The Inspiration of Scripture
AUTHOR: MacArthur Jr., John
PUBLISHED ON: April 10, 2003
PUBLISHED IN: Christian Living

GC 90-156

                                                “The Inspiration of Scripture”

                                                      Selected Scriptures

              As you know, we’re doing a little series on studying the Bible, how to get the most out of God’s Word. And I’m happy to
              say to you that in August a book will be released entitled How to Get the Most Out of God’s Word which will have some of
              what I’m saying to you and a whole lot more. It will be a sort of a trade sized paperback book, I’m really excited about it
              because obviously I have such a passion for the Word of God. And through the years I have written a number of books and
              articles and things about the Bible and this book pulls together the best of everything and kind of updates it all and gets it all
              together. Again, the title is How to Get the Most Out of God’s Word. And as I was…I’ve been reading through it and editing
              it and I probably was…Patricia was probably wondering how I could have such an experience of joy over something I wrote
              myself, but I kept saying to her, you know, “This stuff is really potent, this is really good.” And the issue was I wrote it so
              long ago I had forgotten that I had said all these things. So that book will sum up a lot of this that we’re sharing with you. We
              are so blessed to have so many new folks in our church, so many new in the faith. Last Sunday night we had 80 some
              people welcomed into the right hand of fellowship this month, into the church family. And many new in Christ. And we are
              so anxious to lay a foundation of confidence in the Word of God. I’ve said to preachers throughout my ministry that when
              your people consciously submit to the authority of the Word of God, then you can open it anywhere and they will submit to
              its truth. To understand what you have in having the Word of God is so foundational.

              So, in this little series on how to study the Bible, we’ve tried to lay the foundation of what the Scripture is so that you would
              be compelled to that study and then we’ll get into the details of how to do that, starting tonight. By way of some introduction
              and continually laying some sort of foundational thoughts to the actual expression of how we study the Bible, which, as I
              said, we’ll begin tonight, let me remind you that the Bible is the most powerful book in existence, the most powerful piece of
              literature ever penned. According to Hebrews 4:12 it is alive and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword. And it has
              the capability to pierce into the very soul of man and dissect man and reveal his own nature and his own character and his
              own sinfulness, his own longings be they for sin or for God. It can literally tear you to pieces. It cuts deep. It is a powerful
              and living tool that God uses to expose the heart and the truth about us to ourselves.

              But not only does the Bible tear you to pieces, it puts you together again. According to 1 Peter chapter 1, the Apostle Peter
              reminds us that we have a living and abiding Word of God that is an imperishable truth upon which God builds a foundation
              of eternal life and glory. So while the Word has the power to cut and to tear and to shred our confidences and to reveal the
              truth about the inner recesses of our hearts, it also has the power to put us back together again. According to 1 John 1:4
              John said, “These things I write unto you that your joy may be full.” The Bible also is the source of consummate joy, built on
              perfect peace and hope for time and eternity. This is THE most powerful book in existence. And that because in order to
              accomplish these living things, it must be not the word of men, but the word of the living God. And that is exactly what it is.
              That’s why Psalm 138:2 says, “God has exalted the Word to the very level of His own name.” It is impossible to separate
              the glory of the Word from God Himself because this is indeed His own Word.

              The Bible is not the word of men, it is the word of God. And I want to talk about that a little this morning because if you’re
              going to be a student of Scripture, it will be largely predicated on your confidence in the Scripture, and your understanding
              of what it is you’re dealing with. The Bible is revealed truth. In it God speaks.

              I want you to turn to several scriptures to understand this. First of all, Hebrews chapter 1…Hebrews chapter 1. This is going
              to more like a classroom lecture than a normal message that we would normally or regularly give to you on a Sunday, but I
              think it’s very, very important. I’m going to take the role of the teacher if I can this morning.

              But in Hebrews chapter 1 verses 1 and 2 we have a good summation of the idea of revelation, that is truth revealed.
              “God…it says…has spoken…literally…long ago to the fathers by the prophets in many portions and in many ways. In these
              last days He has spoken to us in His Son.” And we’ll stop at that point.

              Here we come across the reality that God has spoken. That sums up the matter of revelation. God has spoken. That is He
              has revealed Himself, He has disclosed Himself. God has revealed truth for man.

              How did He do it? He did it to the fathers, that is to the fathers meaning the men who were the leaders of Israel and even
              before them, of course, to the fathers known as the patriarchs in the Pentateuch, the book of Genesis primarily. God spoke
              long ago to those fathers of the nation Israel. He spoke by the prophets. That’s just a generic term meaning the Scripture
              writers, or those who spoke for God, those who were God’s spokesmen. It is a term that includes prophets, the technical
              term for those who are called prophets in the Old Testament. It also includes kings like David and Solomon. It would
              include priests like Samuel and others who were used by God to speak. Prophet used here then in a sort of a non-technical
              generic sense of one who speaks for God. God spoke through human speakers and writers, meaning, of course, the writers
              of Scripture. He spoke, it says, in many portions, polumeros, it’s a word that means segments. It has to do with the fact that
              God spoke, and he’s referring here to the Old Testament, and He spoke clearly using human instruments as the writers and
              He did it in many portions. There are 39 specific portions in the Old Testament, if we call those books portions, 39 books.
              The Bible has 66, the New Testament has 27, the Old has 39. So He spoke in many portions.

