This transcript is still being processed for Smart Transcript. To see an example of this new feature, click here.
As we open things up this morning, let’s bow for a word of prayer. The psalmist has said, “I will give You thanks with all my heart. I will sing praises to You before the gods. I will bow down toward Your holy temple and give thanks to Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth, for You have magnified Your word according to all Your name.”
Father, we are here today, and throughout this week, with one sole purpose, and that is to give You glory by exalting Your Word, lifting it up as truth – absolute truth, Holy Spirit-inspired truth – truth given to us by the God who is truth. We desire to be faithful to the Scripture in every sense, to be men of the Word not only who believe it to be true, but who proclaim faithfully its truths, to our generation, and around the world. Accomplish Your good intension and Your good purpose through us in these days.
Bless all who have come. Bless everyone who will speak and lead from this pulpit and other places around the campus. Endue us all with a special power from the ever-present and resident Holy Spirit. Lord, we pray that there will be an impact from this conference that will sweep around the world to lift up Your Word, even as we lift up Your name. We offer these prayers with one goal in mind, and that is that You would be honored and glorified. We ask in the name of Christ. Amen.
My task and my purpose in this session is not so much to preach a sermon, but to rather give kind of an opening address – if I may call it that; a sort of keynote, I guess, folks would title it. We have been asked numerous times leading up to this event, “Why?” why we are having a summit on biblical inerrancy. This question has come to me a number of times from a number of quarters.
I have enough history, I’m old enough to remember the 1978 Summit on Biblical Inerrancy from which the Chicago Statement was produced. I had the great honor of being invited to that event. There were 100 men in the original group. It was a priviledge and an honor for me, relatively young in the ministry then and trying to be faithful to proclaim the inerrant Word of God, to be called and invited to come to Chicago and rub shoulders and elbows with such an array of shining lights in the church of Jesus Christ.
And leading it all was Jim Boice, a remarkable servant of the Lord. I remember when he died, R. C. Sproul said to me, “The death of Jim Boice is God’s judgment on America.” That’s how significant he was. But it was a blessing out of that to have a relationship with him and to have him in this pulpit on several occasions.
Out of that incredible array of people, in which I was really a bystander and a listener, came the Chicago Statement. In a rather bizarre twist of fate, when I got on the airplane to leave Chicago after one of those meetings, a gentleman sat beside me by the name of Robert Schuller. I have never told this story, but this would be an appropriate place to mention it. I will never forget what he said to me.
He turned to me and knew who I was and said, “God loves you and I’m trying.” The interesting moment was made even more interesting because on my lap I had his book called The New Reformation, and I was writing a review of it, and it was essentially an all-out assault on Scripture. I went from the ICBI to, I think, it was a DC-10 in those days, to that event, and a most distressing conversation. One of the telling statements was, “I can say I can believe the Bible and make those words mean anything I want them to mean.” Juxtaposing coming out of a hotel from the association with 100 men who would die for the inerrancy of Scripture into that event was shocking to me.
We have a whole generation of folks now, including pastors, young men in ministry, who haven’t really fought the battle for the inerrancy of Scripture. They literally have been affected by all that’s going on around them. And it’s time; it’s time for us to raise this standard again. But there are four compelling reasons I would like to suggest to you – and I have more to say than I should say, more to say than time would allow, so let’s move right after it.
The first reason for a summit on biblical inerrancy is the Scripture is attacked and we are called to defend it. The Scripture is attacked and we are called to defend it. Any reader of the Bible understands the threat of Satan’s efforts to undermine the truth of God. Any reader of Scripture, both Old and New Testament, understands that this satanic, demonic threat is perpetrated through hypocritical liars, as Paul calls them, that Scripture identifies as false teachers and false prophets.
We understand that in 2 Peter and Jude, these false teachers are described as “stains and blemishes in hidden reefs, clouds without water, trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted waves of the sea, wandering stars.” It is also clear from Scripture that the greatest threat to the church comes not from hostile forces outside, but from hostile forces inside. Like spiritual terrorists, Jude says, “They sneak into the church and they leave a path of destruction in their wake.” Our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount said “they are wolves in sheep’s clothing,” wolves wearing the wool garment of a prophet. They masquerade as prophets.
