. There were two parts and essentially revolved around these topics-
1. All scripture is inspired yet was recorded by man – did man put any of his viewpoint on what God inspired?
2. Why is it that there seems to be a contradiction in the character of God between the OT and the NT?
We’ll cover question 1 in this post and question 2 in another.
First, what is scripture? 2Timothy 3:16 states that all scripture is given by inspiration of God. Inspiration is often defined as “God-breathed” and we conclude that these were the words which God spoke. And, while, I do not necessarily disagree with that, I think it short changes inspiration a bit. When God breathed in to Adam, Adam became a living soul. To inspire can be to impart the urge to accomplish something, but it can also mean to inhale. To expire also means to exhale. God inspired Adam when He breathed into him the breath of life.
All scripture is inspired (brought to life) by God. This isn’t to say that the scriptures live in the same sense as humans or as God, for that matter, but that they are energized by the breath of God, which is invariably an extension of the mind of God.
When John records that the scriptures’ purpose is to testify of Christ (John 5:38-39), it is highlighting the fact that the scriptures, although are brought to life by God, they are not, however, life itself; for only Christ is Life. (“In Him was LIFE and the LIFE was the LIGHT of men.” John 1:4; “I am the way, the truth and the LIFE…” John 14:6, etc.) The scriptures, therefore, cannot be ‘dead’ and actively point to life at the same time.
This tells us the nature of the scriptures, but it doesn’t tell us what the scriptures are. At the time Paul was writing to Timothy, what were understood to be the scriptures?
2Timothy 3:14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; 3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
The holy scriptures were the sacred writings that the Jews held dear – the Law and the Prophets. These scriptures were able to make Timothy wise unto salvation (same message as Christ in John 5:39). All of these scriptures, being inspired, bear witness to the Life of God, Jesus Christ. They are profitable for doctrine (of Christ), for reproof (of Christ), for correction (of Christ), for instruction in righteousness (of Christ). All of this combined brings the man of God to completion in his being, as it relates to the good works he’s furnished unto.
Did Paul consider what he was writing to be scripture? I don’t know – he never claims it. Does that it mean they are not scripture? No, not at all. For example, Peter seems to suggest that the writings of Paul are included in the same group of the scriptures:
2Peter 3:15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 3:16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
Notice that Peter does not say that these people wrest Paul’s letters as they do the scriptures – he says that they wrest them as they do also THE OTHER scriptures. If Peter is willing to include Paul’s writings in with the other scriptures, then it would seem that Peter views Paul’s writings as sacred – sacred like the Law and the Prophets.
Secondly, as we know the nature of the scriptures and now we know what the scriptures are, does this mean that every word recorded is of God? Stay with me on this. When the serpent lied to Eve, was that of God? When Satan tempts Christ in Matthew 4, are his temptation attempts of God? When the Pharisees bring false accusations against Christ, were those false accusations God-breathed?
The point is that the narrative that the scriptures lay out is inspired, even if it includes discourses of folks who are not speaking from a God-inspired angle. This is another reason why I struggle calling the Bible, “the word of God.” We’ve mentioned the main reason I struggle with this – that the scriptures never refer to itself as the word of God and reserves that for the Name of Jesus Christ. The Word of God is a Person, not a book. However, the book (of scriptures) lays out Jesus Christ, for they (the scriptures) are they which testify of Him. I certainly wouldn’t want to take the lies of Satan, which are recorded in the scriptures, and call them, “the word of God.” But, when we evaluate the larger picture, we come to understand that the events, places, people and discussions recorded all work to point to Jesus Christ and therefore qualify as inspired.
Now, please do not read into this anymore than what I’ve written. Go back and reread the last 3 paragraphs or so, if necessary. I’m in no way suggesting that the scriptures are suspect – but simply trying to allow the scriptures to speak for themselves and recognize what they actually say without me reading between their lines and ascribing titles and phrases to things that the scriptures do not. Again, the scriptures serve a vital purpose and that is to testify of Jesus Christ and therefore, must present a truthful narrative.
At the same time, there are things in scripture that are lies and falsehoods, but are nonetheless recorded. Note Paul’s words to the Corinthians:
1Corinthians 7:12 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. 7:13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. 7:14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. 7:15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. 7:16 For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?
Paul plainly states that what he is about to say is not something he is reiterating from God, but is from himself. Paul was using his experience and wisdom of godly principles to layout this matter. Yet, this is scripture.
Lastly, the inspiration of scripture is what gives it life and testifies of Life. Inspiration does not mean ‘dictation.’ There were times when God said expressly what to write (as with Moses). There were other times when the author is clearly giving their ‘style’, if you will, upon what they are writing. For example, the writings of Paul are very detailed and analytical. Peter’s letters, on the other hand, do not bear the same level of detail as Paul’s. Even Peter’s writing style from 1Peter to 2Peter changes. Furthermore, the fact we have 4 gospels, which give the reader an account of Christ that is not a repetition, 4 times over, also demonstrates that the writers wrote what they witnessed, as filtered through their experience, yet, never violating the inspiration of God.
Inspiration is largely God prompting the writer to record what they saw, heard, said, experienced.
In summary, the scriptures maintain their nature as birthed from Life Himself to testify of Life Himself and they do so infallibly. Second, the scriptures are the writings which are held sacred and within the scriptures, we find that to be the Law and the Prophets, along with the letters of Paul. (This doesn’t mean any other writings in the Bible are not scripture, but that what the scriptures speak of are those: the law, the Prophets and Paul’s epistles). Lastly, the writings of scripture often do bear the style and personality of the writer, even though that their content is a matter of inspiration. The writers never contradict what was inspired to them.
Let the scriptures say what they say. Let the scriptures work and point you to Jesus Christ.