Category Archives: 2014 – Mar/Apr

Alleged Bible Discrepancies – Byran Hatcher

When a skyscraper in a large city needs to be demolished specialists come in, study the blueprints of the building, plant a large amount of explosives at key points, and attempt to bring the building down in its own footprint. It is called an implosion. The first places explosives are positioned are the large support structures that begin at the foundation and, typically, run up through the structure. When these key supports are destroyed, gravity takes over and the building comes down.

Jesus Christ, in conjunction with the facts of the gospel, is the foundation of Christianity (Matthew 16:16-18; 1 Corinthians 3:11; 15:3, 4). The inspired Word of God, the Bible, is the pillar of Christianity that rises from the foundation and is the support for every saint. Since this is the case, enemies of God have continued to lay explosives on the column of inspiration in the form of alleging contradictions in the pages of Holy Writ. This is far from a new tactic, and will no doubt continue throughout the course of human history. For Christianity to stand the Bible must be without a single contradiction; if it is found deficient of contradictions, then all will be held accountable to obey.

Detractors, skeptics, and haters of God fail to view the Bible correctly. George W. Dehoff considered inspiration in his book Alleged Bible Contradictions Explained. He wrote, “The Bible is God’s word throughout and yet it is man’s word throughout. It is not of man as to its source and does not depend on man as to its authority but it is by man as to its medium” (Dehoff, 17). This concept is supported by 2 Peter 1:21, “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (Scriptures are KJV unless otherwise noted)

So the question is: Are there contradictions in the Bible? First, it must be understood what constitutes a true contradiction. Aristotle defined it thus, “That the same thing should at the same time both be and not be for the same person and in the same respect is impossible.” In short, a thing cannot be and then not be at the same time. Many things in life seem to be a contradiction, when in fact they are not. A door is either open or closed, it cannot be both at the same time, but a door can be open at one time and closed at another time. Also, it is possible that there is more than one door and that one door is open while the other is closed. If the Bible is studied in this way, that will eliminate the vast majority of alleged contradictions. An honest contextual study of any contradiction will dispel any legitimate question.

Second, it must be understood that differences of perspective, supplemental information, and word choice do not constitute contradictions; quite the opposite. These differences speak to the uniqueness of each penman and that the authors were not in collusion.

Third, when it is alleged that there are “hundreds of thousands” of contradictions in the Bible, this is usually referring to readings. A reading is a small difference from one copy to another. For instance, if in one copy of the New Testament an “i” was dotted, but in another copy it was not, that would constitute a reading. Where is the contradiction? Only the original autograph was completely without mistakes of this sort, it is to be expected that hand-made copies would contain such mistakes, but an “i” not having a dot above it in no manner compromises the truth contained therein.

Whereas there are hundreds of supposed contradictions, space will only allow for the attention of two specific examples. These examples represent the kinds of assertions posited by the skeptics.

The first contradiction under consideration is of a trivial nature. All four Gospel accounts discuss the inscription that Pilate had the soldiers nail above Jesus’ head while he hung on the cross. Matthew 27:37 records, “This is Jesus king of the Jews.” Mark 15:26 says, “The king of the Jews.” Luke 23:38 has, “This is the king of the Jews.” And then John writes, “Jesus of Nazareth king of the Jews.” One might think there is great difficulty in resolving these accounts. However, both Luke and John write that the inscription was written in three different languages, namely Hebrew, Greek, and Latin (Luke 23:38, John 19:20). It must be admitted that there is no such thing as a word-for-word translation. There are always going to be slight differences, not in concept, but wording. This would be the main reason for the difference. The next reason for a difference would be the authors perspective and the intended audience. Matthew was writing primarily to the Jews, Mark to the Romans, Luke to the Greeks, and John to the early church constituting many cultures. This fact is adequate enough to account for the differences. But further, it is possible that each language said something just a little different, more than mere translation differences. It is possible that the Hebrew added “this is;” the Greek contained, “Jesus of Nazareth;” and the Latin simply said “king of the Jews.” This would in no way be contradictory; in fact, it would give the full picture of the inscription.

