Summary: What do the scriptures teach about how the Holy Spirit inspires (or breathes) the word of God? This sermon shows what scripture says and debunks 2 other views.
SCRIPTURE IS GIVEN BY GOD, THE HOLY SPIRIT
In our prior lesson on in talking about the deity of the Holy Spirit, I used the following argument to show that the Holy Spirit is God: Who gave us the Bible? God (1 Tim 3:15-17), or the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20-21)
We see in this argument not just that the Holy Spirit is a member of the Godhead and is divine, but also the fact that He is the member of the Godhead that gave us the scriptures. One of the most important works of the Holy Spirit, one that we greatly benefit from today is His revelation and confirmation of scripture.
WHAT IS INSPIRATION?
We are told in 1 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is inspired by God…” Most translations use the term "inspiration." Whenever the Bible talks about inspiration, what does this mean?
WHAT INSPIRATION IS NOT
What it doesn't mean is that the Spirit motivated them or gave them insight, such as in the example of Looking at a sunset “inspires me” to write a poem. There are times in scripture (many of the psalms) where David is "inspired" to write a psalm of praise to God because of something God did in his life, but this is not what the Bible means when it uses the term "inspiration." As we will see shortly, inspiration is not the best translation of the word, and using the word unfortunately brings along with it misunderstandings such as this one.
"Inspiration" also doesn’t mean that the Spirit gave them general truths or ideas that they, after receiving, interpreted and wrote down in their own words based on the common beliefs of the day. I have recently studied with a brother who taught this kind of idea to show that God used evolution to create. His argument was that God gave them the general truth that God is the Creator, but how God created is not really taught in scripture. What we really see in Genesis 1-2 is the Spirit "inspiring" the writers to give "truth" that God is creator based on the popular beliefs of the time when they wrote. But this is not what God teaches about inspiration. God did not give them a general truth (He is Creator) and then give them the freedom to write down that truth based on the beliefs of their times:
Peter teaches against this idea. The prophets, when they wrote, did NOT take what the Spirit gave them, then interpret it to fit the times. Peter says NO PROPHECY OF SCRIPTURE was given this way!
Peter then goes on in this text to define how the Spirit does work in revealing scripture:
“But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” -2 Peter 1:20-21
From this text in 2 Peter, we learn a few things about what it means when we are told that scripture is from God:
1.They spoke from God. What they have to say is not merely from their own limited perspective. They are not the origin of the truth they speak; they are the channel. The truth is God's truth. Their meaning is God's meaning.
2.Not only is what they spoke from God, but how they spoke it is controlled by the Holy Spirit. "Men, moved by the Holy Spirit, spoke from God." God did not simply reveal truth to the writers of Scripture and then depart in hopes that they might communicate it accurately. Peter says that in the very communicating of it they were carried by the Holy Spirit. The making of the Bible was not left to merely human skills of communication; the Holy Spirit himself carried the process to completion. The Spirit, using the personality, vocabulary, experiences, and hand of the writer, gave His word as He wanted it.
We see this also in 1 Corinthians 2:13:
“which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit…”
The words they (the Apostles) taught were the words of the Holy Spirit, not the ideas or general truths of the Holy Spirit, but the very words of God.
"When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit” (Mark 13:11).
When the Holy Spirit "inspires" one to speak, it is actually the Holy Spirit doing the speaking. God is speaking or teaching us through these men. They are the channel through which he reveals the very words that He wants us to have.