              Within those books, those 39 books we could call portions, there are portions as well. Those books break down and
              contain various and sundry portions, sections, paragraphs, etc. He did this over a lengthy period of time through numerous
              human prophets or writers. But all of it was God speaking.

              He also spoke, it says in verse 1, in many ways…in many ways. What did He use to convey these words to those who
              would write it down? Well, visions. You know, of course, that there were a number of visions, even Moses had a vision of
              God in a burning bush in the wilderness. The vision of Isaiah is well known to us. The visions of Ezekiel are well known to
              us. There are numerous other visions that came to the prophets. In fact, often the prophets write speaking of their writings as
              visions, the vision of the Lord came to the prophet So-and-so and he wrote.

              And then there were direct words from God by way of moving in the human mind and giving truth to the writer who first
              preached it so he could say he spoke it prophetically and then later wrote it down. God spoke to the writers of Scripture
              through parables, through types, through symbols, through ceremonies, through what we call theophanies or appearances of
              God as the angel of the Lord, or even visible appearances of God such as in the burning bush. He spoke occasionally
              through an audible voice, thundering out from heaven in an audible way so as to be heard clearly and distinctly and

              So in many ways in many segments through many different human writers, God spoke. That’s what that verse is saying. And
              this is recorded then, this revelation of God, in the Old Testament. Men were used to write down this revelation from God
              which God Himself revealed, men who were then enlightened and energized by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit then
              energizing them we have in the Old Testament not a collection of the best of human wisdom, this is not the best musings of
              religious ancient men, this is the very voice and word of God.

              Then God spoke also, verse 2 says, in these last days and that signifies the time of Messiah. The last days are the time when
              Messiah comes. Messiah came, born in Bethlehem, initiating the last days. And in the last days He has spoken to us in His
              Son. God revealed Himself in Jesus Christ. And the record about Jesus Christ was then written down.

              Four writers were chosen, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, to write down the inspired record of the revelation of God in
              Jesus Christ that we know as the four gospels. And then the writer Luke was inspired by the Spirit of God to follow the
              record after the life of Jesus Christ in the book of Acts and show the early years of the church. And then came the writers of
              the epistles…Peter, James, John, Jude, Paul. They wrote those epistles which basically are explanatory and define the
              meaning and the significance of the coming of God in Christ in His redemptive work and then the Scripture closes with
              Revelation which is the promise of the return of Christ in coming glory.

              The New Testament, 27 segments through varying authors wrote down the revelation of God, particularly that came in and
              around the person of Jesus Christ. So you have the revelation of God in the inspired writers in segments called the Old
              Testament, you have the revelation of God through inspired writers and segments called the New Testament, 27 books and
              39 equal the 66 books of Scripture. This is the revelation of God. It is the result, singularly the result, of God’s
              self-disclosure. God has spoken. When you pick up a Bible you are reading the Word of God.

              Now the process God used to put down this revelation is called inspiration. Inspiration is a word that defines a process. It
              defines a means. And we can understand something of this means…and by the way, it is a supernatural means. It is not
              natural. We might say, “Well somebody wrote a beautiful song, they really were inspired.” Or you wrote a beautiful letter to
              someone, it was really very inspired, or you gave a speech and it was very inspired. We’re talking about a human level of
              excellence that’s very different than what we’re referring to here. When we talk about inspiration in a biblical sense we’re
              talking about a technical way in which God uses a supernatural miraculous process to reveal His own Word.

              Turn to 2 Peter for a good look at what this process is. Second Peter chapter 1, and by God’s goodness He has disclosed
              to us this…this process of inspiration in the text of the New Testament so we can understand it. Verses 20 and 21, 2 Peter
              1:20 and 21. “But know this first of all that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy
              was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”

              Now these two verses are just loaded with significance with regard to this matter of inspiration. The key word here is the
              word “moved” in verse 21. “Moved,” carried along, borne along, it’s a word that is used in secular Greek sources to refer to
              something floating down stream like a leaf. They were literally carried along by the Holy Spirit. The writers of Scripture, the
              men who wrote the Scripture…and by the way, there are no female writers of Scripture, all 66 books are written by
              men…so the Spirit of God moved these men along so that they actually spoke from God borne along by the Holy Spirit.

              Let’s look a little further into this text. Verse 21, “No prophecy was ever made by an act of human will.” Back to verse 20,
              “Know this first, no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation.” Now there are two immediate disclaimers
              and both of them say Scripture doesn’t come from any human source. It is a miraculous book authored by God through the
              Holy Spirit moving human writers to write exactly what God wanted said. No prophecy of Scripture, that refers to all of it,
              no place in Scripture…it’s not talking about prophecy in a predictive sense, prophecy means to speak forth. No message
              from God, no speaking forth of God contained in Scripture, nothing from God contained in Scripture is a matter of…look at
              that phrase…a matter of one’s own interpretation.

              Now this needs a little bit of explanation. I really never have liked the translation “interpretation” here because the Greek
              term is epilusis. If you know anything about the Greek language, luo is the word to loose, and this is a compound of loose.
              It’s the idea of unleashing something. It’s the idea of unloosing something. No Scripture is of any human unleashing and it’s
              speaking of origin. It’s speaking of source.

