My text for today is from the third chapter of the book of Genesis. It is this chapter which explains for all with eyes to see and ears to hear why humanity is in the mess it is in.
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” 4 The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! 5 For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.” (Genesis 3:1-7)
At the very beginning of Mankind, Satan implemented a nearly flawless strategy when he introduced the not-so-subtle question into humanity’s psyche. And here has resulted nothing but despair and death and disaster for the human family ever since.
What was that strategy? He seduced Eve into questioning God's word, and all humanity has suffered because she got the answer wrong. And the reason humanity STILL suffers is because WE, also, get it wrong.
So, my message today centers of three simple questions: Has God spoken? What has He said? And why is it important? These are important questions because truth matters. It matters for everything we do and say and think and plan in life – and it matters to our eternal destiny because what we do with truth. And what we DO with God's truth determines where we will spend our forever.
You remember from the story of Jesus’ arrest and trial before Pilate, the governor asked Jesus, “What is truth?” And before Jesus could answer, the man walked away. But you and I must never do that – walk away from truth. After all, Jesus said it in many portions and in many ways that He is the way, the truth and the life. Then He added, “No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
What is truth? Jesus Himself said to the Father: “Thy word is truth” (John 17:17) But Satan will STILL look you squarely in the eye and ask, “Has God said?”
I have spoken on this subject of Biblical inerrancy and infallibility dozens of times and in many contexts. And I purposely bring up the issue again today because, as St Peter wrote to his readers: “Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder . . ..” (2 Peter 1:12-13)
This subject of the inerrancy, full inspiration and infallibility of Scripture is as critical to our eternal destiny as is our faith in the atonement of the Lord Jesus on Calvary’s cross. Why is that? Because unless we base our lives on the solid rock of biblical in errancy then everything we believe will stand on shifting and shifting sand. Notice Jesus’ warning at the end of the Sermon on the Mount:
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:24-27)
We will NEVER have a strong house – an impregnable haven – unless we build our faith on the inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility of God's word. But what do we mean by inspired, inerrant and infallible?
Inspiration deals with the authority of the Bible. Inspiration means that “God breathed out” the words of the scripture, using human writers as His instruments. This does NOT mean the writers robotically wrote what God dictated. Not at all. What inspiration means is that God ‘moved’ on these writers who then wrote as God guided them, using their personalities, their educational levels, their experiences, even their particular grammar and rules of language. However, the final result of their writing was the fully and final authoritative word of God.
Inerrancy means that, in the original manuscripts written by the hand of the original authors, such as Moses, Daniel, Isaiah, Matthew, John, Paul, or Peter – in the original manuscripts the Bible is without error. Period. This includes references to geography, history, science and theology. The entire Bible, from Genesis through Revelation does not declare anything to be true that is, in fact, not true.
There are multiple texts with attest to the inerrancy of God's word, but let’s look only two: Proverbs 30: Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words or He will reprove you, and you will be proved a liar.” (30:5-6). And 2 Timothy 3:16-17, written by the former Pharisee and strict adherent to the Old Testament Law: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
So, that’s what inspiration and inerrancy mean. And what about the doctrine of Infallibility?
Infallibility means that something is incapable of being wrong. Therefore, the Scriptures are not only fully and finally authoritative when it comes to life and lifestyle, but God's laws are permanently binding on humanity. What was true of morality in the 15th century BC is just as true in the 21st century AD. When the Lord Jesus said, “the Scripture cannot be broken,” He meant it. And when He said further that not even a jot or tittle can pass away until all is fulfilled, He was not joking (John 10:34-35, Matthew 5:18).
The reason this doctrine of inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility is so vital to our salvation is that if we cannot trust the word of God to BE the inerrant word of God, then who gets to decide what is TRUTH about anything related to faith and morals, about sin and judgment? As the Psalmist wrote, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3)
If the Bible is not trustworthy, then on what do we base our belief about salvation? About holy lifestyles? If the Scripture is unreliable, then how can we be sure of ANYTHING Christians have believed and the Church has taught since the first century?
