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The Inerrancy, Preservation, and Translation of Scripture - Part 1

Tom Pennington • Selected Scriptures

  • 2016-10-09 PM
  • Anchored Section 1
  • Sermons

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Tonight we want to return to our Anchored Series. The idea is that unlike those who are children in the faith described in the book of Ephesians, we instead want to be those who are anchored. Instead of being tossed here and there by every wind of doctrine, we want to be like grownups in the faith, those who are not carried away but rather are anchored to the truth of God's word.

We're continuing our study then, this sort of first semester if we can call it that, it's not really a true semester, but in terms of just thinking about this block of study, we're looking at what the bible teaches about the bible. And I want to begin tonight by asking you a rather basic foundational question. Why do you believe the bible? Now honestly there are a number of appropriate answers to that question. John MacArthur when I was at Grace To You, did a little booklet entitled Why I Trust The Bible, and I forget now, I want to say it had forty reasons why you can trust the bible. And so there are a number of possible answers that we can give, legitimate answers. But one primary reason that we believe the bible is Jesus Christ. We believe the bible because of Jesus Christ. We believe the Old Testament because He often affirmed it to be the very words of the living God. We believe the New Testament because Jesus pre-authenticated it by choosing the men who would be His representatives and would write it. So our ultimate authority then, in a very real sense, is Jesus Christ. And Jesus' view of the scripture could not have been any higher.

What did Jesus teach about the scripture? I want to begin and end tonight with the same text, turn with me to Matthew chapter 5. And I want you to see as Jesus begins the Sermon on the Mount, as He really gets into the body of His teaching, what He believed about the Scripture. Verse 17, "Do not think" Jesus says, "that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets;" you know that Law and the Prophets – shorthand for the 39 books we call the Old Testament. They were structured, ordered differently as we'll see later in First Century Judaism, but the same content. Jesus says I didn't come to abolish the Law or the Prophets, but to fulfil. In the First Century those 39 books we call the Old Testament were already considered to be the inspired scripture. And Jesus here unequivocally identifies those 39 books as God's very words to us. Notice in verse 18, "For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is fulfilled." Jesus didn't come to do away with the revelation of God, but rather to fulfill it. He explained the Old Testament in His teaching, He obeyed the Old Testament in His life, and He embodied the Old Testament and its ceremonies and its pictures in His person. As I said, verse 18 outlines for us Jesus' view of scripture.

He says, the Law. In the New Testament the word law often refers to the entire Old Testament scripture. And that's clearly how Jesus is using it here because in the previous verse He uses the two terms Law and Prophets speaking of the entirety of the Old Testament, He's simply using the short hand of the Law which is often done to speak of the entire Old Testament as well. So what Jesus says in verse 18, is His view of what we call the Old Testament. It was the scripture as it existed at that time. Jesus affirms then in the strongest possible terms His confidence in the scripture. He affirms His confidence in scripture and its permanent authority. Notice verse 18, 'until heaven and earth pass away'. Jesus, I think here is using these words not in a literal sense but as a proverb that really means never. He uses it that way a couple of times in the gospels. Where He intends to say it's never going to happen. It's easier for the universe as we know it to go out of existence than the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet, something that looks like an apostrophe in English, or the smallest stroke of a letter, that little distinguishing wiggly line, like in English distinguishes a capital O from a capital Q. That's the stroke. He says it's easier for the universe to go out of existence than for the smallest stroke or the smallest letter of God's word to fail. It's more enduring than the universe itself.

Jesus also affirms scriptures verbal inspiration. Notice again verse 18, 'not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law.' Scripture is the product of the breath of God, we know that. God speaks, all scripture is theopneustos, is breathed out by God, is the product of the breath of God. Just as my words are the product of my breath the scripture is the product of the breath of God. That's the idea, but God not only is the source of the thoughts of scripture, but He is also the source of the very words themselves. That's what we mean by verbal. But Jesus goes even farther here, here in verse 18, Jesus says, that the Old Testament scriptures are breathed out by God, not only in their individual words, but even down to the smallest individual letters, and the smallest strokes that distinguish one letter from another. Jesus believed in verbal inspiration.

