THE THEOLOGY OF INSPIRATION
It is necessary to here develop a technical point. Scripture is not primarily history, nor is it a mere code of conduct. Both of these approaches differ significantly from the intent of Scripture. In His Word, God is divulging His purpose. He includes the history that is pertinent to that objective. For this reason, Scripture emphasizes men like Abraham, Moses, and David, while earthly history focuses on another class of people--one not accentuated in the Word of God.
Worldly scholars have questioned the authenticity of Scripture because it mentions men, cities, and events unknown to the secular mind. Archeologists have found undeniable evidence of people and cities mentioned in Scripture, that once were denied by worldly scholars, thereby dispelling the shroud of doubt such men have cast upon Scripture.
It is not my purpose to dwell upon this aspect of our subject. There are a number of literary works that deal with archeological findings that have confirmed the accuracy of Scripture. They have a subordinate value to the believer. My purpose is to clarify WHY Scripture mentions people, cities, and events that appear inconsequential to worldly historians.
History, as commonly perceived, is man's recapitulation and interpretation of past events. The Word of God is a revelation of what God has done, and is doing. People that were directly involved in the working of His purpose, whether good or evil, are mentioned in the Bible. They provide a way of understanding Divine manners. From, this perspective, despots like Nero, for example, are not mentioned because they were not directly related to the outworking of Divine purpose. Josephus, a contemporary of Jesus, is not mentioned in the Bible, nor is he quoted by Jesus or the Apostles. The reason--he was not directly involved in the execution of God's purpose.
Think of the personalities that are important to men and women of faith. Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Job, Samuel, and all the holy prophets. Yet, these men are excluded by worldly historians. John the Baptist, the twelve Apostles, Paul, James, Jude, Luke, Mark, Timothy, and Titus--all well known to believers--are little known to the world. Why so? Because they played active roles in the accomplishment of a purpose determined before the foundation of the world. Conversely, they appear to men to have had little to do with sociological or political matters.
The Works Were Finished
It is important to see Divine purpose from an eternal perspective. The Lord is not reacting to adversarial situations--His objective was established before world was conceived. "For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world" (Heb 4:3). "And yet His work has been finished since the creation of the world" (NIV).
Regarding the human enterprise, God has instituted no new projects since the creation of the world. Things that are now perceived by believers have always existed. They were, in words of Scripture, "kept secret from the foundation of the world" (Matt 13:35, NIV). These words are elusive to many. They are lofty, and it is obvious they describe Divine activity.
The gist of the expression is this: the primary association in the universe is that of man with God. Divine purpose stands of itself, independently of any human involvement. The purpose of salvation is to enable man to become involved in God's purpose. It is interesting that the thrust of contemporary religion is attempting to get God involved with man's purpose. You will scarcely hear a prayer that does not plead for Divine involvement with human activity. This is not sinful of itself, but it does betray small understanding of the Divine agenda. Jesus did not die to bring God to our aid--although that is involved. He laid down His life that we might "live with Him" (Rom 6:8; 2 Tim 2:11).
The phrase "the works were finished from the foundation of the world" declares that we enter into God's purpose. We actually cease from the development of our own agenda, being satisfied with the "eternal purpose" of our Father (Eph 3:11). It is true, God is a "very present Help in the time of trouble" (Psalm 46:1). That is a marvelous benefit in which we rejoice. However, the Divine agenda is not structured around Him helping us! It IS built around men joining with their Lord--being "workers together with God" (1 Cor 3:9).
Relating to our subject, the Word of God has been given to men to enable them to become part of the purpose of God. Scripture is not primarily a manual of conduct; it is a revelation of Divine intent. For that reason, it must be flawless, else the purpose of God will be overturned.
The foundation of the world
Let us further pursue the meaning of this phrase. Remember, the point is that Scripture is God's appointed means to the fulfillment of His purpose. For that reason, He did not withdraw from the protection of His Word after He gave it. Once again, the phrase "the foundation of the world" speaks of the REASON for the creation. The world has made to be an arena in which Divine objectives would be realized. Behold how this is affirmed in Scripture.
The destiny of believers has already been established--before the world was created. It only remains for them to be made suitable for their inheritance. "Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matt 25:34, KJV).
The Lord's intention for us is that we might stand before Him without a single flaw. As it is written, "According as He (God the Father) hath chosen us in Him (Christ) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him (the Father) in love" (Eph 1:4, KJV). The incarnate Word was appointed as the means to our acceptance before the world was created! Our conformity to Christ is not an after-thought. It is God's original one!
The Lord Jesus Christ has been made known in the end of the world (the closing chapter of history), but not because God adjusted His purpose. "Who (Jesus) verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you" (1 Pet 1:20, KJV). Before planning the world, God planned the role His Son!
What is revealed by means of the Gospel is not new. It announces a provision that was established before the creation of the universe. Hear the Word of the Lord! "No, we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began" (1 Cor 2:7, NIV).
Is the Lord answering your need in salvation? Indeed, he is--but that is not the main thing He is doing. He is fulfilling His own purpose, established before the beginning of time. "Who has saved us and called us to a holy life--not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time" (2 Tim 1:9, NIV).
The promise of eternal life was not given to Adam and Eve--yet it was made before the word began! "In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began" (Tit 1:2, KJV).
We must not fail to relate these observations to our subject! To conceive of an eternal purpose being dependent upon the wisdom of men taxes the patience of the best of humanity. Those that suppose Scripture is subject to the verification of men do well to rethink their position! If God conceived the purpose, He will carry it out. The Divine manner remains the same as in Ezekiel's day. "I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it" (Ezek 36:26, NIV).
Because Scripture is vital to the completion of that purpose, the Lord cannot be divorced from it. If He did not give it, and if He does not maintain it, there is no hope of His purpose being brought to completion!
In this section, we are looking at the consistent THEME in the Word of God. That theme is so woven into Scripture that it cannot be destroyed or perverted. What is more, it can only be seen by faith--to all others, it remains obscure. The Jewish leaders, for example, fulfilled the Scripture, thinking they were fulfilling their own wicked wills. As it is written, "For those who live in Jerusalem, and their rulers, recognizing neither Him nor the utterances of the prophets which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled these by condemning Him" (Acts 13:27, NASB).
The purpose of God is stated repeatedly in Scripture. It is declared from different perspectives. Seen correctly, they form a sort of challenge to the devil to overthrow it--to thwart the will of the Lord. Rest assured, he will not be able to do it! Here we will review some of the statements of God's "eternal purpose."