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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

AN INERRANT BIBLE

There are some who would contend that we do not have an inerrant Bible. This is a proposition with which I am uncomfortable. Inerrancy actually encompasses two other areas, inspiration and preservation. There are two questions that we answer when we begin to speak of inerrancy.

1. Did God give us a perfect Bible?
2. Did God preserve a perfect Bible?

Both questions have to do with God’s ability. Can God give us a perfect Bible? I think the answer would have to be yes. Can God preserve a perfect Bible? I think the answer would have to be yes. If he can do it then the question becomes did he do it? Did God give us a perfect Bible? I believe he did. Did God preserve a perfect Bible? I believe he did.

Another important thing to recognize about this issue is that faith is involved. Can I prove beyond any doubt that God did both of these things? No, I cannot. Is there compelling evidence that God did both of these things? Yes there is. Can it be proved beyond any doubt that God did not do both of these things? No, it cannot. Is there compelling evidence that God did not do both of these things? Well, what we have is the word of “scholars”, and textual critics. They tell us that God didn’t. God said that he did. The “scholars” and textual critics do not even agree among themselves. So there may be many witnesses against the inerrancy of Scripture, “But neither so did their witness agree together.” Just as there were false witnesses paraded against the Living Word.

I readily admit that I start with the premise of faith. I believe what God says in his word about his word. Having believed what he says, I conclude that whoever disagrees with what God says is in error. If they disagree with the Word of God I am not impressed or intimidated by their credentials. I don’t care how many books they have written or how many followers they have. When it comes to this issue you can find “scholars” on both sides. So really it comes down to whom we are going to believe.

Do we believe God was able to give us an inerrant word? Do we believe God was able to preserve an inerrant word? The answers are limited.

1. No I do not believe he could? Fine, then we disagree.
2. I believe he could and he did. That’s great then you will be able to take the word of God with confidence.
3. I believe he could but he didn’t.

Why wouldn’t he if he could? Why would he allow error if he had the power to keep it out?

When we speak of inerrancy we are dealing with the issue of the recording of God’s words. The word inerrant means not liable to prove false or mistaken. When we speak of the inerrancy of Scripture we are contending for the fact that it was written down correct in every detail. Inerrancy provides for the exact divine message to be given. The issue of inerrancy is discussed in the context of inspiration and preservation. Preservation includes the copying and translating of Scripture.

To begin with let us examine the doctrine of inerrancy in the context of inspiration.

2 Timothy 3:16 - All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

The breath of God gives scripture. They are God-breathed. Inspiration goes beyond the thoughts and concepts to the very words.

Matthew 24:35 - Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
Matthew 5:18 - For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
Psalms 12:6 - The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
Proverbs 30:5 - Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.
Deuteronomy 6:6 - And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
Matthew 4: 4 - But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
Revelation 22:18 - For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

God gives attention to words.

There is an amazing passage in 2 Peter.

2 Peter 1:16-21 - For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

What does Peter tell us in this passage? He relates how that he had heard God himself speak in the holy mount (mount of transfiguration). Then he proceeds to inform us that we have a more sure word of prophecy, more sure than if God himself spoke from heaven. Peter says ye do well that ye take heed to this more sure word of prophecy. We should look upon this more sure word of prophecy as a light that shines in a dark place. This prophecy did not come by the will of man. It was by the breath of God as Paul tells Bro. Timothy. Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

I think the crux of the matter here is that God inspired his word and when he did so it was without error. When he gave it there were no errors in it. The real question becomes does inerrancy come to bear in the doctrine of preservation? Most people ascribe to the fact that God inspired his word. Most doctrinal statements say something along the lines of, “we believe in the inspiration of the original autographs.” While this is a good and right thing to believe there is a problem here. We do not have the original autographs. So a more important question is what do you believe about preservation. If God gave us an inerrant word did he preserve it in its inerrancy?

Again it comes down to whom you believe. God speaks to the issue of the preservation of his word. Christ bears testimony to the word being preserved inerrant. The “scholars” and textual critics raise questions about the preservation of the word. To them the word of God is in a continual state of flux. This passage is legitimate; this one is not. This passage has strong textual evidence the other does not. They argue, they dispute, they study, they write paper, books and pamphlets. They scoff at those that contend there is an inerrant Bible. Yet the alternative is to deny what God said about preserving his own word and embrace the uncertainty of the textual critics. This is a perilous path! They cannot tell us with any certainty or unanimity what is the word of God and they want us to believe them with all certainty.

God declares in his word that he would preserve his word.

Psalms 12:6,7 - The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.

God’s words are pure.
God will keep his words.
God will preserve his words.
God will preserve his words forever.

Psalms 100:5 - For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
Psalms 117:2 - For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD.

We are told in these two verses that his truth endureth forever and to all generations. Compare this with the following:

John 17:17 - Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

His word is truth and his truth endures forever, consequently his word endures forever.

Isaiah 40:8 - The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.
Matthew 24:35 - Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

2 Timothy 3:15,16 - And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

Timothy had the Scripture. Did he have the original autographs? No he did not. He had what would amount to copy upon copy upon copy of the scripture. And yet these copies are given the full authority of Scripture. In fact it is in relation to these copies that the statement is made that all scripture is given by inspiration. While inspiration only happened once and that was with the original autographs if God preserved the words of those original autographs then those copies contain the inspired inerrant word of God. Paul believed they did and recommended them without reservation to Timothy.

1 Peter 1:23-25 - Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

The word of God is not corruptible seed. It is incorruptible seed. The word of God lives and abides forever. The word of the Lord endures forever.

The Lord Jesus throughout his ministry made reference to the Old Testament. He referenced passages, prophecies, and narrative. He encouraged people often to look to the Scriptures, to examine the Scriptures and chided some for not knowing the Scriptures. Never once do we find him hinting that they may not be reliable because what they had were not the original autographs of Moses and the Prophets. He never calls into question a single passage or word. He accepts these copies as the authoritative word of God. The same goes for the Apostles. Jesus never once indicated that this passage was spurious, or there were certain writing that failed to make it into the cannon, etc… ad nausea.

For me the bottom line is this. God has told us two things.

1. I have given you all Scripture by my breath.
2. The Scripture that I have given by my breath will have its words preserved forever by me.

Now, what will I do with these two things that God said. I believe he can do those things. I believe he did do those things. Thus I start from the premise of faith, which seems to be a good solid premise for the believer. Many have been hoodwinked into starting from a premise of skepticism. Because I start with the premise of faith (not blind faith but faith that is rooted in the word of God) I examine the historical record concerning the transmission of the text and expect to find there the story of an inerrant Bible.

Where is the consistency in trusting him to save our souls and not trusting him to preserve his word, not his thoughts or ideas, or concepts but word. We trust him to save our souls because he said he would. Well, he promised to preserve his word also.

So for me the question is not one of inerrancy. God said he gave and preserved for us an inerrant Bible. Now I must determine which Bible that is, and if that Bible has been translated into the English language.

I believe that the inerrant Bible can be found in the King James Bible and the Hebrew and Greek text from which the King James Bible was translated.

When given the choice between, “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever” and “there clearly are errors and in the Bible” I believe the first statement before I do the second. Especially when you consider that the first statement is the record of the omniscient God who will never learn anything, and the second statement is made by men who know nothing as they ought to know.
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