This is the fourth post in a series on the Word of God, and today we will be looking at inerrancy. By the word inerrancy we mean the Bible is without error. This point is contested, of course, because the Bible is written by man through thousands of years of transference. However, we must also realize that though the Bible was written by men and carried through the generations, the Bible is also inspired by God, which means He preserves His Word; see What Is Most Important? Part 3.
In Mike Wittmer’s book, Don’t Stop Believing, he has a chapter devoted to the defense of biblical inerrancy against post-modern theology and other forms of doubt, and this is what he writes:
Inerrancy does not mean that Scripture will address all of our contemporary concerns or answer every question we put to it. It simply means that when properly understood within its own genre and purpose, each passage of Scripture speaks the truth about whatever it affirms (pg 157).
Inerrancy, in the simplest definition, goes like this: Scripture is true in whatever it affirms. An objection to this may be cropping up in your mind, “So the human authors knew God correctly and had perfect doctrine and beliefs?” The answer is no. The human authors of Scripture were indeed sinners and certainly held impure notions of God and His creation, but “inerrancy reminds us that the Holy Spirit prevented these mistaken views from entering Scripture. He wrote the words of Scripture with and through the human authors so that they included only what is true” (Don’t Stop Believing, 158).
This means that the Bible does not act like a history book, or a modern news report. Everything in Scripture is written with purpose, not merely a transference of facts. When Joshua reported that the sun stood still, Joshua 10.12-14, we do not write this off as ancient superstition about astronomy, but rather, when Joshua looked up as they pursued their enemies the sun did not move because God answered his prayer. When we read the story of Jonah we do not call it “A Whale of a Tale,” but rather it is the true story of the real, historical prophet named Jonah (see 2 Kings 14.25, Jonah 1-4, Matthew 12.39-40) that fled from God, was brought to Nineveh by a great fish, and there he preached repentance. As some begin to doubt the veracity of Scripture’s claims, I would ask: How big is your God? My God, the Creator of the sun, moon, stars, and planets can hold the sun still by the power of His word, just as He brought it into existence (Genesis 1.14-19). My God can control the great fish of the ocean and sustain life to Jonah in it’s belly, because He is the Giver of life and Creator of all things.
Having the correct assumption that the Word is from God, we can begin to see that it is inerrant. Think of the characteristics of God. He is omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), omnipresent (ever-present). God is also truth. God is holy. God is love. God is good. Put some of these together, God is omnipotent truth. God is omniscient love, and so on. If we believe this about God, and we believe the Word of God to be His, then it follows that His Word will bear His truth. If God is all of the attributes listed, then He certainly has the power to keep His revelation free from error.
Once again, I feel as though I should quote Wittmer. He writes:
We believe that Scripture is inerrant not because we need to prop up our foundation with indubitable certainty but because we believe that the Bible is the Word of God. Expressed as a syllogism, we believe the following:
Major premise: The Word of God is without error.
Minor premise: The Bible is the Word of God.
Conclusion: Therefore the Bible is without error. (pg 155)
Read the Bible, daily, with confidence that it is inspired and inerrant.
“This reminds us that the Bible is much more than a true book. Many books are true…but only one is the Word of God. As such, Scripture is far more than a storehouse of facts about God and the world. It is the living Word that uses its higher categories of command, promise, prayer, and praise to create and nourish our life with God” (Don’ Stop Believing, 159).
These two doctrines, inspiration and inerrancy, are the bedrock of our trust in God’s Word. Think about the Bible if it were not inspired or inerrant…what would this passage mean if it were not backed by the Holy Spirit’s preserving power and the authority of our Father in heaven?
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:35-40
If we do not hold to the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture, I fear we will doubt our salvation and trust in our own works to bring about redemption borne from fear. However, if we trust God’s Word to be from Him, we can have the solid assurance that the words recorded are true and certain, that Jesus is the bread of life, that Jesus came from heaven to do the will of his Father, that Jesus stands victoriously as the slaughtered Lamb and whosoever looks upon him will be held tightly by the omnipotent grip of the Father and will be raised up in power on the last day to everlasting life.