Is the Bible Really All Inspired by God?
The moonlight was hazy and the stars were shining faintly. Under the dark blue night sky, the grounds were perfectly still. The chirping of the crickets and the occasional bark of the dogs made the streets even more quiet. It was already late in the night, but Siyuan was not sleepy. He was attentively preparing the sermon for the second day. While thinking of preaching on “faith,” he intended to fellowship Job’s testimony with his brothers and sisters. So he immediately turned to the Book of Job, and happened to see that Satan made the following accusation against Job: “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have not you made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he has on every side? you have blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth your hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face” (Job 1:9–11). Siyuan thought: Satan is really evil and base. It actually thought out such a trick to accuse Job. Was it not just because it wanted to make people not whorship God and follow it to do evil things? Satan is truly Satan. Even its words reek of evil. Just then, a clear thought came into his mind: This is Satan’s words! Siyuan was stunned: Isn’t it said that all the words in the Bible are God’s words? Why are there Satan’s words? What is going on here? Siyuan stopped writing and went on to flick through the Bible. Only then did he find that the Book of Job is not the only book in the Bible that records the words of Satan. For example, in Genesis, there’re words that Satan spoke to entice Eve; the New Testament also records some words that Satan spoke to tempt the Lord Jesus. At the time, Siyuan thought: From the time when I began to believe in the Lord till now, and when I studied theology, the pastors and elders have always told me that the Bible is inspired by God and all the words in the Bible are God’s words, and I also preach this to brothers and sisters. But now it seems that there is a big problem with this saying. If Satan’s words are said to be God’s words, isn’t this blasphemy against God? The sin of blaspheming God shall never be forgiven! At this thought, Siyuan couldn’t help feeling horrified, and a cold sweat burst out on his brow. Siyuan found he didn’t understand the Bible at all. Although he could recite some passages of the Bible backward and forward, was familiar with the people in it, and clearly knew the background of their times, he had never thought that there are many Satan’s words in the Bible. This made Siyuan confused: Since what the Bible records is not all God’s words, then is the Bible inspired by God? If it is not inspired by God, why did Brother Paul say “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16)? Being extremely puzzled by these questions, Siyuan decided to go and have a discussion with his classmate Zhang Yi, who once studied theology together with him.
After hearing Siyuan’s puzzlement, Zhang Yi said to him, “Siyuan, I was also confused about these questions previously, and just couldn’t figure out whether the Bible was inspired by God. Later, I remembered the Lord said: ‘seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you’ (Matthew 7:7). Then I realized: The Lord is faithful. As long as we seek sincerely, God will surely enlighten us. Thank the Lord for His guidance! My confusions were released by studying several verses.”
Upon hearing this, Siyuan asked eagerly, “Tell me please! Which verses did you study?”
Zhang Yi said with a smile, “You haven’t changed at all. Take it easy. Just listen to me please. Do you still remember 1 Chronicles 21:1 says ‘And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel’? 2 Samuel 24:1 also records the story of David numbering Israel, which says: ‘And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.’ These two verses all record the story of David numbering the Israel, but one verse says that it is Jehovah God that moved David while the other says that it is Satan that provoked David. Obviously, there’re discrepancies here. Besides, 2 Chronicles 36:9 records: ‘Jehoiachin was eight years old when he began to reign,’ while 2 Kings 24:4 says: ‘Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign.’ We can see that the records of the same event are different in these two verses. Then I began to ponder: If the Bible is all inspired by God, can it be that God gives different inspirations to one thing? God never commits errors. So we can say that the Bible is not inspired by God.”
Astonished by Zhang Yi’s words, Siyuan immediately turned the Bible to these verses, and found that, just as what Zhang Yi said, the same thing is recorded differently in these verses. Siyuan was astounded: Yeah. If the Bible is all from the inspiration of God, it should contain no inaccuracies or errors. How come there’re discrepancies in it? With this confusion, he asked, “I agree with what you just said. The Bible truly has discrepancies. Then why did Brother Paul say all scripture is given by inspiration of God? How do you interpret his words?”
