3. Based on the words of Paul, who said that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2Ti 3:16), the pastors and elders of the religious world believe that the words of the Bible are the words of God. Yet you say that not all the words in the Bible are the words of God. What do you mean by this?
Relevant Words of God:
Today, people believe the Bible is God, and that God is the Bible. So, too, do they believe that all the words of the Bible were the only words God spoke, and that they were all said by God. Those who believe in God even think that, although all of the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testament were written by people, they were all given by inspiration of God, and a record of the utterances of the Holy Spirit. This is the erroneous comprehension of man, and it does not completely accord with the facts. In fact, apart from the books of prophecy, most of the Old Testament is a historical record. Some of the epistles of the New Testament come from people’s experiences, and some come from the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit; the Pauline epistles, for example, arose from the work of a man, they were all the result of the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment, and they were written for the churches, and were words of exhortation and encouragement for the brothers and sisters of the churches. They were not words spoken by the Holy Spirit—Paul could not speak on behalf of the Holy Spirit, and neither was he a prophet, much less did he see the visions that John beheld. His epistles were written for the churches of Ephesus, Philadelphia, Galatia, and other churches. And thus, the Pauline epistles of the New Testament are epistles that Paul wrote for the churches, and not inspirations from the Holy Spirit, nor are they the direct utterances of the Holy Spirit. They are merely words of exhortation, comfort, and encouragement that he wrote for the churches during the course of his work. So, too, are they a record of much of Paul’s work at the time. They were written for all who are brothers and sisters in the Lord, so that the brothers and sisters of the churches at that time would follow his advice and abide by the way of repentance of the Lord Jesus. By no means did Paul say that, be they the churches of that time or of the future, all must eat and drink the things he wrote, nor did he say that his words all came from God. According to the circumstances of the church at that time, he simply communed with the brothers and sisters, and exhorted them, and inspired belief in them, and he simply preached or reminded people and exhorted them. His words were based upon his own burden, and he supported the people through these words. He did the work of an apostle of the churches of that time, he was a worker who was used by the Lord Jesus, and thus he must take on the responsibility for the churches, and must undertake the work of the churches, he had to learn about the states of the brothers and sisters—and because of this, he wrote epistles for all of the brothers and sisters in the Lord. All he said that was edifying and positive to people was right, but it did not represent the utterances of the Holy Spirit, and it could not represent God. It is an egregious understanding, and a tremendous blasphemy, for people to treat the records of a man’s experiences and a man’s epistles as the words spoken by the Holy Spirit to the churches! That is particularly true when it comes to the epistles that Paul wrote for the churches, for his epistles were written for the brothers and sisters based on the circumstances and situation of each church at the time, and were in order to exhort the brothers and sisters in the Lord, so that they could receive the grace of the Lord Jesus. His epistles were in order to rouse the brothers and sisters of that time. It can be said that this was his own burden, and was also the burden given to him by the Holy Spirit; after all, he was an apostle who led the churches of the time, who wrote epistles for the churches and exhorted them—that was his responsibility. His identity was merely that of a working apostle, and he was merely an apostle who was sent by God; he was not a prophet, nor a foreteller. To him, his own work and the lives of the brothers and sisters were of the utmost importance. Thus, he could not speak on behalf of the Holy Spirit. His words were not the words of the Holy Spirit, much less could they be said to be the words of God, for Paul was nothing more than a creature of God, and was certainly not the incarnation of God. His identity was not the same as that of Jesus. The words of Jesus were the words of the Holy Spirit, they were the words of God, for His identity was that of Christ—the Son of God. How could Paul be His equal? If people see the epistles or words like Paul’s as the utterances of the Holy Spirit, and worship them as God, then it can only be said that they are too indiscriminating. To speak more harshly, is this not simply blasphemy? How could a man talk on behalf of God? And how could people bow down before the records of his epistles and of the words he spoke as if they were a holy book, or a heavenly book? Could the words of God be casually uttered by a man? How could a man talk on behalf of God? And so, what say you—could the epistles that he wrote for the churches not be tainted with his own ideas? How could they not be tainted with human ideas? He wrote epistles for the churches based on his personal experiences and his own knowledge. For instance, Paul wrote an epistle to the Galatian churches which contained a certain opinion, and Peter wrote another, which had another view. Which of them came from the Holy Spirit? No one can say for sure. Thus, it can only be said that they both bore a burden for the churches, yet their letters represent their stature, they represent their provision and support for the brothers and sisters, and their burden toward the churches, and they only represent human work—they were not entirely of the Holy Spirit. If you say that his epistles are the words of the Holy Spirit, then you are absurd, and you are committing blasphemy! The Pauline epistles and the other epistles of the New Testament are equivalent to the memoirs of the more recent spiritual figures: They are on a par with the books of Watchman Nee or the experiences of Lawrence, and so on. It is simply that the books of recent spiritual figures are not compiled into the New Testament, yet the essence of these people was the same: They were people who were used by the Holy Spirit during a certain period, and they could not directly represent God.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Concerning the Bible (3)