He also believed very strongly in plenary inspiration. Notice again verse 18, 'not the smallest letter or stroke, not one of them shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.' In theological terms the word plenary simply means all, which is exactly what Jesus affirms here. Not only is each individual stroke and letter and word of the Old Testament breathed out by God, but all of it in its entirety is breathed out by God. But there's something else that Jesus believed and taught about the scripture, that both Jesus and the rest of scripture's writers affirmed and that is its total inerrancy; that the Bible is completely without error. Nothing it says is contrary to truth or fact. And that's really what we want to examine together tonight. Lord willing next Sunday night we will look at the preservation of scripture and we'll look at the translation of scripture. But tonight we really want to really focus on the inerrancy of scripture.

Now what are we talking about when we talk about inerrancy? Let me give you a couple of definitions. The English word simply comes from the word inerrant, which means it does not err. It is without error. Here are a couple of theological definitions, Paul Feinberg says, "When all the facts are become known, they will demonstrate that the bible in its original autographs and correctly interpreted is entirely true and never false in all it affirms." That's a great definition. Robert Reymond in his Systematic Theology defines inerrancy this way, "The bible does not err in any of its affirmations whether those affirmations be the spheres of spiritual realities, or morals, history, or science and is therefore incapable of teaching error." Wayne Grudem in his Systematic Theology defines inerrancy like this, "Scripture in the original autographs does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact. The bible always tells the truth concerning everything it talks about." That's what we mean by inerrancy.

Back in the 70's there was a counsel that was put together, the Chicago Group, that came together with a statement on biblical inerrancy, 1978 and here's the way they relate inerrancy, "We affirm that scripture having been given by divine inspiration is infallible, so that, far from misleading us it is true and reliable in all the matters it addresses." Now notice with all of those definitions, the scripture is without error, not only in its doctrines, and in its morals and in its ethics, but also when it speaks of the social, physical or life sciences.

Now let me say that the bible is a book of mixed genres. So there is poetry, a lot of poetry in the bible. And just like all poetry, in the midst of poetry realities can be expressed in a poetic, visual, verbal way that's not intended to say this is exactly how it is. For example, the four corners of the earth would be a great example. When the bible speaks of something like that it doesn't mean there are four corners to the earth any more than any other poet speaking that way. But when it intends to affirm actual fact and reality it is always true.

Now, those are the definitions, so, let's talk about the attacks on inerrancy. Why would we even talk about this? Isn't this like understood by all Christians? Well there have always been attacks to some extent on inerrancy, but they came from expected sources in the past. If you go back and you look at the ancient attacks on inerrancy, they come from exactly where you would expect them to come from, from heretics. For example, Marcion is an example of an early heretic in the life of the church. He was a gnostic and he absolutely mutilated the bible, he published a canon of the New Testament which included, are you ready for this? Only 11 books. He was an avowed anti-Semite and so therefore he included only the gospel of Luke and then he sort of gave a little ground on Paul, and so he included ten epistles of Paul in his version of the New Testament. That was his new testament, he deleted Paul's Pastoral Epistles and what he deleted from his new testament, he taught to be in error and not from God.

Now if you lived in the early church, it wouldn't shock you to see a heretic attacking the scripture. That's where the attacks initially came. Fast forward to the Renaissance and the attacks come from the secular enlightenment and the inroads the enlightenment took into the church. The first challenge to the inerrancy of the scripture in a very real sense didn't come until the 17th century. You had heretics like Marcion along the way, but overall the real mounted attacks didn't occur until the 17th century. There was a professor at Remonstrant Seminary in Amsterdam, Hugo Grotious. He taught that the scripture was a fallible record. Baruch Spinoza in the 1600's was a Jewish philosopher, he followed Rene Descartes in exalting human reason and he divided the statements of scripture into primary and secondary matters, you can see where this goes. And he rejected Moses as the author of the Pentateuch, precursor of things to come in German liberalism. But this is where this idea began to gather steam. And then you come to the modern period and this is where it gets surprising, you come to the modern period and the attacks don't come from heretics, well they do but not merely from heretics and they don't merely come from sort of the secular world intruding into the life of the church but sadly they come from within the professing church. From the ideas of the enlightenment, higher criticism, and liberalism would eventually be born in Germany and these critics would reject most of scripture.

