Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Testimony of the Bible to Its Own Infallibility

"Question 157: How is the Word of God to be read?
Answer: The holy Scriptures are to be read with an high and reverent esteem of them; with a firm persuasion that they are the very Word of God, and that he only can enable us to understand them; with desire to know, believe, and obey the will of God revealed in them; with diligence, and attention to the matter and scope of them; with meditation, application, self-denial, and prayer."
- Westminster Larger Catechism, Q&A 157

As a Presbyterian, I resent the association, in the minds of many, of me (and my fellow churchfolk) with the liberal Presbyterian Church (USA). That denomination is just one of the Presbyterian churches in this country, and in no way represents historical Presbyterianism. The question above comes from the Westminster Larger Catechism, one of the traditional doctrinal documents that Presbyterians have professed ever since 1647. As can be seen, it describes a proper Christian understanding that the Scriptures are the very word of God, and must be received and honored as such by the true Christian. The Catechism reflects what the Scriptures testify of themselves.

Isaiah 55:11:, "[S]o shall my word be that goes out from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it." God acknowledges the Scriptures as His own word, and promises their spiritual effectiveness.

Jeremiah 23:29: "Is not My word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?" The Word overcomes all resistance.

II Timothy 3:16-17: "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work." This is the central proof-text. The Scriptures are inerrant, because their divine Author is necessarily infallible!

II Peter 1:21: "For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." Another powerful text, because of its simple and direct message. While the Bible certainly was written by human authors, it is not their word, but that of the Holy Spirit who moved them is such a way as to record His words.

Hebrews 4:12: "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." In a parallel to the Isaiah reference, the writer of Hebrews testifies to the power of the Scriptures to effect us in fundamental ways.

As you can see the Catechism correctly summarizes the very testimony that God gives to His own word. Those who deny the inerrancy of the Bible, yet claim to be Christians face this warning from Jesus Himself (John 14:28): "The one who rejects Me and does not receive My words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day." To reject the Scriptures is to reject Christ, and that choice will be recalled as evidence against you in the Judgment to come.

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