Description of the holy bible – Part 21
God has communicated in many different ways. He revealed Himself to Moses from a burning bush (Ex. 3:4) and to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam out of a cloud (Num. 12:4, 5).
One of the most important ways that divine truths were given in the Old Testament was through the Angel of the Lord. Most Bible students perceive this heavenly messenger to be the pre-incarnate Christ Himself. For example, it is the Angel of the Lord that reassured Joshua on the eve of a battle (Josh. 5:13-15).
Inspiration of God’s Word
“As for Me,” says the Lord, “this is My covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants’ descendants,” says the Lord, “from this time and forevermore.” (Isaiah 59:21)
The word inspiration is found but once in the New Testament. This occurs in Second Timothy 3:16, where Paul says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,” literally “God-breathed.” Divine inspiration logically follows divine revelation. In revelation, God speaks to man’s ear, while by inspiration He guides the pen to ensure that the imparted message is correctly written down.
There are several ideas about the process of inspiration. One is called the natural theory. This says that the Bible authors were inspired in the same sense that William Shakespeare was inspired. Another theory, called the content theory, suggests that God merely gave the writer the main content or idea, allowing him to choose his own words to express that concept. In contrast, Jesus Himself said the very letters of the words were also chosen by God (Matt. 5:18). This position is referred to as the plenary-verbal view, which says that all (plenary) the very words (verbal) of the Bible are inspired by God. Jesus once told the devil that the Christian is to live by each of these inspired words (Matt 4:4). The Bible authors understood that their writings were being guided by the Spirit of God, even as they wrote them. Peter said this was true of the Old Testament authors (2 Pet. 1:20,21). He then stated that his own letters (1 and 2 Pet.) were inspired by God (2 Pet. 3:1,2). Finally, he pointed out that this was also true concerning Paul’s writings (2 Pet. 3:15,16).
One final thing should be said about inspiration. Plenary-verbal inspiration does not guarantee the inspiration of any translation, but only of the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts.
Illumination of God’s Word
“For the commandment is a lamp, and the law a light; reproofs of instruction are the way of life” (Prov. 6:23)“And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there.14 Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.” (Acts 16:13,14)
Illumination is the last of three important steps taken by God in communicating His Word to us. The first step was revelation, which occurred when God spoke to the Bible authors. The second step was inspiration, that process whereby God guided them in correctly writing or uttering His message. But now, a third step is needed to provide understanding for men and women as they hear God’s revealed and inspired message.
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