The second supposed contradiction is of a doctrinal nature in which the same requirement, faith, is said to be essential to salvation and not to be essential. Romans 1:17b, “The just shall live by faith” wrote the Apostle Paul to the church in Rome. He also told the Philippian jailor all he needed to do in order to be saved was to believe (Greek – πιστευσον; usually translated faith) in Acts 16:31. And yet, James 2:24 seems to say the very opposite, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” The fallacy found in pitting these two concepts against one another is that they are opposites, when, in fact, they are not. Faith as used by Paul in Romans deals with the system of belief whereas James is concerned with one’s personal belief that can only be expressed through the means of works. When Paul told the jailor the he needed to believe in order to be saved, the record does not say, “all you need to do is believe.” Paul’s use of belief here would be a synecdoche, a figure of speech where a part of something represents the whole. Every language contains words that have the same sound and spelling, yet used in different contexts, the word can mean something different or be representative. Therefore the context is the key to the definition of the word in that specific instance.

Those that do not like to retain God in their knowledge (Romans 1:28) strive in vain to destroy the Bible. Their primary weapon is an accusation of contradiction contained in the Inspired Word. Each allegation can be explained clearly or at the very least have plausible explanations in differences. In the end though it is the words of Jesus that will judge the world (John 12:48).

Byran Hatcher is the minister for the Cape Fear church of Christ in Fayetteville, NC

 

 

 

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The Bible’s Historical And Scientific Relevance – Greg Wanderman

Jesus taught that the Bible speaks truthfully about both the physical world and the spiritual world. John 3:12 is proof that Jesus “did not accept the false idea that the Bible could tell you how to ‘go to Heaven’ but not ‘how the heavens go’” (Geisler & Turek, 358). Put another way, if the Bible is not trustworthy in what it says about the physical world, it cannot possibly be trusted on spiritual matters. And so, if we are to teach, as Jesus did, that the Bible is accurate in matters of faith, we must teach that it is accurate in matters of history and science.

Failure to teach an evidence based faith is in direct contrast to Hebrews 11:1.  Faith is the evidence of things unseen. We are poor stewards of the inerrant, inspired Word of God, if we accept the false notion that true science and religion are at odds with each other (Keller, 92). In fact, the honest seeker has far more information available to confirm the truth of the Bible today than in any generation before. In a world dominated by scientific thinking, few people will hear the truth of the gospel if the church fails to teach the reliability and relevance of scripture.

The Sincere Seeker

Many intelligent people have the false notion that all science is based on what is observable or known, while all faith is based on the unseen and unknown. When confronted with the unknown or unseen, the atheist responds “no God,” and the agnostic says “unknowable.” But the Bible gives verifiable, testable data when it speaks about the physical world. So the question is not necessarily, “Can a smart person believe in God” as Michael Guillen asks in his book by that name. Rather, what evidence are we giving to intellectuals to help them make an informed decision? I pray that every person would ask, as I did in my own journey, two simple questions and be willing to trust the evidence that demands a decision.

How did we get here?

No reasonable explanation has ever been given, outside of the Bible, for the most basic question of life: “How did something (matter, energy, space, time, etc.) come from nothing?” The God theory isn’t just convenient. Rather, it is the only answer to the Cosmological Statement: Every beginning has a beginner; the universe had a beginning; therefore, the universe had a beginner. Some have referred to this first cause as the “Unmoved Mover” (Craig, 97).

Einstein’s oscillating universe theory was proven false in 1922 by Alexander Friedman and others who displayed that Einstein had divided by zero in his cosmological constant or “fudge factor” (Geisler & Turek, 74). But it was the Hubble telescope that proved that the universe was not only expanding, but its rate of expansion was increasing! The universe has not always been here, oscillating in and out for eternity. Rather, it had a beginning, ex nihilio (out of nothing). The Bible explains this as, “In the beginning, God created…” (Genesis 1:1). It is a blind faith that would believe that trillions of stars, planets, and every living creature came from nothing. The evidence points to an intelligent being that caused matter to come into existence.

Is the Bible God’s inerrant Word?

The Bible is not meant to be a scientific textbook. Nevertheless, where the Bible speaks on any topic, it has been shown to be reliable. The Bible withstands attacks from every religion, theory, supposition, and fantasy; yet it shines despite rigorous scrutiny.

Inerrancy in Astronomy

Though Bible believers have been accused of thinking the world is flat, the Bible has always taught a round Earth (Isaiah 40:22). God wants us to use our ability to view the stars as a means of confirming Him. In Psalm 19, David wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.” It is telling that many intelligent design proponents can be found in the field of astronomy. Isaiah wrote, “Lift your eyes and look to the heavens” (Isaiah 40:26).