Now when you come to the 1800's and specifically 1859 when Darwin published his Origin of Species, it further undermined confidence even of people within Christendom, within professing Christianity of the trustworthiness of scripture, especially of course in the creation account. John Broadus who was professor and one time president of Southern Seminary in Louisville in the mid to late 1800's writes this, "If the Darwinian theory of the origin of man has been accepted, then it becomes easy to conclude that the first chapter of Genesis is by no means true history. From this starting point and pressed by a desire to reconstruct the history on evolutionary principles, one might easily persuade himself that in numerous other cases of apparent conflict between Old Testament statements and the accredited results of various sciences the conflict is real and the Old Testament is incorrect." He says it becomes easy. If you buy into that and you're willing to give up Genesis 1, then why not whenever supposed science comes into conflict with the scripture? And this is really what began as a small thundercloud in the 1800's becomes a whirlwind in the 20th century.

If you want to read a history of the 20th century battle of the inerrancy in evangelicalism, we're talking about in professing evangelicalism; I highly recommend a book to you entitled The Battle for the Bible by Harold Lindsell. It was written in the mid 1970's and it describes the battle that was raging then especially around Fuller Theological Seminary in Los Angeles. And here's what the book makes clear. The problem was that those supposed believers, and I think some of them were and others probably were not, who were wavering on the issue of inerrancy began to make this deadly distinction. They said, look, let's say this; the bible is infallible in its doctrine. That is, it is without error in matters of faith and practice. But they said the bible is not inerrant, that is, it is not without error in matters like history, genealogy, cosmology, and science. They were men, they were men of their times and so we would expect them, they said to make errors in these ways. This began to catch on in the church in the late 20th century.

To respond to this idea a prominent group of evangelical leaders of the time created what was called the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy. And out of that movement came the 1978 Chicago statement on biblical inerrancy. As far as I know there are only two men who are still living who sat on that council, and one of them is John MacArthur. That particular group that came together answered all of the issues about inerrancy that had been raised and for a time honestly in evangelicalism the issue of inerrancy was put to rest. We shouldn't even have to talk about it tonight. But tragically the issue has risen again. And I think it may well become the defining issue of the next 10 to 20 years. There's even been some discussion about reviving the council on biblical inerrancy. So it is clearly an issue in the church. So we need to ask ourselves why should we believe it? So let's look then at the arguments for inerrancy.

There are two basic lines of arguments for biblical inerrancy. The first is the historical argument and the second is the biblical arguments. So let's briefly consider first of all the historical argument. Gregg Allison in his book Historical Theology writes this, "The church has historically acknowledged that scripture in its original manuscripts and properly interpreted is completely true and without any error in everything that it affirms. Whether that has to do with doctrine, moral conduct or matters of history-cosmology, geography and the like." By the way, hit a pause button there, this book Gregg Allison's book Historical Theology traces the flow of what the church has believed about doctrine through its life and this is his statement. He goes on to say, "Over time the church has expressed this conviction by applying a number of terms to the bible, such as truthful, inerrant, and infallible. No matter what term you use, the church from its outset was united in its belief that the word of God is true and contains no error. The first significant challenge to this belief did not arise until the 17th century." So understand that what you read, what you hear, the attacks that come from within the church on the issue of inerrancy are modern challenges, from within the church.

Allison quotes a number of the church fathers to support his point, for example. Clement of Rome wrote, "You have searched the scriptures which are true. You know that nothing unrighteous or counterfeit is written in them." Irenaeus said, "The scriptures are indeed perfect." The early church fathers understood the infallibility of scripture in two ways. First of all they understood it to be this, what scripture affirms always corresponds to reality. Listen to Tertullian, "The statements of holy scripture will never be discordant with truth." Augustine, "I have learned to ascribe to those books which are of canonical rank and only to them such reverence and honor that I firmly believe that no single error due to the author is found in any one of them." This is 400AD. What scripture affirms always corresponds to reality.

