Jan21ThuJanuary 21, 2016
“You don’t actually believe the Bible is true, do you?”
That is a question I have been asked many times and expect to be asked even more as God’s Word is increasingly coming under fire.
The shock on the persons face when I say yes is always amusing.
You see, though young I am old-fashioned – I believe the whole bible and everything it contains.
However what is not amusing but in fact is rather heartbreaking is the number of Christians who have come to doubt that every word of the Bible is true. Many Christians are shifting their ground and are quite uncertain of the Bible’s veracity. It is very startling to me to listen to the many doubts Christians express over the Bible’s reliability. It seems quite a few are unwilling to state that they believe the Bible is without error. Many are willing to say it is a guide for us in faith and practice but are unwilling to say it is without error.
This is a very bad and disturbing thing.
Let me read for you two or three testimonies as examples:
Now these are not men sitting out on the periphery. These have been leaders in the Christian church. I believe in a time like this, we need to focus on inerrancy. Never before as the doctrine of inerrancy been under such fierce attack from inside and outside the church.
This doctrine is tremendously important to me. It is tremendously important to the health of FBC.
Now we can’t get very far without definitions so let me supply some definitions for you.
God has revealed himself to us in nature, in providence, in history, in conscience but supremely in the Bible.
Inspiration, which we talked about last week, has to do with the means whereby God secured an infallible communication of his revelation. And as we learned last week the means whereby God secured an infallible communication of his revelation was by the Spirit. 2 Timothy 3:16 says “all Scripture is God-breathed” and 2 Peter 1:21 says, “For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” The prophets and apostles of God were caught up by the Spirit of God and enabled to write things in such a way that when they finished God could say, “I have written.” By the way, I neglected to mention last week that the word “carried along” is found in Acts 27:15, 17 as a description of how Paul on his trip to Rome by boat in the midst of a storm was moved and driven by the wind. And I think that is a good illustration of men under the moving influence of the H.S. in the writing of the Word. Now Paul on the boat had a great deal of freedom. He could go up to the stern. He could go to the bow. He could go below but as far as the boat was concerned it was under the power of the wind. And so in the writing of Scripture it was God who moves men; but they have freedom to use their own capacities, preparation and training.
This is why if you read the NT you will find that John’s vocabulary is the vocabulary of a simple man who writes Greek out of a Hebrew background. Whereas Luke is apparently a man who has done historical research of a high caliber and writes in a very nice and full vocabulary. So we have different styles.
It’s like people who speak. Your voice is conditioned by several things; the size of your throat, the shape of your mouth, the shape of your lips, the way you use them and also the position of your teeth. You notice there’s some people who lisp and there’s some that don’t and our speech is determined by all of these things. And so men were used by God; and their training, their ability, their capacities all appear in the Bible but it is God who has written through men. So therefore, when we say all Scripture is inspired of God, we mean, all Scripture is breathed out by God through men. I would think that the implication of this is obvious. The Bible is then authoritative for it is the word of God. The word of God. So then that’s enough on that point.
Revelation is the unveiling of God’s truth. Inspiration is the means whereby he has unveiled it and communicated it to us.
The third word is inerrancy.
Nearly 40 years ago, in October 1978, 334 evangelical leaders gathered in the city of Chicago to formulate what is now known as the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. Those who formulated and signed the Chicago statement did so in response to the large-scale assaults on biblical authority by theological liberals. They did us a great service. In summary they defined inerrancy this way, “Being wholly and verbally God-given, Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching, no less in what it states about God’s acts in creation, about the events of world history, and about its own literary origins under God, than in its witness to God’s saving grace in individual lives.”
Simply put, the doctrine of inerrancy is the belief that the Bible, in its entirety, has no mistakes. It is flawless. It is free from falsehood, fraud or deceit. It is always true. This is true in matters of history and science as well as faith. It also allows for literary devices such as metaphors, hyperbole, round number and colloquial phrases.
A near synonym to this is the word “infallibility.” This is the position that the Bible cannot err or make mistakes. It is completely trustworthy in all that it teaches and will not fail to accomplish its purpose. It is invincible. It is unbreakable. It is unable to lead us astray.
Thus inerrancy is the fact that all of Scripture is true while infallibility is the fact that the Bible is incapable of error. So the Bible is inerrant because it is infallible.
The doctrine of inerrancy does not exist as a stand-alone doctrine but is supported by the doctrine of inspiration and leads to the authority of the Bible. In other words, this doctrine is in harmony with the other attributes of Scripture. Inspiration leads to inerrancy and inerrancy leads to authority.
To avoid misunderstanding, it is necessary that I make a few clarifications:
Inerrancy is not the invention of those 334 men who assembled in 1978. They dug it out from Scripture and declared what it has always taught concerning itself. They codified the standard belief held throughout church history in response to heretics who denied it.