Inerrancy in Physics

There is no new energy being created in the universe today. The Bible accurately reflects this in the words, “God created” and “rested” when the “heavens and earth were finished” (Genesis 1:1; 2:1). Though scientists traditionally argued this idea, it is now incontrovertible that nothing new is being created in this system. Matter and energy change form, but nothing new is being created (Thompson, 233).

Inerrancy in History

Archeology “does not prove the truth of the Bible in its theological and spiritual statements” (Hoerth & McRay, 11). Yet, archeology can correct historians who claim that Bible stories are myths. (Bryant, 54-56). As archeology unearths more data, the Bible has maintained trustworthiness. Whether it is Tel Dan proving David’s existence, the Black Obelisk of Shalmanesser III proving tribute from Jehu, the Taylor Prism declaring Sennacherib’s invasion of Judah, The Moabite Stone (c. 850 B.C),found in 1868, confirming 1 Kings 16:1, or the excavations of Nineveh, Egypt, Palestine, etc., each new dig leads to greater Biblical reliability (Bryant, 55; Hoerth & McRay, 50-129; Thompson, 240).

Conclusion

Unfortunately, too many people are fooled into thinking that true science and the Bible are at odds. God created an observable world so that we can seek Him while He may be found (Isaiah 55:6-7). The necessary information is available. Science has never answered how matter appeared ex nihilio or disproved any Bible statement. Christians should boldly proclaim the truth and reliability of God’s inspired Word (2 Timothy 3:16).

The Church must teach these truths because the world will not show interest in matters of salvation if we aren’t proving the Bible is reliable on historical and scientific matters. Faith, of course, comes by hearing (Romans 10:17). Let them hear the whole full counsel of God (Acts 20:27).

Bibliography

Bryant, Dewayne12 Compelling Truths: Why Biblical Faith is Completely Reasonable. Nashville, Tennessee: 21st Century Christian, 2010.

Craig, William L. Reasonable Faith: Christian truth and apologetics. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 2008.

Geisler, Norman L., and Frank Turek. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 2004.

Guillen, Michael. Can a Smart Person Believe in God. Nashville: Nelson Books, 2004.

Hoerth, Alfred J., and John McRay. Bible Archaeology : an exploration of the history and culture of early civilizations. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Books, 2005.

Keller, Timothy J. The Reason for God : Belief in an Age of Skepticism. New York: Riverhead Books, 2009.

Thompson, BertIn Defense of the Bible’s Inspiration. S.l: Apologetics Press Inc, 2001.

Greg Wanderman is the minister for the church of Christ at Clover, SC

 

Unity In Inspiration – Jeff Arnette

Inspiration is seen in the words used?

As we begin our study of the inspiration of the Bible we need to understand the word and how it is used. Inspiration is a word that comes from the Greek word used in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 which says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001. Print.) In this verse we see the phrase “breathed out by God” and its meaning is paramount to a true understanding of inspiration. The word is “theopneustos” and describes the way God breathed into the writers the words needed to express the mind of God to us. Another verse that helps our understanding of inspiration is 2 Peter 1:21 which states “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.” (The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001. Print.) Each writer was carried along in the effort to write the word by the Holy Spirit. This idea of being “carried along” helps us understand the process God used to reveal the words to the writers. It is a nautical term, written by a former fisherman that describes the wind in the sail of a boat. God used the Holy Spirit to carry the writers along like wind in the sails of a boat so that the finished product was exactly what God wanted written.

When we talk about inspiration of the Bible we are talking about the influence that God exerted upon the writers of scripture that enabling him to write it down correctly. While the method is important, it pales in comparison to the product of inspiration. God was concerned about the end product and because of that controls the process.

It is often called Plenary Verbal Inspiration. This means that every word is inspired by God. Plenary refers to the entirety, fullness, or completeness in the activity of God in transmitting His word to us. While verbal refers to the exact words used. The Holy Spirit influenced the writers in such a way that each word is exactly the word God wanted used.

“The doctrine of plenary, verbal inspiration thus asserts that in a unique and absolute way the Holy Spirit acted in relationship with the biblical writers so as to render them infallible revealers of God’s truth; hence, the Bible may be spoken of as God’s infallible Word.” (Elwell, Walter A., and Barry J. Beitzel. Baker encyclopedia of the Bible 1988: 308. Print.)