For example, if the history of the nations as contained in the Bible is wrong, how can we be sure its moral teaching is correct? If names and dates are proven wrong, then what else will eventually be proven wrong? Will it be the Incarnation wherein Almighty Jehovah God took on human flesh? Or the Virgin Birth of Jesus? Did Jesus’ death on the cross REALLY purchase our reconciliation with the Father? Did Jesus die and then physically rise from the dead? Is He really going to return for His own who follow Him as their Lord? We cannot have a reliable Savior without a fully reliable Scripture.
Furthermore, if we cannot trust the Bible to be the FINAL authoritative word of God, then we open ourselves to the introduction of other so-called holy books promulgated and promoted by other groups – whether they call themselves Christian or not is irrelevant. We will look at that in another moment.
By the way, the point about the historic view of the Christian church is not one to gloss over. From the beginning of the Church in the days of the Acts of the Apostles, Satan has introduced other ‘scriptures’ to humanity to dilute and distract from the eternal AND SALVIFIC truths of God's word. From the ancient Gnostics to the present time, false teachers – some of whom call themselves Christians – have come up with their own bibles that – they say – augment and supplement God's word.
Do not believe them. Do not follow them. There is good reason St. Paul wrote under the infallible inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” (Gal 1:8-9)
The Bible we hold in our hands is fully God-breathed, inerrant, and infallible. But Satan is still busy with His original strategy, seducing us to question God's word – even to the year 2022. For example:
When a well-known and respected Catholic bishop of California cannot say for certain if hell exists, or if anyone is in hell, then we have a significant error taught by the man who has thousands of followers. If he is in clearly wrong about the unambiguous teaching of Scripture on that point, then on what other points of Scripture is he dead wrong?
When we cast doubt as to the full and final authority of Scripture’s infallibility and inerrancy regarding faith and morals, then we end up following pastors who teach a New Age Christ, or we will follow some local pastors like the ones I have heard in the last 18 months who, for example, told his congregations that the universe is eternal – a tenet of pantheism and Hinduism; or another pastor who told his congregation that homosexuality is a legitimate sexual expression.
I recently had a brief discussion with a misguided Christian on a Facebook page who told me the Church has hidden from us important books. When I gently challenged her to clarify what she meant, she ended the discussion, but I suspect she was referring to the spurious and heretical books like the so-called “Gospel of Thomas” or the “Apocrypha of Peter” or the “Infancy Narratives.”
One should EXPECT some to come up with their own versions of inerrant Scripture so they can ignore the full and timeless authority of God's word. As early as Acts 20, even Paul warned the clergy in the Ephesian church: “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.” (Acts 20:29-30). And Jude warned the flock of God: “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Jude 4)
Listen, my brothers and sisters in Christ, as I have said repeatedly today – and I repeat myself because of the urgency of this message – if the Bible is not fully inerrant, infallible, and inspired by God, and if we need other religious books and tablets to update God's eternal truths, then who decides what is morally binding on us in the 21st-century, and what is not? You? Me? Is that not the same temptation to self-deification that Satan seduced Eve with?
When the early church was establishing true Christian doctrine, the apostles ALWAYS appealed to Scripture – which in their case was the Old Testament. According to some conservative scholars, the New Testament writers quote or allude to more than 1000 Old Testament passages.
One thousand passages!
Is it any wonder St Paul told the Christians in Rome: “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4)
So, when someone with a high reputation tells his congregation to unhitch themselves from the Old Testament as if the Old Testament no longer is binding on the Christian, then as popular as the man may be, he’s teaching heresy.
I will say it again: When ANYONE tells his congregation to unhitch themselves from the Old Testament as if the Old Testament no longer is binding on the Christian, then as popular as the man or woman might be, he’s teaching heresy.
Do you understand why it is so important to be literate in the Bible. Do not simply be content to have someone tell us what the Bible says. We have to be like the Bereans who examined the Scriptures daily to verify what the great Paul was teaching (Acts17). How much more must we examine what lesser men and women are teaching from the Bible.
Listen, we are not too old for Satan to give up on us. The Holy Spirit speaks to us through the Word of God AND the historic teaching of the Church. Beware – beware of modern teachers, regardless of the reputation and credentials, if distort, dilute, and pervert God's fully inspired, inerrant, and infallible word.
If we do not believe the Bible from Genesis to Revelation is the ONLY ONLY ONLY fully authoritative word of God, then we open ourselves to Satan’s original lie to Eve – and nothing but disaster and catastrophe will be our final end.