The following article is an opinion piece and reflects the views of only the author and not those of AllOnGeorgia. It has been provided as part of a partnership with AllOnGeorgia and Creation Ministries International.
By Geoff Thomas
‘Thy word is truth’ (John 17:17)
Biblical infallibility is a subject of crucial importance for us and the whole church of Christ. There are people who say that evangelical Christians make too much of the Bible. They dismiss the phrase, ‘The Bible says,’ with the comment that anything can be proved from the Bible. They patronise us, speaking in terms of admiration for our orthodoxy and zeal but saying that the greatest weakness of evangelical Christians is to trust in an infallible Bible. They believe that this doctrine is utterly unacceptable in the modern age, that it is scientifically and intellectually impossible for Christians to believe it.
They think it wrong to try to unite around a book or a doctrine. ‘Let us unite,’ they say, ‘around the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Truth.’ We are, of course, very happy to unite around the person of our Lord Jesus Christ and to make him our authority, to say with the apostle, ‘For me to live is the Lord Jesus Christ’. In fact, it is because of him that we find ourselves also uniting around an inerrant Scripture.
Firstly, let us consider the person of our Lord Jesus Christ
Who is this extraordinary person? He is the one who claims that one day he is going to judge the world, and he is going to separate all mankind as a shepherd separates his sheep from the goats. Men are going to receive their eternal destinies from His lips. Consider something more than this; that the criterion by which men and women are going to be judged is their relationship to Himself. Have they obeyed Him? Have they bowed to Him? Have they been ashamed of him? Their destinies are all going to depend upon that. More than that, he claims preexistence. ‘Before Abraham was I am,’ he says. More: he claims absolute equality with God, ‘I and my Father are one’. John’s Gospel begins, ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God’ (John 1:1–2), and it ends with Thomas saying, ‘My Lord and my God,’ (John 20:28).
This, then, is the Jesus Christ of the Bible. He is the Maker of heaven and earth. He designed the human brain. He upholds all things by the Word of his power. If the sparrow is going to fall then Jesus Christ must give the word of command. If a meteor will burn up in the earth’s atmosphere, the Lord will decree the occurrence. Nothing can happen without him. I believe all the laws of the universe are his. When our children bring home their textbooks from the new school with the forbidding heavy volumes of mathematics and physics, those books are simply the attempt of men to describe the world Christ made and sustains. One day He will come again in power, majesty and great glory to take apart this universe atom by atom. He will also put it all together again, a whole new universe in which righteousness will dwell.
Everyone must stand before Him. We shall meet Him and receive from His lips the destination where we will spend eternity. When we see Him we meet ultimate and final reality. I believe He is the only God there is. He is the whole form of God and the very Glory of God. In Jesus Christ all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are found infinitely and immeasurably. We do confess the infallibility of Jesus Christ, and that means for us He can say nothing wrong. He speaks on marriage, and on divorce. He speaks on creation both primary of all things from nothing, and then secondarily of those creatures he made out of the dust of the earth—the animals and man. He speaks on the human predicament and explains why people kill other people. He knows the heart of man as none other and all its devices. He speaks on death; he knows the eternal world.
The Lord Jesus pronounces inerrantly on every single item that you and I will meet in life. He alone was free from all the prejudices, misconceptions and traditions that cluttered His age. We are creatures of our time. He was not a creature of his time. Some religious people living then thought that it was wrong to eat ears of corn on the Sabbath day. Some believed it was wicked to eat food without first correctly and ceremonially washing their hands. Others thought it was right for a man to divorce his wife for any reason if she offended him. There were also those who thought they might be freed from the responsibilities of caring for aged parents by simply pronouncing the word, ‘Corban,’ meaning ‘my help to you is a gift of God.’ There were those who thought it was acceptable to love their neighbours and then to hate their enemies. Jesus was surrounded with the confusion of people who were children of their time. He was not a child of his time. He was God’s ‘Holy Child Jesus,’ and He corrected His generation on all such issues and many more. He stood against the tide and against his foes, even if it meant that they crucified Him. He could never be bought nor bribed. He could not be won by a smile or intimidated by a frown. He never taught error. This is the Son of God who said, ‘I am the truth,’ and it is around this Christ that men want us to unite. We have no objection at all to be doing that. Then let us go on and ask this question …
Secondly, how did this infallible Christ view the Scriptures?
