SCRIPTURAL INERRANCY PART ONE

Why The Christian Must Accept Scripture As Inerrant

Since Scripture itself is written in mankind’s own languages, it obviously is intended to be read by man. Since it is about God, its purpose just as obviously is to guide man into an understanding of God: His basic character as God wishes it to appear to man, His past and present relationship with us, and His ultimate intent for mankind.

According to Paul in 2 Timothy 3:16 and Peter in 2 Peter 1:19-21 it was written under the direction of God Himself:

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

“We have also a more sure word of prophecy, unto which 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 heats; knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not at any time by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”

Therefore, in addition to representing knowledge directed to mankind by the will of God, it is also inerrant truth, having come directly from His hand.

Scripture includes a number of commandments from God, chief among them being the Shema of Moses (Deuteronomy 6:4,5) that invites man to love God with all the fervor he can muster. The bulk of Scripture is consistent with that commandment. By far the largest part of Scripture is devoted to the development of a portrait of God that fits in quite naturally with man’s ability to understand Him.

Of most significance, Scripture clearly shows us that God’s most important attribute, the one that He Himself values the most, is love. It is love also that is the most basic driving factor of his present and past relationship with man, and that defines His future intent for us. Thus it appears to be the task of Scripture to give us enough information about God and what He wants of us to develop our capacity to love Him back, and out of that love to come to that point where, in selfless nobility, we can be the companion to Him for which He designed us.

Our Scriptural picture of God’s interaction with man is not limited to personal relationships. We have a very large God, One whose capabilities include the creation of the world in unimaginable depth and beauty, elements of which even now we are just beginning to discover. He also is of such a size that He can visit physical chaos and destruction upon us of planetary scale whenever He deems it necessary to do a bit of housecleaning. He did this with Noah’s Flood, which, given the evidence all about us for those who have the courage to see, was far more than a local disaster. He did it again at the time of the Exodus of Israel from Egypt. Those who understand Scripture also understand the reason why in love it happened in the past and are waiting for it to happen yet again, this time, according to Peter, with fire.

Scripture records the history of Israel that God in love caused to blossom under a multitude of trials from a family into a very special nation. We can discern God’s love for mankind in general and His intent for us all in this picture of the nation’s history and its customs and the commandments of God regarding it. We can see in Scripture’s descriptions of Israel’s most significant individuals a composite portrait of Jesus Christ.

In Scripture, then, we have been offered the means to come to understand our God. Given that understanding, we have the further capability, in harmony with the manner of our creation, to accept this God in love.

We understand that Scripture is not the only means by which God communicates with mankind. Those of us who have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord enjoy the benefit of the indwelling Holy Spirit and the consequent counsel of God. Scripture itself, in fact, was developed out of that same counsel and guidance, albeit with special qualifications for those who were granted the honor of representing God through the written Word. We ourselves have no such qualifications upon us for the reading of that Scripture, except for the rather important criterion that we are unable to comprehend it without the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Conversely, given the fact that false spirits abound, we must turn to Scripture to verify that whatever spiritual blessing we have received actually came from the Holy Spirit. This matter alone dictates that we must be able to trust Scripture completely, and that, in turn, requires that Scripture be inerrant.

To deny Scripture this quality of inerrancy is equivalent to assessing our understanding of God to be unreliable. Furthermore, it claims in effect that God does not possess the ability to make Himself known to us with enough force to give substance to His commandments. How, then, would we feel compelled to love Him back?

Despite the importance of this situation regarding inerrancy, there are a host of skeptics who, while they may call themselves Christians, have managed to ignore this quality of Scripture. By attributing the source of Scripture not to God but to man, they have granted themselves the freedom to ignore those parts of Scripture that do not appeal to them. In giving man alone the credit for our Judeo-Christian Scripture, they have released themselves from what they consider to be bondage to it, in actuality maintaining their bondage to their unregenerate natures. Unfortunately, they have made God to be quite small in the process, as small as themselves, and remote and alien. Some of these scoffers of Scripture are self-proclaimed Scriptural authorities. Their god is not worthy of our love, because he is reducible to mere man.

Given the amount of information contained in Scripture and its profound depth, the reader of it inevitably will come across passages that apparently contradict others that he has already read. The believer will struggle with it, refusing to permit the contradiction to stand. In this endeavor he will be assisted greatly by the indwelling Holy Spirit until he achieves a resolution. But the resolution to the conflict will, of itself, furnish a large amount of information that, unless the believer had struggled to obtain it, would have remained entirely unknown. With a deeper, greatly enhanced picture of God resulting from his acquisition of this information, the believer has advanced toward becoming a committed believer. He has also acquired an appreciation for the truth of Scripture, which increases his faith that much more. Now, given his success with that effort, he won’t accept the notion of a contradiction when he comes to another and more serious or more difficult potential stumblingblock in Scripture, either from his continued reading or by some doubter. Again, he is rewarded with a yet deeper understanding of God and His Scripture, and so his process of growth into a mature and committed Christian continues ever upward.

