OceanSide church of Christ
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THE PROCESS OF INSPIRATION
Victor M. Eskew
In many ways, the Bible looks like any ordinary work of literature. Human authors penned the words of each book. The books contain themes that are developed within their pages. The readers come in contact with characters, places, and situations that intrigue the mind. Most people who understand literature and who have read the Bible will claim that the Bible is one of the masterpieces of the literary world.
Faithful Christians realize that the Bible is much more than a mere human product. True believers know the Bible has a divine author. Men may have penned the words of the Bible, but those words come from the mind of God and were revealed to man by the Holy Spirit. It is this fact that sets the Bible apart from all other books on the earth. It is the only book that is “inspired” of God.
There are numerous verses in the Bible that affirm the inspiration of the Word of God. The most familiar is probably II Timothy 3:16. The apostle Paul writes: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God…” The word “inspiration” literally means “God-breathed.” Other passages that affirm the Bible’s inspiration are II Samuel 23:2; Galatians 1:11-12; and II Peter 1:20-21. This writer’s favorite text on inspiration is found in II Corinthians 2:9-13. In this article, let’s look at some of the points made about the process of inspiration in this passage of Scripture.
Paul begins by speaking about THINGS THAT WERE CONCEALED. “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (I Cor. 2:9). Many people lift this passage from it context and apply the words to heaven. Paul, however, is not discussing heaven in this verse. Paul is talking about a time when God had not make His will known to man. At that time, God’s will was a mystery to man. Why? Because it is impossible for a human being to know the mind of God unless He makes it known. This is Paul’s point in I Corinthians 2:11. “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” In the past, God’s will was concealed from man. God had not divulged His teachings to humanity.
Paul tells the Christians of the first century the things that used to be hidden became THINGS THAT WERE UNSEALED. Remember, in verse 9, Paul said there were things that man had not seen, heard, or imagined. He then writes: “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” What had been sealed from man was unsealed in Paul’s day. The Holy Spirit searched out the deep thoughts of God and revealed them to what are called “inspired men.” These men were the apostles of Christ and the prophets of the first century. The Holy Spirit came to them and spoke God’s message into their ears (Matt. 10:27). This was not a message of their making. “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation” (II Pet. 1:20). It was the Holy Spirit who moved these individuals and carried them along in what they said and wrote. “For the prophesy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (II Pet. 1:21). When the Holy Spirit came to these men with a revelation from God, they knew it was the Spirit of God speaking to them. In Ephesians 3:3, Paul tells us: “How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery…” (See also II Sam. 23:2; I Cor. 7:40). Paul knew God revealed His will to him. What had been concealed in the past was now unsealed.
Once the inspired message was given to the messengers of God, they spoke the message to others. We refer to this as the THINGS THAT WERE REVEALED. Paul acknowledges this in I Corinthians 2:12-13. “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God: that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” Paul affirms that he received things from the mind of God by the Spirit of God. He, then, states: “Which things also we speak…” Inspired men did not selfishly hold onto the message they received from God. No! They spoke those things to others. Over time, they wrote the message down. Let’s go back to Ephesians 3:3-5. Paul told the church at Ephesus: “How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.” Eventually, all revelation was written down. Today, all of God’s inspired message is found in the book we call the Bible. The Bible is the revealed will of God to man.
Jesus had promised His disciples that the Spirit would reveal all truth to them. “Howbeit when he the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come” (John 16:13). This promise was fulfilled completely. ALL truth was given by the conclusion of the first century. Jude says that is was “once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). This means it was delivered “once for all time” or “once never to be delivered again.” Dear readers, all truth is found in the Bible. No more truth will ever be given, nor is it needed. We have all we need for life and godliness in God’s Word (II Pet. 1:3). Let us praise God that His will which was once concealed has been unsealed and now revealed to mankind. Let all of us commit to loving it, reading it, studying it, and applying it to our lives.