We must regard the Bible as a letter written by the hand of God to His creation. Much like Exodus 31:18 that states that the Ten Commandments were written by the finger of God, we must consider the entirety of the Bible as inscribed by the very hand and mind of God.

Inspiration is seen in its unity found throughout the Bible.

In the Bible we see something that is not possible apart from one grand intelligence directing the entirety of the Bible. In the Bible we have a collection of smaller books that are amazingly connected throughout. We have 66 books written by around 40 different men. They were written in different times, in different places, in different languages, by different classes of people. Some are historical, some are poetical, some are prophetic, and some are highly symbolic. In spite of all this, there is still a thread that runs throughout that lets us see the hand of God directing the entirety. There is absolute unity throughout without stepping on the individual writer in his own time. There are three different dispensations, three different ways God deals with His people, and yet, one grand design running throughout.

Even as I write these words I am overwhelmed by the diversity and unity that stands within the pages of scripture. Each book of the Bible stands independent, strong, authoritative, and yet each is connected to the overall Bible over time and space in such a way that is truly amazing. The only explanation that could account for such unity and diversity is that the Bible is the work of One Mind. The Bible must be the work of an all-powerful, all knowing creator God.

Inspiration is seen in its unity of focus.

From beginning to end there is one primary focus, one message that permeates the entirety of the word of God. The Bible is a story about God and His people. It is a story about how a sinful, rebellious creation can once again find comfort in walking and talking with its creator. Man from his beginning chose to disobey God and lose his right to the presence of God. In Christ it is again restored to all men. What Adam lost, Jesus found. Where Adam failed, Jesus was victorious and once again allows us the hope of an eternity with our Creator.

Inspiration is seen in Jesus.

Perhaps the best place to see inspiration is found in Jesus himself. In Him we have the fulfillment of over 300 prophesies. Each one lending credence to the inspiration of scripture from the beginning to the end. The promised seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15) that was to crush the head of the serpent became the promised seed of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3). The promised seed of Abraham became the Prophet God promised to raise up like Moses (Deut. 18:15) to whom we should listen. The Prophet like Moses became the Son of David (2 Sam. 7:12-17) that God promised to sit on the throne forever. The Son of David became the One born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14) who became the One born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) all according to God’s revealed, inspired word.

Unity in inspiration is seen in many ways and each way should impress upon us the greatness of our God and His word.

Jeff Arnette is the minister for the Central Haywood church of Christ in Clyde, NC

How God Has Spoken To Man – Shane Robinson

Have you ever had an “aha” moment? Aha, I remember where I put my keys. Aha, the last piece to solve the puzzle.

Christianity is a religion that rests on “aha” moments. That is, we need revelation from God in order to know and obey Him. When it comes to knowing God, no one is without excuse. Why? Because God took action to make Himself known. When it comes to obeying God, no one is without excuse. Why? Because God put all of the ingredients needed to obey Him into the sixty-six books of the Bible. It is our task to put all of the ingredients of revelation together. The ingredients of revelation can be summarized under the areas commonly referred to as general and special revelation.

General revelation is a “term used to declare that God reveals something about the divine nature through the created order.” Have you ever been asked to prove God exists? The first thing that pops into my mind when asked this question is “open your eyes and look around”!

In a general way, God reveals Himself to every creature on this planet.

God reveals Himself to all through nature (Ps. 19:1). This is what we call natural revelation. In Romans 1:20, Paul said God’s invisible attributes are clearly seen.” How?By the things that are made.” A common argument presented to validate this truth is the Cosmological Argument. The universe is an effect and therefore must have a cause. As we look out, we ask, “What caused the universe”? Natural revelation says God created the universe.

God reveals Himself to every creature on this planet through providence. Paul said God made every natural resource (Ac. 14:15-17). He went on to say God gave witness of Himself through doing good, giving us rain, and fruitful seasons.” Teleology has reference to purpose or design. Thus, the Teleological Argument basically asks, “Is there design in nature”? General revelation confirms there is design in nature.

God reveals Himself to every creature (specifically homo sapiens) through the humanconscience. Humans have an intellectual and moral nature making us unlike any other animal. We are inherently concerned with right and wrong. In Romans 2, verses 14 and 15 the apostle Paul pointed out that although the Gentiles did not have a specific written law from God, they by nature did the things in the law. It was a law written in their hearts.” The Anthropological Argument has to do with the intellectual and moral nature of man. It basically asks and answers the question, “Why are we all similar in nature”? We are made up of both physical and immaterial parts. Each one of us has a body, intellect, emotions, will, morality, and conscience. General revelation rationally concludes we must have been created by Someone with similar characteristics.