              In the genitive case the usage indicates source so Peter is actually saying, “Scripture does not come from any human source.”
              It isn’t a question of some men having intimacy with God and some people knowing God and watching God work and
              having historical acquaintance with the operation of God, having a high level of human genius and a high level of religious
              sensitivity writing down their best understandings of God. It is not that. It isn’t the worst of men and it isn’t the best of men
              writing down their musings about God. No prophecy of Scripture, no message in Scripture anywhere is as to its source
              human, none.

              And then in verse 21 he further strengthens the point by repeating it. “No prophecy was ever made by an act of human will.”
              That is a very remarkable statement. Nobody ever said no matter how noble they might have been, or how godly they might
              have been, “I think I’ll write Scripture.” No one has ever said that and done that. Some may have said it but they didn’t do it
              because it’s impossible. No prophecy was ever made by an act of the human will. You can’t produce Scripture from the
              human will. You can’t produce Scripture by any private origin. Rather men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. It
              doesn’t come from man. No prophecy was ever borne along by human will, same verb, but it was moved, borne along,
              same verb, by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit selected the author and the Holy Spirit gave the message to the author so that
              what he wrote down was exactly the Word of God inerrant and infallible. They spoke from God, writing exactly what God
              wanted said. That’s inspiration.

              Now turn to another scripture, 2 Timothy. We could spend a lot of time on that text, and have in the past, but for now just
              to put you in touch with these very formidable claims so that you understand the character of inspiration, 2 Timothy 3:16 and
              17. “All scripture is inspired by God.” That’s where we get that word “inspiration.” Now this is pasa graphe theopneustos.
              The word theopneustos is God breathed, it’s translated inspired here. It means God breathed. If you didn’t have any air you
              couldn’t speak. If you couldn’t bring out air you couldn’t vibrate your vocal chords, you couldn’t make any sound, couldn’t
              form your words. What this is saying is God breathed out Scripture. God spoke it. It is the very breath of God. And not just
              in the sense of breath but in the sense of blowing out breath in a way that goes past the vocal chords, vibrates the vocal
              chords, past the mouth which forms the enunciation and God produced exactly what He wanted said. God spoke it.

              In psalm 33 you have a good comparative text for this, Psalm 33:6. “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,” and
              here’s his synonym, “By the breath of His mouth all their host.” Here you have a statement, the word of the Lord, and a
              parallel statement, the breath of His mouth. The breath of His mouth is the word of the Lord. It was by the breath of His
              mouth which is the word of the Lord that everything was created. God spoke it into existence. So God breathed means God
              spoken, God said, God stated. Scripture then is God speaking. That is why Romans 3:2 calls Scripture the oracles of
              God…the oracles of God. God is the author of what the Bible says. Everything in the Bible comes from God, it is not a
              human book. All scripture and every scripture is God breathed, it comes past His vocal chords, if you will, in the
              supernatural sense and it conveys to us precisely what He wanted to say. Every word of God is pure, Scripture says.
              Scripture cannot be broken, John 10:35. Scripture will come to pass though heaven and earth will fail because it is the living
              and abiding and eternal word right out of the mouth of God Himself.

              The church readily recognized this very early on. They knew which books were God breathed, as the saints in the Old
              Testament knew which books were God breathed. There were a lot of religious books written in antiquity. When the time of
              the Old Testament writing was going on there were other books being written. There were books written that you know
              show up in the apocrypha, don’t they, in the intertestimental book section of a Catholic Bible, for example. Those books are
              not included in the biblical canon.

              How did they know the difference? There were very, very distinct ways they knew what was biblical. One, they knew that it
              needed to be written by one of God’s true spokesman, a prophet of God in the case of the Old Testament, an Apostle of
              God, or an associate with the Apostles in the New Testament. They knew it had to have therefore apostolic authorship, or
              apostolic affirmation. In the Old Testament they were prophets of God, spokesmen for God who wrote those books.
              Everyone knew who they were.

              They were also affirmed by their internal content. It was clear that they were consistent with everything else in the Scripture.
              They had a supernatural element to them. They had the miraculous element to them. They exalted the greatness of God and
              condemned the sinfulness of man which is what God tends to do, not false writers and false teachers. It was very clear to
              them what the canonical books, they’re called canonical from the word canon which was the word for a standard, they are
              the standard books of revelation. Church councils recognized in the fourth century officially the canon of the New
              Testament, but unofficially the church had always known what belonged in the text and what did not. It was easy to
              recognize. Was it written by an Apostle in the case of the New Testament or an associate of an Apostle? Did it have that air
              of supernatural character? Did it have that exaltation of God and Christ? And did it have that- -that condemnation of
              iniquity? Was it consistent with all other New Testament writings? And was it affirmed by the Apostles themselves?

              The church, to put it in illustration form, the church did not give us the New Testament canon, anymore than Isaac Newton
              gave us the law of gravity. The law of gravity existed before Isaac Newton identified it. The canon existed before the church
              identified it. It was God who gave us gravity. It was God who gave us Scripture. We recognized it. The church recognized
              it. And God then is the author of everything that Scripture says. There is nothing in Scripture that God did not Himself write.
              And the church has universally affirmed that. As the Old Testament of 39 books has been universally affirmed through the
              ages, so has the New Testament. There is really no equivocation on that point. We have the living and abiding word of God.

