Is the Whole Bible Given by Inspiration of God?
By Zhao Guang, China
In 1998, my cousin, Yang, came to share the Lord Jesus’ gospel with me. He brought me a copy of the Bible, and told me that the whole Bible is inspired by God, that everything inside is the word of God, and that within lay the path to God’s kingdom and eternal life. Hearing I could obtain eternal life immediately piqued my curiosity, and afterwards, I read the Bible when I had time. I soon knew that the Lord Jesus was the Redeemer of humanity, and accepted Him. Because I was passionate about seeking God, I later became a co-worker and started evangelizing and preaching to the church. I firmly believed that the Bible was the foundation and guide for my faith.
Over a few years, the church dried up and it was increasingly difficult to feel the Holy Spirit’s work. Most of the believers were passive and weak, their faith had gone cold, and many even returned to the secular world. Facing all this made me feel anxious and helpless, and there was weakness in my heart. Could the Lord have abandoned us? But every time I thought of how the Lord said, “He that endures to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 10:22), I trusted the Lord would not mistreat those who followed Him with a sincere heart, and continued to expend myself for the Lord. I often prayed in my heart and asked the Lord to strengthen our faith. It was at this time that a church called Eastern Lightning appeared. They testified that the Lord had already returned, was expressing truths, and was carrying out the work of judgment in the last days. Many brothers and sisters in the Lord converted to Eastern Lightning. I heard them fellowship that the Bible contained the words of both God and man, and I couldn’t accept it. The Bible clearly states that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16). Everything in the Bible is the word of God, pastors and elders say this all the time. So isn’t what Eastern Lightning says contradicting the Bible and betraying the Lord? Because of this, I was very much against Eastern Lightning. From then on, most of our meetings discussed how to guard against and hold off Eastern Lightning, and how to protect the church from losing its flock. In order to prevent people from Eastern Lightning stealing our sheep, I told my brothers and sisters: The Bible is wholly inspired by God, and all of God’s words are in it. If we believe in God, we cannot depart from the Bible. To do so would be heresy. By doing this, I hoped to prevent them from investigating Almighty God’s work in the last days, but they kept accepting Almighty God.
One time, after returning home after a church gathering, I saw my wife kneading dough, and beside her sat a woman in her sixties, holding a book in her hand and fellowshiping with her. I instantly guessed she believed in Almighty God, and my expression turned dark, and I said, “You deny and have abandoned the Bible, and yet you still claim to believe in God? Get out of here!” The elderly sister patiently said to me, “Brother, don’t get upset. Don’t blindly jump to conclusions. We also used to read the Bible and take the verse, ‘All scripture is given by inspiration of God’ (2 Timothy 3:16), to mean that all the words in the Bible are the words of God. It was only later that we realized this interpretation is inaccurate.” “What proof do you have?” I asked disdainfully. The sister said, “For example, the Gospel of Luke says: ‘For as much as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them to us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word’ (Luke 1:1–2). Doesn’t this mean that the Gospel of Luke was written by Luke from his experiences? Luke just wrote down some of the facts he saw and heard at the time. This is a book written by man, so how can we say it’s all the word of God? Things which are inspired by God don’t need to be experienced by man or mixed with human ideas. The two are clearly different.” I was somewhat taken aback by the sister’s words: There really is a difference between words inspired by God and those people write based on what they see and hear. I couldn’t find any fault with her words. I took a breath and sized the sister up out of the corner of my eye, thinking: “She’s old and doesn’t look particularly well-educated, yet she has insight like this. Unbelievable!” For a moment I couldn’t think of a response to what she’d said, and my face got flushed. I was worried I’d be misled if I kept listening to what she said, so I coughed and said: “Enough, we have different beliefs. Don’t come here again.” As I said this, I pushed the sister out the door. Seeing the genuine expression in her eyes and her frail figure in the winter wind, I felt a sharp stab in my heart, and I didn’t know what this feeling was. But I remembered how all the words in the Bible are from God, and anything else isn’t belief in God. What they preach went beyond the Bible, yet they came to our church to steal sheep. I couldn’t listen to what they preached, and I must be steadfast in my stance. After this, I was still at peace with my thinking and actions, and spared no effort in “protecting” the flock. Despite this, every time I saw someone from The Church of Almighty God, I felt nervous. Their fellowship made sense and was hard to refute. There was nothing to do but take a hardline approach, and implement a policy of not listening to them, reading their books, or interacting with them.