The second part of what they meant to affirm by this infallibility is this, scripture doesn't contradict scripture. Irenaeus puts it this way, "All scripture which has been given to us by God shall be found by us perfectly consistent." Justin Martyr, "I am entirely convinced that no scripture contradicts another." Athanasius, "It is the opinion of some that the scriptures do not agree or the God who gave them is false, but there is no disagreement at all, far from it. Neither can the Father who is truth, lie for it is impossible that God should lie." Those are the early church fathers. This continued to be the argument of the Reformation, Luther put it this way, "Everyone indeed knows that at times they (that is the early church fathers) have erred as men will. Therefore I am ready to trust them only when they prove their opinions from scripture which has never erred." The Westminster Confession calls the scripture, the only infallible rule of faith and practice. It speaks of the entire perfection of scripture and the consent of all of its parts. Luther went on to say, not only has the scripture never erred, he says it cannot err.

I mentioned the Chicago Council in October of 1978, 334 evangelical leaders gathered to articulate what is now known as the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy, by the way if you haven't read that, you ought to read it. It's online, it's not that long and it is so foundational to our faith. It is simply the articulation of what the church has always taught, what I'm sharing with you right now. Here is part of the summary statement of the Chicago statement. "Being wholly and verbally God given, scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching no less in what it states about God's acts in creation, about the events of world history, and about its own literary origins under God then in its witness to God's saving grace in individual lives." It's all equal. It speaks truthfully in all those categories. Article 12 of that same document says this: "We affirm that scripture in its entirety is inerrant being free from all falsehood, fraud or deceit. We deny that biblical infallibility and inerrancy are limited to spiritual, religious or redemptive themes exclusive of assertions in the fields of history and of science. We further deny that scientific hypothesis about earth history may properly be used to overturn the teaching of scripture on creation and the flood."

This is what the church has historically believed. And by the way, from the beginning the church has understood the devastating result if there is just one mistake in the bible. I don't think anyone has put it any better than Augustine did. He wrote, remember now this is 400 approximately AD. "It seems to me that most disastrous consequences must follow upon our believing that anything false is found in the sacred books. That is to say, that the men by whom the scriptures have been given to us and committed to writing did put down in these books anything false. For if you once admit into such a high sanctuary of authority one false statement there will not be left a single sentence of those books which if appearing to anyone difficult in practice or hard to believe, may not by the same fatal rule be explained away." That is a fabulous quote. Just look at the end of that again. If you admit into such a high sanctuary of authority one false statement there will not be left a single sentence which if appearing to someone to be difficult in practice or hard to believe may not by the same fatal rule be explained away. He's absolutely right. Once you come to a place where you're willing to say there's something false in the scripture, then you get to decide what is and isn't true. And it will be driven by your own fallenness. If any part is in error then any part may be in error and we have no way to be sure. It may not be about the existence of Belshazzar, it might be the gospel.

By the way, Augustine's confidence in the truthfulness of all scripture included creation ex nihilo that is God created everything out of nothing, the creation of humanity no more than 6000 years before His time. The long life spans of men and women before the flood, and a worldwide flood. As Allison in his book on historical theology puts it, "Clearly Augustine believed that biblical inerrancy extended to matters of cosmology and human origins." John MacArthur in a book that has not yet been published, it's a book we will encourage you to get early next year. It's a systematic theology that he's putting out; yes I have a pre-publication copy. Sorry, I hate to rub that in but here's what he writes, "The errantist view of accommodation (in other words it's just accommodating science and the culture, that's all it is, it's compromise, he says) it is inconsistent with itself. How can one be sure that God can rightly convey to man spiritual truths concerning matters of faith and practice if he cannot guarantee the facts of history are rightly recorded? If one affirms that the bible is free from error in leading man to a right knowledge of God in salvation, then what prevents God from equally securing truthfulness for the rest? If God is able to keep the writers free from error at all, such as in writing spiritual truths, then there's no reasonable grounds to conclude that He was unable to secure a factual account of scientific and historical records."

Now folks what I want you to understand is that until the 17th century no one in church history, that is no one mainstream evangelical in the life and history of the church questioned the inerrancy of scripture. So how did all the great minds in the history of the church come to understand this great truth in the quotes that I just shared with you? From the claims of the scripture itself and from the claims of our Lord about the scripture. So lets' look secondly then, at the arguments for inerrancy that are biblical. The biblical arguments for inerrancy.

