Divine Inspiration of the Scriptures

By Arthur Pink, 1936

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God" 2 Timothy 3:16

The word "inspire" signifies to in-breathe, and breath is both the means and 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 "lives and abides forever" (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 marvelous 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 someone 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 who gives life"! 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"—imbued 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 is 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 "Therefore as the Holy Spirit says, Today if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts" (Heb. 3:7, 8); and again, "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says (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 attested.

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 healthy 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, yes, it does so by a necessity of its nature.

Now the Scriptures are light—heavenly, spiritual, Divine. They clearly evidence they are sure, by giving illumination unto all upon whom they shine, "Your Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (Psalm 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 congenial 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 climate, 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 years ago!

Third, let me call attention to its historical narratives. Everything about the Scriptures is unique—even the history found in it is so.

In the first place, it contains that which no other records, namely, a satisfying accord of the creation of the heavens and the earth—which is 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 subject.

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 would have 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 valor. 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 Your words gives light" (Psalm 119:130) is verified in his own soul. "The Gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes" (Romans 1:16)—this he has proved for himself, so that he is able to affirm "I know that my Redeemer lives" (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 evidence—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 (Romans 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 teaching 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!