Paul tells us, in writing to Timothy, that they introduce dangerous epics, dangerous seasons, dangerous times into the life of the church and the world. Upon his departure from the elders at Ephesus in Acts 20, Paul warned about “savage wolves who will come in, not sparing the flock. And among your own-selves, men will arise speaking perverse things to draw away disciples to themselves.” This is serious.
Our Lord said this, Matthew 18: “It is inevitable that offenses come; but woe to that man through whom the offenses come!” I submit that there is no greater offense than to cause people to question the veracity of Scripture, to question the inerrancy of Scripture, or the authority of Scripture.”
Our Lord went on in Matthew 18 to say, “And whoever causes one of these little ones, believers, who believe in Me to be offended, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” Better dead than to offend a believer or believers. Drastic action should be taken by people who do that.
In fact, our Lord went on to say, with a hyperbolic illustration, “If your right hand offends you, cut it off. If your eye offends you, pluck it out. It is far better to eliminate those things that to go into fiery hell.”
We expect offenses against the Scripture from the world, we expect that. Of course, the god of this world is in charge. Our Lord laid it out this way in John 8:43, “Why do you not understand what I’m saying? It is because you cannot hear My word.” Why? “You’re of your father, the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father.”
He was a murderer from the beginning, and doesn’t stand in the truth because there’s no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he’s a liar and the father of lies. But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me?” Here’s why: “He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason, you do not hear them because you are not of God.”
I remember Iain Murray saying in a chapel at The Master’s College that there is in the heart of every sinner naturally antipathy toward the Word of God. It resides in the human heart. First Corinthians 2:14 says, “The natural man understands not the things of God. To him, they are foolishness; they are spiritually discerned and he is spiritually dead.” Serious to offend by causing people to doubt the veracity of Scripture.
Satan, the father of lies – as that text says – has always sought to undermine the truth with deadly errors. You remember back in Genesis 3, he starts his attack on Eve and on the human race with a question: “Has God said? You have a right to question God.” And then went all the way to saying, “You won’t die; God lied. You have a right to question God because, in fact, He lies. You can’t trust His word.” This becomes the strategy of the enemy of men’s souls.
Paul talks about deceitful spirits in doctrines of demons. He talks about people who preach another Jesus, come with a different spirit, a different gospel. But he says Satan is disguised as an angel of light. And because of all of these assaults on the truth, it is critical that we defend the Scripture.
In fact, a couple of verses that I would point you to that I know you most likely preached on, Paul ends his first letter to Timothy by saying, “Oh, Timothy – ” chapter 6, verse 20, “ – guard what has been entrusted to you. Guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter, and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith.”
And then in the next letter and his final letter, he says in chapter 1, verse 13, “Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.”
Jude says, “Earnestly contend, for the once for all delivered to the saints, faith.” Earnestly contend, epagōnizomai. That is a hapax legomenon. That’s the only place in the New Testament that verb appears.
We know the word “agony,” that’s from agōnizomai. This is epagōnizomai. The compound intensifies the word. Lexicons tell us that means “to carry on a conflict, to carry on a contest, to carry on a debate.” One Lexicon said, “to carry on a heroic struggle.” It is a word used of a martyr fighting to the death in the arena, Jude 3, earnestly contend. This is a long war against error for the truth.
Looking back a little bit in history, to understand how the battle has accumulated, Roman Catholicism exchanged the authority of Scripture for the authority of religious tradition. One of the earliest deceptions to infiltrate the church on a massive scale was Romish Sacramentalism, the idea that an individual can connect with God through ritualism and religious ceremony; that somehow we connect to God in a mechanical external way. Sacramentalism gained widespread acceptance. The Roman Catholic church supposed itself to be a surrogate savior, and people became connected to the system but not to Christ.