First of all you have the claims of the scripture about itself. In passages like Deuteronomy 13 verse's 1 to 5, and Deuteronomy 18:20-22, Moses reminds us that the mark of a true prophet with a true divine message is total truthfulness without the hint of error or falsehood. In fact, what does Moses say should cause you to disbelieve the claim of a prophet to be a prophet of God? What has to happen for you to say, that's not a true prophet? All that has to happen is for him to be wrong how many times? One time. One time and he's not a true prophet. By the statements and standards of the scripture itself in terms of the instruments of divine revelation, God says if one statement of scripture is wrong then don't trust it. Second Samuel chapter 7 verse 28, Samuel writes, "Now O Lord God, You are God, and Your words" plural. "Your words are truth." Notice he doesn't even say 'are true'. That would be an acceptable way to say it. But he says Your words, plural are truth. Psalms 12 verse 6, "The words of the Lord" again that plural all of the words of the Lord, "are pure words" and here's what they're like. "As silver tried in a furnace on the earth refined seven times." That's what the words of God are like. There is no alloy, there is nothing false. It is true. It's the real deal. It's the absolute pure metal. Psalm 119 verse 160, "The sum of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting." Now that is a remarkable verse because notice that this is a claim for the truthfulness of every statement of scripture, as well as the entirety of the scripture together.

You look at passages like Second Timothy chapter 2 verse 15, Paul tells his young son in the faith, "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed." Why? Because you need to accurately handle the scripture. Why? Because it is the word and here we have the word viewed as its totality, that the entirety of the scripture you need to accurately handle the word of truth. One of the attributes of the scripture is that it is truth. In Second Timothy chapter 3 verse 16, if all the scripture is of the breath of God, remember all scripture is the product of God's breath, then it must be without error. Ultimately remember, the scripture is not written by men. Yes, God used men but it is in its source, God. All scripture is breathed out, is the product of the breath of God. That means every word of scripture is a product of His breath. So the scripture can only be wrong if God can be wrong. And of course that's impossible; the character of God won't allow it. Numbers 23:19, "God is not a man that He should lie." God isn't like us. Hebrews 6:18, "It is impossible for God to lie." What you have in this book is truth, because it is the product of the breath of God. And as such it represents His character, it has to be true, it has to be right, it has to be not a lie. Because it's impossible for Him to lie.

By the way in keeping with this argument of the claim of scripture to itself, the scripture not only claims to be truth, but the scripture shows itself to be the truth by its inherent glory. All the confessions speak of this, I'm not going to go there because it's not really the subject of my message tonight, but I'm just finishing up I have a few pages left in John Piper's most recent book. If you haven't read it, get it and read it. It's called A Peculiar Glory: How the Christian Scriptures Reveal Their Complete Truthfulness. And essentially it is the argument for the internal witness of the scripture, you open the scripture and God manifests His glory through what is said in the scripture so that there is an immediate connection to its truthfulness. You don't have to go through a series of arguments to get there, although there's nothing wrong with a series of arguments, but you don't have to go through them, you read the scripture and there is an inherent glory. So I do encourage you to read that, it's not merely the statements of scripture that affirms its truthfulness, it is the very nature of scripture that affirms its truthfulness.

But let's move on. Let's move on to a second biblical argument for inerrancy, not only the claims of the scripture about itself, but the statements of our Lord. Bishop Wordsworth put the argument like this in terms of the argument from what our Lord says, listen to this. "The New Testament canonizes the Old. The Incarnate Word (that's Christ) the Incarnate Word sets His seal on the written word. The Incarnate Word is God. Therefore the inspiration of the Old Testament is authenticated by God Himself." That's absolutely right. Once we understand the deity of Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ affirms the Old Testament as God's very word then God has affirmed His very word. God in flesh. Jesus made this very clear; He exclusively used the Hebrew canon as scripture. He referred to it in the passage we started with tonight, the Law and the Prophets, that's shorthand for the Hebrew canon, the books that we call the Old Testament, the 39 books that we have different in the time of the first century, but the same material. He rejected Jewish tradition; you remember in Mark 7 verse 9, He said, "your tradition has undermined the word of God." He rejected the apocrypha, although it was part of the Septuagint, a bible which He frequently used. He never quotes once from the apocrypha. And yet, think about this, Jesus quotes directly in His ministry, it's recorded in the scripture, He quotes directly from Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, many times from the Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Zechariah, and Malachi. In addition He refers by name to a number of Old Testament characters including: Adam, Abel, Noah, Abraham, Lot, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Solomon, Elijah, Elisha, Naaman, Jonah, and Zacharias. And He refers to a number of Old Testament places and Old Testament institutions and Old Testament ceremonies. So many I'm not going to take time to list them for you. In fact one statement of Jesus, He encompasses the entire Old Testament in a Hebrew way of thinking.

