The Holy Spirit, Revisted: Inspiration Chapter Four

How did we get here? Let’s do a little review. We began our discussion of the Holy Spirit’s mission here on earth in the era in which we live: to convict the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment; to bring to mind the teachings of Jesus (which is where convicting the world comes from---the word of God); to guide us in all truth and to enable us to apply what we have learned. We also discussed how the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth—by bringing to mind, or illuminating, the Scriptures we have studied. For the original apostles, it was the face to face teachings of Jesus the Holy Spirit brought to mind. For us it’s the Scriptures we’ve read.

 We also discussed that the Holy Spirit is God. When Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit Peter said Ananias lied to God and it cost Ananias and his wife their lives. We also saw, therefore, that the Holy Spirit is not an ‘it’ but a ‘He’ in that He displays attributes and characteristics of personality: saying things like “set apart for Me Saul and Barnabas... for the mission I will send them...” Things don’t say “Me” or “I.” Because the Holy Spirit can be grieved or insulted we know He’s not an ‘it.’ He gives commands “Set apart for Me...” and He expresses preferences, “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit...”

 A discussion of the Scriptures brings us to a discussion of its inspiration. The lynch-pin passage for this discussion, in the minds of some, is 1 Timothy 3:14-17:

 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:14-17)

 The Holy Spirit inspires, breathes out, the Scriptures. In this passage, Paul, as he faces execution, seeks prepare, encourage, and challenge young Timothy in terms of the difficult ministry years ahead, without Paul as a resource. One can’t help but notice that Paul reminds Timothy of what Timothy already knows, the importance of looking to Scripture for wisdom (vv. 14-15). Paul comforts and reminds Timothy concerning the source of this wisdom—namely, God (v 16). The Scriptures are “breathed out,” or inspired, by God. The term is literally God-breathed (θεόπνευστος, theo-nuestos). It has been variously translated God-breathed, breathed out by God, and inspired. Paul also indicates the value and utility of this God-breathed wisdom in verses 16-17. It prepares us for life having equipped us doctrinally, challenged our behavior, corrected our imprecision, and trained us to live for God. Verse 17 focuses on the results of imbibing Scriptural wisdom—we are prepared to serve God capably and intelligently, “that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:17b).”

 How do we know that it is the Holy Spirit’s ministry to ‘inspire’ (‘breath out’) Scripture? Jesus implies as much in Marks gospel:

And as Jesus taught in the temple, he said, “How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? 36 David himself, in the Holy Spirit, declared, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet.”’ (Mark 12:35-36)

 Is Jesus claiming He was present when David declared, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet?”’ Hardly. Jesus is quoting Psalm 110:1, “The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool (Psalm 110:1).” Jesus does not use the word ‘inspiration.’ However, that’s what He implies. He states that David wrote what David wrote under the influence or control of the Holy Spirit (“in the Spirit, declared…”). Peter teaches the same doctrine speaking directly to the inspiration of Scripture:

20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:20-21)

 What does the Apostle Peter say? He says, men say what men say but they are carried along, some translations say ‘moved,’ by the Holy Spirit to say it. It is not of their own, personal invention (“no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation”).  Prophet, Apostles, and other writers of Scripture don’t interpret their own impressions and declare “Thus saith the Lord…” The Holy Spirit moves them to say it (write it) as they are carried along—like David. The Inspired writings, like all works of the Spirit, are not produced by human invention (“For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man”). They are God breathed, inspired by God. This brings us back to the teachings and implications of 2 Timothy 3:16.

 All the books of the Bible are equally inspired by God. No book of the Bible is ‘more inspired’ than another.  Notice what Paul says, perhaps ‘writes’ is a better description:

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

 There are those who, either by ignorance or deceit, believe that only the red-letter portions of their New Testaments, namely the words of Jesus, are truly inspired and authoritative. In reality, Genesis to Revelation are inspired by the Triune God through the agency of the Holy Spirit. Stop and think. When Paul writes to Timothy, Paul’s Scriptures are those of the Old Testament. The Gospels had not been written down as of yet. That precludes any sort of ‘Red Letter’ Christianity. When Jesus cites the Scriptures, He refers to the Old Testament. What we are seeing here is the timeless utility of the word of God. Peter writes, quoting Isaiah, that the word of the LORD remains forever (1 Peter 1:24-25). Peter is quoting Isaiah 40:8:

24 for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you. (1 Peter 1:24-25)

 The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. (Isaiah 40:8)

 Thinking through 2 Timothy 3:16, all Scripture, being God-breathed, is timeless and eternal. Jesus affirmed this in the Sermon on the Mount saying the Law and the Prophets would remain until heaven and earth passed away (Matthew 5:17-18). Are the writings of Paul equivalent to the writings of Moses (Scripture)? What does the Bible say?

