How did God manage to use frail and imperfect creatures (humans) like the Apostles and Prophets to write the Old and New Testaments?
The Spirit of God
How did God manage to use frail and imperfect creatures (humans) like the Apostles and Prophets to write the Old and New Testaments? To begin with, a person cannot know God or the things of God except by the Spirit of God. Those things written down in the Bible were written down by God Himself, and naturally, only the Holy Spirit can understand what the Holy Spirit wrote. That’s why without the Holy Spirit, we cannot understand the things of God, especially Scripture! If I wrote a letter to you, who better to help explain that letter to you after you read it than me! God’s Spirit can open God’s Word. Without the Spirit of God, the blind cannot see and the deaf cannot hear and be saved.
Paul wrote, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor 2:14), “For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God” (2 Cor 2:11). That’s abundantly clear, isn’t it? Paul says that “all Scripture is inspired by God,” but a more accurate translation is that all Scripture is “God-breathed” (2 Tim 3:16-17). I can be inspired to do something but I can be wrong. When God is “breathing” His inspiration into someone to write something, like He did with the Apostles and Prophets, God’s Spirit was the One telling them what to write!
“…no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God”
Who Wrote This?
Let me ask you something. Who wrote this article? Was it me or was it the word processor? Both were used in the process, but could the word processor do anything without my mind telling my fingers what to do? No! The computer can’t even turn itself on, but I “breathed life into” this article about what I thought was important. The word processor was only a means for me to use to achieve that end. It was me, not the word processor who wrote this article, and in the same manner, God’s Spirit wrote the Bible and not men. God did indeed use holy men of God as a means to do so, but they didn’t add their own beliefs or opinions. They were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
The Scriptures we have today are not the thoughts and ideas of these men but of God. It’s especially, “knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation” (2 Pet 1:20). It’s the same thing with my fingers. My fingers did the work in writing this but they didn’t come up with the idea! Without my mind working through me fingers, it would be gibberish, so my fingers were not inspired to write this any more than my word processor wrote it on its own. That was me…albeit certainly fallible, unlike God’s Word which is without error. The major point about the Holy Spirit’s using these men in the writing of, the preserving of and the canonizing of the 66 books of the Bible, is that He wrote it; not men.
The Holy Spirit’s Work
I believe that no seminary training or Bible degrees, no study Bibles, no Bible concordances, no meditation, nor sermons even numbering in the thousands can enlighten the Word of God to us without the Holy Spirit. Plain and simple, the illumination of the Holy Spirit is what opens up the Word of God to our minds so that it might trickle down into our hearts. And what better way to begin Bible reading or Bible study than being on your knees, asking God’s Spirit to help you understand the Scriptures. Pray for the Author of Scripture to help you understand what He wrote. Before I even begin reading the Bible, I must strive to ask the Holy Spirit, my Teacher, to open the eyes of my heart so that I might rightfully discern and understand what God the Word is saying to me. Anything spiritual cannot be discerned by “the arm of the flesh” or by simple, human reasoning or logic. The only way Jesus is revealed to the sinner is by the Spirit of God, although God is pleased to use human agents as a means to share the gospel, but we can only share Christ; only the Spirit can reveal Christ!
When I speak, I literally breathe out. In fact, you cannot speak without breathing out breath. The same is true of God speaking, so how might a biblical interpreter better recognize and enlist the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit? Simply pray that God the Holy Spirit will help us in our finite minds to illumine what God is actually saying to us in Scripture. Ask the Spirit to “breathe out” to us so we can put these “breaths” into words that can be understood. And once understanding of Scripture comes, we can look for application for them in our life. The late Dr. Harry Ironside once said to “put the cookies on the bottom shelf,” meaning biblical teachers should never be above the average reader’s head. Thankfully, the main things are always the plain things.
When we read the Bible, we must remember the reader did not create the meaning in the text. We cannot say, “This is what it means to me.” No, it means only one thing and it means what it says. The text always has a single meaning, but there may be multiple implications and applications, but the text cannot mean different things to different people. The Holy Spirit had one thing in mind; not one thing for one person and something different for another. That’s not how the Holy Spirit works nor the Word of God. If Scripture means one thing to one person and then one thing to another, someone’s wrong, or they both may be wrong. And worse, that makes it more like subjective truth; and subjective truth is subject to error, rather than objective truth. Jesus alone is the Truth (John 14:6).
Prescriptive vs Descriptive
There are differences between prescriptive Scripture and descriptive Scripture. I once had a man be quite vicious in telling me that I was breaking the Sabbath by worshiping on Sunday. He pointed to Exodus 31:13 which says, “Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the LORD, sanctify you.” Now this is true, but for whom!? His interpretation is important but it was taken out of context and is not prescriptive (or meant for) believers today, so what verse did he leave out of the verse he quoted? He had left out the portion that changes the meaning entirely. The most important part of these verses he left out was from the other part of Exodus 31:13 which say, “You are to speak to the people of Israel and say…” Now what is important is that the entire Bible is written for us, but not all of the Bible is written to us. I am not an Israelite. This command was not given to me to obey (Gal 2, 3), although we are commanded to assemble together in worship (Heb 10:24-25), but God gave this command to “the people of Israel” and not to the Gentile nations around them.
Context is King
When I tried to point out the rest of the verses, and reading them in proper context, Exodus 31:17 says “It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.” Unless the man was Jewish, it wasn’t even commanded for him! God said it was a sign “between Me (God) and the Israelites,” not Christians or the New Testament Church. We are identified with Christ (Rom 6; Matt 28:18-20), not with the Sabbath. Even with an accurate translation, meaning can still be “misread” or “read incorrectly” as in trimming verses as my friend did. What he did was to take it out of context which created a pretext, and by taking text out of context we can create a pretext, and a false one at that.
Ask the Spirit of God to help you with the Word of God and you’ll know the Son of God better. And keep in mind that when sharing Christ, it takes a person of God sharing the Word of God and the Spirit of God to birth a child of God, and all for the glory of God. Are you saved? Have you repented and believed the gospel (Mark 1:15)? If not, do so today (2 Cor 6:2). Tomorrow may be too late (Heb 9:27).