Inspiration, or to What Extent Is the Bible Inspired of God?
“For no prophecy ever came by the will of man, but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit.”—2 Pet. 1:21.
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”—2 Tim. 3:16, 17.
Our subject this morning is “The Inspiration of the Bible, or to What Extent Is the Bible Inspired of God?” The subject is of vital and fundamental importance. If we can make it clear that the writers of the various books of the Bible were inspired of God in a sense that no other men were ever inspired of God, that they were so gifted and taught and led and governed by the Holy Spirit in their utterances as recorded in the Bible, that they taught the truth and nothing but the truth, that their teachings were absolutely without error,—then we have in the Bible a court of final appeal and of infallible wisdom to which we can go to settle every question of doctrine or duty. But if the writers of the Bible were “inspired” only in the vague and uncertain sense that Shakespeare, Browning and many other men of genius were inspired, only inspired to the extent that their minds were made more keen to see the truth than ordinary men, but still only in such a way that they made mistakes, or chose the wrong word to express their thought, so that we must recast their thought by discovering, if we may, what the inspired thought back of the uninspired words was, then we are all at sea, in hopeless confusion, so that each generation must settle for itself what the Holy Spirit meant to say through the blundering reporters; and it is absolutely certain that no generation can determine with anything approximating accuracy what the Spirit meant, and so no generation can arrive at the truth, but simply promulgate blunders for the next and wiser generation to correct, to be corrected in turn by the next generation that follows it. Thank God that this latter subtle but popular doctrine can be proven to be utterly untrue!
There is great need of crystal clear teaching on this subject, because our colleges and seminaries and pulpits and Sunday schools and religious papers are full of teaching that is vague, inaccurate, misleading, un-Scriptural, and oftentimes grossly false. There are many in these days who say “I believe that the Bible is inspired” when by “inspired” they do not mean at all what you understand or what the mighty men of faith in the past meant by “inspired.” They often say that they “believe the Bible is the Word of God,” when at the same time they believe it is full of errors.
Now the Bible is as clear as crystal in its teachings and claims regarding itself, and either those claims are true, or else the Bible is the biggest fraud in all the literature of the human race. The position held by so many to-day, that the Bible is a good book, perhaps the best book in the world, but at the same time it is full of errors that must be corrected by the higher wisdom of our day, is utterly illogical and absolutely ridiculous. If the Bible is not what it claims to be, it is a fraud—an outrageous fraud.
What does the Bible teach and claim concerning itself? What does it teach and claim regarding the fact and extent of its own inspiration?