Thursday, June 22, 2017

Scripture: Inerrancy

Scripture: Inerrancy
    Inerrancy means that the Bible does not contain errors or contradictions. This applies only to the original autographs. Put simply, when God moved authors to write, they wrote what God willed them to write, and since the Lord is perfect and cannot ere, what was written originally was without error. The word of God is always true. The Bible is never false in anything it affirms, whether it be doctrine, ethics, or science (such as social, physical, or life science).
    Inerrancy extends only to the original manuscripts. Copies and copies of copies may contain errors because they were copied by fallible humans who make mistakes. These errors or inaccuracies are always minor. They are usually copying errors and do not change or affect doctrine or anything of importance. Other errors may be in translations. Words or phrases may be interpreted or translated incorrectly (the Latin Vulgate is an example of this).
    However, God in his providence has overseen thousands of copies and their transmission. What we have today, since the originals have been lost to time, is what God desires his church and children to possess. When manuscripts are compared to older manuscripts (which have less copyist errors because they are older and have been copied from copies closer to the original source), errors can be detected and corrected. It is believed that the copies of Scripture we possess today are 99% accurate in comparison to the originals. The more copies that are compared, the more errors are discovered. The more errors that are discovered, the more errors that can be fixed in order to get that much closer to the original manuscript.
    The Bible itself argues for inerrancy. In fact, inspiration requires inerrancy (2Tim. 3:16). If the word of God is breathed out by God, then it follows that since God is indeed perfect, his word is without mistakes or errors. Divine messages are absolutely true and trustworthy. But, what is false fails. God explained this through Moses in Deuteronomy.
    “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, 'Let us go after other gods,' which you have not known, 'and let us serve them,' you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.” (Deut. 13:1-5)
    “But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.' And if you say in your heart, 'How may we know the word that the LORD has not spoken?'- when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.” (Deut. 18:20-22)
    If what was said happened, it was from God. If the words failed, the prophet was false. The main thing to see is that God gave his people a way to test the message and messengers. This would not be possible if the words of God contained errors. Since they were given criteria to distinguish the true from the false, it follows that God's word is always true.
   The Bible is also authoritative which requires inerrancy. Matthew 5:17-20 and John 10:34-35 demonstrate that the law's authority hinges on the fact that it must be fulfilled. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:17-20)
    “Jesus answered them, 'Is it not written in your Law, 'I said, you are gods'? If he called them gods to whom the word of God came-and Scripture cannot be broken...'” (Jn. 10:34-35)
    Scripture cannot be broken and is, therefore, binding and authoritative. In order for something to be absolutely authoritative it cannot contain errors. The trustworthiness and inerrancy of Scripture derives from the character of God. God cannot lie, make mistakes, or communicate errors (Num. 23:19; 1Sam. 15:29; Tit. 1:2; Heb. 6:18). He is perfect.
    What cements the inerrancy of the word of God is 2 Timothy 3:16-17. “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 competent, equipped for every good work.” As was already discussed, the Scripture is exhaled or breathed out by a perfect God. He has given the church his word in order to equip her for good works that result in God being glorified. Also, the word of God is central to the life of the church. God's words are profitable. They teach, reprove, correct, and train. This would be impossible, however, if the word of God contained errors.
    Remember, God gave his church his word. It is to grow and glorify God by following his word. How would this be possible if his word contained errors? If it misled? If it taught something that was wrong? If it could not be trusted? The word of God is inspired, and as a result, the word of God is inerrant. Scripture can be trusted because our great God is trustworthy and able to communicate truthfully and accurately his will to his church.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Scripture: Inspiration