It would be incredible if He were silent or merely noncommittal on so crucial a matter. We observe that he used the Old Testament Scriptures in all sorts of circumstances. He took them up in temptation when there was a full-frontal attack upon him from the devil. He overcame the devil by quoting from the book of Deuteronomy three times. ‘It is written,’ the Son of God said as the ultimate answer. He quoted the Bible pertinently and reverently throughout his temptations to triumph over Satan. He also used Scripture to answer His enemies. He appeals to the Bible when they are arguing about divorce, or about the right attitude to the Sabbath. He says to his opponents, ‘You err, not knowing the Scriptures’. He encouraged people in their faith through the Bible. There was a man, Cleopas, and his companion, who were distraught walking along the road to Emmaus. The Lord Jesus Christ had been murdered two days earlier and the bottom of their lives had fallen out. Jesus helped them get on with their lives and trust in God completely by opening up the Scripture. He began with Moses and then appealed to all the writing prophets. He showed the two men all the details about himself which were there in the Old Testament, and he judged them to be ‘foolish and slow not to believe the Scriptures.’ Again, he used Scripture to express His own faith. When he preached in Nazareth it was that the Scriptures should be fulfilled. When He was betrayed by Judas it was that the Scriptures should be fulfilled. When they put Him to death, Scripture had said the Messiah would thus die. When they hung Him upon a cross, it was because that very Scripture—‘cursed is he who hangs upon a tree’—should be fulfilled. When He is dying He quotes from Psalm 31 and also Psalm 22. Scripture must be fulfilled. He totally trusted the Word of God. He wholly obeyed the Bible. His faith is Bible faith. He never used any other book extant at his time. He never quoted from the apocryphal books on a single occasion. His appeal was to Scripture continually and alone.
Again, Jesus quotes from every part of Scripture. There are 179 verses of Jesus’ own teaching in which He refers to Scripture, that is, about ten percent of his recorded ministry consists of quotations from the Old Testament. He appeals to virtually all those passages that men grumble about today. He refers to Genesis 2 saying ‘In the beginning God made them male and female.’ He appeals to the murder of Abel, Noah’s Flood, reminds them of Lot leaving Sodom with fire and brimstone falling upon it—he says, ‘Remember Lot’s wife.’ He refers to Moses being spoken to at the burning bush, Moses lifting up the serpent in the wilderness, Jonah in the whale, the men of Nineveh repenting, Namaan being cleansed from his leprosy, Elijah going to the widow of Zarephath, and the Queen of the South coming to Solomon. He quotes five prophets directly. He quotes every part of Isaiah as ‘Isaiah’ saying those words. He quotes from eight Psalms. He is familiar with Old Testament biblical theology and its whole history of redemption. His teaching is full of Scripture.
Again, He teaches a doctrine of Scripture. He calls the Scriptures ‘the commandments of God’. He refers to them as ‘the Word of God’. When He repeats words from a Psalm he says, ‘David himself said in the Holy Spirit’ (Matthew 22:41–45). That is a very interesting doctrine of Scripture: there came a time when the spirit of revelation came upon David and then he wrote the 23rd Psalm or other Psalms. Jesus also said that the Bible was going to endure. He compares the Scriptures with the earth we stand on, and he also compares them with the stars of heaven saying simply, ‘It is easier for heaven and earth to pass than that one tittle of the law should fail.’ For the Lord Jesus Christ, Scripture is inviolable. They ‘cannot be broken’ (John 10:35). ‘Verily, I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass away not one jot or tittle shall in any wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled.’ He says the Scriptures are true. ‘Thy word is truth’ (John 17:17). he appeals to the way Scripture is phrased: ‘Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the Scriptures cannot be broken’ (John 10:34–35). Again, ‘But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead but of the living’ (Matt. 22:31–32).
This was the doctrine of Scripture that Jesus taught. He taught the doctrine of the nature of God. He taught the doctrine of redemption. He taught the doctrine of the eternal state. But this is what He taught about the Bible. Now, if the Word of God were full of mistakes should He not have warned us—would He not have told us? He warned his disciples about the leaven of the Pharisees. Was not there one occasion on which He said, ‘If it were not so I would have told you?’ (John 14:2).
So we have seen, firstly, who Jesus Christ is, God incarnate, the infallible Lord who used the Truth, and secondly, that He taught the doctrine of the truth of Scripture. He binds the consciences of all who love and serve him to this same attitude if He is our Lord. If the disciple is not greater than his Master, then we are committed to believe in an infallible Bible. The issue is not an intellectual one it is a moral one. Will we obey our God?