Religious ritual became the enemy of the true gospel, standing in opposition to genuine grace and undermining the authority of God and His Word. Many were deluded by that sacramental system. Massive delusion swept across the Western world, and since, across the whole world. A grave danger developed through the Middle Ages, holding Europe in a chokehold for nearly a millennium.
And, by the way, the more the heresy developed, the more the symbols abounded, because they recognized that Christ alone is the head of the church. The Protestant reformers gladly submitted to His Word as the sole authority within the church, and denounced the system and the pope. They confronted any false authority that might attempt to usurp Scripture’s rightful place; and in doing so, they exposed the corruption of the Roman system. After the reformation, along came higher criticism, or historical critical theory; and that exchanged the authority of Scripture for the authority of human reason and atheistic naturalism.
Not long after the reformation, this second major wave crashed on the life of the church, a wave of rationalism. As European society emerged from the Dark Ages, the resulting Age of Enlightenment emphasized human reason, scientific empiricism, simultaneously discounting what was spiritual, supernatural, and consequently biblical. Philosophers no longer look to God as the explanation for the world, but rather sought to account for everything in rationalist, naturalistic, and in deistic terms. As men began to place themselves above God and their own reason over Scripture, it was not long until rationalism gained access into the church through its claim to academic elitism – denied the inspiration of Scripture, denied the inerrancy of the Bible, infiltrated Protestantism in Europe and then America. So-called Christian scholars began to question everything, including Scripture, including the historical Jesus, Mosaic authorship, whatever.
The legacy of that rationalism in the form of theological liberalism and continual attacks on biblical inerrancy is still alive and well, and it has been devastating. As Harold Lindsell points out in the opening chapter of a book you’re going to receive this week, up until the 17th and 18th century, neither the Jews nor the Christians ever questioned the inerrancy of Scripture. The Jews today don’t even question it.
One of our seminary guys that’s finishing his Ph.D. in Hebrew studies at Harvard, and he was in a class where they were translating Isaiah recently, and they came to chapter 53. A Jewish professor said, “Who is Isaiah 53 talking about?” and he told me yesterday, there was silence in the room because there were Orthodox Jews there and they don’t know, there were secular Jews there and don’t care, there were Protestants and Christians there and they knew this could start a conflict, and so there was silence in the room to which the Jewish professor replied, “Of course, it refers to Jesus.” They have not historically questioned the inerrancy of Scripture, the Orthodox Jews.
What happened in the post-enlightenment time of rationalism and higher critical theory or historical criticism is devastating. Schleiermacher – you know about him – exposed to the anti-biblical attacks of enlightenment apostates who denied the accuracy and inerrancy of Scripture fell to this same apostasy and wrote to his Lutheran father these words: “Alas, dearest father, if you believe that without this faith no one can attain to salvation in the next world, nor the tranquility in this – and such, I know as your belief – then, oh, pray to God to grant it to me, for to me it is now lost. I cannot believe that He who called Himself the Son of God was the true eternal God. I cannot believe that His death was a vicarious atonement.” He came up with romanticism, a form of rational anti-supernaturalism that followed in that same vein.
And then it was time for the cults to arise, and the cults exchanged the authority of Scripture for the authority of self-appointed leaders like Joseph Smith, Ellen G. White, Joseph Rutherford, Annie Besant, Madame Blavatsky, and on and on and it goes; Mary Baker Eddy – Patterson, Glover, Frye. She had a marital problem – Christian science.
Christian science is like Grape-Nuts; it’s neither grapes nor nuts, and Christian science isn’t Christian or scientific. But the cults came along, 19th century Mormonism, Seventh-Day Adventism, Jehovah’s Witnesses – much of it arising from Finney’s burned-over area on the East Coast. They claim to represent the purest and singularly true forms of Christianity. They merely regurgitated old ancient errors like Gnosticism, Ebionitism, and Arianism. It wasn’t long until the charismatic movement came along, exchanged the authority of Scripture for the authority of personal revelations and ecstatic experiences. And like Schleiermacher, it elevates feelings and subjectivity, the highest place of personal religion.
