WHAT is inspiration? What is the essential significance of the
divine declaration that "all Scripture is inspired by God" (2 Tim.3:16)? It is
usually taken to mean that God is the Author, the One Who spoke or placed on record, the
documents now accorded a place in the canon. Indeed, it is not unusual to change the form
of the words, and insist that the men who wrote were inspired, rather than the writings
All of this lays emphasis on the origin of the sacred scrolls, rather than on their
present power, which is in point in the passage. We are convinced that there is much more
than this, which is of vital moment in this era of apostasy. Instead of merely telling
Timothy that God dictated His Word, Paul propounds the powerful truth that it is endued
with life. It is a living organism, instinct with vitality.
When Adam was formed out of the soil of the ground God was His maker. All his parts
were perfect. But he was not living. This corresponds to the usual thought as to the
meaning of inspiration. But it was not until after his formation that God breathed into
his nostrils the breath of life. This corresponds to inspiration. The result was life.
Thus we see that inspiration implies that the Scriptures are living and active (Heb.4:12),
not merely perfect in form, but potent in vitality.
We believe that the letters and sentences and books and collection of books included in
the present canon of the original Scriptures are inspired by God in the same sense that we
believe every living organism in nature is wholly the work of God. Man cannot manufacture
a single living leaf, or the smallest cell in a leaf. No more could he form a single
sentence which is found in Holy Writ.
It is foolish, however, to contend for the divine origin of Scripture unless we also
acknowledge its practical effect. If we hold it to be the very Word of God, then it is
perfect like all His other works, and needs no amendment by man. It will be superhuman in
its accuracy, sufficiency and power. It will defy finite analysis.
No one who heartily and unreservedly appreciates God's works will substitute, human
expressions in place of His words.
An experience came to me while still a very young student which has powerfully
influenced my reverence for the work of God in nature. Being temporarily deprived of the
use of my limbs, I was driven to do something to occupy my time. So I had the children
gather me a few weeds which infested the neighborhood, and I took to measuring the
distances from branch to branch, to see if it was haphazard or according to law. I soon
found that the space from branch to branch was in perfect proportion. Each sustained the
same relation to the one above it that this one sustained to its succeeding space, and so
on. Furthermore any two spaces were always equal to the one below it. As a mathematician
would say, two spaces divided their length into extreme and mean ratio. But the
astonishing thing was that this is incommensurable. No human scale can be devised to even
measure the dimensions of one of the meanest weeds that grow! Not being even able to give
a single measurement, how could a man build it? So with the Word of God. There is no human
instrument of sufficient precision to ascertain its dimensions. We can only prove that it