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Battlefields of the Church: 6: Testimony of the Fathers

By George Kulp

      Let us listen for awhile to the utterances of the Fathers.

      Justin, speaking of the words of Scripture, says, "We must not suppose that the language proceeds from the men that are inspired, but from the Divine Word Himself who moves them. Their work is to announce that which the Holy Spirit proposes to teach, through them, to those who wish to learn the true religion. The history Moses wrote was by Divine inspiration."

      Irenaeas: "The writers spoke as acted upon by the Spirit. All who foretold the coming of Christ, received their inspiration from the Son, for how else could Scripture 'TESTIFY' of Him alone? Matthew might have written, 'The generation of Jesus was on this wise,' but the Holy Spirit, foreseeing the corruption of the truth, and fortifying us against deception, says through Matthew, 'The generation of JESUS THE MESSIAH was on this wise.' 'The writers were beyond all falsehood,' that is, they were inerrant."

      Clement of Alexandria: "The foundations of our faith rest on no insecure basis. We have received them through God Himself, through the Scriptures, not one jot or one tittle of which shall pass away till all is accomplished, FOR THE MOUTH OF THE LORD, the Holy Spirit, spoke it. He ceases to be a man who spurns the tradition of the Church and turns aside to human opinions, for the Scriptures are truly holy, since they make us holy, God-like. Of these Holy Writings, or WORDS, the Bible is composed. Paul calls them 'God-breathed.' (2 Tim. 3:15, 16.) The Sacred Writings consist of these holy letters, or syllables, since they are 'God-breathed.'" Again, "The Jews and Christians agree as to the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, but differ in interpretation. By our faith we believe that every Scripture, since it is God-breathed, is profitable. If the words of the Lord are pure words, refined silver, tried seven times, and the Holy Spirit has; with all care, dictated them accurately, it was on this account the Savior said that not one jot or tittle of them should pass away."

      Origen: "It is the doctrine acknowledged by all Christians, and evidently preached in the churches, that the Holy Spirit inspired the saints, prophets and apostles, and was present in those of old times, as in those He inspired at the coming of Christ, for Christ the Word of God was in Moses when he wrote, and in the prophets, and by His Spirit He DID SPEAK to them all things. The records of the Gospels are the oracles of the Lord, pure oracles, purified as silver seven times tried. They are without error, since they were written by the co-operation of the Spirit. It is good to adhere to the words of Paul and the apostles, as to God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. There are many writings, but only one Book; four Evangelists, but only one Gospel. ALL THE SACRED WRITINGS BREATHE THE SAME FULLNESS. There is nothing in the Law, the Prophets, the Gospels, the Apostles, that did not come from the fulness of God. Whoever has received these Scriptures as inspired by the Creator of the world must expect to find in them all the difficulties which meet those who investigate the system of the universe. But God's hand is not destroyed by our ignorance on particular points. The divinity of the Scriptures is undisturbed by our weakness. It is a part in the teaching of the Church, that the Scriptures were written by the Spirit of God, and on this the opinion of the whole Church is one. ALL THINGS THAT ARE WRITTEN ARE TRUE. He who is a student of God's Oracles must place himself under the teaching of God."

      Origen was mighty in the Church as a Father of Biblical Criticism.

      Augustine. This man was the theologian of the early Church, gloriously converted in answer to the prayers of Monica, his godly mother, blessedly kept, and his whole life devoted to the Master's cause, and the upbuilding of the kingdom. The view of the Holy Scriptures held by him was the same as that of Tertullian, Cyprian, and all the Fathers of the North African Church. No view of verbal inspiration could be more rigid. "The Scriptures are the letters of God, the voice of God, and the writings of God. Christ spoke by Moses, for He was the Spirit of the Creator, and all the prophecies are the voice of the Lord. From the Spirit came the gift of tongues. The Scriptures, whether in History, Prophecy, Psalms or Law, are of God. THEY CAN NOT STAND IN PART, AND FALL IN PART. They are from God who spoke them all." "As it was not the apostles who spoke, but the Spirit of the Father in them, so it is the Spirit that speaks in the Scriptures." "It avails nothing what I say, what he says, but what saith the Lord."

      It is eminently true the Jewish and Christian Churches believed the doctrine of verbal inspiration, because of their conception of the Holy Scriptures as "GOD-BREATHED" even as matter itself; the soul of man, and the world, were created by the same breath of the Almighty; the very conception Paul had when he said, "Every Scripture is God-breathed." God was the Author, the book a divinely oracular book, a book of God's own testimony. The manner in which the Old Testament is quoted in the New is a demonstration of its VERBAL inspiration. "The Scripture saith;" "He saith;" "Thus spake the Lord by Esaias, saying," all prove our contention.