Officially beginning in 1901 with Charles Fox Parham, the Pentecostal movement sparked some of the worst kinds of approaches to Scripture. While they wouldn’t overtly deny the authority of Scripture, they bury the authority of Scripture almost into obscurity under the plethora of personal experiences, subjective feelings, intuition, and revelations. Experientialism then, in the ‘60s and the ‘70s, really arose, moved into mainline denominations – we all know the story of that. The truth is based on feeling subjective unverifiable experiences, revelations, visions, prophecies, so forth.
The third wave of that continued in the 1980s to the growth of mysticism, signs and wonders, paranormal approaches to life and spirituality. Truth is determined within a person. The latest form of it is the New Apostolic Reformation, which isn’t new, isn’t apostolic, and isn’t a reformation. What is the distinguishing mark of New Apostolic Reformation? Quoting from them: “Apostles must take over the church from pastors and elders so God can fulfill His end-time plan and Christ can return.”
At the same time that the apostles – by the way, there are between four and six-million people in this movement now. In order to make this really have its great impact, there will be, they claim, a massive global wealth transfer from the people who shouldn’t have the money to the people who should have the money, to set the world up for the arrival of Christ. They claim one billion will be saved, and that this New Apostolic Reformation far outstrips the 16th century reformation in importance. Dangerous, dangerous season.
Christian psychology exchanged the authority of Scripture for the authority of Freudian theory, clinical therapy. In the 1980s, the influence of clinical psychology brought subjectivism into the church. The result was a man-centered Christianity in which the sanctification process was redefined in an individual way, relabeled a sickness, and you couldn’t get to the Holy Spirit unless there was some pathway through psychological analysis. The Bible was no long deemed sufficient for life and godliness. There was an emphasis placed on psychological tools and techniques.
Following Christian psychology came consumer-driven churches – exchanging the authority of Scripture for the authority of felt needs and marketing schemes. At the end of the 20th century, the church was also greatly damaged by the Trojan horse of pragmatism. Though it looked good on the outside because it resulted in numbers, the seeker-driven movement of the ‘90s killed off any true appetite for sound doctrine. Ear-tickling became the norm as seekers were treated like potential customers. The church adopted a marketing mentality, focusing on what works at the expense of a biblical understanding of doctrine. They became indifferent to bibliology, indifferent to the truths concerning inerrancy, inspiration, revelation – all of those things. They propagated themselves in thousand of personality-driven operations called churches, with theologically ignorant or naïve or indifferent leaders who studied not the Bible but the culture. This is capitulation, masked as tolerance, compromise redefined as love, and doubt disguised as humility.
Then out of that came interfaith dialogs, and interfaith manifestos, and interfaith seminaries; began to sprout up on the evangelical landscape. So-called evangelicals started to champion the message that we all worship one god. The most extreme form that I read was the Ecumenical Jihad by Peter Kreeft, where anybody who’s a monotheist is going to show up in heaven. Even if you’re an atheist who’s just looking for one god, you qualify. As such examples illustrate, whenever the church abandons its commitment to the authority and inerrancy of Scripture, the result is always going to be catastrophic.
In response, believers are called to defend the truth against all who seek to undermine the authority of Scripture. As Paul told the Corinthians – this is an absolutely watershed text, 2 Corinthians 10, “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. We smash ideologies, logismos – theories, viewpoints, systems. We contend earnestly, passionately for the faith.
When Jude talked about the faith, he was not talking about faith as some sort of nebulous kind of believing, but “the faith.” He was not pointing to an indefinable body of religious doctrine, he was speaking of “the objective truths that are revealed in Scripture that compose the Christian faith,” “the apostles’ doctrine,” “the treasure to be guarded” as we heard Paul say to Timothy. And with eternity at stake, it is no wonder that Scripture reserves the harshest words of condemnation for those who take away the Word of God or put lies in God’s mouth. Satan put lies in God’s mouth and he was cursed.
False prophecy is a capital offense in the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 13. And if you want an illustration of it, I’ll give you one: Elijah’s slaughter of 450 false prophets, 1 Kings 18. Still, the Israelites failed to expel the false prophets. “By welcoming error into their midst, they invited God’s judgment,” Jeremiah 5. An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land. “The prophets prophesy falsely and My people – ” what? “ – love it so.” God continually condemned those who exchanged His word for a counterfeit.
