The Inspiration of Scripture

E W Rogers, Oxford

Part 1 of 11 of the series The Fundamentals

WE ARE LIVING IN DAYS when in most unexpected quarters doubts are cast upon the inspiration of Scripture. We, therefore, should approach the matter not with any preconceived notions but, if at all possible, stripping our minds of that in which we have been instructed, and seeking to learn afresh the mind of God.
It would, indeed, be a dreadful thing were we to discover that any part of holy Scripture was uncertain: it might well be that the part on which we depend for our security is also unreliable. What then?
In all matters of interpretation words are of the utmost importance. The lawyer in seeking to interpret a document before him is not guided by what it is suggested the person who wrote it intended, but by what he actually wrote. The words of the document count for everything. This is so with Scripture. It is open to the believer to know what is the mind of the Spirit, he may indeed have the mind of Christ, but it is only as he gathers it from what is written. He dare not depend upon his own surmisings.
It is not sufficient to say that the thoughts are inspired but not the words, for the accurate conveyance of thoughts can only be by accurate words. If the words are faulty then the thoughts have not been properly conveyed. It follows, therefore, that verbal inspiration is basic. Plenary inspiration is vital. Accordingly we find Paul in Gal. 3. 16 making a strong point of the singular word 'seed' where a plural might have been expected. So, too, in John 8. 58 the present tense is used where a past might have been anticipated. The writer to the Hebrews calls attention to specific words such as 'new' and 'once more' (see 8. 13; 12. 27).
What is inspiration? It would be difficult to define beyond saying that it is that process which has resulted in a perfectly accurate and authoritative written compilation of literature which everywhere bears the hallmark of divine origin. The process will ever remain a mystery, but the product has stood the test of milleniums. Peter says that men from God spake as they were moved along by the Holy Ghost, and that Old Testament prophecy was the result of the Spirit of Christ 'speaking in' the prophets, 1 Peter 1. 11; 2 Peter 1. 21. Paul says 'All scripture is God-breathed', 2 Tim. 3. 16. It is not merely 'was God-breathed' but is still warm with the breath of God. It is living and powerful, Heb. 4. 12. No Old Testament prophet decided of his own volition to write a book: but he was God's mouthpiece and cried 'Thus saith the Lord', 'The word of the Lord came unto me saying' and like statements. They were not authors but channels. They reported to others what they had first heard. Their words were not their own.
Do not suppose that all that is in Scripture has God's sanction. Clearly He was displeased at David's sin and at Satan's aspersions against Job. But the record of these things is inspired of God and has been given us for our learning. It is all God's word no matter what the subject matter may be.
Like the Lord Jesus Himself the Scriptures have the dual characteristic that they are divine yet truly human. The peculiar style of each penman is clear to all: no one could confound Isaiah's poetic strains with the sad tones of Jeremiah, or the logic of Paul with the fervour of Peter and the simplicity yet profundity of John. In some cases circumstances gave occasion for the writings, such as the misdemeanour of the Corinthian saints and the incipient division among the Philippians. But the Spirit of God so controlled all the penmen of Scripture that, using their traits and the circumstances, He ensured that they wrote unerringly and that what they wrote was God's word.
'Unerringly' is the right word, for though the translations of Scripture have in some instances mistakes (happily very few in these late days) yet that does not affect the original writing. Sometimes copyists made errors but these are so few as to be almost insignificant. Certainly nothing fundamental to our faith is affected by them. Those who tell us that the Bible is not abreast of modern scientific discoveries overlook that the Scriptures were not written for scientists as such but for ordinary people who judge by the sight of the eye, so that phenomena is spoken of therein as they would ordinarily refer to it. Moreover the scientist has ever to beware that he does not assume his theories to be facts. He will not, we are sure, find that any clearly ascertained fact is contradicted by Scripture.
Paul in 1 Corinthians 2 tells us, touching his doctrine, what is true of the whole of Scripture, viz. (a) that it sprang from divine revelation, (b) that spiritual words are its medium of communication, and (c) that the Spirit of God furnishes its explanation (see in particular verses 10, 13 and 14). Indeed, we may glean from Rev. 22. 6, 10, 18 and 19 that that book (and what is true of it is true of the whole) is 'faithful' in its promises: 'true' as to its facts: authoritative as to its origin: inevitable as to its foreshadowings: unsealed now as to its meaning: and complete as to its canon. All of this merits amplification, but consideration of available space makes this impossible.
The citation of the Old Testament in the New Testament is a most instructive and reassuring study. Oftentimes the Spirit of God opens out a new meaning latent in the Old Testament passage  but not discoverable from its context. Sometimes the free translation of the Septuagint is used and turned to additional instruction (see Gen. 5. 22 and Heb. 11. 5: Ps. 40. 6-8 and Heb. 10. 5-8). Seeing it is one and the same Spirit who wrote both Old and New Testaments: it follows that He has the right in later writings to use for His own purpose His former writings.
It was Adolf Saphir who said, 'The silences of Scripture are like the pauses in music: they add to its harmony'. He was speaking of the Genesis account of Melchizedek to which Hebrew 7 refers. We should ever be wary of seeking to fill up that which the Spirit of God has left unsaid.
Of the Bible we say as was said of Goliath's sword 'There is nothing like it'.

