- Only One Authentic Word - Part 2
- Only One Authentic Word - Part 3
- Only One Authentic Word - Part 4
- Only One Authentic Word - Part 5
- Only One Authentic Word - Conclusion
When looking at any subject in Scripture, the approach is often to gather together as many proof texts as possible and hang them all out to dry next to each other like so many items of washing on the line left to blow about in the wind. In doing this, what we fail to capture is the 'big picture' found in Scripture. The 'proof text' method of argument usually ends with those on each side hurling one verse after another at each other. For every verse the protagonist finds, his opponent will find one that seems to say the opposite. This is the method used by many sects. Every verse in Scripture needs to be considered not only in the context of the immediate passage in which it is found, but also in respect of its place in the overall picture in Scripture of the unfolding redemptive purpose of God in His Son. In this way, we build a sure foundation and shall not be easily blown about by every wind of doctrine. Years ago, grocers used to stack up cans of food in a huge pyramid in the shop window. Only one critical can had to be removed for the whole lot to come tumbling down. There is nothing in Scripture that is superfluous or even in the wrong place. Remove one verse, or even alter it in some way, and the whole structure will be affected in one way or another. Those who tinker with Scripture cannot avoid the error, or the false teaching that inevitably follows such reckless behaviour. Every single verse is there, because its place in the overall structure is essential. God put it there. Those who tamper with God's Word cannot do so without immediate consequences to the 'big picture' of biblical belief. We alter Scripture at our peril. What at first seems to be just a tiny shift will have far-reaching repercussions. The ripples from a small stone thrown into a large pond will be detectable even at the furthest edges.
In the same way, no doctrine can be said to rest on an isolated verse of Scripture. This atomistic approach will lead to distortion, because each verse fits neatly and purposefully in its place as part of the much wider whole. At the centre of this overall structure is what the Bible says about God Himself.
When any biblical teaching is denied or changed, not only will all the teachings around it be affected, but ultimately the error will be traceable back to a misunderstanding about who God is in the first place.
Should this process continue, we shall be found in the end to be worshipping someone other than the God of Scripture. As an example, we cannot deny the literal historicity of the early chapters of Genesis without at the same time be saying something about the kind of God in whom we believe. We cannot assert that this God has revealed Himself in the pages of a book without at the same time implying that such a revelation is necessary to us. We must then ask ourselves what it is about us that puts us in need of such a revelation, and what it is about God that makes that same revelation authoritative. In this way, one teaching links intimately with all the others so that we cannot disturb one without affecting all the rest. That this authoritative Word should reach us without blemish or error, God inspired apostles and prophets to record perfectly in Scripture what He would have us know. As revelation and inspiration are linked to each other, so preservation is linked to them both. No one would sit for very long on a two-legged milking stool, all three legs are needed! We cannot remove what the Bible teaches about preservation without immediately affecting its teaching on inspiration or revelation. There seems little point in God inspiring original autographs, in making them infallible and inerrant, if they are no longer available to us today. Of what use to us is a Bible of which we can never be sure it is in every detail the Word of God? In the end the whole doctrine of Scripture will be undermined. By insisting that God preserves His Word, we are saying something about the kind of God in whom we believe. We believe in an almighty God to whom the transmission of the inspired text, the translation into any language on earth, all of which He created and comprehends more fully than any native speaker, is but a small thing to accomplish. What kind of a god do they worship who scrabble about among the manuscripts thinking to do the work of God themselves, relying on finite human reason? The God who holds the stars in place, who turns the earth on its axis, who holds the sun in the sky, shall He not also give us His own Word written in a book as it came forth from His own mouth, and that in a language we can understand?
"The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in the furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever." Psalm 12:6-7
Bible critics have a very long pedigree. The first instance of an attack on the trustworthiness of God's Word is recorded for us in the earliest chapters of the Bible itself. It all began in the Garden of Eden with the words of the serpent, "Yea, hath God said...?" (Genesis 3:1). Since that sad day when the seeds of doubt and denial were successfully sown in the human heart, men have sought to escape the voice of God, covering their sinful shame with the fig leaves of human ingenuity, hiding themselves in a futile attempt to escape His presence. God seeks still and calls, "Where art thou?". In a world torn and cursed by sin still can be heard the promise of salvation through cleansing in the Saviour's blood, a promise found only in the written Word of God. Man cannot live without the Word of God, not before the fall, not after the fall, not ever. "Man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live" Deuteronomy 8:3.
We cannot live without it, we dare not die without it. Satan's aim has ever been to separate man from the Word of God and so from God Himself and salvation. First he instils doubt, this is followed by denial, and then a defamation of God.