Turn with me to Luke chapter 11. Luke chapter 11 and look at verse 50, He says, "the blood of all the prophets, shed since the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation" now watch how He describes it, "from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the house of God; yes, I tell you, it shall be charged against this generation." Now at first glance that doesn't seem to be too profound in terms of the scripture. But it is incredibly profound. You see the Hebrew canon consists of a threefold division: the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. The story of Abel occurs in the early part of the first book of the Hebrew canon, in Genesis 4:8. The story of Zechariah that Jesus identifies here occurs at the end of the last book of the Hebrew canon, Second Chronicles 24:20-21. So in Luke 11:51, we learn that Jesus used and implicitly validates the Hebrew canon that existed at His time. He basically says as we would say it from Genesis to Malachi. He says from Abel to Zechariah and in the Hebrew canon that was the beginning and the end. The same content that we call the Old Testament. But the books in our Old Testament follow the order of the Septuagint, not the order of the Hebrew canon.

Robert Lightener in a book that I will recommend to you later writes this, "The gospel records bear testimony to the fact that Christ quoted solely from the scriptures, sometimes from the Septuagint or Greek translation. His canon of scripture was identical with Hebrew canon and He declared Himself in complete agreement with its bounds by referring it as Law, Prophets, and Psalms." That's in Luke 24, after the Resurrection. "He referred to that as the Scripture." Do you understand what this means for us who follow Him? Jesus says; here let me tell you what is the very word of God to you. Let Me set the boundaries for you, it's Abel to Zechariah. It's Genesis to Malachi in our way of thinking. That's exactly what He said.

Jesus also referred to the Old Testament as the commandment of God in Mark 7 verses 8 and 9. In Mark 7 verse 13 He called the Old Testament the Word of God. It is God's word, His statement, His message. Jesus taught that the Old Testament was the product of the Holy Spirit, in Mark 12:36, He says David himself said in the Holy Spirit, and then he quotes from David and Psalms. This isn't all. Take a passage like Mark 4, in the temptation Jesus quotes Deuteronomy and affirms the truth of Deuteronomy, "man shall not live on bread alone but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God." What was He saying was the place you could find every word that proceeds from of the mouth of God? It's Abel to Zechariah, it's Genesis to Malachi.

In John 10 verse 35, Jesus has this amazing statement; He says the scripture cannot be broken. I'm not going to take you there because of time, but let me just give you the essence of Jesus' argument there. Jesus says, listen, the Psalms the book of Psalms belongs to the body of inspired books we call the scripture, therefore what Psalm 82:6 says is true and in scripture, and then He says, all of scripture generally and particularly this verse that he quotes possesses such an absolute authority that it cannot be broken. B. B. Warfield says,"It is impossible for the scripture to be annulled, it's authority to be withstood or to be denied." It's what Jesus was saying. Scripture cannot be broken. John 17:17, He prays in His High Priestly prayer, "Father sanctify them in the truth" or by means of the truth, and then He says, "Your word is truth."

