Cornelius Van Til on the Instrumentality of Men and the Bible

Of course, the fact that the Bible is the Word of God does not mean that it has
dropped from heaven. It was given through the service of men. In the view of the writers
of the New Testament, the Scriptures are the Word of God. This is true “in all its parts
and in all its elements, down to the least minutiae, in form of expression as well as in
substance of teaching.” Yet “the whole of it has been given by God through the
instrumentality of men.” This does not mean that some portions of Scripture are human
and some are divine. It means rather that in all of the Scripture there is a human side as
well as a divine.  “The Biblical writers do not conceive of the Scriptures as a human
product breathed into by the Divine Spirit, and thus heightened in its qualities or
endowed with new qualities; but as a divine product produced through the instrumentality
of men.”

The Spirit carried along the spirits of men so that they spontaneously spoke
and wrote what they did.
It would, therefore, be a complete misunderstanding of the relation of the divine and
the human in Scripture if it were conceived of in a manner other than exhaustively
personal. To be sure, God through Christ revealed what had not entered into the hearts of
sinful man. There were heights to be scaled which were beyond the reach of human
imagination. Sinners will surely repress that which God, in his grace, would reveal to
them for their salvation. To reach sinners in spite of themselves Christ spoke to them by
speaking through them. Borne by the Spirit they spoke spontaneously. Prepared by his
providence, they had all the gifts that they needed to do this. Thus God’s general purpose
of saving the world, of saving the whole man with the whole of his culture, was being
accomplished by God through Christ as in turn Christ through his Spirit directed and
controlled his chosen instruments.

The Word of life was given to the whole world.
Thus Scripture is not merely a record of revelation. It is itself revelational. “Scripture
is conceived, from the point of view of the writers of the New Testament, not merely as
the record of revelation, but as itself a part of the redemptive revelation of God; not
merely as the record of the redemptive acts by which God is saving the world, but as
itself one of these redemptive acts, having its own part to play in the great work of
establishing and building up the kingdom of God. What gives it a place among the
redemptive acts of God is its Divine origination, taken in its widest sense, as inclusive of
all the divine operations, providential, gracious and expressly supernatural, by which it
has been made just what it is—a body of writings able to make wise unto salvation, and
profitable for making the man of God perfect. What gives it its place among the modes of
revelation is, however, specifically the culminating one of these Divine operations, which
we call ‘Inspiration’; that is to say, the action of the Spirit of God in so ‘bearing’ its
human authors in their work of producing Scripture, as that in these Scriptures they
speak, not out of themselves, but ‘from God.’ It is this act by virtue of which the
Scriptures may properly be called ‘God-breathed'”.


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