How We Got God's Word
by Pastor Jack Hyles
(Loyal Pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana for over 42 years)
From the book The Need For An Every-Word Bible
I was once asked, "Okay, how did we get our Bible?" I thought, "Good night, I've been preaching on the Bible and hollering and screaming and waving the King James Bible for so long, but how did the words of God get to us?"
I don't mind it when we say, "I believe the Word of God." I think that statement is fine, but I like better the word "words" of God. There's nothing wrong with the statement, "The Bible is the Word of God. I like it better to say, "This Bible contains the words of God." There are at least four ideas about biblical inspiration.
First, some liberals believe the Bible was inspired, much like Shakespeare was inspired or John Milton was inspired or Fanny Crosby was inspired. That is the liberals' definition of "the inspiration of the Scriptures." Those rascals will also use our fundamentalist terminology to try to give their position so they can work their way inside our institutions.
Secondly, some believe that God gave men the thoughts that He had, and men put down the thoughts in their own words. Of course, that is a very dangerous doctrine. In other words, Paul wrote in a certain style; Peter wrote in a certain style; and Isaiah wrote in a certain style; so these men must have written in their own words the thoughts that God gave to them. I'd like to announce that before Paul was made, the Word was made. God didn't give Paul a certain kind of words to fit him. God made a man like Paul to fit the words that were eternal, already in Heaven. So, the idea of inspiration that God gave man the thoughts and man wrote down the words in his own language is deadly, dangerous, and godless.
Thirdly, some believe that God gave men the words, and men gave the words to us. I do not believe this idea of biblical inspiration either. I do not believe that God gave to men the words, and then men in turn gave them to us. I would not mind someone else believing that idea. I simply do not believe that idea myself.
Lastly, some believe in verbal inspiration. Let me explain this idea.
1. The words of God always have been. Psalm 119:89 says, "For ever, 0 LORD, thy word is settled in heaven." This verse means there always was the entire Bible in Heaven. The word settled means "finished." The Bible was "finished" forever; it always has been. Now we can't understand that truth, but there always has been God. There always has been the Son of God. There always has been the Word of God. Before John was born, the book of John was written in Heaven. Before Isaiah was born, the book of Isaiah was written in Heaven. Before the books of I and II Peter were written by Peter, these books were written already in Heaven. The words of God have always been.
2. Man must have those words. In Matthew 4:4 when Jesus said, "...It is written...," the Devil was tempting Him on the mount of temptation. Jesus did not use His own wiles and ways to resist the temptation of the Devil. He used the Word of God. Three times the Devil tempted Jesus, and three times Jesus said, "It is written...." "But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." Man must have the words of God, and every word is important; therefore, there must be a place and a way that man can get "...every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God," or every one of the words of the Word of God. That is why every word is important.
Verbal inspiration means that the Bible contains the words of God, not the thoughts of God. Man cannot live except "...by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." I'm sorry, but the Reader's Digest Version is just not enough. The verse, "...every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God," does not say that man must live by every thought that proceedeth out of the mind of the Father.
The head of the Department of Bible at an nondenominational university said, "We have no perfect English Bible." What is the difference in a fellow making that statement at a non-denominational Bible college or at Harvard University? "...Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word...." I am not fighting these universities; I am fighting these liberal professors. We must have every word, so there has to be a perfect English Bible or we cannot live.
3. God must find a way to get those words that have always been in Heaven to us. A Christian can only live "...by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."
4. God chose men and made them holy. Luke 1:70 says, "As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began." II Peter 1:20-21 says, "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 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."
Notice the words "holy prophets" in Luke and "holy men of God" in II Peter. These men were not holy before they were chosen to be used to get the words of God to us. The word holy in the Bible does not mean "holy, in the sense of perfect men, good men." It means "holy, in the sense of men who were chosen for a particular job." In the Bible, the word holy means "sanctified," and the word sanctified means "set apart for a unique purpose." For example, my pulpit is holy. It is set apart for the preaching and the teaching of the Word of God. It is not a perfect pulpit, but it is a holy pulpit.
