The Inspiration and Inerrancy of Scripture
The Truth of the Bible and Inerrancy
© Ron Jones, D.D., Titus Institute
Scripture quotations are from the ESV Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version), © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
We are in a series entitled The Inspiration and Inerrancy of Scripture.
In this series we are answering the question, "Is the Bible inspired by God and therefore inerrant, that is, true in all that it affirms?" Last week, we looked at the Inspiration of Scripture.The next three weeks, we are going to look at the inerrancy of Scripture.
We will answer the questions: Is the Bible inerrant, that is, true and without error in all that it affirms about any subject? Or is the Bible true and without error in most of what it affirms except for some minor historical and scientific errors? Or is the Bible true and without error only in the spiritual truths that it teaches, that is, only what it affirms in regard to faith and practice?
How do we as Christians know which view is right?
We know by following what Jesus and his apostles taught about the truthfulness of the Bible.
As Christians we believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that his apostles were appointed by him to teach the truth by the power of the Holy Spirit and all that they taught is true and authoritative. We came to faith in Jesus Christ, then we asked ourselves, "what did Jesus and his apostles believe about the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture?"
In this series, we are looking at four points:
W1 The Inspiration of the Bible and Inerrancy W2 The Truth of the Bible and Inerrancy W3 The Historical Statements of the Bible and Inerrancy W4 The Scientific Statements of the Bible and Inerrancy
We are going to base what we learn about these areas on what Jesus and his apostles taught.
Last week we looked at W1 The Inspiration of the Bible and Inerrancy
1. All of the Bible is inspired by God and is the Word of God.
This was taught from Paul's important statement in 2 Timothy 3:16.
We saw that the Paul said that all Scripture was "God-breathed or breathed out by God" which we saw was an ancient expression for words that came out of one's mouth. So it means all Scripture is the Word of God.
This is the essence of the doctrine of inspiration.
We also saw that the Holy Spirit was the divine agent of inspiration. He guided the prophets of the OT and the apostles of the NT to write the Word of God.
This morning we come to point #2.
W2 The Truth of the Bible and Inerrancy
Does Inspiration of all the Scripture mean that all the Scriptures are true?
This is how the Bible teaches the inerrancy of Scripture:
All of the Bible is the Word of God. All of the Word of God is true. Therefore all of the Bible is true.
This is important and must be accepted a priori. It is impossible to look at every verse of the Bible and every possible error and work through every apparent contradiction before we can affirm inspiration and inerrancy. There is so much historical information we do not know and cannot know that it is impossible to do that. God does not desire that we do that. He desires that we accept what he says about his Word and that is what we are to do.
This morning we come to the truthfulness of Scripture.Inerrancy is just a modern word for the "truthfulness" of Scripture.
Definition of the Inerrancy, the Truthfulness of Scripture:
"Inerrancy means that the Scriptures in the original autographs when properly interpreted are true in everything that they affirm not only concerning spiritual and moral truth but concerning people, places, events, and physical phenomena."
I use the words "original autographs" to remind us that the inspired word of God was what was originally written down by the Biblical authors. This "original text of words" can be copied a thousand times and those words are still the original inspired text written down on a papyrus roll or codex or whatever.
The copies we have of the original text are very accurate.
This brings us to our second main point in this series.
2. All of the Word of God is true.
Turn to John 17. We'll start with v.15 to get the context.
John is praying to the Father for his disciples.
John 17:17 (Read v.15 and 16) Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
Like Paul who used the singular "Scripture"Jesus uses the singular "Word."
Jesus asks the Father to make his disciples holy according to the truth. Then he gives how that will happen. It is through the Word of God ("Your Word") because his Word is the truth.
v.17 "Word" is singular because it takes the whole Word of God as one unit, as a whole.
Just like the singular of "Scripture" in 2 Timothy 3:16 = the whole word
Jesus doesn't say that the Word is true, but that the Word is truth. The noun truth describes the nature of the Word of God. It is a stronger statement. It is true because it is by its very nature truth. It defines truth. The difference is significant, for this statement encourages us to think of the Bible not simply as being "true" in the sense that it conforms to some higher standard of truth, but rather to think of the Bible as being itself the final standard of truth. The Bible is God's Word, and God's Word is the ultimate definition of what is true and what is not true: God's Word is itself truth. Thus we are to think of the Bible as the ultimate standard of truth, the reference point by which every other claim to truthfulness is to be measured. Those assertions that conform with Scripture are "true" while those that do not conform with Scripture are not "true."
What does Jesus refer to when he says "Your Word"?
When Jesus referred to God's word he was referring to the Old Testament, the revelation he himself taught, and the words of the apostles who would teach in the future.
Last week, we saw that
Jesus declared that the OT is the Word of God.
We saw this last time.
Jesus quoted the book of Exodus which is the written record of what Moses said and he called it the Word (logos) of God.
Jesus not only taught that the OT was the Word of God, but also his words.
Jesus declared that his words were God's Word (from God the Father).
Jesus speaks the Word of God.
John 14:10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.
John 14:24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.
Jesus speaks the Father's Word. Jesus speaks the Word of God.
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Jesus is the Word of God. He is the revealer of the Father.
Jesus declared that he gave his disciples his Word, the Word of God.
John 17:14 Jesus gave his disciples the Word of God "I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world."
