Summary: Defending the trustworthy character of the Bible
Can anyone tell me what the first recorded words of the devil are? (Yea, hath God
said) What do you suppose his intent was in posing this question?
There was a course I took in Bible School called Biblical Hermeneutics. The course
exposed us to a number of principles used in understanding and interpreting the Bible.
One of those principles was called the First Mention Principle. It proposes that “God
indicates in the first mention of a Subject the truth with which that subject stands
connected in the mind of God.” Applying that principle to this passage of Scripture, I
would submit to you that in Gods mind Satan has an ongoing agenda to call His word
A couple of weeks ago someone made mention of the DaVinci code and its potential
impact on both the church and society. One thing seems clear. The trustworthiness of
the Bible is being called into question. I can hear that question echoing from centuries
past, Yea, hath God said....Has God indeed said....Is the Bible really the word of God?
Once Satan got Eve’s attention with questioning God’s word, he followed it up with the
suggestion that God lied ( you will not really die) and that He was hiding or withholding
something from them (He knows you’ll become like Him). (Gen 3:4,5) Seems like the
enemy knows quite a bit about human nature. If God lies and has a hidden agenda
then His word could not be trustworthy.
This morning I’d like you to “stir up your minds” as Peter put it, that you may be
mindful of the words that were spoken before by the Prophets... I hope to share some
things with you that will underscore the trustworthiness of Scripture, and give you
ammunition to use when anyone calls into question the Word of God.
Lets begin with the scribes of scripture. Jesus had much to say to and about the
scribes. There is a list of reproaches in Matthew ... woe to you scribes and pharisees.
It seems they were better at keeping the letter of the law than the spirit of the law. For
example in Matt. 23:23 He points out how scrupulous they were in tithing. They even
tithed on the smallest portions of income, and yet He says they fell short in the areas of
mercy and faith. But interestingly, in the sermon on the mount He says to His hearers
unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes...you shall not enter
heaven. The point is they worked hard at keeping the law, and again Jesus
underscores the meticulousness of their practice of the law, not in a negative way, but in
a complimentary way. They had their shortcomings, but they were instruments in the
hand of God in the matter of copying Gods’ Word.
The scribes were the copyists of scripture. There were no photo copiers or printers,
new copies of scripture were laboriously hand copied. It was critically important that the
copyists were meticulous in their transcription. Just before His comment on the of the
scribes meticulousness in tithing Jesus said, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one
tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled. These would be the smallest
letter or stroke in Hebrew writing. God would see to it that His word was preserved.
Josh McDowell in his book the trustworthiness of the Bible notes, “Scribes deeply
respected the biblical admonition, "You shall not add to the word which I command you,
nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I
command you" (Deut 4:2).” They followed an exacting system of regulations as they
transcribed the biblical scrolls. Consider some of the criteria used in transcription. When
a person was making a new text, he had to copy the original page with such exactness
that the number of words on a page could not be changed. If the original page had 124
words, then the page being copied had to have the same 124 words. Each line on a
new page had to be the exact same as the line on the old page. If the first line on the
original page had nine words, the first line on the copy page had to have nine words.
After a page was copied, the number of letters on that page was counted and compared
with the original. After a page was copied, each letter was counted and compared with
the original. After a page was copied, someone would check to see what the middle
letter was on the copy and the original.
"A synagogue roll [remember that they did not have paper as we do today] must be written on the
skins of clean animals, the length of each column must not extend less than 48 or more than 80