              Now some other things you need to understand about the inspiration of the Scripture. Paul does not say in 2 Timothy, and
              it’s very important to note that, that the writers were inspired. He says all Scripture is inspired. And you want to understand
              that. The writers were not inspired, the scriptures were. We talk today about an inspired person, inspired to some great
              achievement or some great literary accomplishment, whatever it might be, some great scientific accomplishment. That’s not
              what we’re talking about. The Bible doesn’t know anything about inspired men, it only knows about inspired words. You
              understand that? That’s very important.

              You say, “What do you mean by that?” I mean by that that Paul wrote some things that weren’t inspired. It was not Paul that
              was inspired, it was Scripture that was inspired. And when Paul wrote scripture, Scripture was inspired. When Paul wrote
              something else, it was not inspired. Remember now, we’ve been studying 2 Corinthians before we took our little break,
              we’re going to get back to it in August. And in 2 Corinthians I’ve told you repeatedly that Paul wrote to the Corinthians, 1
              Corinthians and 2 Corinthians, the two inspired books in the New Testament. But there is a letter that he wrote to them
              before 1 Corinthians and a letter between 1 and 2 Corinthians which do not appear in the Scripture because they were not
              inspired. Paul is not just generally inspired, no Bible writer is…no Bible writer is. Isaiah was not an inspired writer as such,
              neither was David or Paul or John or anybody else, only when they wrote Scripture were they inspired, or literally were they
              the vehicle through whom God breathed out His Word. Scripture is the Word of God, it is not the word of inspired men.
              The writers wrote down the inspired word.

              So God breathed into them the very words that He wanted them to write. And by some miraculous supernatural
              indescribable means, they wrote down exactly what God wanted said which isn’t difficult if you’re God. He can certainly
              accomplish that. The actual process can’t be described, it is miraculous. It can’t be defined, it is supernatural.

              Some have suggested that it was a high level of human achievement. Not so. Some have said, “Well, they were…they were
              writers like Shakespeare and they had this tremendous religious genius and so at the high level of religious human genius they
              achieved great literary writings because they were so marked in the special genius of writing.” That’s not true, absolutely not
              true. The Scripture could never be the result of a high level of human achievement for a number of reasons. First of all, there
              were only about two writers of Scripture who were notable as writers apart from Scripture. The only people we know
              about who made contributions on a regular basis as writers would be David and Solomon. The rest of them were an
              assortment of shepherds and fishermen and herdsmen and who knows what, leaders from here and there, sort of obstinate
              blockhead apostles who going through the whole time of the life of Jesus Christ understood very little of it and then had to
              write everything about it. They were not known as literary men. They were not great writers. They were not educated. Not
              at all.

              Furthermore, human genius couldn’t produce Jesus Christ. You can’t come up with a personality like Jesus Christ. The
              personality, the character, the person of Jesus surpasses impurity, love, righteousness, power, perfection, wisdom, truth
              anything ever found in human thinking. Where in the world would literary men find a model for such a person? And why
              would they write a book that condemned men? They couldn’t invent a Jesus.

              When man at the highest level of his achievement writes, he writes about himself and tends to exalt himself, not condemn
              himself. They couldn’t produce the scriptures. And that’s why they claim that God wrote it. They claim that God spoke to
              them. They claim they were writing the Word of God.

              And it’s amazing that they not only claim it directly, and I’ll mention that in a moment, but four thousand times in the Bible it
              claims that this is the Word of God, four thousand times. And that means four thousand times the writers affirm that they
              were writing the Word of God. But apart from those specifics, it has always fascinated me that there is in the Bible a certain
              air of infallibility that common men might find very difficult to live with. For example, if you decided you wanted to pass off
              something you wrote as divine revelation and you were just the average nobody, you might sort of be pressed to try to
              convince people that they ought to accept what you’re saying as being directly from God. So you might want to say
              somewhere in your writing, “Well, you know, I know this is hard for you to believe since I don’t have any education and
              since I’m not a very prominent person, but I’m writing the revelation of God and you just need to know that.” There’s none
              of that.

              END OF SIDE ONE

              SIDE TWO

              There’s no, “Well I know this seems impossible for you to accept this because you know who I am and I’m just this humble
              guy and you can’t figure out how in the world this could ever be coming from me. But I’m just telling you, folks, this is really
              coming from me and it’s the Word of God.” There’s none of that, absolutely none of it. There’s no attempt to justify this
              process of inspiration. There’s no attempt to sort of make people believe that this is really happening. There’s no self-
              consciousness. The writers are utterly unconscious of themselves. There never is any kind of defense of themselves as the
              sources of revelation. The only time a writer ever defends himself, like Paul does, is to defend the viability of his ministry.
              Nearly four thousand times they say they’re writing the word of God and yet nobody ever sort of chuckles and says, “I
              know you’re finding this hard to accept.” There’s no self- consciousness. Even though most of them had no education in a
              formal way, no extensive training and were in no earthly position to do any such writing and were not particularly profound
              and are not known for writing anything else, with the exception of Solomon who wrote so many proverbs they aren’t all in
              the Bible by any means and David who was a song writer and must have written many, many, many songs. And yet you
              have someone like Moses who is not known as a writer of anything in the Pentateuch six hundred and eighty times he claims
              that he’s writing the word of God and is never self-conscious about it. The prophetic books have one thousand three
              hundred and seven such claims, the history books four hundred and eighteen, the poetic books nearly two hundred such
              claims, and yet there’s no self-consciousness about that. They were just writing the word of God the way God gave it to