God is not saying that He chose the best men. I don't think in some cases that God chose the best men to give us the Bible. These were not perfect men or maybe, even in some cases, they were not even above average men. God did not choose holy men to give us His words. He chose men and made them holy, meaning He set them apart.
God chose David. Was David a holy man? No! David was an adulterer and a murderer, but He was one of the men who penned a good deal of the Bible. Was Moses a holy man? No! Moses was also a murderer. God is not saying He chose men who were above other men or better than other men; He chose certain men by His own wisdom and His own desire and set those men apart to deliver to us the words that are in Heaven.
Perfection can flow through imperfection. There are two "words of God." The Bible is the written Word of God, and Jesus is the living Word of God. John 1:1 says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Jesus was called, the Word of God and the Bible is the Word of God. My Saviour came from the womb of an imperfect person. Jesus, the living Word, was conceived in and flowed through an imperfect vessel. If the living Word can flow through imperfection, why can't the written Word?
So, in Heaven are the words of God; on earth is man. Matthew 4:4 says, "...Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." God had to get those words to us, so God chose men and made them holy. When God made them holy, it doesn't mean He made them better than anybody else or that they already were better than anybody else. It simply means that these men were set apart for the task of giving to us the words that were already in Heaven.
5. God gave the words in Heaven to man through these chosen men of God. God could not give to sinful man the words to give to us. Do you think God is going to give murderer David His words and say, "David, you give the very words I give you." No. God did not give those words in Heaven to men to give to us. God Himself gave us those words in Heaven through these men. God didn't say, "David, here are My words. You give them to the world." No, God said, "David, open your mouth. I'm going to breathe words through you." God gave the words not to these men but through these men.
When I talk to you, I am breathing. It is my breathing that gives me the breath that goes across my vocal cords, and coming toward you is my talking to you. When God breathed the words through these men, He didn't say, "Here are the words. Write them down." No, God said, "Open your mouth, and the words are going to come through you, but I'm going to speak them through your mouth." God breathed words through chosen holy men of old so that they could give us the words in Heaven that we may be able to live.
Acts 1:16 says, "Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake...." This verse didn't say, "by the brain of David" or "by the mind of David." These words in Heaven didn't get to us through the mind of David, down to the mouth of David, and out to us. God sent those words, bypassed David's brain, and breathed them through David's mouth. God used David's mouth to give us eternal words. Why? God surely would not want to trust a cursing Apostle Peter who denied the Lord, who denied the faith, who denied the church, and then say, "Peter, here are My words; go give them to the people." No, sir! He said, "Peter, you open your mouth, and I will use your mouth as a tool through which My words can come from Me." The Bible is not men giving us the words of God. It is God Himself giving us the words using the mouth of the men who were chosen by God to do so.
II Samuel 23:2 states, "...his word was in my tongue." The self-acclaimed intelligentsia and the self-acclaimed theologians are proud of the fact that they can teach the Bible to God every day. These men like to call those of us who believe in a God-breathed Bible ignoramuses. They teach that God gave the words to chosen men, and these men gave it to us.
Solomon wrote part of the Bible. Would you trust a man who married 700 wives and had 300 substitutes in case one of the others got sick? Do you want to trust that person to give you God's words? Not me! God said, "Solomon, I'm not going to use your brain; I'm going to use your mouth."
David says in Psalm 45:1, "My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer." David was saying, "My tongue is God's pen." I hold in my hand a pen. I do not know where this pen came from. It may have been given to me by a bootlegger, but I can still use it to write my words. David was saying, "I am just the pen." David was not the penman; he was the pen. God did not give His words to Solomon, a wicked polygamist, an adulterer, and a whoremonger. God did not say to him, "Solomon, I want to give you some words to give the people." No, sir! He said, "Solomon, You're My pen. I am the Penman."
Notice these facts about the pen:
• The pen may have previously written on other subjects. No man in this world is righteous enough to be able to take the words of God Almighty, be the custodian of those words, and get those words to us. Much of the Bible was written by three murderers: David, Moses, and Paul. I'm not willing to say, and certainly God was not willing to say, "I am going to trust these mortal creatures to deliver My words." Not one living piece of flesh in this world is capable of adequately being the custodian of those words in Heaven, as well as getting those words to men down on the earth.