Before I knew it, it was early fall 2004. My cousin, Yang, called me saying he needed me for something urgent. I rushed over, and my cousin introduced Brother Wang to me. He said Brother Wang was a preacher, and he asked us to dialogue about our understanding of the Lord. I was really happy, and after saying hello, my cousin gave me a Bible and took out two thick hardcover books. I looked, and the cover said: The Word Appears in the Flesh. These were books from Eastern Lightning! I jumped to my feet, and said: “Yang, have you accepted Eastern Lightning?” My cousin chuckled and said: “That’s right. I asked you here today because I wanted to fellowship with you. I hope you’ll take a look into Almighty God’s work in the last days.” At this point, I recalled how pastors and elders always said that the Bible is wholly inspired by God, and all of God’s words are in it. The teachings of Eastern Lightning went beyond the Bible, they diverged from the Lord’s teachings. Under no circumstances should we listen to them. Our best countermove was to evade them. So I made an excuse about there being something I needed to attend to back home. My cousin said levelly, “Why do you run away every time you see someone who believes in Almighty God? If you know the truth, why are you afraid of being misled? Since you’re here, why not calm your heart and seek a little?” There was nothing I could do but return to my seat, but my mind was in a turmoil: How should I handle this situation today? I prayed silently in my heart to the Lord: “Oh, Lord! I entrust this situation to You. Please protect and lead me.” Then, my cousin picked up The Word Appears in the Flesh and read a passage of Almighty God’s word. “I advise you to tread the path of belief in God with care. Do not jump to conclusions; what is more, do not be casual and thoughtless in your belief in God. You should know that, at the very least, those who believe in God should be humble and reverential. Those who have heard the truth and yet turn their nose up at it are foolish and ignorant. Those who have heard the truth and yet carelessly jump to conclusions or condemn it are beset by arrogance. No one who believes in Jesus is qualified to curse or condemn others. You should all be someone with sense and who accepts the truth. Perhaps, having heard the way of truth and having read the word of life, you believe that only one in 10,000 of these words are in line with your convictions and the Bible, and then you should continue to seek in that 10,000th of these words. I still advise you to be humble, to not be over-confident, and to not exalt yourself too highly. With your heart holding such meager reverence for God, you will gain greater light. If you carefully examine and repeatedly contemplate these words, you shall understand whether or not they are the truth, and whether or not they are life” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. By the Time You Behold the Spiritual Body of Jesus, God Will Have Made Heaven and Earth Anew). I sat there seemingly unmoved, but in reality the book’s words had made an impression. All these demands were in line with the Lord Jesus’ words. The Lord said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). Those who believe in God should have an attitude of humility and seeking. I condemned and judged Eastern Lightning blindly without seeking or investigating. I was truly arrogant and self-righteous. I felt guilty, and thought to myself: “These words are something special, they are similar to the Lord’s teachings. Could these actually be words uttered by the returned Lord?” I also thought of all the times I had interacted with people from The Church of Almighty God: They were dignified and upright, they lovingly spread the gospel, were patient, and their explanations to questions were particularly well-founded and convincing. How could they accomplish this by themselves without the work of the Holy Spirit? This showed that the way of Almighty God was definitely special. If Almighty God truly was the returned Lord Jesus, and I didn’t seek or investigate, wouldn’t I be missing the chance to receive the Lord’s arrival and end up rejected by Him? I thought: “I should stop being stubborn. Why don’t I try seeking today on whether the Lord has actually come or not? Then I will have gained clarity.” I thought for a moment, then said resolutely: “The words you read were certainly good, and very special. But I don’t understand. The Bible is the canon of Christianity. For over two thousand years, the religious world has always believed that the Bible is wholly inspired by God, and that everything recorded in the Bible is the word of God, and the Bible therefore represents the Lord. I accepted this to be true all my years of being a Christian, but now you say that the Bible contains the words of both God and man. Isn’t this in contradiction with the Bible? This is denying the Lord, turning your back on Him, and is abominable blasphemy!” Brother Wang said patiently: “Does saying the Bible is wholly inspired by God match reality? What words from the Lord do we have as proof?” This question rendered me speechless. That’s right. These