Biblical Inerrancy: The Evidence-Part 2
|By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©2004|
|What does the Bible itself teach about its inerrancy? In this article you will read that the Old Testament teaches inerrancy; the New Testament teaches inerrancy; and Jesus Himself vouched for the inerrancy of the Bible!|
- 1 The Strength of Inerrancy from the Revelation of God: the Biblical Teaching on Inerrancy
- 1.1 I. The Old Testament
- 1.2 II. Jesus Christ and the Gospels
- 1.3 III. The Rest of the New Testament
- 2 Notes
The Strength of Inerrancy from the Revelation of God: the Biblical Teaching on Inerrancy
In this important section we will briefly show the following:
- the inspired Old Testament teaches inerrancy,
- Jesus Himself, God’s own Son, teaches inerrancy in the Gospels,
- the rest of the inspired New Testament teaches inerrancy, and
- in confirmation we will observe that the Church recognized this biblical attestation and taught inerrancy for eighteen centuries until the rise of rationalism and higher criticism corrupted the church from within.
The burden of proof is upon those who assert the Bible does not teach inerrancy to prove their thesis. This they have not done.
Thus, in this section we will briefly examine the Bible’s testimony to its own inspiration and inerrancy.
Clark Pinnock observes that, “In every defense of biblical inerrancy it is maintained that the notion is scriptural, that is, a concept taught by Jesus and the apostles…[but] we are forced to ask whether it is really scriptural or simply an inference drawn by godly minds.” The answer to this question should be decided by every believer on the basis of Scripture and nothing else. God, of course, not man, is the most competent authority on His own revelation. In brief fashion we will cite relevant Scriptures (NASB) under specific categories to show that the Bible does indeed teach inerrancy. The declarations of each category directly or indirectly imply or teach inerrancy. The implications of such a conclusion virtually force us to adopt a belief in inerrancy. For example, if God’s Word is errant and eternal, then it is eternally in error.
I. The Old Testament
- Isa. 40:8—The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.
- Ps. 119:89—Forever, O Lord, Thy word is settled in heaven.
- Ps. 138:2—I will bow down toward Thy holy temple, and give thanks to Thy name for Thy lovingkindness and Thy truth; For Thou has magnified Thy word according to all Thy name.
B. Perfect and Trustworthy
- Prov. 30:5, 6—Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words, lest He reprove you, and you be proved a liar.
- Ps. 12:6—The words of the Lord are pure words; as silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times.
- Ps. 18:30—As for God, His way is blameless; the word of the Lord is tried; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.
- Ps. 19:7, 9—The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul… The judgments of the Lord are true, they are righteous altogether.
- Ps. 119:43, 142, 151, 160—The word of truth… Thy law is truth… all Thy commandments are truth… the sum of Thy word is truth and every one of Thy righteous ordinances is everlasting.
D. Holy and Righteous
- Ps. 105:42—For He remembered His holy word with Abraham His servant.
- Ps. 119:123—My eyes fail with longing for Thy salvation and for Thy righteous word.
- Ps. 119:140—Thy word is very pure, therefore Thy servant loves it.
- Jer. 33:14—…I will fulfill the good word which I have spoken….
F. Vital and Verbal
- Isa. 59:21—“And as for Me, this is My covenant with them,” says the Lord. “My Spirit which is upon you and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring” says the Lord, “from now and forever.”
II. Jesus Christ and the Gospels
- Matt. 24:35—Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away.
- Matt. 5:18—For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished.
- John 5:47—But if you do not believe his [Moses] writings, how will you believe My words?
- John 10:35—…the Scripture cannot be broken….
- John 12:49-50—For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me commandment, what to say, and what to speak. And I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told me.
- John 17:8—…the words which Thou gavest Me, I have given them….
- Luke 16:17—But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail.
- John 17:17—Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is Truth.
- John 7:16—My teaching is not Mine but His who sent Me. (cf. 12:49-50)
E. Vital and Verbal
- Matt 4:4—But he answered and said, “It is written, Man shall not live on bread alone but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”
III. The Rest of the New Testament
- 1 Pet. 1:25—But the Word of the Lord abides forever and this is the word which was preached to you.
- 2 Tim. 3:16-17—All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
- 2 Peter 1:21—…no prophecy [of Scripture] was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
- 2 Peter 3:2; 15-16—I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles…. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. [This shows the inspiration of the New Testament.]
C. Living and Active
- Heb. 4:12—…for the word of God is living and active… (cf. Acts 7:38)
- 1 Peter 1:23—…for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable, but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God.
