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OUR GOD-GIVEN BIBLE
by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
A sermon preached at the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, February 4, 2001
"For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man:
but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the
Holy Ghost" (II Peter
Young people are looking for the meaning of life today. Who am I? Why am I
here? Where am I going? These are the great philosophical questions that you
face. You will not find the answers to those questions in a university or
college. Most schools in the Western world have become so secularized that they
no longer deal with the question of the meaning of life. They once did, but the
humanism of the Enlightenment drove leading Western scholars to abandon God and
the Bible. Instead, they say that you can never know who you are, why you are
here, or where you are going. They say all we can study are facts and data –
and we must give up the search for truth and the meaning of life.
This view is called "materialism." It underlies almost all of the
thought and scholarship of the last one hundred years. But the twentieth century
produced what the poet T. S. Eliot called "men without chests." He
meant people with no emotion – no love or hate, no strongly held opinions or
beliefs. And that largely characterized my generation – the silent generation
– people between the ages of 57 and 77. We are "the silent
generation," men "without chests," without strong feelings,
without a sure knowledge of what is right and wrong.
Young people look to us for answers – but we don’t have any. We sit
"silently" – watching television. We don’t give our views strongly
and we don’t guide the next generation. We don’t lead you. We give
an introverted little smile and let you do what you want – without our
Our nation has "men without chests" in high places of leadership
today. They are gray, silent, rudderless men without much personality or
strength of character. Oh, don’t get me wrong – some are very good men, like
Vice President Dick Cheney (the quintessential "silent"), Colin
Powell, Dennis Hastert, or Trent Lott. They do their jobs efficiently. They mind
their own business. They leave you alone to do whatever you want. You can’t
imagine them expressing a strong opinion about things that matter.
And that leaves a young person like you with no one to turn to for
the answers you need! Where will you turn to find out
Why am I here?
Where am I going?
God knows you need those answers. God knows the older generation has let you
down, has not led you, has not given you the guidance you deserve.
But God does not want you to remain in the dark. God gave you the Bible to
show you the answers to life’s greatest questions. God did not want to leave
you in darkness and ignorance. That is why He gave you the Bible. God gave you
the Bible to reveal to you the answers you need to live a meaningful life. The
Bible is God’s revelation of truth. Notice II Peter 1:19. Here God says that
the Bible is "a light that shineth in a dark place." The Bible sheds
light on dark subjects. The Bible gives the answers you need.
Now it was necessary for God to give His revelation, the Bible, for several
reasons. Theologian Charles Hodge listed five reasons God’s revelation, the
Bible, needed to be given:
- Because every man feels he needs it. Everyone knows there are
questions concerning the origin, nature, and destiny of man,
concerning sin and pardon, questions he cannot answer. So long as
these questions are not answered, people cannot be good or happy. Don’t
you feel the need for God to show you the meaning of life? Of
course you do. And that is why God gave the Bible – to reveal
answers you could not find anywhere else.
- Hodge points out, secondly, that each person is certain that no
other human being has all the answers. People know intuitively that
there are questions that relate to matters beyond the reach of human
reason. Don’t you sometimes feel that way? There are some things no
human being can explain. That’s why God had to give the answers in
- Even if philosophers could answer these questions to their own
satisfaction, what about the rest of us? The mass of mankind has
neither the time nor the energy to study the fine points of
philosophy. Isn’t it right that God should provide a simple story
book to explain to common people the great questions of life? Of
course it is. And that’s essentially what the Bible is. It is a book
of simple stories. Man sinning in the Garden of Eden. Noah and a world
gone wrong. The Tower of Babel and the confusion of human languages.
The story of Abraham. The story of Isaac. The story of Jacob. The
story of Joseph and his brothers. Moses leading his people out of
Egypt. The story of the Jews wandering in the wilderness. The conquest
of Canaan. The story of Jesus’ birth. The story of Jesus’
ministry. The parables (or stories) Jesus told. The story of His
death, burial, and resurrection. The story of the Second Coming, told
so graphically in the Book of Revelation. Stories. Stories. Stories.
All of them true. Given throughout the Bible so that the average
person could discover the meaning of life.
- But Hodge lists a fourth reason that God gave the Bible: the
experience of the ages proves that the world cannot find God by their
own wisdom. The heathen nations, ancient and modern, civilized and
savage, have without exception failed to find God or solve mankind’s
problems on their own.
- Even where people have the Bible, those who reject it are led to
adopt principles which destroy the home, society and individual
happiness. The humanism of the last century produced Hitler’s
holocaust, Stalin’s massacre of millions, Mao Tse Tung’s slave
society and the murder of 38 million children in America in the last
28 years. The ignorance and stupidity of mankind makes it necessary
for God to reveal His truth. The Bible is "a light that shineth
in a dark place" (II Peter 1:19); (ref. Charles Hodge, Systematic
Theology, Hendrickson Publishers, 1999, vol. I, pp. 36-37).
