From This Point Forward
Inspiration of the Word
by David Jeremiah
It took Thomas Jefferson about seventeen days to write the Declaration of Independence. J.R.R. Tolkien took considerably longer to write The Lord of the Rings. He wrote to his publisher in February 1938, indicating he had completed the first chapter; and another letter, dated February 1950, contained news that the last chapter was finished. However, Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in just two weeks. The popular little self-help book, Don't Sweat the Small Stuff, was written by Richard Carlson during a twelve-hour transatlantic flight. Perhaps the most unbelievable writing feat, however, belongs to British romance novelist Barbara Cartland. She devoted about five days to writing each of her 723 books. In the year 1983 alone, she penned 23 novels, gaining a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most novels written by one person in a single year. During her 98 years, she sold over a billion copies of her books, and when she died she left behind 160 unpublished manuscripts.
Well, I know a book that wasn't rushed. It was written over a span of 1400 years, and more than forty authors had a hand in composing its content. These writers came from all walks of life—from kings to peasants—and they wrote under every conceivable condition. Some were in love, some were in jail, some were in trouble, and some occupied positions of wealth and power. These authors wrote on three continents and in three languages. Some were poets; others preachers. Some were historians; others history-makers. They covered hundreds of controversial subjects in sixty-six unique installments, and their writings were compiled at various stages along the way.
Yet when we pick up this book, we hold in our hands one unified volume with a logical beginning, a climactic ending, a story that comes full circle, an unfolding drama based around a central character, and a rational message that doesn't contradict itself. Its content answers the questions of our minds and satisfies the longings of our hearts.
This is the wonder of God's Word, which has not only passed the test of time—it puts time to the test and demands the respect of all the ages.
The Bible Is Inspired
There was a famous preacher from yesteryear named A. T. Pierson, who pointed out that if we went to any library in the world and selected sixty-six books from which we excerpted passages on just one subject—love, for example, or death, or anger—we'd have an anthology. We could compile these various writings into beautifully-bound volumes, but they would still represent a mishmash of material. We'd have a lot of opinions, some isolated stories, and perhaps some flashes of wisdom. Say we limited our selections to a single century, to books written in the same language and even in the same genre. The resulting compilation might become a literary treasury or a prized collection. But there's one thing it would not be. It would not be a unified, non-contradicting story that comes full circle from Paradise to Paradise with an unfolding drama centered on the most extraordinary man who ever lived.
That's the ageless wonder of our Bible.
Though composed by over forty authors writing over a span of fourteen hundred years, it all fits together tighter than the finest novel. The issues raised at the beginning of the book are resolved at the end. There is a common theme (salvation), a lurking danger (sin), a diabolical enemy (Satan), a crisis point (Calvary), and a matchless protagonist (our Lord Jesus Christ). It opens with "In the beginning" and ends 1189 chapters later with the word, "Amen." When we read this Book, we detect one brilliant Author behind all its words—and that brings us to our Christian doctrine of inspiration. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God," says 2 Timothy 3:16, "and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness."
Inspiration is that act of God whereby His Spirit so infused and influenced the writers of the Bible that they recorded His own words, yet without suspending their own intellects and personalities. Every word of Scripture is breathed out by God, yet every word was written by a human being who was borne along by the Holy Spirit. That makes the Bible totally divine and totally human (just as Christ was both fully man and fully God). The Bible is therefore infallible (just as Christ was sinless). It is without error in its original manuscripts and can be fully trusted.
The Bible Is Indispensible
Because the Bible is inspired, it is indispensible. It's the one book we can't do without. The ancient writer of Ecclesiastes pointed out that "Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh" (Ecclesiastes 12:12)—a fact painfully obvious to both writers and readers. The Library of Congress contains single copies of 142 million books—purportedly every book ever published in the United States. But I'd trade them all in for just one copy of God's Word.
That's why I can stand on the Bible. It's not just the basis of my preaching and writing; it's the foundation of my personal life. It determines my morality, philosophy, and hope. I like the way it was stated long ago by an unknown writer whose little paragraph about the Bible appeared in an 1891 Christian publication for British railroad workers. The heading of the article was: "The King of Books." The words of this column well express my view of Scripture:
"The Bible is the mind of God, and reveals the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to supply you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler's map, the pilgrim's staff, the pilot's compass, the soldier's sword, and the Christian's chart. Here Paradise is restored, heaven opened, and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand subject, our good its design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be open at the Judgment, and be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labor, and condemns all who trifle with its contents." 1
No book has ever impacted the world like the Bible. It's the most popular and powerful book on earth and its influence is growing stronger every day. Many spurn it, ridicule it, attack it, trash it, and even burn it. But it outlives all its critics while, at the same time, transforming the lives of all who receive its message.
In good conscience, I can fully recommend God's Word to your minds and hearts. I have no reservations at all. We may not fully understand every single verse, but that's only to be expected if our Book comes from an infinite mind. It contains mysteries unfathomable. Yet all we really need to know is contained within its covers. The apostle Peter said, "His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature…" (2 Peter 1:3-4).
Isaac Watts, the great hymnist, was a lifelong bachelor (he once proposed to a girl but was turned down). He lived in borrowed (but elegant) quarters. He spent much of his time writing great hymns and, later, influential textbooks. And he somehow balanced the tasks of pastoring a church and producing a massive volume of published works. He once revealed the secret of his vitality and productivity in this admonition: "Abandon the secret chamber," he warned, "and the spiritual life will decay."
In other words, don't miss your devotions! Read, learn, memorize, and obey God's Word every day. It is inspired by Him and therefore indispensible to us.
It truly is the King of Books.
1 Anonymous, "The Railway Signal," (London: Railway Mission, October, 1891), 206.