(The Rev. Dr. Curtis Crenshaw, Th.D.)
In this day when some churches are turning away from the Bible, it is refreshing to know that many are not. Those who reject the Bible as God’s revelation of Himself to us must have a new concept of God. And where do they get this standard? They must invent it. Often I hear these people say God is like . . ., and they rattle off something. But how do they know God is like whatever they say? And how can we know the details of what God is like unless He tells us? Indeed, how can we know anyone unless that person reveals himself or herself to us?
Many years ago I worked at an investment and insurance firm while I was helping to start a church. The man who hired me claimed to be a Christian, knew the language of Christians, and could pray quite well. (He prayed in order to prey on Christians.) After a short period, I discovered that he was a con man, selling faulty investments to those he could deceive. I and others thought we knew him, but he had not revealed his true self. Likewise, we cannot dream up concepts of God, and say what He is like, for that would be creating a god after our own image. The only way we can know Him is if He reveals Himself to us, and the Bible makes that claim hundreds of times. Of course, in theory the Bible could be wrong in its claim—but that is way beyond this article—but at least we must see that the Church has also presented the Bible as God’s revelation for 2,000 years, and it has challenged anyone to show its errors.
Then there are those who say the Bible is only infallible in theological matters but not in history, science, and so forth. But like those who invent a concept of god, these people transfer infallibility to themselves, for they assume that they can infallibly discern which portions of the Bible are infallible and which are not. In other words, infallibility does not go away; it only gets moved around.
And what does the Bible say about itself? There are two passages in particular that are key in the Bible’s presentation of inspiration. First, is 2 Peter 1:20-21:
20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
There are several points here. Peter is emphatic that God is the source of Scripture even while men wrote them. Moreover, God used their human personalities to accomplish an infallible result. In other words, the Bible is both human and divine. Like the Son of God who was both God and man in one person, so the scriptures are both human and divine, yet one, and infallible. Furthermore, Peter says that the scriptures were not “private interpretation,” which means not initiated by men for their own personal doctrines. No, they received them from God Himself. Peter is not saying they were passive pens so that God dictated every word, but that the source was from God. This indicates that the human authors did not originate the message, but rather they were carried along by the Holy Spirit when writing Scripture, receiving the message from Him. They were passive in the message, but active in the writing, using their own vocabulary and personalities.
The second key passage of the Bible regarding its own inspiration is: 2 Timothy 3:16:
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.”
The word “inspired” means “God-breathed” in the sense that God is the source. It does not carry an active idea so that Scripture is inspiring (though surely it is!) but the passive sense means “inspired,” a body of truth that is fossilized. Nor does it mean “every Scripture inspired by God is . . .” so that there may be some Scripture not inspired by God, as the RSV so wrongly translated some years back. The idea is that every part of the Bible is equally inspired, breathed out from God Almighty, and therefore infallible.
Moreover, Christ agreed that the Bible was infallible when He spoke about the Old Testament.
For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Matt. 5:18).
The word “jot” most likely means “yod,” the smallest Hebrew letter, and “tittle” means part of a Hebrew letter, perhaps the difference between similar letters, like the cross on a vertical line in English that distinguishes the letter “l” from the letter “t”. But the Lord’s view was that Old Testament’s infallibility was clearly down to the very words and letters. Also, in John 10:35, He stated:
The Scripture cannot be broken.
He often rested His final argument on the infallible authority of the Old Testament (see John 5:39; Luke 24:44-45; Matt. 22:29; John 7:19; Matt. 4:1-11).
Let us confess with our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the Church of all ages, that the Bible is God’s gift to us, that we know God because in its pages is revealed this one, Triune God. Let us not seek to invent a god who is more palatable to modern people.
So what are some implications of the Bible being objective and infallible? We must honor it as we honor Him. We must seek its truth with our whole hearts, and delight in obeying His commands. We Christians do not have to wonder what is right and wrong because it is clearly spelled out in Holy Scripture. At one time, our whole culture believed that.
As a man who has been involved with selling and promoting good Christian books virtually all my life, both inside and outside the church, I can tell you what sells. It is not books on God’s commands, such as my 400+ page work on the Ten Commandments. People want health and wealth, not holiness. If you can make people—not God—the center of attention, you will build a large church. I did my ThD thesis on the word-faith movement, and one of the main leaders wrote a little book that sold by the untold thousands, perhaps millions. The title tells it all: How to Write Your Own Ticker with God. He said that Jesus knocked on his door at home, and this “prophet” of God invited Him in. Jesus then allegedly told him four things (or was it five) that anyone can do to get what he wants from God the Father. Where is the Bible in this? Why can’t we just obey God and not worry about how much money we can con out of Him? Why can’t we be content with what He gives us and not complain for more?
Moreover, just as we cannot create physical law into existence, so we cannot create moral law into existence, and to think that we can only reveals that we believe the lie of the devil to Eve:
You shall be as God, knowing [or determining] good and evil (Genesis 3:5).
Since the fall of man into sin in the garden in Eden, man has deceived himself into thinking that he can make up his own ethics without incurring consequences, but the past few thousand years demonstrate otherwise. Nevertheless, he continues his restless pursuit of private morality independent from God, so that he does not have to give account. This is why we find people engaging in rationalizing and self-justification when they are caught doing something wrong; they think they are above judgment, living under the system of morality they allegedly created. Their judgment will be severe. AMEN. Ω