Zhang Yi fellowshiped carefully, “I was once puzzled by this question, too. These years, by studying some relevant materials, I got to know how the New Testament of the Bible came into being and finally figured out this question. We all know that the Revelation of the Bible is the record of the vision that John saw on the island of Patmos in A.D. 90s. In A.D. 300s, the religious leaders from various countries chose the four Gospels at a council in Nicaea, and selected some epistles written by Paul, Peter, and some others from those many letters. Then they compiled the four Gospels, those Epistles and the Revelation written by John. So, the New Testament was formed. And later, they put the Old Testament and New Testament together. Thus the Bible came into being, that is the Old and New Testament today. Upon closer reflection, it’s not hard to find that the New Testament was compiled into a book in A.D. 300s, but 2 Timothy was written by Paul in A.D. 60s, which was over 200 years earlier than the formation of the New Testament. So it’s evident that in the letters Paul wrote to Timothy, the ‘scripture’ in ‘All scripture is given by inspiration of God’ does not include the New Testament but only refers to the Old Testament.”
At this time, Siyuan felt brightened: It turns out that there was no New Testament when Paul said the words ‘All scripture is given by inspiration of God.’ That is to say, not everything in the Bible is inspired by God! Then, he went on asking, “Just now, you mentioned that the ‘scripture’ Paul spoke of referred to the Old Testament. However, the Old Testament also records some words spoken by Satan and some mistakenly recorded words. So which part of the Old Testament is given by inspiration of God?”
After thinking for a while, Zhang Yi said, “I once read a passage of word in a spiritual book which says: ‘The foretellings of the prophets were personally instructed by God: The prophecies of Isaiah, Daniel, Ezra, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel came from the direct instruction of the Holy Spirit.’ Peter also said, ‘For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost’ (2 Peter 1:21). The prophets are all those who had received the Spirit of prophecy. Their prophecies are personally instructed by God and are directly from God, and are all God’s words. If we read the Bible carefully, we’ll easily find that there’re words like ‘the vision of XX,’ ‘XX saw visions,’ or ‘the word of the LORD came unto XX’ at the beginning of almost every book of the prophets. For example, Isaiah says: ‘The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz.’ Jeremiah says: ‘The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD.’ Ezekiel says: ‘and I saw visions of God.’ And Malachi says: ‘The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi.’ Apart from the books of the prophets, there is no other book in the Old Testament saying such words. Therefore, the ‘scripture’ in Paul’s word ‘All scripture is given by inspiration of God’ refers to the prophecies in the books of the prophets in the Old Testament.”
Siyuan felt he gained a lot from Zhang Yi’s fellowship. He said with emotion, “It turns out that Brother Paul’s words ‘All scripture is given by inspiration of God’ don’t refer to the whole Bible! What you said is enlightening and insightful. This is what I’ve never heard before. Today I’ve learned so much!”
Zhang Yi said with modesty, “Thank the Lord. It’s all out of the Lord’s guidance! In the past when we studied theology, we only focused on the biblical knowledge and theological theory, and even treated the Bible as a heavenly book. Never did we know that the Bible is just a historical book and a record of God’s work. When the Lord Jesus came to do work, the Pharisees held on to the Old Testament, and thus refused to accept the words and work of the Lord Jesus. At last, they nailed the Lord Jesus onto the cross under the excuse that the Lord Jesus’ words and work went beyond the law of the Old Testament. They committed a heinous crime, offended God’s disposition, and were finally subjected to God’s righteous punishment.”
Hearing Zhang Yi’s words, Siyuan was deeply touched. He said, “What you said is quite reasonable. God is so almighty and wise, and cannot be fathomed by us. We should draw a lesson from the Pharisees and never define God!”
Zhang Yi nodded and said, “Yes. The Lord Jesus also told us: ‘I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come’ (John 16:12–13). It is also prophesied many times in the Revelation: ‘He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches’ (Revelation 2:7). God has clearly told us that He will speak and work when He returns to guide us to understand all the truth. There are many prophecies in the Bible that we don’t understand, for example, the judgment before the great white throne, the work of separating sheep from goats, the work of reaping wheat and tares, and the work of classifying all according to their kind. We have no idea of how these prophecies will be fulfilled, and the Bible doesn’t explain them, either. So only when the Lord returns and reveals these mysteries personally, can we know them!”
Siyuan nodded and said, “Thank the Lord. There’s light in this fellowship! I think we should take initiative to seek which church is testifying the words of the Holy Spirit to the churches and see whether we can find the footprints of the Lord.”
Zhang Yi said in agreement, “We can search online. Perhaps we will have some surprising gain.”
Siyuan said with a smile, “So what are we waiting for? Let’s do it right now …”
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