As the old hymn puts it:
Holy Bible, book divine,
Precious treasure, thou art mine;
Mine to tell me whence I came;
Mine to teach me what I am;
Mine to tell of joys to come,
And the rebel sinner’s doom;
O thou holy book divine,
Precious treasure, thou art mine.
by John Burton, 1773-1822)
Now, I cannot think of a better verse to explain the nature of the Bible
than our text this morning:
"For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy
men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (II Peter
I will show from this text:
What the Bible is
How the Bible was given
Why the Bible was given
I. What the Bible is – "spake"
Our text says, "holy men of God spake…" Dr. Peter Ruckman, and
Ruckmanites in general, will tell you that this refers to "preaching."
They’ll say, "Why, it cannot be talking about the Bible. It’s talking
about a man speaking." But, as D. L. Moody said, "The Bible sheds a
great deal of light on the commentaries." Ruckman’s commentaries are
corrected by verse 20, which says,
"Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture…"
(II Peter 1:20).
Our text says, in the very next verse, "For the prophecy came
not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake…"
This can only mean, in context, that Peter is referring to the Bible, not to
preaching. He is speaking of the "prophecy of Scripture." And he is
telling us that the prophets and apostles "spoke" out these
Scriptures. That is what Jeremiah did. He dictated the Scriptures as God gave
them to him, and his secretary Baruch wrote down the words he dictated, as God
gave them. Baruch said:
"He pronounced all these words unto me with his mouth, and I wrote
them with ink in the book" (Jeremiah 36:18).
The apostle Paul also dictated most of his epistles. They were written down
by another man as Paul spoke the words God gave him. The Scofield note on
Galatians 6:11 says:
The apostle was, it appears from many considerations, afflicted with
ophthalmia…almost to the point of total blindness (e.g. Galatians
4:13-15). Ordinarily, therefore, he dictated his letters…
When our text says, "holy men of God spake," it refers to them
often literally dictating the words of the Bible as God gave them.
I am not a Calvinist, but John Calvin’s comments on this passage are full
Peter says that Scripture came not from man, or through the suggestions
of man…Understand by prophecy of Scripture that which is
contained in the Holy Scriptures (John Calvin, comment on II Peter
Dr. J. Vernon McGee gave this explanation of verse twenty-one:
"For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man."
Obviously he is referring to Old Testament prophecy. It didn’t come by
the will of man. That is, Isaiah, for example, did not sit down saying,
"I think I’ll write a book…" The prophecy of Isaiah was
not something Isaiah thought up.
(J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible,
Volume V, p. 728).
So, Dr. Ruckman and men who believe like him are wrong. The verse isn’t
talking about preaching. It is talking about how we got the Bible.
In Hebrews 3:7 we read, "Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if
ye will hear his voice…" This is a quotation from Psalm 95:7-11. Though
this was written down by a man, yet Hebrews 3:7 tells us "the Holy Ghost
saith." Obviously, these words did not come out of the Holy Spirit’s
mouth (for being a Spirit, He has none). It is a metaphor, a figure of speech.
In Acts 1:16 we read, "The Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake…"
That makes it clear that the words were given through David in Psalm 41:9.
"The mouth of David" here is a metaphor also. It means that these
words came through David.
In II Timothy 3:16 we read, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of
God…" This shows that more than just Psalm 95 and Psalm 41 were given by
the inspiration of God’s Spirit. Here, in II Timothy 3:16 we are told that
"all Scripture" came this way, from Genesis to Revelation. It is the
plenary verbal inspiration of every Hebrew and Greek word of Scripture. It is
the words that are inspired, not the ideas, not the thoughts - but
the words in Hebrew and Greek! The very words are what were given
by inspiration. Jesus said, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but
by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."
Evangelical commentator John MacArthur gives the orthodox position on II Timothy
It is important to note that inspiration applies only to the original
autographs of Scripture, not the Bible writers (MacArthur Study
Bible, note on II Timothy 3:16).
Ruckmanites say that this is of no value since we don’t have the
autographs, but we never said we did! It is a "red herring,"
since no one has ever said we had the autographs. We have faithful
copies, but not the inspired autographs. Our point is this: God gave the
Scriptures to the original writers. The copies of those original
documents were not given by God. Also, the translations were
not given by God.
So we have seen what the Bible is. It is the words of God, given to men, who
wrote down the words God gave them in Hebrew and Greek. That’s what
the Bible is. It is the Word of God.