During the Old Testament Age of Law, the great number of prophets raised up by Jehovah spoke prophecy for Him, they gave instructions to various tribes and nations, and foretold the work that Jehovah would do. These people who had been raised up had all been given the Spirit of prophecy by Jehovah: They were able to see the visions from Jehovah, and hear His voice, and thus they were inspired by Him and wrote prophecy. The work they did was the expression of the voice of Jehovah, the expression of the prophecy of Jehovah, and Jehovah’s work at the time was simply to guide people using the Spirit; He did not become flesh, and people saw nothing of His face. Thus, He raised up many prophets to do His work, and gave them oracles that they passed on to every tribe and clan of Israel. Their work was to speak prophecy, and some of them wrote down Jehovah’s instructions to them to show to others. Jehovah raised these people up to speak prophecy, to foretell the work of the future or the work still to be done during that time, so that people could behold the wondrousness and wisdom of Jehovah. These books of prophecy were quite different from the other books of the Bible; they were words spoken or written by those who had been given the Spirit of prophecy—by those who had gained the visions or voice from Jehovah. Apart from the books of prophecy, everything else in the Old Testament is made up of records made by people after Jehovah had finished His work. These books cannot stand in for the foretelling spoken by the prophets raised up by Jehovah, just as Genesis and Exodus cannot be compared to the Book of Isaiah and the Book of Daniel. The prophecies were spoken before the work had been carried out; the other books, meanwhile, were written after the work had been finished, which was what people were capable of. The prophets of that time were inspired by Jehovah and spoke some prophecy, they spoke many words, and they prophesied the things of the Age of Grace, as well as the destruction of the world in the last days—the work that Jehovah planned to do. The remaining books all record the work done by Jehovah in Israel. … In this way, what is recorded in the Old Testament of the Bible is purely God’s work in Israel at that time. The words spoken by the prophets, by Isaiah, Daniel, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel … their words foretell His other work on earth, they foretell the work of Jehovah God Himself. All this came from God, it was the work of the Holy Spirit, and apart from these books of the prophets, everything else is a record of people’s experiences of Jehovah’s work at the time.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Concerning the Bible (1)
Not everything in the Bible is a record of the words personally spoken by God. The Bible simply documents the previous two stages of God’s work, of which one part is a record of the foretelling of the prophets, and one part is the experiences and knowledge written by people used by God throughout the ages. Human experiences are tainted with human opinions and knowledge, and this is something which is unavoidable. In many of the books of the Bible are human notions, human biases, and humans’ absurd comprehension. Of course, most of the words are the result of the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit, and they are correct understandings—yet it still cannot be said that they are entirely accurate expressions of the truth. Their views on certain things are nothing more than knowledge derived from personal experience, or the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. The foretelling of the prophets was personally instructed by God: The prophecies of the like of Isaiah, Daniel, Ezra, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel came from the direct instruction of the Holy Spirit; these people were seers, they had received the Spirit of prophecy, and they were all prophets of the Old Testament. During the Age of Law, these people, who had received the inspirations of Jehovah, spoke many prophecies, which were directly instructed by Jehovah.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Concerning the Bible (3)
Sermon and Fellowship Excerpts for Reference:
How was the Bible formed, and when did it come into being? During the Age of Law, the Jews only referred to the Old Testament as the Scriptures. Later, the Lord Jesus performed the work of redemption, and more than three hundred years after that, some church leaders held a council and decided to collate all the epistles written by the disciples and apostles of the Lord Jesus. Finally, after much consideration, they selected 27 of them as the New Testament Canon, which they combined with the Old Testament to make the entire content of the Bible. These are the facts of the origins of the New and Old Testament, and this is the inside story of the Bible. Many people believe that the Bible came from God; in Paul’s Second Epistle to Timothy, in particular, it is said, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God.” In fact, when Paul spoke these words, the New Testament had yet to be made into a book; in this context, the Scriptures that Paul was referring to were the Old Testament, not the New Testament. This is a fact. Yet the people of the last days take the Scriptures that Paul spoke of as the entire Bible—as the New and Old Testament. This is at odds with the facts. It is a misinterpretation, a fallacy. What is more, is it tenable to claim that the Old Testament was all given by inspiration of God? The work of the Age of Law was carried out by God using Moses. The first five books of the Old Testament were also written by Moses. It is fair to say that no one understood God’s work of the Age of Law better than him. So, in the Five Books of Moses, did Moses say the words he wrote were all given by inspiration of God? Firstly, he did not say this. Secondly, none of the prophets used by God in the Age of Law—prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and so on—none of them said this, either. Only Paul said that the Scriptures were inspired by God. If Paul alone said this, such words can hardly be called valid. So we must not base anything off these words.