              New Testament writers affirm the Old Testament as God’s word. In fact, three hundred and twenty times New Testament
              writers quote the Old Testament as God’s word. One thousand times they allude to it as God’s word in a clear and definite
              reference to some Old Testament passage. So thirteen hundred times New Testament writers affirm the Old Testament and
              they do it in the law, the Pentateuch. They do it in the history books. They do it in the minor prophets, the major prophets,
              and the holy writings, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon and so forth.

              In other words, they affirm every section of Old Testament scripture as being the word of God in unself-conscious ways.
              And then they in the New Testament go on to write what they write with that same utter absence of self-consciousness.

              James was writing his own book and called it scripture. He says, “Do you think the scripture speak to no purpose” in James
              4:5. He calls his own books, book James, scripture. Paul reading the law of God, the Old Testament, said the law is holy,
              just and good. He affirms the holiness, the perfection of God’s law, the Old Testament. Jude quotes Peter as scripture. Peter
              quotes Paul as scripture. And John quotes himself as scripture. John just finished writing the letters to the churches, he says
              let the churches hear what the Spirit says. John knew he was writing what the Spirit was saying, not what he was saying. The
              Bible is not some high level of human genius.

              Now others have suggested that what you really have in inspiration is God reveals concepts. I don’t know why people have
              to come up with things like this but they do. And God reveals concepts and the writers could pick any words they wanted.
              The Bible does not support that. Furthermore, how can you convey concepts without words? I’m not sure I know how to
              do that. But the idea is that God conveyed some spiritual ideas but not verbal inspiration, not inerrancy and not infallibility.
              That’s not how it is.

              When God called Moses at the burning bush and Moses was fumbling around and didn’t believe, you know, that he had the
              eloquence to represent God and God said I want you to be My spokesman, I want you to speak for Me, Exodus chapter 4,
              and Moses said, “But I, I, I, I, I have a speech impediment.” And this is what God said to him. “Go and I will be with your
              mind and teach you what to think.” Is that what He said? No, that’s not what He said. He said, “Go and I’ll be with your
              mouth and I’ll teach you what to say exactly.”

              Samuel, the word of Jehovah was precious in those days. There was no frequent vision. In other words, it was rare to hear
              God speak. There was a rarity of Scripture in that time. Samuel did not yet know Jehovah, neither was the word of the Lord
              revealed unto him. So there was a time of silence. This is recorded in 1 Samuel 3. Then all of a sudden God broke the
              silence and He called for Samuel. You’ll remember three times He called him and Samuel said this, “Speak for Your servant
              hears.” Speak for Your servant hears. And then later in the chapter it says, “Samuel didn’t let any of His words fall to the
              ground.” Every word that God spoke to Samuel he recorded. That’s inspiration.

              Isaiah says, “I heard the voice of the Lord saying…Whom shall I send and who will go for us? And then I said…Here am I,
              send me.” And immediately it says in Isaiah 6, “And God said go and tell this people…” da da da da da da, and God outlined
              exactly what He wanted to say verbatim.

              Jeremiah wrote, “The word of Jehovah came to me saying…Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee.” In other words,
              its explicit statement…the word of the Lord came to him and he just quotes it exactly. “I sanctify thee, I have appointed thee
              a prophet to the nations. Whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak, behold I have put My words in thy mouth,”
              Jeremiah 1:4 to 9. Chapter 5 verse 14, “I will make My words in thy mouth fire.” You open your mouth, fire comes out, the
              people are going to be like kindling, he says, and the word of judgment is going to burn them up. Chapter 15, “Thy words
              were found and I did eat them, Thy words were unto me a joy and rejoicing in my heart.” In fact, in chapter 15 verse 19
              Jeremiah said, “God is as my mouth.”

              In Ezekiel He said to Ezekiel in chapter 2, “I send thee to the children of Israel all My words that I shall speak unto thee,
              receive in thy heart and hear with thine ears and go and speak to them.” That’s how it was. God spoke and they spoke and
              they spoke what God told them to speak.

              There was Amos. He wasn’t even a prophet. He says in chapter 7 of his prophecy, “I was no prophet, I wasn’t even a
              prophet’s son. I was a herdsmen, and a dresser of sycamore trees.” He was a farmer. “And Jehovah took me from following
              the flock and Jehovah said to me…Go, prophesy unto My people Israel.” No training, didn’t know what he was going to
              say, no preparation. You just go and you tell them exactly what I tell you to tell them.

              The Apostle Paul was told by Ananias after he was blinded on the road to Damascus and was called into the ministry, he
              was told that he would be a witness for the Lord. In response to that he tells the Galatians in chapter 1, “What I preach…he
              said…I didn’t receive from flesh and blood.” It came directly from the Lord. The Lord called me, separated me from my
              mother’s womb, called me through His grace, revealed His Son in me and I’m preaching and I never conferred with flesh and
              blood. Taught by God.

