Summary: Is my Bible completely trustworthy? There are some that say the Bible may contain some errors. But can we say this?
Trusting in God’s Word
When you go to the doctor, there are a few fundamental things that a doctor looks for to check your overall health. Temperature, pulse, respiratory rate, blood pressure. These are called vital signs. And the church also has a few vital signs by which we can judge our overall health. We won’t talk about them all today, but one of these is how we view the word of God.
Let’s go back to Genesis 3. Adam and Eve knew the command of God—do not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil or you will die. Right and wrong is defined by God. We are not in a position to make that call. We are dependent upon the revelation of God to tell us what is right and what is wrong. But one of Satan’s first attacks on God’s word is in Genesis 3:1 “Indeed, has God said…” Is it really true? He is trying to get them to doubt the truth of God’s word. Look at Matt 4:1-4. Look at Jesus’ response: “It is written: Man shall not live by bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” Adam and Eve should have responded back to Satan with the word of God. People, we are to live and breathe on the words of God. This means we are to take the word of God and see what it says on every area of life. We are not to see the word of God as a buffet, but as a feast. And that is the very thing that Adam and Eve failed to do. They failed to feast on God’s word therefore, when Satan said, “You will NOT die!”, they believed him. How quickly they abandoned the word of God!
But then one day someone comes up and tells us that there are “errors” in our Bible. Is this consistent with what God says about His word? Does your Bible contain errors? How you answer that question will make a HUGE difference in how you view God and the reliability of His word to us.
I. Is the Bible inerrant, infallible or what?
Clarifying the terms
Much of the confusion with inerrancy lies with the fact that people are using the word “inerrancy” but meaning completely different things. Some would say that the Bible is inerrant in that it does not try to purposefully or intentionally deceive. Some would say that the Bible is inerrant, but only in matters of faith and practice. The small details, such as historic and scientific facts can be false. They say that the Bible is not inerrant but it is infallible. But we need to examine whether or not there is a distinction between the two! Up until 1960 or so, the two words were used interchangeably! And after 1960, somehow this word came to mean that God’s word was true only in matters of faith and practice. But if you look at the definition of the two words, they are practically identical.
The core issue here is this: are there errors in my Bible?
So how do we know if the Bible does or does not contain errors? The place we need to go for the answer is directly to the Scriptures.
First of all, how do we know that the Bible we have today is reliable? Let’s say I tell Amy to write down a statement word-for-word that I wanted her to tell the rest of you. And the only way for Amy to pass this on would be to make a copy by hand and pass it on to another person. And then that person was to copy it down and pass it on to another and so on, so that eventually every one of us in here …Now I guarantee you that you would make some errors in some of those copies. There would be misprints, duplications, letters left out, etc. But we could find the original copy by comparing all the copies to one another. That is the way we know that we have an accurate text of the NT. In those days, Moses couldn’t take his final copy down to the local Kinko’s and make a bunch of copies and send them out, the copies were made by hand.
30,000 copies; 10,000 areas of miscopies; all but 400 can be corrected easily; out of 400 only 50 will change the meaning of the text. And out of those 50, not one affect any major doctrines. And all 50 can be examined in light of the rest of the Scriptures. Therefore, we have a 98.5% degree of copying accuracy. NO OTHER book can make this claim, yet no other book has been under more attack. The only other book that comes close is the Iliad 12 copies. 95% copying accuracy. Therefore, what we have in our hands is an accurate representation of the original.