Thus armed with depth of understanding, the committed Christian is equipped to fend off the many false teachers that inevitably will show up. The light of Christ in Scripture will illuminate and expose them for the evil creatures that they are. He becomes a valuable presence in his church, not as an example alone, but also because he can help his brothers and sisters turn over the rocks in their congregations and rid themselves of evil influences.

In opposition to what non-Christians and even some self-proclaimed Christians say about their differences, the Old and New Testaments provide one self-consistent representation of the Word of God. As the New Testament fulfills the Old, so does the Old flesh out the New. It is absolutely necessary, to fully understand either of the testaments, to understand both and how they complement each other to form the single Word, but it also takes wisdom and effort to reach that point of Christian maturity to appreciate that harmony shared by the two Testaments. One can catch a glimpse of the truth of that pronouncement merely by noting that the Scripture at the disposal of Jesus and Paul, among others who dealt with Scripture at those times, was the Old Testament. The entire Word is to be honored and treasured above all, for as a representation of Jesus it is a representation of God. And it is yet more than that: as a part of the Creative Act in which God moved upon generations of mankind in a cosmic drama to develop it, Scripture is an integral part of the Divine Word.

Jesus, in fact, thoroughly identified Himself with Scripture. In the Gospels Jesus explicitly points out this relationship, noting in many places His own fulfillment of Scriptural prophecy and of the spirit of the Word. In Matthew 5, for example, He equates His ministry with the fulfillment of Scripture:

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am come not to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, until all be fulfilled.”

Here Jesus, the Word of God, asserts without reservation that He Who represents Creation Itself is not only bound by the Word of Scripture, but is actually defined by it. Through Him, Scripture is an integral part of the Creative Word. It is alive. Like Jesus Himself, it is the image of God.

In the eighth chapter of John, Jesus links His nature as the Living Word of God directly with Scripture: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.”

Jesus is the living Word embodied in flesh. This intimacy between Word and flesh in Jesus pemits he who absorbs Scripture to partake of Jesus’ flesh. The Word, then, must of necessity represent truth, for otherwise it would be a shoddy representation of Jesus. Jesus, in describing Himself as the embodiment of truth, rejected the possibility of such a defect.

Since Scripture equates Jesus with Creation itself as well as with truth, it doesn’t make sense to think that Scripture is unable to get the facts of creation together without error. As we’ve noted, this is equivalent to calling Jesus a liar, for if Jesus cannot be both the embodiment of the Word and of truth if the Word is less than absolute. If the Word is not actually literal in a natural sense, the implied contradiction between Jesus and truth would be unresolvable, leaving us with a kind of “truth” that would be different than the creation He represents, which would make Jesus Himself different that who He claims to be. Beyond that necessity, any kind of errancy in Scripture would make the God of that scripture less than the omnipotent, omniscient Being that He is supposed to be.

A faith of substance, one that reaches beyond the superficial, must therefore demand an insistence upon the basic inerrancy of Scripture.

The committed Christian has an intimate understanding of this relationship between God and His Word in Scripture. The light of Christ that he shows inside his congregation at Church will extend out into the secular world as well. He is able to warn those to whom he has ties of the many falsehoods that exist within secular society. Some of these lies are connected with popularly-understood science, including evolution, the ages of various ages in earth’s history, the localization of Noah’s Flood, the source of geological formations. Other lies are connected with the massive social engineering that all the peoples of the world are currently being subjected to, including the necessity for government aid and interference in our everyday existence, the intolerance of socially-motivated tolerance, the rewriting of history, the introduction of socialist notions and other falsehoods introduced in our public school curricula, and the suppression of recent advances in science that expose evolution for the lie that it is. Armed with his knowledge and faith, the committed Christian is able to refute all such lies. Yet further, he is at peace with and reconciled to being in the world regardless of its state of decay, knowing that as the world darkens, the light of Christ radiating outward in his faith and in that of his brothers and sister in Christ will shine ever more brightly.

Upon reflecting on the notion of faith, the believer is drawn to the Book of Hebrews, where in the eleventh chapter he encounters the people before him whose God, through their faith, had fashioned lives of heroic stature. These men and women defined the meaning of real faith, the selfless kind with substance behind it that gave them character, grit, and, above all, nobility.

After he recounts the faith of individuals from Adam to Moses and what that faith had wrought, the writer of Hebrews makes a magnificent summation of the subject:

“And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edged of the sword; whose weakness was turned into strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put into prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated – the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”

To the Christian, faith is the beginning of courage. Faith provides the ability to hold firm in the trials that God inevitably brings upon him. Some of these battles might be against the Christian’s desires that are common to man but outside of the will of God; others may be danger which the Christian is called upon to confront. Yet others may be intellectual. Here, however, faith is a necessary requirement for a logical approach to understanding God, for to see God beyond a trivial understanding, the Holy Spirit must act as a companion to our gift of reason. To receive that Holy Companion, we must first accept the Word of God as inerrant and accessible to our hearts and minds.

[to be continued]

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