II. How the Bible was given – "moved."
Our text says,
"Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy
Ghost" (II Peter 1:21).
Now this word "moved" is very interesting. It is the same Greek
word found in Acts 27:17. It is #5342 in Strong’s Concordance. The
Greek word is "phero." It means "to bear or carry." In Acts
27:17 we read that Paul was aboard a ship during a storm. The wind blew very
hard and they took down the sail "and so were driven." They were
carried along by the great wind. This is the way the minds of the writers of the
Bible were "carried along." Just as that ship was borne along, or
carried along, by the wind, so the minds of the writers of the Bible were
carried along, so that the words they wrote or dictated in Hebrew and Greek were
the very words of God.
As Ellicott puts it,
Men spoke not out of their own hearts, but as commissioned by God; not
"by the will of man," but under the influence of the Holy
Spirit (Charles John Ellicott, Commentary on the Whole Bible,
Volume VIII, p. 450).
Dr. McGee gave this comment:
"As they were moved by the Holy Ghost" is a delightful figure
of speech. The Greek actually portrays the idea of a sailing vessel. The
wind gets into those great sails…and moves them along. That is the way
the Holy Spirit moved these men… These men who were set apart for the
writing of the Scriptures were moved along by the Spirit of God (ibid.,
That is how the Bible was given.
III. Why the Bible was given
Look at II Peter 1:19,
"We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well
that ye take heed (i.e. pay attention), as unto a light that shineth in
a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your
hearts" (II Peter 1:19).
The Bible was given by God to shine His light into the darkness of this
world. Calvin says,
In this passage Peter also condemns all the wisdom of men, in order that
we may learn humbly to seek, otherwise than by our own understanding,
the true way of knowledge; for without the word (the Bible) nothing is
left for men but darkness… But it is no wonder that proud men,
inflated with the wind of false confidence, do not see that light with
which the Lord favors only little children and the humble (note on II
I was talking to an elderly philosophy professor at my gym recently.
He is a very proud man, and an atheist. He has spent the last thirty years
confusing young people in a junior college near my home. His face is
filled with anger and rebellion against God as he speaks to me. But once he
said, "My life is just about over and I don't have much hope."
As Calvin said, such men "do not see that light with which the Lord favors
only little children and the humble."
The Bible is the Word of God. But it will not do you any good at all
unless you believe it.
The Psalmist wrote:
"The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth
understanding unto the simple" (Psalm 119:130).
But if God’s Word does not enter your heart, it will not help you.
If you think of the Bible as merely the words of men, it will not do you any
good. You must say, "This Bible is God’s Word. God gave the Hebrew and
Greek words. God moved the minds of the writers, so the very words are from God.
I’d better pay attention to what God says in the Bible." If you have that
attitude, it will help you to read the Bible. The Apostle Paul said:
"For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye
received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the
word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually
worketh also in you that believe" (I Thessalonians 2:13).
You must listen to God’s Word if you want to be saved:
"Being born again…by the word of God" (I Peter 1:23).
If you listen and receive God’s Word, you will discover five things:
- You are a rebellious sinner. You are actually in rebellion against God
in your heart and mind.
- You are not able to change yourself inside. You are not a Christian
inside your mind and heart, and you can’t change yourself. You are lost
– in sin.
- You are condemned by your sins. Nothing you do can remove your
condemnation for sin in the eyes of the Holy God of Scripture.
- You must despair of changing yourself or saving yourself.
- When you are in complete despair, you must come to Jesus Christ and
believe on Him. He alone can forgive your sins and save you.
The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ died on the Cross to pay for your sins.
The Bible teaches that He arose literally and bodily from the dead. He is now
alive in Heaven, at the right hand of God. Come, believe, trust in Jesus.
Venture on Him, venture wholly;
Let no other trust intrude:
None but Jesus, none but Jesus,
Can do helpless sinners good.
("Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and
Joseph Hart, 1712-1768).
Scripture Read Before Sermon: II Peter 1:15-21.
Solo by Benjamin Kincaid Griffith: "I Know the Bible is True"
B. B. McKinney (1886-1952)/
"Holy Bible, Book Divine"
John Burton (1773-1822).
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on
THE OUTLINE OF
OUR GOD-GIVEN BIBLE
by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
"For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man:
but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the
Holy Ghost" (II Peter
- What the Bible is – "spake," II Peter 1:20; Jeremiah
Hebrews 3:7; Psalm 95:7-11; Acts 1:16;
II Timothy 3:16.
- How the Bible was given – "moved," Acts 27:17.
- Why the Bible was given, II Peter 1:19; Psalm 119:130;
II Thessalonians 2:13; I Peter 1:23.