              John, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day,” in Revelation 1, “I heard behind me a great voice saying…Write in a book.”
              God told him exactly what to write. Even Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, this is marvelous, received His message from
              God. Isaiah said of Him, “Jehovah hath made my mouth like a sharp sword. The Lord Jehovah has given me the tongue of
              them that are taught that I may know how to sustain with words him that is weary. He wakeneth morning by morning, he
              weakeneth…he wakeneth, rather, mine ear to hear as they that are taught. Here is the Messiah speaking in prophecy saying I
              will speak only what God speaks through Me. And Jesus said that. The words which Thou gavest Me, John 17:8, I have
              given them. That’s just what Jesus did, only what God spoke did He repeat.

              So when you’re talking about the Bible you’re not talking about some general ideas from God, you’re talking about every
              word of God is pure. Not just floating ideas. You can’t convey ideas without words. You might as well talk about a tune
              without notes, or a sun without light, or a sum without figures, or geology without rocks, or anthropology without men, or
              melody without music as to talk about thoughts without words.

              Now to show you how profound this miracle was, turn to 1 Peter chapter 1 for a moment, 1 Peter chapter 1. Going to have
              to hurry. Wow. First Peter chapter 1 verses 10 and 11, “As to this salvation,” now salvation is the theme of the Bible from
              front to back and certainly the theme of the Old Testament as God promises the coming Savior, the one who will bruise the
              serpent’s head, the ruler that shall come between the feet of Jacob, the one who will be Shiloh, the prince that is to come, the
              Messiah, the final Lamb pictured by all the sacrifices. The redemption in the Messiah to come is the theme of the Old
              Testament, so salvation is the main subject. So as to this salvation, verse 10, 1 Peter 1:10, “The prophets who prophesied of
              the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of God
              within them was indicating as He predicted the suffering of Christ in the glories to follow.” That’s a fascinating statement. You
              know what it says? It says the Old Testament writers studied what they wrote to figure out what it meant.

              Now if you’re an author and you don’t know what you mean by what you write, you’re in trouble. Whenever you write you
              write until you understand clearly what you’re trying to convey and you believe it’s clear enough for everybody else to
              understand. You work very hard. There is no virtue in being hard to understand. There is no virtue in writing things that
              aren’t clear. There’s no virtue in preaching things that aren’t clear. In fact, I always tell young preachers it’s very easy to be
              hard to understand, that’s right, very easy to be hard to understand. Sometimes you hear people say, “You know, it was just
              too deep for me.” Well that’s remotely possible, more likely the reason you didn’t understand was because the speaker
              didn’t either. It’s very easy to be hard to understand, all it requires is that you don’t know what you’re talking about. And I’ll
              promise you this for sure, if you don’t know what you’re talking about, neither will anybody else. It’s very hard to be crystal
              clear because to be crystal clear you have to be crystal clear about what you’re saying. And that’s the challenge.

              Well here were men under the inspiration of the word of God who wrote things they didn’t even understand. That shows you
              the supernatural and miraculous character of inspiration. And they would write it and then study it to try to figure out what it
              meant. And there was a distancing from them and their writings as God was using them as vehicles.

              Now other critics say, “Well the Bible…the Bible is the word of God in the spiritual area, but not in those other areas like
              geology, history and science and things like that. It really messes up there.” The critics love this stuff. They just love it. They
              like to take places in the Bible and in the new study Bible every place where they’ve done this, every place where there is an
              apparent contradiction, we’ve written a section to answer that and there are lucid answers to all of those issues. But here’s a
              typical one. They say, “Well the Bible is only right spiritually, it’s not right historically and other things.” And they use…one of
              them uses an illustration in Numbers 11:31 and 32, I don’t have time to turn to it, I’ll tell you the story. In Numbers 11:31
              and 32 the children of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai, they don’t have any food so God provides food, remember? And a
              wind blows one day and just blows quail in there, just blows these quail in. And they just start gathering quail. And the quail
              are…they’re ubiquitous, I mean, they’re everywhere. In fact, the person who gathers the least gets like eleven bushels of them
              and quail is a little guy…we have them in our backyard every morning, they’re just little guys. They’re just all over the place
              and they’re very compliant, they just kind of fly in and that’s that. And they’ve got them all collected there. God’s providing
              this wonderful food for them.

              Well it says in Numbers 11:31 and 32 that they were…that they were two cubits high. And so the critic laughed at this and
              said, “You know, this is ridiculous. Let’s take two cubits might be approaching four feet. Four feet deep in quail?” And it
              talks about a day’s journey to one side of the camp and a day’s journey to the other side of the camp and so you’ve got
              miles and miles of four-feet-deep quail. And this critic said that, he figured out, would be nineteen trillion, five hundred and
              thirty- eight billion, four hundred and sixty-eight million, three hundred and six thousand, six hundred and seventy-two quail.
              He says, “See the folly of the Bible. I mean, this is absolute absurdity.” But what he didn’t understand was the Hebrew word
              when it talks about them being four-feet high doesn’t mean they were four feet deep, it meant they were flying at that
              elevation which would be the perfect elevation to just, you know….just pick them out of the air. God blew them in from the
              Nile Valley and he had them flying at the right attitude. Didn’t even have to bend over, or jump up.