      Right here let the Word speak for itself. Take Exodus 4:10-12: "And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken to thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? Now therefore go, and I WILL BE THY MOUTH, and teach thee what thou shalt say."

      Take Exodus 34:27: "And the Lord said unto Moses, WRITE thou these WORDS: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel."

      "And He said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold." (Num. 12:6,8.)

      "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish from it." (Deut. 4:2.)

      "But the prophet, which shall speak a word presumptuously in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, that prophet shall die." (Deut. 18:20.)

      Read and note carefully Mark 12:36. Jesus said, "David himself said by the Holy Spirit." Now turn to 2 Samuel 23:2 and find what David said: "The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and His word was in my tongue."

      Scan carefully Jeremiah 1:6-9 and hear the prophet as he pleads: "Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I send thee, and WHATSOEVER I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord. Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold I have put my words in thy mouth."

      Search the Pentateuch carefully, the historical books of the Bible, and the Psalms, and find repeated hundreds of times such words as these: "Thus saith the Lord," "The Lord said," "The Lord spake," "The Lord hath spoken," "The saying of the Lord," and "The word of the Lord." The writers declare they spake as God gave them UTTERANCE.

      Isaiah 1:10 says, "Hear the words of the Lord," and as many as twenty times he declares emphatically that his writings are "the words of the Lord." Almost one hundred times Jeremiah declares definitely, "The word of the Lord came unto me," "The words of the Lord," and the "words of the living God." Sixty times Ezekiel says that his writings are "the words of God." Take this, for example: "Son of man, ALL MY WORDS that I speak unto thee receive in thine heart, and hear with thine ears. And go, get thee to them of the captivity, unto the children of thy people, and speak unto them, and tell them, THUS SAITH THE LORD GOD." (Ezek. 3:10, 11.) Daniel is very definite: "And when I heard the voice of HIS WORDS." (Dan. 10:9.) Hosea says: "The word of the Lord that came to Hosea," and again, "The beginning of the word of the Lord by Hosea." (Hosea 1:1-3.) "And the Lord said to Hosea."

      Again, let me quote the rest without burdening you with the references, Amos said, "Hear the word of the Lord." "The word of the Lord that came to Joel." Obadiah, "Thus saith the Lord God." "The word of the Lord came unto Jonah." "The word of the Lord that came to Micah." Nahum says, "Thus saith the Lord." Habakkuk wrote, "The Lord answered me AND SAID." "The word of the Lord that came to Zephaniah." "Came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet." "Came the word of the Lord unto Zechariah." "The word of the Lord unto Israel by Malachi," and in this last of the Old Testament's books it is twenty-four times said, "Thus saith the Lord."

      Will the opponents of this proposition accept of the words of Jesus as to His inspiration? Listen to Him: "I have not spoken from myself, but the Father who sent me gave me commandment what I should say, and what I should speak. I speak therefore even as the Father said to me, even so I speak." (John 12:49, 50.) Again, "I have given unto them THE WORDS thou gavest me, and they have received them." (John 17:8.)

      If Jesus, and Moses, and Isaiah received the words of God to give to the people to whom they were sent, is it not also a certainty to be depended upon that the New Testament writers spake


      Jesus, knowing the future tests to which the disciples would be called, said to them, "When they lead you to the judgment, and deliver you up, be not anxious beforehand what ye shall speak, but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, BUT THE HOLY GHOST." On the day of Pentecost they spake with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance, and in 1 Thessalonians 2:13 Paul says, "And for this cause we thank God without ceasing, that when ye received from us THE WORD OF THE MESSAGE, EVEN THE WORD OF GOD, ye accepted it, not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, THE WORD OF GOD."

      Read the Epistles carefully and note the Scriptures are called "The oracles of God" (Rom. 3:2); "The Word of God," "The Word of the Lord" (Acts 13:48; "The Word of Life" (Phil. 2:16); "The Word of Christ" (Col. 3:16); "The Word of truth" (Eph. 1:13); "The Word of faith" (Rom. 10:8). More than two thousand times the Word declares the Bible is the WORD OF GOD -- THE WORDS ARE GOD-BREATHED.

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See Also:
   1: The Word of God
   2: The Holy Spirit the Author
   3: The Old Testament and the New
   4: Verbal Inspiration
   5: Thus Saith the Lord
   6: Testimony of the Fathers
   7: Witnesses to the Truth


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