Inspiration of the Scriptures
Arthur W. Pink
"All scripture is given by inspiration
of God" (2 Tim. 3:16).
The word "inspire" signifies to in-breathe,
and breath is both the
evidence of life; for as soon as a person ceases to breathe he is dead.
The Word of God, then, is vitalized by the very life of God, and
therefore it is a living Book. Men's books are like themselves - dying
creatures; but God's Book is like Himself - it "liveth and abideth for
ever" (1 Peter 1:23). Yet, let it be pointed out that, unless we are on
our guard, our belief of this fact is liable to lead us into error.
Because the Scriptures are a living Book, some seem to think they
possess, abstractly, some magical virtue of their own. Have you never
heard one say, "Give them the Word of God: it will do its own work"; he
meant well, but expressed himself inaccurately.
More than the Scriptures are needed to bring a sinner out of darkness
into God's marvellous light, namely, the Person and work of the Holy
Spirit. It is only as He applies the Word that the conscience is
pierced, the heart searched, and the will moved. Perhaps some one
retorts, "But did not Christ say in John 6:63 'the words that I speak
unto you, they are spirit, and they are life,' and does not that prove
the very words of Scripture are life-giving?" Ah, go back to the first
part of that very verse: "It is the Spirit that quickeneth"! We must
not separate the Spirit from the Word: He is the Divine Agent, the Word
is the instrument which He uses.
On the other hand, we must not exalt the Spirit to the detriment of the
Word. It is sadly wrong to say that, "Apart from the Spirit, the
Scriptures are a dead letter." How can they be such when "inspired of
God" - instinct with His very "breath" or life! Well, then, since they
are a living Word, will they not impart life of themselves? No. Let me
use an illustration. The farmer sows wheat in his ground: it is good
wheat, possessing a living germ. Will it "do its own work" and yield an
increase? Not of itself: if there be no rain, there will be no grain.
So the Seed of the Word may lie in the hearts of sinners, but until the
Spirit descends as dew from Heaven, it never springs up into life.
The Scriptures, then, are the living Word of the living God. Observe
carefully how our opening passage expresses it: "All Scripture IS given
by inspiration of God," not "all Scripture was given by inspiration of
God," as man would have expressed it. The Holy Scriptures not only were
"inspired of God," but they are so now. They come as really and as
truly God's Word to us, as they did unto those to whom they were first
addressed. In substantiation of what I have just said, it is striking
to note "Wherefore as the Holy Spirit saith, Today if ye will hear His
voice, harden not your hearts" (Heb. 3:7, 8); and again, "He that hath
an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith (not "said") unto the
churches" (Rev. 2:7). Now a book that presents itself to us as a
Messenger from Heaven should have convincing credentials to set before
those to whom it comes; and such it has: its high claims are well
First, we call attention to its
self-evidencing authority. Let me
explain what I mean by that expression. Health is self-evidencing: the
bright eye, the glowing cheek, the firm step, manifest that its
possessor is hale and hearty. Fire is self-evidencing: it carries its
own conviction to our senses, so that other witness or proof is quite
unnecessary. Light is self-evidencing: it supplies its own
demonstration; it is the very nature of light to manifest itself, yea,
it does so by a necessity of its nature. Now the Scriptures are
light - heavenly, spiritual, Divine. They clearly evidence they are
by giving illumination unto all upon whom they shine: "Thy Word is a
lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (Psa. 119:105).
Just as God's works in creation have stamped upon them the unmistakable
marks of His power and wisdom, so has His Word. The surest way to
ascertain this is to read and study if for yourselves, for the majesty
and authority of its Author shines through every page. An astronomer
might prove to you by accurate calculation that at nine tomorrow
morning the sun will be above the horizon; but what need would I have
of his mathematical demonstration if my own eyes beheld it and my whole
body was warmed by its genial rays? The Scriptures need not the voice
of the "Church" to authenticate them. They authenticate themselves by
their own uniqueness and by the spiritual effects which they, under the
Spirit, produce on those who read and yield to them.