- 2 Tim. 2:15—Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.
E. Not Human
- 1 Thess. 2:13—And for this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received from us the word of God’s message, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.
- 1 Thess. 4:8—…he who rejects this [instruction] is not rejecting man, but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.
- 2 Tim. 3:15—…from childhood you have known the sacred writings…
G. Vital and Verbal
- Rev. 22:18-19—I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book; if anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the prophecy of this book, God shall take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city which are written in this book.
- 1 Cor. 2:12-13—Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God,… in those [words] taught by the Spirit (See v. 14)
- Rom. 3:2—…they have been entrusted with the very words (Gk: logia) of God. (Rom. 3:2 NIV)
Collectively taken, we think the above verses teach the doctrine of inerrancy. In fact, we can’t see the possibility of any other conclusion.
Although a great deal could be said about each of the above listed Scriptures (and there are scores of others), let us simply ask some plain questions of them. Is it proper to call errant writings “holy”? How is inspiration divine if it merely guarantees the presence of truth and error—is it not then human, and, like every other book, to be treated like every other book? If we answer “no” by appealing to its unique theological content, how do we know such content is true? If God’s Word is eternal, are we content with a certain amount of eternal error? What did God mean when He called His word “perfect,” “true,” “righteous,” “good,” “trustworthy,” and “pure?” Is perfection really imperfection or truth really error or good really the not good or the trustworthy in fact the doubtful or the pure actually impure? E. J. Young observes:
- God has revealed to us His word. What are we to think of Him if this Word is glutted with little annoying inaccuracies? Why could not the omnipotent and omniscient God have taken the trouble to give us a Word that was free from error? Was it not a somewhat discourteous thing for Him to have breathed forth from His mouth a message filled with mistakes? Of course, it was discourteous, it was down-right rude and insulting. The present writer finds it difficult to have much respect for such a God. Does He expect us to worship Him? What kind of a God is He if He has given such an untrustworthy Word to mankind? And this brings us to the heart of the matter. The Scriptures claim to be breathed forth from His mouth, if they partake of error, must not He Himself also partake thereof?
He, of course, tells us that His Word is pure. If there are mistakes in that Word, however, we know better; it is not pure. He tells us that His judgments are righteous, but we know better; as a matter of fact, His judgments are mixed with error. He declares that His law is the truth. His law contains the truth, let us grant Him that, but we know that it contains error. If the autographs of Scripture are marred by flecks of mistake, God simply has not told us the truth concerning His Word. To assume that He could breathe forth a Word that contained mistakes is to say, in effect, that God Himself can make mistakes. We must maintain that the original of Scripture is infallible for the simple reason that it came to us directly from God Himself.
As the great London preacher Charles Spurgeon once stated, “This is the book untainted by any error, but is pure, unalloyed, perfect truth. Why? Because God wrote it. Ah! Charge God with error if you please; tell Him that His book is not what it ought to be….”
- See Feinberg’s comments on the exegetical evidence for inerrancy based on five scriptural phenomena in Norman Geisler (ed.), Inerrancy, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1980), pp. 276-287.We may observe here that several excellent texts may be consulted on biblical inspiration and inerrancy: Rene Pache, The Inspiration and Authority of Scripture (Moody); Norman Geisler (ed.), Inerrancy (Zondervan; Carl Henry (ed.), Revelation and the Bible (Baker); Gordon Lewis and Bruce Demarest, Challenges to Inerrancy (Moody); Clark Pinnock, Biblical Revelation (Moody); John Warwick Montgomery, God’s Inerrant Word (Bethany); Geisler and Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible (Moody); R. L. Harris, Inspiration and Canonicity of the Bible (Zondervan); L. Gaussen, Divine Inspiration of the Bible (Kregel); E. J. Young, Thy Word Is Truth (Eerdmans); Merrill Tenney (ed.), The Bible: The Living Word of Revelation (Zondervan).
- Clark Pinnock, “Three Views of the Bible in Contemporary Theology” in Jack Rogers (ed.) Biblical Authority (Waco, TX: Word, 1978), p. 63.
- Cf. the discussion in Geisler (ed.) Inerrancy, pp. 45-45, 277-282, as to why “all” is the best translation, not “every”; cf., H. Wayne House, “Biblical Inspiration in 2 Timothy 3:16” in Roy B. Zuck, (gen. ed.), Vital Apologetic Issues (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1995).
- Edward J. Young, Thy Word Is Truth (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1970), pp. 86-87.
- Harold Lindsell, The Battle for the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishers, 1977), p. 67.