              The Bible is…listen…written by a God who is omniscient and He knows as much about quail as He does about spiritual
              things, right? Not any difference. So the word of the Lord, the word of God is just that. You’ve got to have that
              understanding in order to have the compassion and passion for the truth in order to want to know it to want to make it a part
              of your life.

              Now set that aside for a moment and I want to close in the next few minutes with just a brief review of what I did last
              Sunday night for those of you who weren’t there last Sunday night cause you’re kind of getting intermittent stuff here when
              you miss the alternate messages. Last Sunday night, I want to just close by telling you, we talked about the requirements for
              studying the Bible. I tried to give you a foundation to understand what you’re dealing with, last Sunday morning and this
              morning, this immensely powerful living book of truth.

              Now that you understand what the Bible is, what does it take to be an effective student? Let me give you the little list we
              started last Sunday night, I’m just going to briefly give it to you.

              Number one, you must be a Christian…you must be a Christian, you must be born again because 1 Corinthians 2:14 says the
              natural man understandeth not the things of God. They are foolishness to him because they’re spiritually discerned and he is
              spiritually dead. Verse 16, he doesn’t have the mind of Christ. You can take all the finest theological scholars and all the
              greatest minds in the field of religion and you can put them together and put a Bible in front of them and they’ll misrepresent
              it. I don’t care how smart they are, I don’t care how many degrees they have, I don’t care how much theology they’ve
              studied, you can see what they do to the Bible. Just go to any secular theology department of any university or any seminary
              that is full of unbelievers and you will see anti-God, anti-Christ, anti-Bible stuff. Sometimes they bring them on television.
              They had a thing on PBS where they wanted to discuss the book of Genesis so they brought in a bunch of unbelieving
              liberals to discuss Genesis, they all got it wrong…they all got it wrong. Why? Because they’re natural men, they can’t
              understand the things of God because they’re spiritually discerned and they’re spiritually dead. And it…it deeply bothers them
              that the not many noble and the not many mighty common folk understand the Bible because we have anointing from God,
              namely the Holy Spirit who teaches us all things, right? And the Spirit is the discerner. Who knows the things of a man but
              the spirit that is in the man, Paul says in that same chapter. And who knows the things of God but the Spirit of God. The
              Bible is confounding to any human mind no matter how great that mind is. And it is as clear as it can be to any believer who
              will study it. It starts at that point and we addressed that last Sunday night.

              Second point we made, you cannot be a student of Scripture unless you have a strong desire. There’s got to be a passion for
              it somewhere. You will never get into the deep riches of God’s truth unless there’s some motivation for that. And I would
              venture to say that the reason most Christians never study the things of God deeply because they just aren’t motivated to
              that, they’re motivated to do something else. You need to pray that God would give us that desire that’s recorded in 1 Peter
              2:2, “Like newborn babes long for the pure milk of the Word.” You ought to desire the Word like a baby desires milk. Do
              you understand a baby desires milk not because…not because they like the flavor? I think they like the flavor. But they have
              a built-in mechanism that triggers the reality that they have the need. They are dependent on it for the best that life has to
              offer for health and well being. The same thing is true as believers. If you want true spiritual well being and true fulfillment,
              true joy and fulfillment in every area of your life as a Christian, it comes from the Word of God. You need to be motivated to
              long for that word like a baby longs for milk. Somewhere along the line that happened in my life and I thank God for giving
              me that tremendous drive, that tremendous longing to know the scriptures, to pursue the truth of Scripture, a love for the
              Word, to proclaim it, to personalize it, to honor it, to fight for it. That’s a tremendous blessing. No one will ever achieve a
              knowledge of the Word apart from a desire to do so. It starts with that passion of the heart. If you don’t have it you need to
              pray that God would give it to you. Read Proverbs 2. If you want wisdom, cry for it. You want discernment, yell out in the
              street for it, pursue it like gold. Go after it like people go after things in the ground like gold and diamonds and precious
              jewels. Job 28 says the same thing, he says I look and I see these men and they make mines and they go for gold and they
              go for jewels and diamonds and they sink shafts into the earth where no one has ever been and they overturn the earth. And
              they do all this for human riches. And then he asks the question down in verse 23, “But who finds wisdom?” And the answer
              comes, “Only God knows wisdom and God reveals it to those who know Him.”

              Men in our world are very capable at digging up all kinds of precious things from a material side, but when it comes to the
              true wisdom they’re void of it. Aren’t they? It only belongs to those who seek it, only those who know God and in His
              strength seek to know truth.

              That takes me to a third point. If you’re going to be a good Bible student you have to be diligent, it requires diligence. When
              I was a kid growing up they used to tell us, you know, read the Bible fifteen minutes a day and have your daily devotions.
              Daily devotions drove me nuts basically because I didn’t like reading the Bible and not understanding it and then putting it
              down. And then the next day reading something else I didn’t understand then putting that down. I always wanted to know
              what it meant. Somewhere along the line there has to be a diligence, there has to be a hunger to search the scriptures. They
              used the text of Acts 17, Acts 17 talks about the Bereans who were more noble than anybody else because they searched
              the scriptures daily to see if these things were so. That’s what it takes. Be diligent to be a workman that approved of God,
              needing not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word. Be like those elders in 1 Timothy 5:17 who worked hard at the Word
              and doctrine, to labor at the point to sweat and exhaustion. Young guys that come to seminary often ask kind of funny
              questions. I remember one young seminary guy asked me one time, the first time he met me he said, “You know, I just was
              going to ask you what one book you get all your good material out of?” Well that’s a typical question of a guy who
              doesn’t…there is no such book. But anyway. Another one that I’ve always remembered was, a young man said to me,
              “What is the…and he was kind of starry-eyed and I’m sure he expected some spiritual esoteric answer, he said…what is the
              real key to great preaching?”