In addition, what did the brothers and sisters in the churches think of the epistles written by Peter, Paul and others when they were sent to the churches? They would have said, “This is the letter of Brother Peter,” “This is the letter of Brother Paul,” “This is the letter of Matthew.” … Would anyone have treated these apostles’ letters as the word of God at that time? Absolutely not, because Peter, Matthew and others never said that they were God or that they were the incarnation; they said that they believed in the Lord Jesus and were disciples of the Lord Jesus, so the brothers and sisters of the churches treated them as brothers, and their letters and their words as the fellowship and testimony of brothers. This is entirely accurate and in line with historical facts. But today, people of all denominations treat these apostles’ words as inspired by God. They treat them as God’s words and put them on a par with God’s words. Is this not at odds with historical facts? They do not feel there is even anything wrong with treating these words of men as the words of God. When people point out their error, they hold up the words of Paul in the Bible to defend themselves—but is there any basis to the words of Paul? In the letters of the apostles, Peter said that the letters of Paul contained the revelations and work of the Holy Spirit. But Peter never said that the words of Paul were inspired by the Holy Spirit, and that they must be treated as the words of God, nor did Paul dare say that his words were inspired by God. Neither Paul nor Peter testified that their words were the words of God, so how can the believers of the last days treat their words as the words of God? What mistake are they making? Are the interpretations of these exponents correct? They do not realize what a ridiculous error this is, they cannot see it, which shows that they are without the truth. Yet people still blindly worship and believe; whatever they say, that is what people believe. In this, are people not incredibly lacking in discernment? People of religion have blind faith in the Bible, they worship the Bible, they regard it as higher than God, they believe the Bible represents God, and they base everything on the Bible. Is it not ridiculous for them to worship and have blind faith in the Bible to such an extent? And what form does their blind faith in the Bible take? They are incapable of approaching it according to historical fact, and they do not pursue the truth and seek the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit. Instead, they blindly worship well-known personages, trusting, accepting, and rigidly applying whatever any one of them says. Could it be that the words of men are never wrong? Could it be that everything Paul said is right? Paul was a man—and as a man, how could he not be tainted? Therefore, for people to place the letters of the apostles on a par with the words of God is a serious mistake. In the Bible, the words of God are the words of God, and the words of men are the words of men. The two cannot be treated as equal. So which are the words of God in the Bible? All of the words personally spoken by Jehovah God, what Jehovah God instructed the prophets to pass on, and the words personally spoken by the Lord Jesus—only these are the words of God. And what, do you think, is peculiar to all of the words spoken by the prophets in the Bible? They all said, “This is what Jehovah says” and “So said Jehovah.” They did not say, “I, Daniel (or Isaiah) tell you this.” This makes it clear to people that the prophets were passing on the original words of God. Therefore, only the original words of God passed on by the prophets are the words of God, only the words personally spoken by Jehovah God are the words of God, and only the words personally spoken by the Lord Jesus are the words of God. Nothing in the Bible apart from these are the words of God; the words spoken by the apostles and the events recorded by the servants of God are merely the testimonies of men.
—The Fellowship From the Above