Look at Matthew 22:32 turn there with me. I want you to see this in its context. Matthew 22 and let's get a running start here. You remember the story in verse 23, the Sadducees come to Jesus, this is probably the Tuesday of the Passion week, He's teaching on the temple mount, they come to Him to trip Him up in His words, they didn't believe in the resurrection, they knew Jesus did, so they come with a question they think this'll trick Him, this will trip Him up. And you remember how it goes, in the end here is this woman who becomes the wife because of death she becomes the wife of seven brothers. Verse 28, "in the resurrection, therefore, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had married her." They think this makes the resurrection stupid, the Sadducees think, look at the problems this is going to create. "Jesus answered and said to them," verse 29, "You are mistaken," I love this, "not understanding the Scriptures or the power of God." You don't know what the bible says and you don't understand who God is. "For in the resurrection they will neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like the angels in heaven." And then Jesus is going to prove the resurrection from the scripture but He has to quote from the Pentateuch, because the Sadducees rejected the rest of the Old Testament. They were the liberals of their day, they only embraced the Pentateuch. And so Jesus gets them, verse 31. "But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God: 'I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not the God of the dead but of the living. When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at His teaching." What's Jesus doing here? That passage comes from Exodus. 400 years after Abraham's death. Think about this 400 years after Abraham's death God says to Moses, I am the God of Abraham. Jesus was making a proof of the future resurrection from Exodus 3 verse 6 by arguing on the emphatic present tense of the verb to be. In other words, He's saying God didn't say to Moses, I was the God of Abraham, although Abraham had lived 400 years before, no Jesus says, He says I am the God of Abraham. Do you see what Jesus just did? He has so much confidence in the Old Testament that He forms an argument for the resurrection based on the tense of the verb to be.

Let me show you another example in this same chapter, go down to verse 41. "Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question;" I love this. Okay, you've had your fun, let Me ask you a question. "What do you think about the Messiah, whose son is He? They said to Him," and this was the general understanding about who the Messiah was to be, you read Second Samuel 7, clearly the Messiah was to come from David, so they say He's the son of David. And "He said to them, "Then how does David in the Spirit call Him Lord" And He quotes Psalm 110 verse 1, He says, David's speaking, and he says, "The Lord said to my Lord; sit at My right hand until I put Your enemies beneath Your feet." If David then calls the Messiah, his future descendant Lord, how is He his Son? Now again do you see what Jesus is doing here? He is arguing for the deity of the Messiah. He's not saying that He wouldn't be the Son of David; He's saying He wouldn't just be the Son of David. He's going to be greater than David. David wouldn't call one of his human descendants Lord, that's Jesus point. So do you see what Jesus is doing here? Jesus builds His case for the deity of the Messiah on one Hebrew word. What I want you to see folks, is that Jesus believed the bible down to its very word, its verb tenses. And that's the basis on which He argued.

Go back now to Matthew chapter 5, and I want to finish by looking back at the text where we started, Matthew chapter 5 verse 18, "For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished." Jesus says it's easier for the universe as we know it to be completely destroyed than for the smallest Hebrew letter, even the small little distinguishing stroke added to a letter to pass away, it's easier for the universe to pass away than for anything in scripture not to be accomplished. In fact notice how He puts it, "until all is accomplished." The Greek word for accomplished here in verse 18 is different than the word fulfilled back in verse 17. Literally the word in verse 18 means, to happen or to come to pass. Jesus says it's easier for the universe to be destroyed than for anything, the smallest little stroke that's written in scripture to fail to happen.

What I want you to see folks is that Jesus was emphasizing the utter trustworthiness, truthfulness, certainty, inerrancy of the scripture. If you don't believe this then you won't respond to this book the way God wants you to respond to this book. You will have every right, if you doubt the inerrancy of this book, if you doubt its reliability, if unlike Jesus you aren't willing to put your hopes on a verb tense, then you will neglect this book. And your views will change and you'll be willing to give ground in order to look reputable with the people around you, to fit in. Within the last couple of years a professor stood up at a seminary class in an evangelical seminary right here in our city and told his students that if they were going to defend the traditional doctrine of inerrancy they need to be prepared to be disappointed. What I want you to see folks from our study tonight is that that view is out of step with historic Christianity and it is certainly out of step with the clear beliefs and statements of our Lord. You can have complete confidence in the scriptures you hold. We'll talk about preservation and translation next week. But what I want you to understand is that book you hold in your hand is utterly trustworthy. Jesus affirmed it. He affirmed the Old Testament and He handpicked the writers of the New and He commanded us as we'll see next week to read it, to love it, to meditate on it, to obey it down to its smallest precept. That's how you ought to treat the bible. Let's pray together.

Father, thank You for Your word. Thank You for the amazing gift that it is to us. Lord I pray that You would help us to believe our Lord. Help us to believe Him before we believe even those professing evangelical who in a desire to accommodate the views of the world sacrifice Your word. Father help us to follow Christ in every way including our view of the scripture and may we be true and faithful to Him until He comes. We pray in Jesus' name, Amen.

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