So what I am going to do is let the Bible speak for itself. Listen to its message and be persuaded:
The Bible speaks in a number of places to the fact that God never lies:
Numbers 23:9 – God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?
Titus 1:2 – “God, who does not lie.”
Romans 3:4 – “Let God be true, and every human being a liar.”
Hebrews 6:18 – “It is impossible for God to lie.”
2 Timothy 3:16 – “All Scripture is God-breathed”
2 Peter 1:21 – “For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
John 14:16-17 – “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of truth.”
John 15:26 – “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.
John 16:13 – But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.”
Jesus constantly appealed to the Scriptures saying “it is written” or “have you not read.” When he spoke the people were always amazed because he spoke as one with truth and authority. But that is not all, he submitted to the Scriptures authority. He said all that happened to him was in accordance with Scripture, to fulfill, not abolish them. What is more he said they cannot be broken (John 10:35).
Now put all of this together! God, who cannot lie, produced the Scriptures through the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth. Therefore, God’s Word is truth!
2 Samuel 7:28 – And now, O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant.
Psalm 12:6 – The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.
Psalm 18:30 – This God – his way is perfect; the Word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.
Psalm 19:7 – The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.”
Psalm 119:142 – Your righteousness is righteous forever, and your law is true.
Psalm 119:151 – But you are near, O Lord, and all your commandments are true
Psalm 119:160 – The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.
Proverbs 30:5-6 – Every Word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.”
John 17:17 – Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
Eph 1:13 – “the word of truth”
Rom. 2:20 – “having in the law the emobident of knowledge and truth.”
James 1:18 – “of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth.”
If inerrancy is false, then we must be willing to say that God is willing to lie.
If the Bible is found in error at any point, then God is not only willing to lie, but how can we trust God in anything he has said? We can’t!
When we place our judgments over God we are looking into the face of God and stating that our reasoning is superior to God. It is hard to imagine someone saying this but when someone says, “I can’t believe that God would do that or say that” or “I belive the Bible is true in matters of salvation but not historically or scientifically” we are in essence saying to God, “Ah ha! I have found where God slipped up.”
If we think the historical, geographical and scientific truths of the Bible are found to be in error, then how can we say that the Spiritual truths are not also in error? I would say, they must be. But then how do I go about figuring out which ones are actual truth, partial truth, or just flat wrong?
In fact, it is humorous to read the lists that some so-called scholars have created for which parts are true and which parts aren’t. The lists don’t in any way match up of course because it is total preference. Who decides what is true?
But you see the spiritual ramifications of this, right? If you say I believe in Jesus but not the Bible you are on shaky ground. If you say I believe in Jesus as my Savior from sin and salvation but I don’t believe what the Bible says about other things you are just playing games. How can you possibly know that Jesus will save you from your sins just because the Bible says so when you think it is wrong or doubtful in so many other places? You see? Why should an unbeliever accept as true those spiritual parts of the Bible about Christ as a substitute for sinners when he is told that the very areas that can be confirmed like history, science, contain inaccuracies?
The church is the pillar and buttress of truth but how so if we don’t know what is true? If the Bible contains errors, then there is really no way to know where those errors are, and thus all positions of the church are negotiable.
Every week I walk up to the pulpit and preach. I preach my heart out after long hours of studying with all my might. And I do that so you might hear the Word of God and live transformed lives. Sometimes I say things that you don’t want to hear because biblical preaching holds up God’s Word to our lives and calls us to die to sin. If someone should say, why should I listen to you” I can truthfully say you shouldn’t but you should and must listen to the Word of God. If we allow the notion that the Bible is errant than preaching and studying and listening to the Bible is a colossal waste of time.
If scripture errs, as a pastor and you as a Christian, cannot be confident that your scriptural counsel and encouragement to others will do any good. Moreover, if the Bible is full of errors than you should gravitate away from those who give scriptural counsel and go to secular counseling.
All Christians must affirm the inerrancy of the Bible or else just throw it away!
You see, inerrancy is the life blood of the true church. If we lose inerrancy, we lose everything. Paul’s charge to Timothy was to preach the Word (2 Tim 4:2), Jesus prayer for His people was that they would be sanctified in truth, and truth is the Word of God (John 17:17). The word of God is perfect and pure (Psalm 19:7). Every pastor and believer must rally around and defend this truth. What is more, we must live in accordance with this truth. When the Bible speaks, God speaks and o disobey Scripture is to disobey God. Sometimes people will say, “I have prayed about it and the Lord has given me peace about it” while they simultaneously are contradicting God’s Word. That person needs a new prayer life as well as a new understanding of the inerrant word of God. If there is any disagreement between God’s Word and your own ideas. You must repent. Let God be found true and man a liar.
You see the whole discussion boils down to this – Are you going to submit unconditionally to the voice of God who has spoken? Or, are you going to insist, on screening the message of the Bible, accepting only what is palatable and remaining free to reject what does not conform to our preconceived ideas?
James 1:19ff: 19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. 26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.