Paul warns Timothy about “those who will gather to themselves teachers who say what they want to hear, to tickle their ears with lies, and they will turn from the truth to myths.” The New Testament pronounces severe judgment on false teachers; and I can’t again say there’s nothing more devastating than the falsehood that the Bible is not inerrant. That sabotages biblical truth at its very foundation. So why a summit on inerrancy? Because Scripture is being attacked – as it always has been – and we are called to defend it.
Number Two: Scripture is authoritative and we are called to declare it. Scripture is authoritative and we are called to declare it. This basic doctrine is spelled out in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is inspired by God.” It is theopneustos, literally meaning “God breathed.” It refers to the entire content of the Bible, which comes out of His mouth; it is His word.
The inspiration sufficiency of Scripture provides the backdrop in that text to the divine charge, in chapter 4, to preach the Word all the time, in season and out of season. And if you’re struggling as to what that means, in some sense it doesn’t matter what it means because we’re either in it or out of it, which means it’s all the time: “Preach the word.” Inasmuch as God breathed the universe into existence, Psalm 33:6, He also breathed His Word into existence.
In some passages, for example, the term “Scripture” is synonymous with the name of God. Listen to Galatians 3:8, “The Scripture preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham saying, ‘All the nations shall be blessed in you.’” “Scripture has shut up all men under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.” Same text, Galatians 3. In those verses, the Bible speaks as God’s voice.
The same thing is true concerning other quotations of the Old Testament. The apostle Paul referred to God speaking to Pharaoh, but he said it this way: “For the Scripture says to Pharaoh.” The Scripture is as God speaking. “For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, ‘For this purpose I raised you up,’” Romans 9:17. Whenever we read the Bible, we read God’s Word.
Jesus implied that all of Scripture is inspired as a unified body of truth when He said in John 10:35, “Scripture cannot be broken,” and what He meant is you can’t pull one word out. He made a case for His deity. In that text of John 10, He made a case for His deity based on one word, one word in a somewhat obscure psalm: Psalm 82, verse 6.
And in Matthew 22, He made a case for the resurrection on the tense of a verb: “Scripture cannot be broken.” It is pure and authentic. None of it can be nullified. “Not one jot or tittle shall in anywise pass from this law – not the smallest letter, not the smallest stroke – until it’s all accomplished,” Matthew 5:18.
The author of Scripture calls Himself “the God of truth.” “The Lord is the true God,” that in Isaiah, and the second in Jeremiah. The writers of the New Testament say, “God is true,” John 3:33. He’s designated by John twice – once in 17, and then in 1 John 5 – as the “true God,” the true God. Several times it says He can’t lie.
The Bible has to be inerrant because it is the Word of God, and God is true and can’t lie. Proverbs 30, verse 5, sums it up: “Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.” The men who wrote the Scripture recognized that they were writing God’s words under His direction. They testify to that more than 3,800 times through the Old Testament alone.
The psalmist said, “The law of the Lord is perfect.” He said, “I wait for Your word. Your word is very pure, Your law is truth, Your commandments are truth. Of old, I have known from Your testimonies that You have founded them forever.”
The prophets knew they were setting forth God’s words. As Amos wrote: “Surely, the Lord God does nothing unless He reveals His secret counsel to His servants, the prophets,” Amos 3:7.
The New Testament writers wrote with an unshakable conviction that the Old Testament was God’s Word; they quoted more than 300 times. The apostle Paul told the Roman Christians “whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope.” Peter knows that the Old Testament was divinely inspired, as does the author of Hebrews.
The writings of Paul and Peter recognize portions of the New Testament other than their own word from God. In one command to Timothy, Paul implicitly ascribes divine authority to both the Old Testament and words of Jesus. Peter ascribes to the writings of Paul divine source when he refers to Paul’s letters, “and the rest of Scripture.” Scripture’s own testimony is to its authority. It is authoritative, and we are to declare that.
