Can Scripture Be Trusted?

For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.” 1 Thessalonians 2:13 (NKJV)

Yesterday I talked about the divine inspiration of Scriptures. In this, we saw that the inspiration of Scripture means that God worked through human authors to produce the exact written message He wanted while using their distinct personalities. This means that Scripture is not a mere book of human origin, but it is the very Word of God. Since inspiration starts with God and not with man there are several implications of this that we need to understand. We saw yesterday that the first implication is that what Scripture says God says. Today we’ll look at a second implication of inspiration starting with God.

Scripture is without error.

The theological term for Scripture being without error is inerrancy. When applied to Scripture, inerrancy means it is without error and is wholly true. When we say that the Bible is inerrant, we are saying that it is totally without error in all it teaches or implies, including history and science. The inerrancy of Scripture means that Scripture does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact. The Bible always tells us the truth concerning everything it talks about. This doesn’t mean that the Bible tells us every fact there is to know about every subject. However, inerrancy does affirm that whatever the Bible says about any subject is true.

This certainly is the testimony of Scripture itself. “The words of the LORD are pure words, Like silver tried in a furnace of earth, Purified seven times.” Psalm 12:6 (NKJV) This testifies to the absolute reliability and purity of God’s Word. Proverbs tells us that “Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.” Proverbs 30:5 (NKJV) Once again this testifies to us the truthfulness of every word that God has spoken.

While error and partial falsehood may characterize the words of man, it is the characteristic of God’s Words that even when they are spoken through sinful man it is never false and it never affirms error. How can we possibly say that God’s Word contains no errors? We can say that because of the character and nature of the God who inspired the authors to write these words. The inerrancy of Scripture flows out of the fact that God is the ultimate author of Scripture. Consider the following.

God knows all things. One of the things about God that Christians affirm is that God is omniscient or that He is all knowing. “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable.” Isaiah 40:28 (NKJV) “Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.” Psalm 147:5 (NKJV)

Just as there is no end to God’s power and greatness, there is no end to His understanding and knowledge. This means that God can speak authoritatively and accurately on any subject from history to science to theology. Since all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, then all Scripture must be as factually accurate as God is.

God cannot lie. in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began,” Titus 1:2 (NKJV) When this passage says that God cannot lie, it could very literally be translated as the “unlying God”. In Hebrews 6:18, we are told that it is impossible for God to lie. Since God cannot tell a lie, His words can always be trusted. Since all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, then all Scripture must be as unlying as God is.

When inerrancy is denied, we are left to wonder if God can be trusted in anything He says. Once we convince ourselves, or are convinced, that God has spoken falsely in some areas in Scripture, then we will eventually begin to wonder if God has spoken truthfully in any areas of Scripture. What this will lead to is our picking and choosing what parts of Scripture we want to obey and take seriously. If God spoke falsely about when Joshua and the Israelites conquered Jericho, who is to say He didn’t speak falsely about sexual purity. If God hasn’t spoken truthfully about matters of history and morality, then who is to say He has spoken truthfully or accurately about the need for faith in Christ? The end of this line of thought and this way of living is nothing short of the total destruction of our commitment to Christ and likely our faith in God.

When inerrancy is denied, we make our own minds the highest standard for truth instead of God’s Word. When our limited human minds pass judgment on parts of God’s Word as errors then we are basically saying that we know more than God’s Word does. Since the Bible is the Word of God, we are actually saying that we know more than God does.

If God knows everything, cannot lie and the Bible is His Word, then we must conclude that it is without error. For the Bible to have an error would mean that God either made a mistake or deliberately lied to the prophets and apostles. We must understand that a denial of inerrancy is an attack on the character and nature of God.

Scripture is the ultimate standard for truth. In John 17 Jesus prays to the Father, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” John 17:17 (NKJV) According to theologian Wayne Grudem, this verse is interesting because of the wording that Jesus uses. Jesus chooses not to use a word that simply means “true” but instead to use a word that means “truth”. According to Grudem this means that Jesus wasn’t merely saying, “…Your word is true.” Rather, he uses a noun…to say that God’s Word is not simply “true,” but it is truth itself.” [1]

The conclusion Grudem draws from this is that we are not simply to think of Scripture as being true because it conforms to some higher standard of truth. Rather we are to see Scripture itself as the ultimate standard for truth. According to Grudem this means, “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 then is truth? Truth is what God says, and we have what God says (accurately but not exhaustively) in the Bible.[2]

There are some in our day who object to the teaching about the inerrancy of Scripture. They argue that even if the doctrine of inerrancy is true, its importance is overestimated and it should not be considered a primary doctrine of Scripture. However, everything we know about God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Gospel, redemption, eternity and any other doctrine of the Christian faith come from Scripture. Since Scripture is the basis of all other doctrines, then the inerrancy of Scripture must be considered a primary doctrine of the Christian faith.

Heavenly Father, give us the grace to trust the absolute reliability of Your Word. Let this trust in Your Word inspire us to read Your Word, to love Your Word and to be strengthened through Your Word. Amen


[1] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine

[2] Ibid

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