words were spoken by Paul, not by the Lord Jesus. Brother Wang then said: “The Lord Jesus never said that the Bible was wholly inspired by God, and the Holy Spirit didn’t testify this, either. What Paul said only represents his own understanding of the Bible, and absolutely does not represent God.” I was speechless. He was right. Then, Brother Wang asked: “Paul said, ‘All scripture is given by inspiration of God’ (2 Timothy 3:16). When he says ‘scripture,’ is he actually referring to the whole Bible, or just a part of it?” I thought to myself, “He meant the whole Bible of course.” Brother Wang continued: “Actually, Paul wrote 2 Timothy over 60 years after the Lord came, and at that time, the New Testament hadn’t been compiled yet, only the Old Testament. Over 90 years after the Lord came, John wrote down the visions he had seen on the island of Patmos, which later became the Book of Revelation. Over 300 years after the Lord came, at a meeting in Nicaea, religious leaders from various countries selected the four Gospels and some other epistles from among a large number of letters from the disciples, and, along with John’s Book of Revelation, compiled them into the New Testament. After that, they combined the Old and New Testaments into one book, which is the entire Old and New Testament that we read today. The New Testament was compiled after 300 A.D., and Paul wrote 2 Timothy after 60 A.D., which is over 200 years before the New Testament was compiled. From this, we can see that when Paul said, ‘All scripture is given by inspiration of God,’ the scripture he was referring to did not include the New Testament.” After I heard this, I couldn’t help but nod my head and say: “If the scripture Paul was talking about didn’t include the New Testament, then he must mean the Old Testament.” Brother Wang said: “Yes, but even the Old Testament wasn’t entirely inspired by God. It will be clear once we read the words of Almighty God.”
Almighty God says, “You must know how many parts the Bible includes; the Old Testament contains Genesis, Exodus…, and there are also the books of prophecy that the prophets wrote. At the end, the Old Testament finishes with the Book of Malachi. … 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 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)). After this, Brother Wang fellowshiped: “Almighty God’s words are very clear. The prophecies of the prophets were personally instructed by the Holy Spirit, and relayed by the prophets. These are God’s words, and convey God’s exact meaning. Words inspired by God are always marked clearly in the Bible; for example, at the beginning of Isaiah it says, ‘The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz’ (Isaiah 1:1). The beginning of Jeremiah says, ‘To whom the word of Jehovah came’ (Jeremiah 1:2). People need only pay attention to be certain of which words are inspired by God. Apart from the prophetic books, the rest of the Bible are accounts written by people after experiencing God’s work. Most of these are records of memories, and these experiences and words are all from people, we can’t say they’re God’s words, so it’s hard to avoid them being adulterated with human meaning. Like how it says in 2 Samuel 24:1, ‘And again the anger of Jehovah was kindled against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.’ Yet, 1 Chronicles 21:1 says: ‘And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.’ Both these verses record when David numbered Israel. In one place it says Jehovah God moved David to number Israel, and in the other it says it was Satan that moved David. If it was inspired by God, how could there be such a big discrepancy? If the entire Old Testament was inspired by God, would God have made a mistake when inspiring a story of the same event?” After hearing Brother Wang’s words, my mind was opened significantly, and my stubborn mental defenses began to crumble. I said: “If the Old Testament wasn’t completely inspired by God, then we can’t take the New Testament as being wholly the word of God, either, because it’s all records from the apostles.” Brother Wang said happily: “Thank God, your understanding is correct. In fact, in the New Testament, only the Lord Jesus’ words and the prophecy in Revelation are God’s words. The rest are words from disciples, Pharisees, the average people, soldiers, and the devil. Isn’t it absurd to say that everything in the Bible is the word of God? Isn’t this blasphemy?”
After this, Brother Wang read me another passage of Almighty God’s words. “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. … 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?” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Concerning the Bible (3)). The more I listened the more I understood. I lamented: “Before, I didn’t understand the context in which Paul spoke these words. I thought the Bible was wholly inspired by God, and that its words were all God’s, and that believing the Bible was believing in God. This interpretation was so absurd! I insisted on taking people’s words in the Bible as God’s, and I used these as the basis for my faith. Doesn’t this depart from the Lord’s way?”
