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THE INSPIRATION AND ILLUMINATION OF THE BIBLE!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, October 4, 2009

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God” (II Timothy 3:16).


Please keep your Bible open to II Timothy 3. The passage Dr. Chan just read begins with the words,

“But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” (II Timothy 3:13).

We are now living in a time of great apostasy in the churches of America and the Western world. I am convinced that today’s apostasy has two sources. Both of these have their roots in the rationalism of the “Enlightenment” in the 18th century.  That is when men began to place human reason above the Scriptures. I often mention Charles G. Finney (1792-1875) as the one who replaced Biblical conversion with “decisionism.” But the other source of today’s apostasy is equally important – it is Biblical criticism, popularly known as “liberalism.” It has its roots in a book by Johann Semler (1725-1791), a German theologian. His book was called A Treatise on the Free Investigation of the Canon (1771-1775). Semler taught that “there is much in the Bible that is not inspired. The value of any one portion [of the Bible] must be left to the judgment of the individual” (J. D. Douglas, Ph.D., editor, Who’s Who in Christian History, Tyndale House Publishers, 1992, p. 619).

That is pure rationalism, making the mind of man a critic of the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures. Semler’s thoughts were quickly picked up by rationalistic theologians in Germany. From there the ideas of “Biblical criticism” soon spread to theological seminaries throughout the world. Today all major denominations have been tainted, in at least some degree, with the poison of “Biblical criticism,” which is known as the “historical critical method.” Dr. Harold Lindsell called the historical critical method “The Bible’s greatest enemy” (The Bible in the Balance, Zondervan Publishing House, 1979, p. 275).  I call “Biblical criticism” “rat poison,” because the professors are rats that feed it to liberal pastors who attend their seminaries, and these pastors go on to preach it in liberal churches.  Eventually the people in these churches are poisoned themselves.  They are spiritually killed.  Whole denominations have thus been killed by this poison from Germany. 

I myself was taught the false doctrine of the "historical critical method."  It was taught to me both in the Southern Baptist and United Presbyterian seminaries from which I graduated. Without going into further detail I must simply state as fact that the deadly apostasy we see in the Protestant and Baptist churches today comes from these two cancerous teachings: “decisionism” and “Biblical criticism.” And I must point out to you that both of these teachings are new in the long history of Christianity. No one in the Protestant and Baptist churches believed in “decisionism” until the 19th century. And no one believed in “Biblical criticism” before the very end of the 18th century. That is a statement of historical fact. Before the early nineteenth century all of the Protestant and Baptist churches taught the “plenary verbal inspiration” of the Bible. This has been well verified by Dr. Lindsell in his two landmark books The Battle for the Bible (Zondervan, 1976) and The Bible in the Balance (Zondervan, 1979). “Plenary” means “all the way through” the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. “Verbal” means that the very words of the first copies of the Hebrew and Greek Bible were given by God. “Inspiration” means “God-breathed.” So, all the words of the first copies of the entire Bible were “God-breathed” through the prophets and Apostles. That is “plenary verbal inspiration.” That is what all Protestants and Baptists believed about the Bible before the "rat poison" of the "historical critical method" began to kill the churches! 

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God” (II Timothy 3:16).

Of course this verse is talking about the first copies of the Hebrew and Greek Bible, not the KJV translation! The fanciful errors of “Ruckmanism” never appeared in Christian history before 1950!

Dr. W. A. Criswell (1909-2002), great champion of the Bible, said,

The clearest way to give Paul’s meaning is to translate as follows: “All Scripture, because it is God-breathed, is profitable.” The suggestion…that Paul believed that some parts of the [Bible] were not inspired by God, is ridiculous. The origin of the Scripture is stated; It is “God-breathed” (theopneustos, Greek), i.e., the words of Scripture are to be received as from God Himself…II Peter 1:21 furnishes additional evidence that the Holy Spirit communicated to the authors of Scripture precisely those [words] which God desired to transmit. Because it is all “breathed out” by God… (W. A. Criswell, Ph.D., The Criswell Study Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1979, p. 1421; note on II Timothy 3:16).

And so the Apostle Paul plainly said,

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God” (II Timothy 3:16).

Therefore we agree with Dr. B. B. McKinney, the old-time Southern Baptist hymn writer,

I know, I know, I know the Bible is true;
Divinely inspired the whole way through,
I know the Bible is true.
   (“I Know the Bible is True” by Dr. B. B. McKinney, 1886-1952).

Sing it!

I know, I know, I know the Bible is true;
Divinely inspired the whole way through,
I know the Bible is true.

The attacks against real conversion by Finney, and the attacks against the Bible by Semler and those who followed him, show that these men are included among those spoken of by the Apostle in verse 13. Read it aloud!