• The pen does not decide what it writes. The human brain decides what the pen writes; however, regarding the Bible, man did not decide what he wrote. The writers were pens, and God was the Penman. These holy men, which means they were separated, chosen for the task, were not better men.
I carry two pens. I decide the use of these pens. When I write to you, these pens are not saying a thing to you. David said, "I am God's pen." The pen may have been used to write on other subjects or the pen may have a bad past. The pen is not the issue; all that matters is the author.
• God used all kinds of pens. He chose a fisherman who, during the darkest hours of the life of Christ-the death of Christ-denied that he belonged to the church, denied that he belonged to the faith, denied that he belonged to Jesus, and cursed and swore. He was one of those holy men of old. God used all kinds of men as pens. It's not the just men who gave us the Bible because they were not always just. It is the just God who gave us the Bible and used unjust men as pens to write down the Bible. Some modern theologians call that "mechanical dictation," and use that explanation to try to prove that fundamentalists are unintelligent.
Let me share an example. My first part-time secretary had previously worked as Dr. W. A. Criswell's secretary at First Baptist Church in Dallas. She moved to Garland and joined our church. I hired her ever so briefly. One day, I personally dictated some letters to her. She typed the letters and returned them to me for my signature. Those letters looked strange to me; they didn't sound like me. I took them back to her and asked, "Are these my words?"
She said, "This is what you gave me."
I said, "Get out your dictation pad and read me what's on the dictation pad."
She said, "I was Dr. Criswell's secretary, and you're a young preacher. Dr. Criswell's a wise man. I used some of his terminology instead of yours."
I said, "You can go back to work for him. You're fired." She left immediately and never came back.
God Almighty was the One Who gave us these words, and He was not willing to trust human flesh such as John. Though John forsook Jesus and fled when Jesus was being tried, John wrote I John, II John, III John, Revelation, and the Gospel of John. John and James had their mother come and talk to Jesus to see if they could get special favors from Him.
I believe with all of my heart that these were great men, but I do not believe that they were great enough to be the deliverers of the very words in Heaven to man. We must have them. You can't make a mistake, Peter! You can't make a mistake, John! You can't make a mistake, Jeremiah! You can't make a mistake, Isaiah! Why? Because every word that is in Heaven has to get to me. If I live, I have to have every word that is there. I'm sorry; I'm not going to trust you, Peter-you cursing, denying apostle. I'm not going to trust you to get those words in Heaven to me. God said, "Neither am I. I'll just use his mouth. I'll use Peter as a pen, and I'll write the words Myself."
The words of God were given to us by God and not by holy men. They were given to us by God through holy men, using them to get the words to us. Sometimes that pen didn't understand all he wrote. References in the Bible reveal how that some of these men did not know exactly what they were writing. Why? They were just pens; the Penman was doing the writing! God's voice gave His Word through them, not to them.
"Brother Hyles, so what if a preacher boy goes down to a so-called Christian college where he sits in a liberal professor's class who teaches, `We have no perfect Bible.' What difference does it make?" It makes all the difference in the world! What that preacher better do is take the Bible rather than some institution to which he subscribes his loyalty. What he better do is stop and realize that if we have no perfect English Bible, we cannot live because "...Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." (Matthew 4:4)
If I did not believe that every word in the Bible had been preserved from the time it was given through the mouth of men as God, the Penman, wrote with the pen of humanity, I would walk out of this pulpit, and I wouldn't waste my life preaching. If there's a word in the Bible that is wrong, no one knows which one it is, so it could be any of them. I believe that we have God's preserved words for us in the King James Bible. In conclusion, how did we get God's words?
1. The words of God were always in Heaven.
2. Man must have every word to live.
3. God had to find a way to get every word to man.
4. God chose men and made them holy, which means they were "set apart or chosen" to be God's pens.
5. God gave His words to us through those chosen men. God said, "I want you men to be My pens, and I will pick you up, and I will use you to write My words as the Penman. I will not use your brain; I will use your mouth." God gave us the God-breathed Book. God's breath across the vocal cords of human beings gave us His words.
6. God has preserved His words for us in the King James Bible.
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