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Sunday, June 17, 2001

25 - Inspiration and Inerrancy

1 John 2:12 by Robert Dean
Series:1st John (2000)
Duration:54 mins 27 secs

Inspiration and Inerrancy; 1 John 2:12


Fellowship is the key to understanding 1st John, it is not about salvation, it is about the believer maintaining fellowship and maintaining his Christian walk. It comes under the term "abide" as Jesus used it in John 15 as well as here in 1st John.

1 John 2:12-14 NASB "I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name's sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one."

In the introduction section from 1:5 to 2:11 John focuses on the key themes that he is going to develop in this epistle. He uses repetition, he keeps coming back to the same thing, giving the same words over and over again. He is talking about love for God, what is involved in love, he is expanding the whole concept of love, abiding in Christ, fellowship; again and again he is going to expand on these concepts. Then we come to this third section where he explains the purpose of the epistle from 2:12-27. The purpose is really found down at the end of the section in v. 27b NASB "…you [will] abide in Him." The word "abide" is used seven times in this section, and that relates to a basic law of Bible study called proportion, i.e. whenever the Holy Spirit seems to say something repeatedly or seems to give a tremendous amount of attention to one particular word or concept we ought to pay attention to it. This tells us that the main concept here is abiding, which is tantamount to fellowship.

We can divide this section into three parts. From 2:12-14 John tells us that abiding is based on mastering spiritual assets in each stage of spiritual development, that there are assets we put in place and that we master as we grow from spiritual infancy to spiritual to spiritual childhood, spiritual adolescence to spiritual adulthood. These come under the terminology of fathers, young men, and children in this section. Then in 2:15-17 he shifts and he emphasises that we abide by eliminating cosmic thinking. We abide by eliminating cosmic thinking from our souls, and we have to replace it with Bible doctrine. That is why the Christian life begins by learning the Word of God, saturating our souls with what the Word of God says. Incidentally, that can't happen in 30 minutes on Sunday, it has to be a daily procedure where we saturate our thoughts with God's thoughts. Then in the third division of this section we abide by avoiding the false doctrine of the antichrists. That means that at some level we have to understand what the false teaching is that goes around in any particular generation, any particular culture, any particular decade. We have to be able to identify the false concepts because Satan is extremely subtle and he often teaches error through things that sound very good, that appeal to our common sense, as it were.

1 John 2:12 NASB "I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name's sake." "I am writing" is the Greek word grapho [grafw], present active indicative, first person singular. It emphasises the present act of John's writing. He is not currently writing, he wrote at one particular time. Even when the readers received this epistle John had already written; past tense. So this is what is called an aoristic present. It is not a past tense, it refers to a particular point in time. It is used by any writer to indicate his present activity of inscribing the epistle. When John says, "I am writing to you," this refers to our first and most significant spiritual asset, and that is the Word of God. We have in our possession the very Word of God, the thinking of Christ, 1 Corinthians 2:16. If we want to know what God thinks about a particular subject we go to the Word of God. It addresses everything we need pertaining to life and godliness, Peter tells us.

We have to be careful how we use that terminology, "we have the Word of God," because there are people of different theological persuasions who have perverted the use of that. For example, in the early part of the 20th century there was the development of a new theological framework called neo-orthodoxy. Neo-orthodoxy was a reaction in Europe to liberalism. Liberalism just said that the Bible isn't the Word of God at all, it is just the word of man. But that didn't hold up so a German theologian by the name of Karl Barth came along and said we can't say the Bible is not the Word of God because there are special things there, so the Bible contains the Word of God. That was the core of neo-orthodoxy. Neo-orthodoxy used traditionally orthodox words and phrases but they didn't mean the same thing.

John is not saying that, he is writing under the inspiration ministry of God the Holy Spirit; so what he is writing is not his opinion, not his view, it is not the accumulation of his great knowledge of a lifetime of almost ninety years in the flesh. What he is writing is guaranteed to be free from error, and it is designed to teach us exactly what we need to know for salvation, for the spiritual life, and to teach us the principles for thinking in every other area of life. The Word of God provides a framework of thought for every area of life.

The doctrine of inspiration


  1. The Greek word theopneustos [qeopneustoj] is a compound [qeoj = God; pneustoj from pneuma meaning wind or breath]. It refers to God breathing, the breath of God breathing out Scripture, which is inspiration. So the definition: God the Holy Spirit so supernaturally directed the human writers of Scripture, that without waiving their human intelligence, vocabulary, individuality, literary style, personality, personal feelings or any other human factor, God's complete and coherent message to mankind was recorded with perfect accuracy in the original languages of Scripture, the very words bearing the authority of divine authorship. John 10:35; Matthew 5:18; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21; 1 Corinthians 2:14-16. The key passage is 2 Timothy 3:16, 17 NASB "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."

