October 26, 2012
By Skip Heitzig
A Shakespeare historical society in Stratford-upon-Avon in England once covered up signs and memorials that celebrate the Bard. It was a protest of a movie that suggested Shakespeare’s plays were written by an English nobleman, and that Will himself was a “barely literate front man.” A spokesman said, “This film flies in the face of a mass of historical fact, but there is a risk that people who have never questioned the authorship of Shakespeare’s works could be hoodwinked.”
The rumor that Shakespeare’s plays were written by someone else is an old one, but not nearly as old as the questions about who wrote the Bible.
Many have said that it was only a bunch of men who wrote it. But that presents some problems: How do we explain its unique qualities—the ability of this document to predict the future hundreds of years before it happens, or the unity of the message of the 40 authors who wrote in different languages, on three continents, over 1500 years?
2 Timothy 3:16 contains these words: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.” Scripture is God’s self-disclosure. It tells us about His nature, His will, and His dealings with man. I’ve often said that if you can believe Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,” the rest is a snap. If He can do that, He can inspire men to write what He wants them to write. God wrote the Scripture; He superintended it.
The New International Version has the best translation of 2 Timothy 3:16; it says “All Scripture is God-breathed.” “Inspiration” doesn’t refer to a high level of human achievement, and it doesn’t mean that only the concepts were inspired. Rather, “This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words” (1 Corinthians 2:13).
It doesn’t mean that God only planted impressions in the minds of the writers. Instead, as God told Jeremiah, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth” (Jeremiah 1:9). Nor does it mean a mechanical operation whereby God dictated it. No, He used the personalities and writing styles of the authors.
2 Peter 1:21 tells us this: “Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” Jesus told His disciples that the Holy Spirit “will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26), “guide you into all truth,” and “tell you of things to come” (John 16:13).
There’s much more that I could say about God’s inspiration of the Bible: That it is internally consistent, despite the fact that it contains 66 books by 40 authors, etc. That it has survived through history despite many efforts to destroy it. That it remains unchanged through all the translating and copying. That it is supported by archaeological discoveries. That it is invariably correct in its prophecies of things to come. And the story of how the early church came to recognize the true Word of God is a fascinating study.
But the important thing is this: The Bible can “make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus,” and it is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:15, 16).
So if God loved us enough to communicate with us through this book, and if people bled and died to preserve it and circulate it, don’t you think the least we can do is read it, study it, and apply it?
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