“But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” (II Timothy 3:13).

I believe that Finney and Semler are described in that verse. They were wrong in regard to basic Christian knowledge, and they deceived others as well.

“Epistemology” is the branch of philosophy which investigates the origin and validity of knowledge – how we know what we know (Paul A. Reeder, Ph.D., Introduction to Philosophy, Lucas Brothers Publishers, 1964, p. 97). How do we know that the Bible is true? Rationalism “places the source of knowledge in reason” (Reeder, ibid., p. 99). But rationalism is based on the idea that human reason can detect what is true and what is false. The Bible teaches that human beings are fallen creatures who “became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:21-22). Furthermore, the Apostle said,

“There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God” (Romans 3:11).

In this darkened state human reason is incapable of discovering for itself the truth about God. For the sin-darkened mind of man to know God, God has to reveal Himself! Dr. Lindsell said,

       The Battle for the Bible asked two fundamental or foundational theological questions: (1) What is the source of our religious knowledge; i.e., from where do we get answers to life’s important questions – such as Where did I come from? Who am I? What is the purpose of life? and What happens to me when I die? (2) Is the source from which I get these answers to my basic questions reliable – i.e., does the source tell me the truth?
       The replies to these two questions were as follows. First, the foundation of the Christian faith lies in the two Words of God, the Word of God incarnate which is Jesus Christ who is very God of very God…and the Word of God written, which is the Bible. The only Jesus the church can know is the Jesus of the Word of God written. Without the Bible there can be no knowledge of the Son of God and the Saviour of the world. Therefore the written Word of God is foundational to the Christian faith.
       The second response was that the written Word of God is trustworthy in all its parts. The Bible is authoritative, and as the authoritative Word of God it is revelatory. God has made known to men that which they could not discover any other way. God has revealed Himself in nature but man cannot find Him through nature. If God is to be known, He must reveal Himself. He has done this through special revelation, which consists of the incarnation of the Son of God and the revelation of that Son through the written Word. The written Word…was composed by chosen men through whom the Holy Spirit worked to get written what God wanted written…And this inspired Word of God is inerrant because the prophets and apostles labored under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit who kept them from making errors…as the New Hampshire Confession of Faith says, “it has God as its author.” [The Bible] is thus the Word of God (Lindsell, The Bible in the Balance, ibid., pp. 11-12).

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God” (II Timothy 3:16).

Thus, the Bible itself claims to have been given by inspiration when the authors wrote it down. The Bible itself claims to have been “breathed out” by God. The words written down by the prophets and Apostles were “breathed out” through them by the Holy Spirit. Sing that chorus again!

I know, I know, I know the Bible is true;
Divinely inspired the whole way through,
I know the Bible is true.

But how can I know that is true? How can I say, “I know the Bible is true”? I can say that the Bible was given by inspiration because it has been illuminated to me by the same Holy Spirit who inspired it in the first place. Please turn to Psalm 119:130. Read it aloud.

“The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple” (Psalm 119:130).

Here the Psalmist speaks of the illumination of the words of God, as they enter a human heart. “The entrance of thy words giveth light.”

Inspiration happened when the prophets and Apostles wrote down the words. Illumination happens when the Holy Spirit enlightens those words to us. The Apostle Paul spoke of this when he said,

“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

Dr. McGee said, of Romans 10:17,

Faith does not come by preaching philosophy or psychology or some political nostrum; it comes by preaching the Word of God. Until you hear the Word of God, you cannot be saved (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, volume IV, p. 720; note on Romans 10:17).

I found that to be true in the liberal Southern Baptist seminary. Two of the students constantly mocked me for being a “fundamentalist.” They continually criticized me for believing the Bible. One was a student from Korea and the other one was a white student from a Southern state. They had both grown up in church. They were “church kids.” They had made “decisions” when they were young, but they remained skeptics. Even though they had made “decisions,” they were still unbelievers. That is why they believed the liberal professors when they criticized the Bible. Like those professors, they were still unconverted.

Yet before I left the seminary both of them experienced real conversion. After they had been truly born again they both sought me out and apologized to me for mocking my faith in the Word of God. We rejoiced together after they came to know Jesus Christ personally in real conversion! They had been “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). But now they were “quickened…together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:5). Jesus said,

“…the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live” (John 5:25).

May that happen in your life, if you are not yet converted! Then you will be able to sing that chorus from your own experience! Sing it!

I know, I know, I know the Bible is true;
Divinely inspired the whole way through,
I know the Bible is true.

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers’ sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: II Timothy 3:13-17.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“I Know the Bible is True” (by Dr. B. B. McKinney, 1886-1952).