John 17:20 The disciples will take the Word of God to the world "I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word."
Jesus gave the Word of the Father to his apostles and they will take that Word to the world.
Jesus also says he gave the Holy Spirit to the apostles to understand and teach the truth and thus communicate the Word of God which is truth.
John 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
Jesus gives his apostles a promise that the Holy Spirit will come upon them and that he will do two things: 1) teach them all things (about Jesus that they need to know to fulfill their mission) 2) bring to their remembrance all that Jesus said
John 16:13-15 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
v.13 "hears" - the Spirit hears the words (revelation) of the Father which is Jesus' words (revelation) and will give it to the apostles
This is a promise only for the apostles. v.13 "Spirit of Truth will guide you into all the truth"
This promise can only refer to the apostles and not Christians in general because only the apostles heard Jesus and could remember what he said.
This promise is the basis of the inspiration of the NT.
Father's truth ? Son's truth ? Holy Spirit's truth ? Apostle's truth? NT
All the books in the NT were written by an apostle or a close associate of an apostle and that is why they were included in the NT.
It is also the basis of our faith in Christ.
3. All of the Word of God is true because God is truthful so his Word must be truthful.
God it truthful by his very nature and cannot lie or speak falsely. Therefore, his Words must be true also.
Titus 1:2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began
Titus 1:2 speaks of "God, who never lies," or (more literally translated), "the unlying God." Because God is a God who cannot speak a "lie," his words can always be trusted. Since all of Scripture is spoken by God, all of Scripture must be "unlying," just as God himself is: there can be no untruthfulness in Scripture.
Hebrews 6:18 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.
Hebrews 6:18 mentions two unchangeable things (God's oath and his promise) "in which it is impossible for God to lie." Here the author says not merely that God does not lie, but that it is not possible for him to lie.
Although the immediate reference is only to oaths and promises, if it is impossible for God to lie in these utterances, then certainly it is impossible for him ever to lie (for Jesus harshly rebukes those who tell the truth only when under oath: Matt. 5:33-37; 23:16-22).
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.
Therefore All the Words in Scripture Are Completely True and Without Error in Any Part.
4. All of the Word of God is true because God declares it to be true through his servants, the prophets.
All Scripture is declared by God to be his Word, therefore these words are specifically about the OT and generally about the NT.
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.
Psalm 19:9 the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.
Psalm 119:42-43 then shall I have an answer for him who taunts me, for I trust in your word. And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, for my hope is in your rules.
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 Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
5. All of the Word of God is true because Jesus declares that it cannot be broken, but must be fulfilled.
John 10:35 If he called them gods to whom the word of God came "and Scripture cannot be broken"
Scripture as a whole, the Word of God, cannot be broken means that the Scripture cannot be annulled or set aside or proved false (cf. Mk. 7:13). (D.A. Carson, Commentary).
Matthew 5:17-18 17 "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. 18 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."
Fulfill = accomplish spiritually and eternally what the OT pictures physically or ceremonially or accomplish what the OT predicts about the future
Luke 24:24 Then he said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled."
6. Science, history and theology are intertwined in the Bible and cannot be separated and the Bible makes no distinction between them in defining what is the Word of God.
I am just going to mention this as we will talk about this in our next session.
Noel Weeks, Professor in Classics and Ancient History at the University of Sydney in Australia, states, "There has been something of a tendency in theology to divorce physical aspects of the biblical picture from historical ones. Thus, creation and the physical questions connected to it are seen as divorced from historical questions and the involvement of God in acts of redemption. Scripture itself does not make that distinction."(Weeks, Noel K., Biblical Studies: Cosmology in Context, WIJ68 (2006): 293)
Vern Poythress, Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary, writes, "Science, particularly science that researches the past, cannot be rigidly isolated from history, and history cannot be rigidly isolated from the theological teaching found in the Bible. God works in history; the work of Christ took place in history; and the Bible indicates that it is important to maintain that this is so (1 Cor 15:1-28). The Bible in its teaching about the word of God makes no distinction as to when it can be trusted, and does not indicate that its trustworthiness is confined to one sphere." (Poythress, Vern, Three Modern Myths in Interpreting Genesis, WTJ 76 (2014): 348-349)
Five Concepts that Inerrancy Includes
This definition focuses on the question of truthfulness and falsehood in the language of Scripture. The definition in simple terms just means that the Bible always tells the truth and that it always tells the truth concerning everything it talks about.
1. The Bible can be inerrant and not contain everything there is to know about any one subject, but it affirms that what it does say about any subject is true. Notice, the Bible is true in everything it affirms to be true.
2. The Bible can be inerrant and record false statements by human beings, but not by God.The Bible sometimes accurately records false statements of people.
3. The Bible Can Be Inerrant and Still Speak in the Ordinary Language of Everyday Speech.
Scientific Phenomenological Language This is especially true in "scientific" or "historical" descriptions of facts or events. The Bible can speak of the sun rising because from the perspective of the speaker this is exactly what happens.
Is the Bible inerrant, that is, true in everything that it affirms not only concerning spiritual and moral truth but concerning people, places, events, and physical phenomena.?
Jesus and the apostles taught that:
All of the Bible is the Word of God. All of the Word of God is true. Therefore all of the Bible is true.