15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. (2 Peter 3:15-16)

 Did you notice the last 6 words in the passage above, “as they do the other Scriptures?” Peter is teaching about both the end times and God’s patience with a fallen world. However, he makes an interesting statement pertaining to inspiration. He does so almost in passing. The Apostle Peter, carried along by the Holy Spirit, refers to the writings of Paul as Scripture. Hence, his reference to ‘the other Scriptures.’ Other translations render this “the rest of the Scriptures.” The Apostles and other Scripture writers of the New Testament era understood that they were writing Scripture. For example, Paul consider the writings of Luke in Luke’s Gospel (and Acts) as Scripture: “For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”” (1 Timothy 5:18) What’s going on here? Paul is referring to the writings of Luke and Moses as Scripture. Paul sees them as equally authoritative:

And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. (Luke 10:7)

You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain. (Deuteronomy 25:4)

 Notice that Paul puts the writings of Luke on par with Moses in terms of equally being Scripture.  Why is this important. We’ll see clearly the implications of this in the next paragraph.

 Remember what we read in 2 Timothy 3:16-17. All Scripture is inspired by God (the Holy Spirit) and all Scripture is equally inspired by God, from Old Testament to New Testament:

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

 All Scripture is equally breathed out by God. All Scripture is useful for teaching, reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness to equip us for every task or good work calls us to. The Scriptures of the Old Testament, like the New Testament, are not the private inventions of would-be prophets but these men were carried along by the Holy Spirit to write what they wrote (like Jesus said of David in Mark 12:35-36).

 Because the Holy Spirit inspired Scripture they are like God. Scriptures are like God in that they are timeless, eternal, inerrant, and infallible. As Jesus said they won’t pass away until heaven and earth pass away. As Jesus said, “The Scriptures cannot be broken.” Consequently, we understand that they are timeless, come with no expiration date, and they do not become obsolete. They are God’s Words. They are the revelation “made more sure.” There were inspired, given, recorded, transmitted, and preserved for us. We don’t need a seer or a prophet to tell us God’s Word because the Holy Spirit has given us the whole counsel of God’s word. He breathed out all Scripture. We have it in our hand in many forms so that we can read it, study it, practice it, memorize it, reflect upon it, meditate on it, and do, as Joshua 1:8 says, “All that is written therein” to make our lives spiritually prosperous and spiritually successful. All of this should bring us to a realization that we should take the Word of God very seriously because it is inspired by the Holy Spirit of God so that we can live in obedience to His Word. What is obedience? Obedience is giving in and submitting to the Spirit of God who brings to remembrance and leads us into the realm of understanding and doing the will of God. In other words: Worship.

 God has not left us as orphans without resources. He gave us another Helper just like Christ. He has sent God the Holy Spirit in God the Son’s name. He has breathed out His word to give to us to hide in our hearts that we might not sin against Him. He’s given us a roadmap for living life according to His will. Indeed, the Holy Spirit is, in every real and eternal sense, a Helper like Jesus. His mission is to help us and help us He does.

Suggestions for Application

 So, what do we do with all this? First, follow Paul’s advice to Timothy:

 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:14-15)

 In other words: value the Scriptures. Treasure them. Read them. Meditate on them (Joshua 1:8). Apply them. Use them!

 Take time to thank God that you have the revelation made more sure! You don’t need a middleman to know God’s will. You have no need for prophets, seers, etc. You have the written, God-breathed word of God, provided by the Spirit, at your disposal. Thank God!

 Pray to the Holy Spirit for illumination and understanding. Do this as you prepare to read the God-breathed word of God He has given you: “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law (Psalm 119:18).”

 Trust the Scriptures rather than your intuition. Let God the Holy Spirit guide you through all the days of your life through His word, rather than through fuzzy perceptions and impressions—trust the revelation made more sure.

 

 

 

 

 

Keith Crosby