              I said, “Well, it’s the ability to keep your rear end in the chair till you understand the text.” Boy, he was shocked. Yeah, that’s
              the real key. What separates great preaching from poor preaching is whether you know what you’re talking about or not.
              Oratorical gifts aside, it’s when you understand, as we said earlier, it’s when you really understand the Word of God and
              clear enough to make it clear to somebody else that that’s great preaching. And what separates the great student of the
              Word of God from the mediocre one is effort…effort, just plain effort. No magic, just effort.

              Let me give you a fourth prerequisite if you’re going to be a Bible student, holiness. Look at 1 Peter 2:1 again, 1 Peter 2:1,
              “Therefore putting aside all malice,” that’s the word for evil, kakia, all deceit, or guile, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander. Get
              rid of sin…get rid of sin. One of the great realities in studying the Bible is that you’re going to be taught by the Holy Spirit but
              the Holy Spirit is not going to be able to fill you and teach you if there’s sin in your life. Sin plugs up that whole pipeline, let
              me tell you. That’s why it’s so absolutely crucial to understand James 1:21. James 1:21 essentially partners with 1 Peter 2:1
              says this, “Putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness.” All that remaining wickedness that’s in you since
              your salvation, get rid of it, “And in humility receive the implanted Word.” That word can’t go to work in your life until you’ve
              dealt with sin, so the first thing you do as you approach the Word of God is confess your sin. Sin is a barrier. Why? Because
              it clouds your mind, it cuts off the free working of the Spirit of God. I’ll tell you something else, it pre…it creates
              presuppositions for your study of Scripture because if you’re harboring sin in your life then you’re most likely to twist the
              Scripture so it doesn’t confront that. You mess with the truth and the interpretation of Scripture to hide yourself. Or if you
              aren’t willing to be honest about your own life and honest about your own heart, and if you’re not willing to expose yourself
              to the Lord in an open and honest confession of sin, then you definitely will come across passages of Scripture that when
              they begin to pierce your heart you’ll find another way to interpret. And then when you get into the pulpit to preach or when
              you get into a class to teach, or when you get to a place of discipling someone or leading your spouse or your children,
              you’re going to hedge against the Word of God to protect your own sin. You cannot be an effective student of the word of
              God, an honest and effective student of the Word of God with sin in your life. That’s why we so often say when people fall
              away from the Word of God, fall away from interest in the Word of God, don’t want to come to church, don’t care about
              hearing the regular preaching and teaching of the Word of God, have no appetite for the truth, it’s indicative of sin. It’s not
              just that sin, it’s the sin that causes that sin of indifference toward truth. And usually it’s a dead giveaway that truth penetrates
              and exposes something they don’t want exposed. So one of the things that has to happen if you’re going to really deal with
              the Word of God and receive the engrafted Word in its fullness and its purity in the power of the Spirit and in clarity is you’re
              willing to give up everything or anything in your life that it touches on.

              And then a fifth is obedience because in verse 22 of James 1 he says, “Now prove yourselves doers of the Word and not
              merely hearers who delude themselves.” You don’t really believe what the Bible says unless you live, isn’t that true? Is that
              fair enough? So a good student of the Bible learns and applies immediately, puts it into practice. It’s not some ethereal thing,
              it’s not some theoretical thing, it’s a matter of life.

              Well time is gone so I’ll just give you the last one, number six, prayer…prayer. Ephesians 1 is a very powerful scripture.
              Ephesians 1:17, Paul prayed that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ the Father of glory may give you a spirit of wisdom and
              revelation in the knowledge of Him. And he says in verse 18, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that
              you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.” Paul says I
              pray for you, I pray for you that God will give you wisdom, revelation, knowledge, enlightenment, understanding. Pray.

              People ask me about prayer, I always say the times of most intense prayer for me are the times when I’m studying Scripture
              and I’m asking the Lord for clarity, asking the Lord for wisdom, for insight, for understanding, enlightenment, to understand
              His truth and how it applies in my own life as well as the church.

              You want to be a student of this miraculous supernatural book? It requires that you be born again, have a strong desire, be
              diligent, holy, obedient and prayerful. And all of those things are the work of the Spirit, aren’t they? So we must come to the
              place where we walk in the Spirit, yield to Him, plead with Him to work these works in our life.

              Tonight we’re going to get into how to actually study the Scripture, how to open it up and understand it. Let’s pray.

              Again, our Father, this morning our hearts have been so filled, filled with the time of worship, filled with the wonder of Your
              truth and we’re so grateful. We pray now that You’ll confirm to our hearts all these things, give us a great love for Your truth
              which is so life changing and produces joy and brings You glory, and we would know it and live it for Your glory and Your
              name. Amen.

                                                    c 1997 Grace to You

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