Scripture: Inspiration
     The word “inspiration” literally means “breathed out” or “exhaled.” The word of God, the Bible, is breathed out or exhaled by God. The inspiration of Scripture, therefore, is the supernatural influence by the Holy Spirit which resulted in the biblical writer's writings being trustworthy, authoritative, inerrant, and the very words of God. God is the author of Scripture. Scripture is the creation of God's creative breath. Yet mysteriously, he used fallen human beings to communicate and record his words.
     There are several theories of inspiration. The last of these is the classical view and is the most accurate and biblically sound. First, some believe that the Bible is not inspired as we have defined above, but only inspirational. The Bible is just like other books in that it inspires people. Second, some teach that the Bible is only partially inspired. The theological parts of Scripture are inspired, but not the scientific or historical. The Bible, then, is only a record of God's saving acts. It contains the words of God but is not the word of God. Obviously, this is flawed for many reasons. To mention only a few, if this was the case, who determines what is inspired and what is not? Can we even trust the Bible? Can we trust the God of this Bible if he cannot even give us an inspired word? Who determines what is the word of God from the words of man?
     A third theory is that the Bible is inspired without the use of human authors. This view is explained by insisting that the writers only wrote what was dictated to them. This is often called the mechanical dictation theory. This fails because the Bible is clearly written in the styles of the authors. The Spirit “carried along” the authors and used their backgrounds, words, experiences, gifts, and own styles to accurately record the word of God (2Pet. 1:21). There is no evidence of dictation; Scripture is the word of God written by living personalities, and those personalities come out and shine throughout Scripture. This is why the word of God is so amazing- God used sinful men to pen his word to sinful men!
     The fourth theory, and the most logical and biblical, is that the Bible is the divinely inspired word of God because he concurrently acted on and with human agents to produce the written words he desired. The authors were not mere robots or secretaries recording dictation. God sovereignly acted upon, guided, and carried along the authors in such a way that they wrote what God wanted them to write, but it was from them- their minds, hearts, personalities, etc. What this means is that God used men to pen his words, but because God is sovereign and providentially guides all history to his desired end, the authors wrote exactly what God wanted and only what God wanted. Yet, they were not infringed upon. God orchestrated this in such a way, that the authors were driven to write but they desired to write because their hearts overflowed with the glory of God, and hearts as these naturally obey and do the works of God because of his supernatural work within them.
     Is this indeed scriptural? Two passages will be quoted and briefly commented on to demonstrate the biblical teaching of inspiration. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness...” (2Tim. 3:16). This passage teaches that all Scripture is breathed out by God. Scripture, then, is inspired and is the very words of God. This means much more than the idea that the Bible inspires readers or the fact that the authors of Scripture were inspired. This verse shows that Scripture is inspired, Scripture is the word of God- all of it. The Bible is what God desires for man to possess. It is his word of redemption to fallen humanity.
     “For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, 'This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,' we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2Pet. 1:17-21).
    These verses teach that humans were instruments used by the Spirit to communicate God's word, but the origin of Scripture is God himself. Men were carried along by the Spirit. This means more than merely guiding and directing. The Spirit determined, constrained, and influenced the writers. The Spirit achieved this by using the human agent, as well as his style, personality, abilities, experiences, vocabulary, strengths, weaknesses, etc. The end result was the actualization of the divine initiative- the inspired word of God.
     The words of Scripture are God's words. Old Testament passages identify the Law and the messages of the prophets as God's words (1Kng. 22:8-16; Neh. 8; Ps. 119; Jer. 25:1-13, 36). The New Testament views the Old Testament as the very oracles of God, prophetic, and written by men carried along by the Spirit (Rom. 3:2, 16:26; 2Pet. 1:21). Christ and the Apostles quoted Old Testament passages not merely as what men said, but as what God said (Mk. 7:6, 12:36; Rom. 10:5, 20, 11:9; Acts 4:25, 28:25). And, Old Testament statements that were not made directly by God are quoted in the New Testament as God's words (Matt. 19:4; Heb. 3:7; Acts 13:34, citing Gen. 2:24; Ps. 95:7; Is. 55:2).
     Scripture, therefore, is the inspired word of God. As such, it is profitable. Believers need to hear the word of God proclaimed and taught, read it themselves, know it, memorize it, treasure it, pray it, believe it, follow it, and praise God for it. It is the word of God that sanctifies us, equips us to do the works of God, convicts us when we sin, guides us, soothes us, comforts us, corrects us, and penetrates our souls with the very words of our great God. God gave us his word. We have the privilege of reading of his glory and grace, his salvation, his plan of redemption, but most of all- Him. We get to read about God!