The Inerrant Word

Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me shall not perish but will have eternal life.” (from John 3:16)

What exactly does it mean when we say we believe in Jesus? Very simply, it means we trust the Bible and what it has to say about who Jesus Christ is. We call it faith and that kind of faith requires complete trust on the part of a professing Christian. And in turn, it also means that we believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. What does inerrant mean? It means that the Bible contains no errors, no inconsistencies, and that it does not contradict itself, ever! There can be no middle ground there.

As we all know, the world is full of people who don’t believe in God the Father or God the Son Jesus Christ. They dismiss the Bible as a work of fiction, which is to be expected from unbelievers. All we can do for them is pray for them and continue sharing the gospel with them with the hope that it will eventually lead to their salvation.

Then there are those who believe that God is real, that He does exist, yet they choose to live apart from God. They have no desire to follow Christ, preferring instead to live for themselves and to live as the world around them lives. While they acknowledge that there is a God in a place called heaven, many people in this group still have a hard time accepting that the Bible is inerrant. And perhaps that’s why they remain unsaved in spite of their belief in the living God of heaven.

There’s another group of people who claim that the Bible contains errors and contradictions and inconsistencies, and this will probably come as a surprise when I tellyou who they are: They’re Christians; they’re fellow believers. While they profess their faith in Jesus Christ, somewhere along the way they came to believe that the Bible does contain errors. There’s a huge problem with that kind of thinking. If only part of the Bible is true, then you would have to question the accuracy and validity of every single passage of scripture. First of all, how would we know what parts of the Bible are true and what parts aren’t? And second, who gets to say which passages contain errors and which ones don’t? Who gets to make that call?

A mature Christian will ask how it is that someone can profess to be a follower of Christ while insisting that the Bible contains errors. I think it happens very easily when mature Christians fail to properly disciple young people and new believers. As a result, younger Christians become susceptible to the world’s arguments against Bible inerrancy. One of the arguments we hear all the time is that, even though the Bible is the inspired word of God, it contains errors because of the human scribes who put pen to parchment. The human authors had to have made mistakes, so the arguments go. Really? Let’s take a look at that argument through the filter of scripture and what we know about God.

First, let’s look to Hebrews chapter 6, verses 17 and 18: So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.

God created the heavens and the earth, and everything in them. How is it then, that a God who’s so powerful that He simply willed the universe into existence is not able to overcome the error of a simple human scribe who made a mistake while copying scripture? Actually, that was no problem for God at all. If a scribe made an error while copying a manuscript, God saw to it that there were thousands and thousands of other manuscripts to compare it to so that the error could be revealed. How do we know this? When the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, they pre-dated all other existing manuscripts by a thousand years, yet they matched those other manuscripts………word for word. To say that God is unable or unwilling to give us His word free of errors and contradictions is to say that God is willing to tolerate error and contradictions, that He’s okay with inaccurate information and teachings in His Bible. In effect, that would make Him out to be a liar. But as we see in Scripture, it is impossible for God to lie. So that’s one way we know that scripture is inerrant. It was given to us by a Holy God who by His very nature cannot lie. He could never allow His word to contain errors.

Also, we can be assured of the inerrancy of scripture because of when it was written. In Psalm 119, verse 89, the Bible says:

Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.

That passage could also be translated from the original Hebrew to read: Forever, O LORD, Your word is fixed in Heaven….or….Your word is established in Heaven. As W.A. Criswell once explained: “What the divine, inspired psalmist is saying, that before the Word was delivered inerrant, the Word existed in heaven; and that (our Bibles) are but a copy of what God has written in heaven.” God’s word existed BEFORE creation, otherwise the psalmist could not have said it is “forever established in Heaven”. Here’s another point to consider: Since we know it’s God’s desire that no one should be lost, why then would He allow His word, His saving word that’s written perfectly somewhere in Heaven, to be recorded here on earth with errors and contradictions? How could that even be possible?

Not only does God never lie, He is also unchanging. The Bible assures of this truth in that very familiar passage in Hebrews 13: Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Since God is unchanging, His word is also unchanged. It is without error in Heaven, and it is without error here on earth. Not only did He give ancient scribes thousands of manuscripts for comparison so they could get it right, God also gave us more than adequate linguistic skills so we could make accurate translations. And if a debate does arise over the translation of a particular word or phrase, linguists only need to go to the original Greek and Hebrew languages for clarification. When the Holy Spirit was given at Pentecost, people were able to hear the Gospel in their own languages, effectively undoing the confusion of languages that had come about because of the Tower of Babel. God made certain His word would be understood no matter what language it’s preached or written in.

God is also eternal. To the best of our understanding, that means He is immortal. He has always existed, and so too has His word.

1 Peter 1

Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because

“All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, But the word of the Lord endures forever.”

Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.

Peter quoted Isaiah 40 verse 8, a passage that was written more than 700 years before Jesus was born. Forever not only extends forward to the future, it also extends backwards to the past. God’s word has always endured, and it always will.

Here’s another question: Who would be foolish enough to follow the instructions in a poorly written manual full of mistakes? Whether assembling a bicycle or working on a complex piece of machinery, you need well written, accurate, and reliable instructions if you want the job done right. Paul wrote in his second letter to the young pastor Timothy: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” As Dr. Criswell once noted, God does not have bad breath! If the Bible contained errors, there’s no way Paul’s statement to Timothy could be true. The two key words in that passage are “All Scripture…”; not some of it, not part of it. Whether God gave His word directly and told the human author “Write these words down.” (as He did to men like Moses), or whether it’s inspired like most of the New Testament, ALL MEANS ALL!!!!

I will simply say this in closing: No body of work, even our own Bible, could ever endure if it contained errors. Sooner or later, the errors would be exposed, the inconsistencies and contradictions would cause the entire body of work to unravel, and it would be completely discredited. Yet, this Book, God’s Holy Bible, has stood the test of time. And it still stands today as the authoritative Word of God!