Monday, May 24, 2021

The Written Word of God (Hebrews 3:7-11)

"So as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear His voice …” (Hebrews 3:7).

Before going on with the argument of Hebrews 3, we need to take a day and reflect on the phrasing of Hebrews 3:7. Notice that the author writes “as the Holy Spirit says.” The author of Hebrews is going to quote from Psalm 95. This psalm does not have an ascription, and so we do not know for certain who wrote it; but the book of Psalms is regarded as by David (even though some of the psalms were written after David’s life). What we notice is that the author of Hebrews does not write “as David says” but “as the Holy Spirit says.”

It has become common in evangelical preaching and teaching to use phrases like “as Matthew writes,” “as Moses says,” “as Paul says,” and the like. This is not wrong per se because, after all, these men did write the books ascribed to them. It is also true that within the God-created diversity of the human race, Paul has one theological perspective and John another, so that we can speak of Pauline theology and Johannine theology—remembering that there is no contradiction between the two.

But there remains the fact that God is the Author of the whole Bible, and the Holy Spirit moved the human authors to write the parts authored by them. There is real value in stressing, as Billy Graham always does with real emphasis, that “the Bible says.” The Bible is one unified book with one Author, and that Author is God. When the Bible says something, God says it. The author of Hebrews does not argue this point; he simply assumes it. If this point seems “unsophisticated” to you, remember that Hebrews is probably the most theologically complex book in the New Testament.

The author of Hebrews regularly ascribes the biblical writings to God Himself. Quoting Psalm 104 in Hebrews 1:7, he writes, “In speaking of the angels He says, …” even though Psalm 104 is written as if coming from the lips of men. Similarly, when he quotes Psalm 45, written by the sons of Korah, he ascribes it to God (Hebrews 1:8). Psalm 102 was written by “an afflicted man,” but Hebrews ascribes it to God (Hebrews 1:10). The words of Isaiah are said to be the words of God in Hebrews 2:13.

We can find the doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture if we compare Hebrews 3:7 with 3:4 and 4:7. Look at all three of these verses. First, what do they tell you about the Holy Spirit? Second, what do they tell you about how the Bible was written? As you start the week, bow your life anew to God’s written authority.