A wife said to her husband over breakfast, “I had a dream last night that you gave me a pearl necklace. What do you suppose that means?” “You’ll find out tonight,” the husband said. And sure enough, that evening he gave her a copy of a book entitled Interpreting Dreams.
Paul says to the young Timothy, “All Scripture is God-breathed….” Some translations say, All scripture is inspired by God….It is divine inspiration that gives the Bible its authoritative character. The Bible is filled (Old and New Testaments) with the phrase, “God says.” Jesus when placed under temptation quotes scripture, thus relying on the authority of scripture.
In the world that we presently live, it is healthy to have a certain amount of skepticism. Because ultimately the question is, “How do we know that it is the inspired word of God?” That is important because I need to know what is God’s word as opposed to something someone has written and tells me that it is God’s. The Book of Mormon starts off with the words, “a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible.” The Catholic Bible has a section between the Old and New Testaments that we protestants don’t accept, called The Apocrypha. David Koresh, called himself a prophet, and therefore his writings and his teaching were “inspired.”
I think that as Christians we sometimes do ourselves an injustice with our “blind faith.” God never called upon us not to use our intelligence. Faith is consistent with intelligence. Faith stands scrutiny. I used to think that I had to defend the Bible. I don’t have to defend the Bible. The Bible is not what is sacred, it is the God that the Bible tells about that is sacred. And the truth can defend itself. When Paul defines faith he writes, (Hebrews 11:1-2) Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. No where does he call on us not to use our God given intelligence. No where does he call on us not to question. A healthy faith questions! John the Baptizer when in prison sends word to Jesus, “Are you really the Christ?” This is the man who baptized Jesus.
This is the man who saw and heard the voice of God. When Paul defines faith, he does so in a historical context. This is what the ancients were commended for. We know their faith by their life’s actions.
How does the believer know when something like the Bible is truly the “inspired word of God?” There are four principals that I think help us to discern what is or is not inspired.
One: who wrote the book or letter? The reason that we have the 66 books in the Bible that we do, out of the 100’s of books and letter reported to be inspired, is that we know the authorship of these 66 books. Here in Second Timothy we know that it was Paul who wrote the letter. Paul understood the importance of authorship. That is why Paul makes a case for his Apostleship. True inspiration comes when the seeking mind of the Christian joins with the revealing Spirit of God. We don’t look for a Christian writing from a non-Christian source. Peter wrote: 2PE 1:21 For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Two: is it consistent with the rest of scripture? We will always find scripture in harmony with itself, it never clashes. We know that this passage out of Timothy was written about the Old Testament not the New Testament. When Paul writes, All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. The New Testament did not exist. The Old Testament found its final form around 100 B.C. The New Testament did not come together until around 367 A.D. The fathers determined what could be included in the Bible by looking at who the author was. One question was always asked, “did it agree with Christian teaching?”
Three: has it stood the test of time and history? Jesus said, MAT 5:18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Has history proven or disproven the story? The wonderful thing about the Bible is that history has always proven it to be true. Nothing has been proven to be wrong. Moses said, DEU 18:22 If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him. ROM 10:17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
Four: what does the Holy Spirit tell you? Paul says, EPH 1:17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. Just before the death of actor W.C. Fields, a friend visited Fields’ hospital room and was surprised to find him thumbing through a Bible. Asked what he was doing with a Bible, Fields replied, “I’m looking for loopholes.” As Gary Redding points out, “There are no loopholes. The Bible is the Word of God. It tells us how God feels about us and it tells us how to be saved. It tells us how to live under God’s authority. On those issues the Bible is very clear.”