"God the Holy Spirit so supernaturally directed the human writers of Scripture." What does that mean? First, there are two authors of every passage of the Bible, the divine author and the human author. We must understand the distinction between the two. The human author is not omniscient; the divine author is. The human author may be writing some things that he understands at an elementary level, the Holy Spirit may be stating some things that are in a plenary or full sense more profound, that the original writer didn't comprehend or appreciate. It is the Holy Spirit's role within the plan of God to reveal God to man. So we can say that revelation means to unveil, to disclose or to uncover that which was previously unknown. So He gives us information that we cannot know from any other source. Secondly, we can say that revelation is propositional. That means it states truth. It is not experiential, we don't meet God in the Scriptures, we learn about God in the Scriptures. Third, the Holy Spirit is the author of both the Old and New Testaments, according to 2 Samuel 23:2, 3; Mark 12:36; Acts 1:16; 28:25; John 14:26; 1 Thessalonians 4:2; 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 12, 14. The Holy Spirit is also involved in helping us to understand the Word of God in the church age; He doesn't understand it for us, we still have to exercise our thinking.

The human author's role is that he writes the Scripture. He writes it from his own frame of reference, from his own background. The human writers came from various walks of life, education backgrounds, and cultural differences. They wrote over a 2000-year period of time with no contradictions, the same themes, and are complementary in everything that they say, and every doctrine is in harmony with other passages of Scripture.

It is supernaturally directed, so that the Holy Spirit is the one who is working in and through them. It is not through dictation or mechanical means. In some cases they were conscious they were writing the Word of God and it is even conceivable that in other situations they were not conscious that they were writing the Word of God. Nevertheless, God the Holy Spirit was so superintendingly or overriding them that what they wrote was guaranteed to be free from error; yet He did it in such a way that He did not negate their own individual personalities or styles. 

"Without waiving their human intelligence." They had different intelligence levels. Paul was brilliant. John was not academically trained and he writes in a very simply form with a simple vocabulary, yet he does it in a way that shows that he has reflected profoundly upon what Jesus has taught him during those three years on the earth.     

"God's complete and coherent message to mankind was recorded with perfect accuracy in the original languages of Scripture." His message is complete, there are no additions to it. We are not getting new revelation today. That means that his message is all we need to know, it has provided the framework for every detail of life so that we can develop from a divine viewpoint a biblical or Christian view of culture, art, music, literature, architecture, everything. It addresses everything—law, politics, government, etc. It is coherent, which means it is understandable. God communicated to be understood. It is a message to mankind and it was recorded with perfect accuracy in the original languages. It is just the original autograph, document, that is inerrant.

"the very words bearing the authority of divine authorship." That means that when someone hears the Word of God they know it is the Word of God. They may reject that, they may suppress that, they may deny it, they may ignore it, but nevertheless their soul resonates with the reality that God has spoken because the words of Scripture bear His authority. There is an inherent authority to the Word of God and the creature knows that; the Bible contains its own authority.

  1. Verbal plenary inspiration. We believe the original languages of Scripture, Hebrew and Greek on both the Old and New Testaments, to be the plenary, verbally inspired Word of God. Plenary, i.e. full,   literally means the entirety of Scripture is equally and fully revealed and inspired by God. Verbal refers to the principle of inerrancy: that inspiration extends to each and every word. Further, we believe the Bible is to be interpreted in a normal and literary way consistent with the historical grammatical principle of hermeneutics under the filling of God the Holy Spirit. By verbal is meant that the very words themselves are inspired. Plenary means that every word is equally inspired. Infallible means that each word is equally authoritative and without error. Inerrancy means that no error existed in the original autographs of Scripture.

How did inspiration take place? What are the mechanics? That is covered in 2 Timothy 3:17, 17 and 2 Peter 1:20, 21. is 2 Timothy 3:16, 17 NASB "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." All Scripture doesn't mean some of Scripture; it refers to the entire 39 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament. 1 Tim 5:18 NASB ":For the Scripture says, 'YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING,' and 'The laborer is worthy of his wages'." When Paul wrote that verse he connects Mosaic writings with Luke's writings and declares them both to be Scripture. 2 Peter 3:16 NASB "2 Pet 3:16 as also in all {his} letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as {they do} also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction."

"that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." The word "adequate" is the Greek word artios [a)rtioj] which means to be qualified, to be proficient, to be skilful and equipped. That is more than adequate. It is to be skilful, that the man of God may be competent, proficient. "Equipped" is from the Greek word exartizo [e)xartizw] which means to be equipped, educated, edified and prepared. It is related to another Greek word katartizo [katartizw], used in Ephesians 4:12, the passage where we are told that God gave certain gifts to the body of Christ for the equipping of the saints. The way the pastor is to equip the saints is to teach them the Word.

Another way to demonstrate the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture is from a basic syllogism: a) God is absolute veracity, Romans 3:4; b) God is the source of Scripture, 2 Timothy 3:16. Therefore, the Scriptures are absolute truth, John 17:17. The rule of a syllogism is that if the premises of a syllogism are correct, and they are (God is truth), then the conclusion must be correct. The conclusion is simply composed of two elements, one from the first premise and one from the second premise.