Then Brother Wang fellowshiped, saying that the Bible is just a testament to God’s work, and that it’s a historical book. He said it’s a record of God’s work during the Ages of Law and Grace. How can it be put on the same level as God? So the Lord Jesus rebuked the Pharisees, saying: “Search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me. And you will not come to Me, that you might have life” (John 5:39–40). The Bible is just a testament to God, it does not hold eternal life. Only God can grant people eternal life! I remember my cousin fellowshiped as well that through reading the Bible, we understand God’s work in the Ages of Law and Grace, we know everything in the universe was created by God, how God promulgated the law to lead humanity, and how we should live on earth and worship God. We know what sin is, and the sort of people God blesses and curses. We also know how we should confess our sins and repent to the Lord, how to be humble, patient, forgiving, and how to take up our cross and follow the Lord. We see the Lord Jesus’ endless compassion and love for us, and understand that it is only by believing in the Lord Jesus and coming before Him that we can enjoy God’s abundant grace and truth. But as to what truths God expresses in the last days, and how God will judge and cleanse man’s corruption, and resolve the root of our sin, we haven’t the slightest idea because these truths were not recorded in the Bible. On the foundation of the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption, Almighty God of the last days has carried out the work of judgment starting with the house of God, expressed all truth about purifying humanity, and revealed corrupt humanity’s satanic disposition and nature, so that our corruption is purified and we become people who love and obey God, and we are made to recognize God’s disposition is holy and righteous and does not permit offense. These words are the true way of eternal life and they fulfill the Lord Jesus’ prophecy completely: “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:12–13). This book, The Word Appears in the Flesh, is the word prophesied in Revelation that the Holy Spirit speaks to all churches. It’s the scroll opened by the Lamb. Through reading Almighty God’s words, true believers in God from the religious world have recognized God’s voice, turned to Almighty God, and have followed the Lamb’s footsteps.
After he said this, Brother Wang read another passage of Almighty God’s words. “Christ of the last days brings life, and brings the enduring and everlasting way of truth. This truth is the path by which man gains life, and it is the only path by which man shall know God and be approved by God. If you do not seek the way of life provided by Christ of the last days, then you shall never gain the approval of Jesus, and shall never be qualified to enter the gate of the kingdom of heaven, for you are both a puppet and prisoner of history. Those who are controlled by regulations, by letters, and shackled by history will never be able to gain life nor gain the perpetual way of life. This is because all they have is turbid water which has been clung to for thousands of years instead of the water of life that flows from the throne. Those who are not supplied with the water of life will forever remain corpses, playthings of Satan, and sons of hell. How, then, can they behold God? If you only try to hold on to the past, only try to keep things as they are by standing still, and do not try to change the status quo and discard history, then will you not always be against God? The steps of God’s work are vast and mighty, like surging waves and rolling thunders—yet you sit passively awaiting destruction, clinging to your folly and doing nothing. In this way, how can you be considered someone who follows the footsteps of the Lamb? How can you justify the God that you hold on to as a God who is always new and never old? And how can the words of your yellowed books carry you across into a new age? How can they lead you to seek the steps of God’s work? And how can they take you up to heaven? What you hold in your hands are letters that can provide but temporary solace, not truths that are capable of giving life. The scriptures you read can only enrich your tongue and are not words of philosophy that can help you know human life, much less the paths that can lead you to perfection. Does this discrepancy not give you cause for reflection? Does it not make you realize the mysteries contained within? Are you capable of delivering yourself to heaven to meet God on your own? Without the coming of God, can you take yourself into heaven to enjoy family happiness with God? Are you still dreaming now? I suggest, then, that you stop dreaming and look at who is working now—look to see who is now carrying out the work of saving man during the last days. If you do not, you shall never gain the truth, and shall never gain life” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Only Christ of the Last Days Can Give Man the Way of Eternal Life). After hearing these words, I was deeply shaken. If I clung to my own religious views, in the end it would be me who lost out. I thought of how much Bible knowledge I’d amassed during my years as a Christian, yet I barely had an understanding of the truth or of God. On the contrary, I was becoming increasingly arrogant. The Lord had returned, but not only did I not investigate, I even used words from the Bible to condemn Almighty God’s appearance and work. I was just like the Pharisees who resisted God. I was truly blind and didn’t know God! Not only did I cling to my notions, I even wracked my brain to obstruct others from investigating. Wasn’t this disrupting God’s work? If others couldn’t welcome the Lord or follow His new work, they’d have lost their chance to enter God’s kingdom. I was an evil person who dragged others into hell and resisted God! I had committed such an evil, yet God still showed me compassion and grace. God let me hear His voice and witness His appearance. How truly vas God’s love is! After this, we continued fellowshiping on the Bible. We also talked about why the church in the Age of Grace became desolate, how God saves humanity through three stages of work, and more.
In the time that followed, I read lots of Almighty God’s words, and accepted Almighty God’s work in the last days. Later, my wife also accepted it. Thanks be to God!
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