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  • This sermon was preached on January 10, 2016.
    Introduction

    “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:

    • C.H. Dodd who was one of the leaders in the translation of the New English Bible said concerning the OT that it contains “incongruities and contradiction.” He goes on to talk about the symbolic myths that are found in the book of Genesis.
    • Noah Burrow, one of the key translators of the National Council of Churches Revised Standard Version said, “All wise theologians have left the inerrancy of the Bible behind.” He says, “We have abandoned the position that because anything is in the Bible it must be true.” Then he argues, “That what is ultimately authoritative for us is that which commands the assent of our own best judgment accepted as the witness of the spirit within us.”
      • Now, think of that. HE is saying my own best judgment equals to the Holy Spirit testimony.
    • George Buttrick, former president of the Federal Council of Churches, said, “Probably few people who claim to believe every word of the Bible really mean it; that avowal held to its last logic would risk a trip to the insane asylum”
      • So if you really believe that the Bible is the Word of God in all its parts you should be in the insane asylum.

    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.

    The Definition of Inerrancy

    Now we can’t get very far without definitions so let me supply some definitions for you.

    Revelation

    God has revealed himself to us in nature, in providence, in history, in conscience but supremely in the Bible.

    Inspiration

    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.

    Inerrancy

    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.

    Clarifications Regarding Inerrancy

    To avoid misunderstanding, it is necessary that I make a few clarifications:

    1. 1.       Inerrancy is true only in regard to the original manuscripts. We do not have any of the originals but we do have thousands of copies. Changes and errors have intentionally and unintentionally entered the biblical text in its reproduction and translation. For instance, there are two hundred thousand variant readings in five thousand Greek NT manuscripts, most of which concern word order, spelling, and the like. Now before you throw the Bible out as unreliable think about this: A hundred years ago only a thousandth part of the Greek NT was in question. That most of these changes and errors are known today and that none of them affect primary biblical doctrine assures us of the reliability of present standard translations of the Bible. Do you know that the New Testament is the best-attested book of ancient history? Did you know that? No question about it. There is no question whatsoever about it.
    2. 2.       The Bible does record things that are false. Now before you stone me or say, “Aha, I knew it” listen to what I mean. The Bible includes the statement by Satan, “You surely shall not die.” Is that true? No. But the Bible’s recording that false statement accurately. The Bible includes the speeches of Job’s friends though they were wrong in accusing Job of some serious sin. Usually the context makes clear whether a statement is to be understood as truth or not. Yet the Bible is still inerrant in that it truthfully and accurately reported what was said or what occurred.
    3. 3.       Inerrancy includes variety of style, colloquialisms and popular language and figures of speech and variety of speech and grammar. It does not always seek to speak precisely or in technical scientific language. We speak of the sun rising and setting, but scientifically we know that the earth moves, not the sun. We don’t charge our newspapers or weather reporters as being in error when they say the sunrises or sunsets. We often use round numbers when speaking of the population of cities, the size of crowds, mileage distance but when people do so we don’t accuse them of being in error. If you ask someone’s age and the persons response is to say 54 we do not call them a liar because they do not give us their age down to the day, hour, minute and second. If you ask me how many pages are in our new book we are studying in growth groups and I say 200 but really there are 196 am I lying because I am imprecise? No! The same principle applies to quotations of others. They may be exact word for word quotes or they may be paraphrases that give an accurate gist of the original meaning. If someone says “I ain’t goin” instead of “I am not going” it may be bad grammar but it is not factually wrong. The meaning of both phrases is clear. They both say the same thing. We also use figures of speech and so does the Bible. It says, “the four corners of the earth” or “the windows of heaven.” These are figures of speech. They are not factually erroneous. You see, the Bible uses ordinary language rather than technical language. In Scripture, God intends to speak to everybody. To do that most efficiently, he engages in all the shortcuts that we commonly use among ourselves to facilitate understanding. God doesn’t give us the mathematical equation for the universe. Instead he tells us “God made the stars also.” I can understand that! So God uses metaphors, hyperbole, parables, and so forth. Inerrancy allows for variety in details in explaining the same event.
    4. 4.       Inerrancy allows for problem passages. In saying all of the Bible is true we are not saying that we understand it all perfectly. There are problem passages that are difficult to work out. In some cases we await the findings of archaeology; in other cases we await linguist research, in other cases we may never know the full solution. This does not mean there are errors or contradictions but simply difficulties due to our lack of knowledge to resolve them. I for one am glad we find this in the Bible. It keeps us humble and in a position of faith. We don’t know everything there is to know but we have come to know God by faith in Jesus Christ and therefore believe the word implanted within us by the Holy Spirit. As I recently heard someone say, we have no monopoly on truth, the truth is on free parking and it is for everyone. We do not have the truth, God has the truth and he has given it for us all. It is then an act of faith on our part to say we believe in the absolute truth found within the Bible. I am comfortable with this. You see, I would rather put my trust in the God of the Bible who is the Creator, all knowing, and has rescued me from the domain of darkness and transferred me into the kingdom of his beloved Son, and taken me from ignorance to glorious illumination of his absolute, inerrant truth.

    The Testimony of Scripture Concerning Inerrancy

    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:

    God never Lies

    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.”

    God Produced the Scriptures through the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth

    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.”

    The Lord Jesus is truth, bears witness to the truth, and speaks 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). 

    God’s Word is truth

    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.

    • The Hebrew word translated “pure” is used elsewhere to describe a metal such as gold that is free from impurity. That we read it is purified 7x we get the concept of absolute purity, total freedom from imperfection.

    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.

    • The word translated “proves true” means flawless. It is commonly used for smelting, testing, proving metals. God’s word has been tested and proven to be perfect.

    Psalm 19:7 – The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.”

    • The Scripture is “sure.” It is absolute, trustworthy, reliable.

    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.”

    What Happens If Inerrancy is Denied?

    1. 1.       God is willing to lie.

    If inerrancy is false, then we must be willing to say that God is willing to lie.

    1. 2.       God cannot be trusted in everything he says

    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!

    1. 3.       Humanity’s reason is higher than God’s Word

    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.”

    1. 4.       It is possible that the spiritual details are wrong as well.

    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?

    1. 5.       There is no authority in the church.

    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.

    1. 6.       There is no authority in preaching.

    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.

    1. 7.       There is no basis for biblical counseling

    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.

     

     

     

     

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