As great as general revelation is, however, it is incomplete in and of itself. As great as general revelation is, it is simply not enough. Therefore, God has seen fit to give man a second type of revelation.

Special revelation is the name given designating the revelation God provided within the Bible. Although it is possible to know there is a god through creation, it is impossible to know the nature of that god. Because of the problems that plague this world, one may assume the god who created the world was an evil god. It is only through the scriptures that we know the nature of Jehovah God, and it is only through the scriptures we learn our responsibilities to Him as our Creator.

In a specific way, God reveals Himself to every creature on this planet.

God specifically (or directly) revealed Himself to His prophets. Over a period of roughly 4,000 years God made His will known directly to prophets (2 Pet. 1:20-21).  Sometimes He did this audibly (Gen. 2:16; Ex. 19:9; 1 Sam. 3:4). Other times He did this through dreams (Num. 12:6; 1 Sam. 28:6), or visions (Isa. 6; Dan. 1). Prophets often began their messages with “Thus says the Lord,” and confirmed their revelations through miracles, wonders, and signs (cf. Mk. 16:17-20; Heb. 2:1-4).

God specifically reveals Himself through the words of the apostles and prophets. Many prophetic utterances were delivered orally and then written down. Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Nathan, Jeremiah, and several others were all writing prophets (Jos. 24:36; 1 Sam. 10:25;). Jesus declared the writings of these men to be divinely authoritative (Mt. 4:4), without error (Mt. 22:29; Jn. 17:17), and historically reliable (Mt. 12:40; 19:1-5; 24:37-38). Not only did Jesus commend the authority of the Old Testament, He also promised to inspire the New (Jn. 14:26; 16:13). This promise was fulfilled in and through the apostles and prophets of the first century church (Mk. 13:11; Lk. 24:44; Ac. 2:1-47). Their words formed the foundation of the early church (Eph. 2:20), and they continue to do so today (Mt. 28:18-20; 1 Tim. 3:15; 2 Tim. 3:16-17).

God specifically revealed Himself to every creature through the incarnation of His only begotten Son. Theophanies are times where God appears to man (cf. Gen. 15:17; Ex. 3:2; Ps. 78:14). Theophany reached its highest point during the incarnation in which Jesus Christ became flesh and dwelt among men (Jn. 1:1, 14, 18; Col. 1:19; 2:9). Jesus told Philip, If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen My Father (Jn. 14:9). Jesus said His word would judge us in the Last Day (Jn. 12:48). God audibly confirmed these truths by saying, This is My Son. Hear Him (Mt. 3; 17).

Of all the content we’ve considered today, Jesus is essential to fully understanding the doctrine of Revelation. Not only did He have a part in establishing general revelation (Col. 1:16-17), He embodied, initiated, and fulfilled God’s special revelation (Jn. 1:1-4; 14-16). The Hebrews writer sums up our discussion with these words:

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. (Hebrews 1:1–4, NKJV)

While the Bible was written and compiled over a period of about 1,600 years, only roughly 425 of those years would be considered times when God spoke or worked miracles through His prophets. Period One: From Moses to Solomon (a span of approx. 250 years – sporadic at times). Period Two: From Elijah to Elisha (a span of approx. 100 years). Period Three: From John the Baptist to John the Apostle (a span of approx. 75 years).

It is the view of this writer that all direct prophetic revelation from God to man was fulfilled and discontinued by the end of the first century A.D. That is, God does not speak to man directly today. God speaks to us indirectly through the Bible.

Shane Robinson is the minister for the Chicamauga church of Christ in Chickamauga, Georgia

 

The Editor’s Page – Paul Kirkpatrick, Interim Editor

As was mentioned in the January/February issue of the Carolina Messenger brother Pharr announced that he was “retiring” from his position as Editor. In fact, David has been trying to vacate that position for the past three years and we had not let him. Brother Pharr has been a great asset to the work of the paper during his tenure as Editor. We owe him a great deal of appreciation for his balanced approach to Holy Scripture and we, The Board, offer him our thanks for providing a sound direction for the Carolina Messenger.

The Board of Directors of The Carolina Messenger are committed to continuing this direction for the paper. We are seeking a man who will continue to provide a balanced approach to the word of God and assist the followers of Christ in walking in the light.