Second, a word upon its suitability
for our times. The Bible was
completed eighteen hundred years ago, when by far the greater part of
the world were Barbarians. Yet it comes to us as something far more
than an interesting relic of the past: its sacred contents are exactly
suited to our needs. Here is a remarkable phenomenon: God breathed into
man's nostrils the breath of life, and he became a living soul; He also
breathed into the Scriptures: and therefore they are a living Book, one
which has upon it the dew of perpetual youth. Herein it differs from
all other books: the writings of men soon become out of date. Take any
other writings as old as the Pentateuch - three thousand five hundred
years - and what do you find? Why something to be placed in a museum,
side by side with the Egyptian mummies.
The literary relics of antiquity have no application to our own times.
They are musty documents relating to a state of society long since
passed away and buried in oblivion: they are of no practical worth to
us. How striking is the contrast! Here is God's Word for us today,
exactly suited to our own needs. It is suited to every age, to every
clime, to every class. And why? Because in and through it there speaks
the voice of Him who changes not. Millions of books have been written
since the Canon of Scripture was closed, yet today we know no more
about the origin of life, the nature and duty of man, the character of
God, or the future, than did the readers of Scripture two thousand
Third, let me call attention to its
historical narratives. Everything
about the Scriptures is unique: even the history found in it is so.
the first place, it contains that which no other records, namely, a
satisfying accord of the creation of the heavens and the earth - which
in marked contrast from the cosmogonies of the heathen. It furnishes a
satisfying explanation of the origin of man and how he became a sinful
creature - which is in marked contrast from the fables of antiquity. We
know nothing whatever of the first fifteen hundred years' history of
the world apart from the Scriptures.
In the second place, its omissions
are equally striking. Its method of chronicling events is entirely
different from all human histories. It ignores those events which are
most interesting to men of the world, and which govern the pen of all
human historians - the great empires of antiquity and men of renown are
passed by in silence, or mentioned only so far as they bear on the main
In the third place, consider the history of Israel recorded in
Scripture. Had the Old Testament been the product of uninspired Jews, a
desire for applause had caused them to magnify the exploits and courage
of their nation, and their victories had been trumpeted as the result
of their unparalleled military skill and valour. Why was not the
capture of Jericho and the conquest of Canaan attributed to the
brilliance of Joshua and the bravery of his men? Never is a single
victory ascribed to their own prowess. Nor are their successes ascribed
to the mere partiality of God, but rather did He bless their arms when
they were subject to His will, and caused them to suffer defeat when
they had followed a course of disobedience.
Fourth, the fact of personal confirmation. Those who submit themselves
to the authority of the Scriptures obtain an inward proof of their
Divine Authorship. In his own experience the Christian finds a personal
corroboration of the teachings of God's Word: "The entrance of Thy
words giveth light" (Psa. 119:130) is verified in his own soul. "The
Gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation to every one that
believeth" (Rom. 1:16): this he has proved for himself, so that he is
able to affirm "I know that my Redeemer liveth" (Job 19:25). In like
manner, he now knows for himself that God hears and answers prayer: he
has daily evidence in his own life that the Divine promises are
reliable. Again; he reads "The heart is deceitful above all things, and
desperately wicked" (Jer. 17:9): this also he knows to be true, for
such is his actual experience inwardly.
Let me now anticipate an objection. Since the proof for the Divine
inspiration of the Scriptures is so clear and abundant, why is it that
the great majority of our fellows refuse to receive them as God's Word?
why is there such a widespread unbelief of their authenticity and
authority? It is not because of the lack of plain and decisive
testimony, but because men have so long abused the eyes of their souls
that they cannot perceive its glory. But this only verifies their
teachings, and shows that the unregenerate are just what the Scriptures
declare them to be - possessed of a carnal mind which is enmity against
God (Rom. 8:7), and who love darkness rather than the light (John 3:19).
But the mere fact you are fully convinced of the Divine inspiration of
the Scriptures, is no proof, in itself, that your heart is right with
God - the Devil believes the same! Those brought up under sound
are in danger of mistaking orthodox views for a work of Divine grace in
the soul. Finally, since the Scriptures are the Word of God, they have
unique claims upon us, and demand unquestioning submission from us.
They contain far more than good advice or wise counsel: they utter the
commands of the living God which we disregard to our eternal undoing.
N.B. The above is a digest of the
editor's first address in Scotland:
in Bethany Hall, Camelon, Falkirk. Published in Studies in the Scriptures