A third point: Scripture is accurate, and we are to demonstrate it. Scripture is accurate, and we are to demonstrate it. This, going beyond just the sheer testimony of Scripture – and I’ve just given you a brief look at that – goes to the Scripture and then outside the Scripture to show the veracity of Scripture. The Bible presents a plausible objective understanding of the universe and the existence of life. It presents a God who creates. The Scripture has the only reasonable, sensible explanation for creation and why the world is the way it is.
English philosopher Herbert Spencer, died in 1903, was famous for applying scientific discoveries to philosophy. Herbert Spencer was awarded some accolades because he came up with this. He said there are five knowable categories in the natural sciences, five knowable categories: time, force, motion, space, and matter – time, force, motion, space, and matter. Great discovery in 1903 by Herbert Spencer; however, Genesis 1 says, “In the beginning – ” that’s time, “ – God – ” that’s force, “ – created – ” that’s motion, “ – the heavens – ” that’s space, “ – and the earth,” that’s matter. You’re only one verse into the Bible and that is all laid out. Sorry, Herbert.
You’ll find that the Bible is accurate when it intersects with modern scientific concepts. It has to be because the author of the Bible knows the way things really are. Isaiah 40:26 says, “It is God who created the universe, and He holds the stars together by His power, and not one of them is ever missing.” In this way, the Bible suggests the first law of thermodynamics, that ultimately nothing is ever destroyed.
Ecclesiastes 1:10, “Is there anything of which one might say, ‘See this, it is new’?” The answer immediately follows: “Already, it has existed for ages which were before us.” Ancient writers of the Bible thousands of years before the laws of thermodynamics had been categorically stated were affirming the conservation of mass and energy.
The second law of thermodynamics states that although mass and energy are always conserved, they nevertheless are breaking down and going from order to disorder, cosmos to chaos, system to non-system. The Bible, contrary to the theory of evolution, affirms that. As matter breaks down and energy dissipates, ultimately the world and the universe as we know it will head toward destruction, and it will be unable to reproduce itself. Romans 8 says, “This is the creation groaning under its curse.”
The science of hydrology studies the cycle of water, consisting of three major phases: evaporation, condensation, precipitation. Clouds move over the land, drop water through participation. The rain runs into creeks, the creeks the streams, the streams to the sea, evaporation process takes place in the ocean, and the cycle goes on.
Ecclesiastes 1, Isaiah 55 present that water cycle: “All the rivers flow into the sea, yet the sea is not full. To the place where the rivers flow there, they flow again,” Ecclesiastes 1:7. “The rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there without watering the earth,” Isaiah 55. Job 36 speaks of evaporation, condensation: “He – ” God “ – draws up the drops of water. They distill rain from the mist, which the clouds pour down; they drip upon man abundantly.”
It was the 1500s when Copernicus presented the idea the earth was in motion; people were astounded. Seventeenth century, Kepler and Galileo give birth to modern astronomy. At that time, people thought there were a thousand stars: “The number of stars – ” says Genesis 22 “ – is equal to the number of grains of sand on the seashore.” Jeremiah 33:22 says, “Stars can’t be counted. The host of heaven cannot be counted. The sand of the sea cannot be measured. So I will multiply the descendants of David.” We’ve calculated millions upon millions of stars even today.
The oldest book in the Bible, the book of Job, says in Job 26:7, “He hangs the earth on nothing. He hangs the earth on nothing.” That’s a lot better than other religious sacred books that say it’s on the backs of elephants that produce earthquakes when they shake.
Job also said in Job 38:14 that “the earth is turned like the clay to the seal; it’s rotated.” In those days, soft clay was used for writing, and a seal was used for applying one’s signature. It rotated on its axis and embedded that signature into the soft clay. The earth is hanging on nothing and rotating on an axis.