There are 9 articles in
ISSUE (1961, Volume 12 Issue 1)

Adam - The Prototype

Methods of Bible Study

Has God a Plan for my life?

John Chapters 13-16

Keep Your Balance - Worship

New Testament Word Studies - Introductory Note

The Inspiration of Scripture

Statement of Accounts for Year End August 1960

A Whole Year - Acts 11. 26

There are 11 articles in this series

The Inspiration of Scripture

On the being of God - The Holy Trinity

The Attributes of Divine Persons

Man

The Fall

Our Lord's Incarnation and Virgin Birth

The Deity of Christ

The Death of Christ

Redemption

Substitution

Eternal Punishment

There are 82 articles by this author

To Spread the Gospel - the Believer’s Responsibility

Smyrna

Pergamos

Thyatira

Sardis

Philadelphia

Laodicea

The Purpose of God

Paul’s Prayer

What a Change!

The Epistle to the Ephesians

The Mystery

Ministry in the Church

Gathered Threads

Some Practical Lessons

Paul’s Pastoral Epistles - Introduction

1 Timothy 1

1 Timothy 2

1 Timothy 3

1 Timothy 4

1 Timothy 5

1 Timothy 6

2 Timothy 1: ‘Be Courageous’

2 Timothy 2: ‘Be Careful’

2 Timothy 3: ‘Be Constant’

2 Timothy 4: ‘Be Considerate’

Titus 1: God is Faithful

Titus 2: Christian Behaviour and its Effects

Titus 3: The Christian and the State

The Believer’s Responsibility in Regard to the Spread of the Gospel

The Infallible Christ

Will the Church go through the Great Tribulation?

The Man of God out of Judah

Having been Gathered Out

‘For Me to Live is Christ’

Short Papers on Some Fundamental Truths

After all This

The Scriptures of Truth (Part 1)

The Scriptures of Truth (Part 2)

Evidences of New Birth

The Inspiration of Scripture

On the being of God - The Holy Trinity

The Attributes of Divine Persons

Eternal Punishment

Gospel Preaching: the Message, Motive and Method

The Believer’s Responsibility in regard to the Spread of the Gospel. 2 KINGS 7 : 9.

Question: What is the meaning of “being crafty, I caught you with guile”? (2 Cor. 12: 16)

Question: Ought Christians to testify to all whom they meet?

Question: Is it wise to submit to being called “Plymouth Brethren”?

Question: Assembly Ceasing to Exist

Question: Delivering unto Satan

Question: Does the pre-eminence of Christ Guarantee that the Saved will Outnumber the Unsaved?

Question: The Activities of The Holy Spirit in the Eternal State

Question: Is the Devil PERSONALLY able to operate in more than one place at a time?

Question: Are the instructions in James 5. 14 applicable to-day?

Question: What was wrong with the desire of the sons of Eli for roast flesh Instead of boiled flesh?

Question: Does John 14. 6 imply that the unevangelised heathen will be lost?

Question: Conviction of Sin?

Question: Attitude of Young Believers in Assembly

Question: Why did blind Bartimeus address the Lord Jesus as “Jesus, thou Son of David”?

Question: Were the “miracles” of Peter and Paul examples of faith comparable with... Heb. 11?

Question: Ministry before the Breaking of Bread?

Question: Necessary to be Baptised to Break Bread?

Question: Concerning “He that believeth on Me the works that I do shall he do also.”

Question: In what sense have believers been crucified with Christ?

Question: The Publishing of Able Brethren's Addresses to Conventions, etc.?

Question: Why are the Proverbs Neglected as a Basis for Practical Ministry?

Prayer to the Lord Jesus

Sanctification

The Ministry Of Reconciliation 2 Cor. 5. 19-21

Question: Does 1 Cor. 14. 34 apply to all meetings when brethren are present?

Question: How far are we justified in speaking of God as Father when preaching the gospel?

Question: What are we to understand by the “spiritual body” referred to in 1 Cor. 15?

Question: To what does the phrase, “that which is perfect,” refer in 1 Cor. 13?

Question: How is it that many of the laws in the O.T. appear to be quite cruel?

Question: If believers go to be with Christ immediately at death how can they be raised?

Question: What happens to the believer when he dies before the Lord returns?

Question: Sins of the believer at the Judgement Seat of Christ?

Question: Satan disputing with Michael?

Victory And Defeat

Paul’s thorn in the flesh

Evidences of New Birth