Jon Mitchell is our new Associate Editor and will serve as the interim editor until a new editor is appointed. He will begin the interim editor duties with the July/August 2014 issue of the Carolina Messenger.

This issue deals with the Inspiration Of The Bible. It is imperative that we understand the medium with which God has communicated to mankind. It is only through a knowledge of the word of God that man can be reconciled to God. (c.f. Romans 1:16)

 

The Inspiration Of The Scriptures – Ron Thomas

When people speak about the inspiration of the Scriptures, there are generally two ideas in mind. First, there is the idea that the Scriptures inspire one to think or to do something that is inspirational. In other words, it might be that a person is inspired to write a poem, a book that is devotional and encouraging in nature, etc. In such cases, a seed of thought had been sown, and the development of that thought is produced. The second idea is not along this line at all; it has in view something that originates in the mind of God and is communicated to God’s chosen servants. They, in turn, communicate this to man. For instance, the Lord told Jeremiah to speak to the people of Judah the very mind of God. “Thus says the LORD: ‘Go down to the house of the king of Judah, and there speak this word’…” (Jeremiah 22:1, NKJV). Jeremiah then begins to speak the very words of God to the people. Thus, the difference between the two ideas is of significance.

Christians speak of the inspiration of the Scriptures with the latter idea in mind. This idea is set forth in the term the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Bible. To understand what is meant with the use of this term we must begin with definitions. The word “verbal” pertains to the words used; the word “plenary” pertains to that which is complete. Thus, the entirety of the words used by the writer (or writers) is completely those the Lord wanted used. One man said it this way: “…plenary inspiration involves the whole [biblical] text, whether we have in mind the thought expressed or the vehicles (words) in which it is expressed” (Wallace W. Wartick, New Testament Evidences, College Press, p. 111).

Consequently, when Christians speak of the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Bible, what is in view is God originating his word and communicating that word to man. The chosen ones (by the Lord) then expressed themselves in both oral and written form (but it is particularly the written form that we are considering). Peter said it this way: “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” (2 Peter 1:3, emphasis added, RT).

Compare this with what Paul said: “But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Corinthians 2:9-13, NKJV).

In the paragraphs above are the words of two men; two very different men. Yet, these two men thought alike on things that pertained to God (1 Corinthians 4:17; 15:11); their writings, however, were of a different style. This is just like two people who think alike today, but who may very well have different styles of writing. Peter was a fisherman, and received his “formal” education in things religious from Jesus himself while the Lord walked on earth. Paul was formally educated in the religious affairs of his countryman (Acts 22:3; 26:4-6), but received his special education from Jesus in a different way (Galatians 1:12). Inspiration does not mitigate individuality.

The classic biblical passage that speaks to inspiration is 2 Timothy 3:16-17. It reads, “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 complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (NKJV). Let us not the following points: first, “all Scripture” pertains to that which we know to be the 66 books of the Bible (39 in the Old Testament, 27 in the New Testament). Second, the Scripture is given by inspiration, that is, it is God-breathed. This term may not convey a clear idea to some. Here is what is conveyed with the use of the concept: “…the Scripture itself is breathed out from God. God is its origin…A similar terminology is that used when God made Adam ‘and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul’” (John R. Rice, Our God Breathed Book: The Bible, Sword of the Lord Publishers, pp. 49-50). Third, the Scriptures are given to man for his benefit. Since God does not want any to perish (1 Timothy 2:4), he made it his aim to communicate to man exactly what he wants in order that man would be properly educated and saved (John 1:1-3, 14; 3:16; cf. Luke 19:10). Basil Overton made an observation worth remembering: “I certainly am not capable of explaining how God Almighty worked on men to enable them to write the Bible…” but that he did is apparent to any fair-minded person (A Book About The Book, Quality Publishing, p. 125).

Let us make a brief application to these words. If that which God spoke has been given to man, what does it matter to me? A couple of point to help us not lose sight of why it is important: first, God sent his Son into this world to save those who live on this earth. That means that he came to save the lost (Romans 3:23; 6:23). Second, those who refuse to respond to his love will face a consequence to their refusal. This is identified as judgment day. God’s word, therefore, is given to us to prepare for that day. “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him–the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48, NKJV).

Ron Thomas is the minister for the Highway Church of Christ in Sullivan, Illinois