Monday, October 3, 2016
What the Bible Says About Its Own Inspiration: Old Testament
I understand that an atheist, for example, won't be convinced by the Bible's description of itself as the Word of God. However, I'm not addressing that question here. Rather, I am presenting the Bible's testimony about itself as a first step. After all, if the Bible makes no claims of inspiration and inerrancy, then there is nothing to defend.
I want to look at three Old Testament passages.
First, Numbers 1:1: "The Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tent of meeting, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt." This is a very simple profession. The Bible says of itself that it is a record, not of men's words about God, but of God's words to men about Himself. That is the essential starting point, and what separates the Bible from traditional myths of, for example, Greece and Rome. Those myths come from plays or poems written by professionals, and make no claim or pretense of supernatural origin. They are men's stories about their ideas of the spiritual reality, not even claiming to be from that reality. In contrast, the Bible sets forth an unequivocal claim to be the words of God, though recorded by men.
Second, turn to Deuteronomy 18:18-19: "I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put My words in his mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And whoever will not listen to My words that He shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him." This is a prophecy to Moses, predicting the coming of Christ, in His prophetic office (applied to Him in Acts 3:22). But that isn't my point in mentioning it here. the reason I cite it is because of its description of the inspirational process. What is the source of Moses's words (as he is the prophet to whom the words are given)? They are from the mouth of God. That is, as in Numbers 1:1 above, they do not have their origin in the mind of the prophet, but are rather given him by God to be recorded. So, again, the Bible claims for itself to have a divine origin (compare II Peter 1:21).
And third, turn to II Samuel 23:2-3: "The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me; His word is on my tongue. The God of Israel has spoken; the Rock of Israel has said to me." So we see for a third time that an Old Testament figure, in this case King David, claims that the words that are recorded are not from his mind, or his imagination, but rather are from God.
This is far from an exhaustive list. Rather, I chose three examples to represent the consistent testimony of the Old Testament. The testimony to what? To its own divine inspiration. The implication of that is, first, that the professing Christian who denies the inerrancy of Scripture is denying the basis of the faith that he professes. It is a self-refuting profession, and proof that he is either ignorant of his faith, or that he is irrational. Furthermore, it puts the professing unbeliever on notice. There is no such thing as agnosticism, some vague profession that one is noncommittal. We must be flexible, our culture says! But Scripture says, "This is what God says. Believe it, or accept the consequences." There is no in-between, neutral position (Matthew 12:30). To the professing unbeliever, the Bible doesn't congratulate you on your sophisticated scepticism. Rather, it says that you are commanded to believe (Acts 17:30). If you refuse, then you are saying that you accept the consequences. Don't deceive yourself: unbelief is not a form of immunity, as if refusing makes you free of the requirements of God.