Regarding the fallibility of man and the infallibility of Scripture.
[The following lecture notes are shared for further study from a recent presentation by Kevin Graham].
Jn 7:38 “Whoever believes in me as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”
How can we trust Scripture?
Written by Fallible Men:
- Moses is recorded in Scripture as having spoken incorrectly as if it should have been relied upon as from God (water from rock), and yet he wrote Scripture.
- David gave instructions that led to the inappropriate death of Bathsheba’s husband, and yet he wrote Scripture.
- Peter was rebuked for what he said at times by Jesus, and even after having the Holy Spirit, he was rebuked by Paul, and yet he wrote Scripture.
- James is recorded in Acts as having claimed that Jewish Christians like Paul are required to keep the OC Law, even though Paul repeatedly stated that he was not under that law. Yet, James wrote Scripture.
- We are told that all men sin and their words remain fallible, even after baptism of the Spirit (Rom 7:15-20). So how can we trust Scripture?
Breathed by God:
- 2 Pet 1:20-21 Nothing of Scripture develops from human interpretation; Human will is not the source of Scripture; Writers only capable of penning Scripture if the Holy Spirit “carries” them along.
- 2 Tim 3:16 All Scripture is “God-breathed”
- Heb 1:1-2; Rev 1:1 The NT in particular is the direct result of Jesus words.
- 1 Thes 2:13 “you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.”
- Jer 36:2 According to the word of the Lord, “Take a scroll and write on it all the words I have spoken to you”
If God authored Scripture, what are the implications:
- He never lies which means that Scripture cannot contain incorrect or misleading information.
- The primary author remains alive and can always be consulted to ensure accurate understanding of his own meanings.
- His eternity is beyond time and thus there is no possible concept of his words being out-dated, unreliable, or proven incorrect by modern efforts (all of which depend on the assumption of improvement over time).
- That even the fallibility of human instruments are compelled, in the scribing of God-breathed thoughts, into infallible words of truth.
- Original documents are not necessary for declaring the infallibility of Scripture, because the reliability is not dependent upon the words, but upon the Living Word of Heaven (Mk 13:31, in all 4 Gospels; Psa 119:89).
Consider how Scripture attributes this trustworthiness of what men have written:
- The poet of Psalms said that his tongue was the “pen of a Skillful Writer”, attributing more than just credit, but actual divine authorship to what he wrote (Psa 45:1).
- The writer of Hebrews quotes from the OT and rather than attributing the source to the human writer, he says it was the Holy Spirit that spoke such words (Heb 3:7).
- Even Jesus declares that it was the Spirit who spoke the specific words through the prophets, such that every detailed word could be relied upon to reveal exactly what God intended (Mt 22:43).
- Jesus humanity set the precedent for how all writers of Scripture communicate by only speaking what and how God wills (Jn 12:49; Mt 10:39).
- Matthew repeats more than any other writer the observation of “to fulfill what was spoken” and then cites a detailed confirmation of what OT Scripture predicted (Mt 13:35).
- Even the predictions spoken by Jesus’ incarnated words recorded in the NT are attributed identical “fulfillment” authority as the Hebrew Scriptures (Jn 18:32).
- Jesus ensures that the detail of what Scripture declares will always be completely and accurately accomplished, even when it seems absurd or impossible (Mt 26:54; Jn 17:12).
- Upon the authority of God himself, “Scripture cannot be broken” (Jn 10:35, KJV).
- Even in translating into other languages, “my words will never pass away” (Lu 21:33).
- Paul states that “Scripture foresaw” in reference to what OT writers recorded (Gal 3:8).
- The depth of infallibility extends far beyond just the general ideas presented in Scripture all the way to every “jot & tittle” (Mt 5:18).
- Scripture emphasizes the literal meaning unless contextually (not culturally) intended otherwise (Mt 4:4; Jn 2:22; 1 Cor 15:3-5).
- Never, in the extensive quoting or paraphrasing in the NT out of the OT, does the Bible ever indicate that those original words from thousands of years before even contained a hint of error or out-dated content. Quoting from the NT today should be equally trusted.
- Even prior to the canonization of the NT, its writers demonstrated the quotable trustworthiness of what was written by the Apostles (1 Tim 5:18 quotes Lu 10:7 as Scripture; 2 Pet 3:15-16 equates Paul’s writings with “the other Scriptures”; 1 Pet 1:25).
- Culture, time or societal norms never alter commands of Scripture (Mt 15:6-9).
- In terms of the differences between OC commands and NC commands, the Bible is very clear that God himself made changes between those two systems of worship and that those changes had nothing to do with bringing things up to date (Heb 10:9; 8:6).
- If the Holy Spirit doesn’t speak on his own, but only what he hears, how much more so those humans chosen to write Scripture (Jn 16:13).
- All personality operates within God-defined boundaries (including Jesus, the HS, prophets, mankind in general, and even Satan), such that every word written is capable of reflecting that writers personality, while remaining completely accurate in every detail to what God wants communicated. All choices are constrained to the options presented by God (Dt 30:19).
Why the Breath-of-God cannot be understood by great education:
- Jesus reveals, absent from the other qualities noted here, that God intentionally hides truth from highly trained scholars (Mt 11:25).
- Divine language, even when penned in human terms like Hebrew or Greek, remains veiled to scholars of great learning.
- The things of God, like Scripture, can only be understood if the student is given the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 2:11, Jn 3:3).
- Raw meditative study of the Bible (much of which is intentionally parabolized) remains subordinate to selective, divine insight rather than human skill (2 Tim 2:7).
- Gnostic pursuit of educated levels of knowledge often preclude dependence upon faith as a required ingredient in accepting what Scripture says (1 Tim 6:20-21).
- Reason and Science are incapable of understanding or figuring out spiritual truth (Isa 29:11-19; Pro 16:25). Therefore, their valuable contributions must always remain subordinate to every word of God (not necessarily to our fallible understandings).
- God declares his words to be Spirit and supernaturally-alive, something empirical studies are impotent to recognize or measure (Jn 6:63).
- Only those who belong to God and have a genuine relationship with Christ can recognize the truth of Scripture (Jn 8:47; 5:39-42)
- Only those who put their faith into practice and consistently obey what it says are allowed to know the truth and be set free (Jn 7:17; 8:31; Mt 7:24; Heb 5:14).
- Reliable education contributes significant insights towards grasping truth so long as it bows its decorated head before a God who demands cautious humility in approaching Scripture (Isa 66:2).
Our acceptance of the infallibility of Scripture is directly related to the validity of our claim of belief in Christ:
Jn 8:24 “…if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.”
“I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!” (Rev 22:9)
[all italics within quotes are added]