If you talk about the Bible in prophecy, we go back to the comment of the Jewish professor at Harvard. There is no way humanly speaking to explain the biblical predictions that have already come to pass. Isaiah 53: complex, detailed prophecy of the arrival of the Messiah, the servant of Jehovah, the slave of God is fulfilled obviously in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Bible predicted that a man named Cyrus would be born, arise to power in the Middle East, release the Jewish people from captivity, Isiah 44. Ezekiel 26 describes the destruction of Tyre in sequence as it played out that way in history – so it goes. Everywhere you look in the Scripture, there is consistency because the writer of Scripture knows the way things really are.
And a final point. We’ve said, “Why a summit on inerrancy?” because the Scripture is attacked and we have to defend it. It is authoritative and we must declare it. It is accurate and we must demonstrate it.
And, finally, the Scripture is active through the power of the Spirit, and we are called to deploy it. It is active. The Bible is the sole power of salvation and sanctification. It is the means by which people are saved. “I’m not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation,” Romans 1:16
Romans 10:17, “Faith comes by hearing the word concerning Christ.” First Peter 1:23, “We are begotten again by the word of truth.” The power is in the text; the power is in the truth; the power is in the Word. It is sharper than any two-edged sword. It is powerful, more powerful than anything. We’re not only saved by the Word, we’re sanctified by the Word.
John 17:17, “Sanctify them by Thy truth,” our Lord prayed to the Father. And then He said, “Thy word is truth.” It is the truth of the Word that sanctifies the soul of the believer, setting that believer apart from sin. We’re edified by the truth. We are comforted by the truth. We are instructed by the truth. Look, there are lots of books that can change your thinking. There’s only one book that can change your nature and your eternal destiny.
In evangelism, the Holy Spirit energizes the proclamation of the biblical gospel. The Holy Spirit uses the preaching of His Word to pierce the heart and convict the sinner. Read carefully through Romans 10, that’s what all of that is saying. Paul told the Thessalonians, “For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and much assurance,” 1 Thessalonians 1:5. What a tremendous verse that is.
Paul explained to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 2, “My speech, my preaching were not in persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” No one can be saved without the gospel truth, as revealed in Scripture. It’s not the cleverness of the preacher. It’s not the skill of the sower, it’s the power of the seed and the preparation of the soil.
Spurgeon illustrates that, he said this: “Unless the Holy Spirit blesses the Word, we who preach the gospel are of all men most miserable, for we have attempted a task that is impossible. We have entered on a sphere where nothing but the supernatural will ever avail. If the Holy Spirit doesn’t renew the hearts of our hearers, we can’t do it. If the Holy Spirit doesn’t regenerate them, we can’t. If He does not send the truth home into their souls, we might as well speak in the ear of a corpse.”
And I would add to that the Holy Spirit will not do that work without the Word. The Holy Spirit is the omnipotent force behind the Lord’s promise in Isaiah 55:11, “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me voice, but it shall accomplish what I please and prosper in the thing for which I send it.” That happens because it is empowered by the Holy Spirit for His own purposes.
When we preach the Word, we deploy the instrument that the almighty Spirit of God uses to do His spiritual supernatural work. It is the sword of the Spirit. These are reasons enough. These are reasons enough to preach the Word of God, reasons enough to hold to an inerrant Bible. What else? Where else would we go? To what else would we turn? Thus, we are instructed with these words: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, and be filled with the Spirit,” those parallel realities.
When the Holy Spirit’s power is unleased with the preaching of the Word, sinners are delivered from sin, transformed into new creations. The process of conforming them to holiness in Christlikeness begins. There is a new internal energy for worship, empowerment for service, and an eagerness to learn the Scripture. You cannot be an expositor of Scripture if you have a weak view of the Bible; there’s no such thing. But since this is the living and abiding Word of God, we have built into that an absolute mandate—every word inspired, every word preached.
Father, we thank You for our time this morning to think about these things. We’re all so very, very eager to hear what the men who serve You so faithfully are going to provide for us this week. I just pray, Lord, that somehow this overview might set the parameters – the parameter, if You will – for all that is to follow; and that, Lord, you will empower every speaker and open every heart. May we go from this place the way the disciples on the Road to Emmaus did, with our hearts burning within us because we have heard the Word. We thank You, in Christ’s name. Amen.