July 9, 2014 Broadcast

His Word Is Truth

A Message by R.C. Sproul

In high school and college, we learn to read with a critical eye, rather than accepting every author at face value. In most books, we can simply disregard a passage that we do not agree with. But the Bible is different. God's Word is truth, and when we read it, Scripture evaluates us!

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Further Study On This Topic

  1. article

    Certain of the Truth

  2. devotional

    The Inerrancy of the Bible

  3. article

    Trusting His Word

Certain of the Truth

Mark Dever

July fourth is the anniversary of the United States’ Declaration of Independence, and we Americans are pretty good about remembering the date. But as Christians, there are other anniversaries to remember that could inform us, encourage us, and maybe even help us in living our own Christian lives. Here’s one for this month.

He “fell flat to the ground, making his prayers to Almighty God. Then rising he went to the stake, and there suffered … joyfully and constantly.” That’s how John Foxe describes the death by burning that John Bradford endured 450 years ago this very month. Bradford was a preacher of the Protestant Gospel of justification by faith alone in Christ alone. But he had continued to believe the Gospel even when the Queen, Mary Tudor, forbad it. So she had him burned.

Of course, John Bradford isn’t the only one who was ever burned for believing and preaching the truth. This month is also the 590th anniversary of John Hus being burned alive in Bohemia for believing the same Gospel. You have to be pretty certain of the truth to die for it.

Peter knew this, and he wrote to some early Christians about the need to be certain of the truth. In chapter 2 of his second letter, Peter warned of the rise of false prophets among them. But he had prepared them for this first by teaching them about the truth that he had given them, — the truth that had been given to them by the prophets and ultimately by God. And he told them what they should do about it. To prepare them for the counterfeit teachings, he made sure they knew the truth.

Peter had, of course, preached the Gospel to them. And if ever there were a messenger qualified to bring the Gospel, he was it. In 1:1, we find that he is “a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ.” Those two titles sum it up. They represent both his relationship to Christ — he is Christ’s servant — and something of the particular service Christ called him to — that of an apostle, a ground-breaking herald of the Gospel as one who had witnessed the earthly ministry of Jesus, and, most importantly, Christ’s resurrection.

Peter was also a faithful reminder. In 1:13–15 we see that Peter wanted to remind them of his witness to them. It’s no insult to anyone to remind them. Those Christians needed it then, and we need it now. Peter was the one who had made known to them “the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1:16). He had been their evangelist and teacher. And in all of this he was faithful. He didn’t devise any clever tales himself, he said; he simply passed on what he had seen with his own eyes and heard with his own ears. If you want to be certain of the truth, consider your source of information.

Of course, Peter also points out that many other reliable messengers pointed them to the truth about Christ. Various prophets of the Old Testament had borne witness to Christ. The unity of their message transcended their differences. Jeremiah was different than Amos, as was Luke from Mark. So Peter was different than Paul, yet their messages were part of a coherent whole, orchestrated by the Divine Author, God Himself. It was His Spirit who carried them along, who bore them, who made sure that they wrote what He wanted conveyed as certainly as if (to use a famous, much maligned and much misunderstood image) God had typed it out Himself on a typewriter. This image of God “typing” His Word using the prophets and apostles has to do with the end result, not with the actual process. And the end result was truth that these young Christians — and we today — can be certain of. That’s what the last three verses of chapter 1 are all about. If you want to know the truth, study and trust the Bible as God’s Word and as an infallible guide.

Of course, ultimately, all truth is God’s truth. And Peter makes that clear in chapter 1. Their faith was a gift from God. Peter said in verse 3 that God’s “divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” If we’re truly Christians, that’s God’s gift. Peter taught these young Christians that God had called them, and that meant He had chosen them. Peter said God had given them His promises: “For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises” (1:4). Preachers and prophets are ultimately God’s gifts. If you want to be certain of the truth, you must realize that even such certainty is God’s gift, and you should pray for it.

If we want to be certain of the truth, we should work to remember the things Peter communicated here. Perhaps memorize this first chapter of 2 Peter. Certainly meditate on it and pray over it. Especially study 2 Peter 1:4–11 to find the way that “the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.”

I want such an entrance, just as John Bradford and so many others have had. And if I want to be sure of it, there’s no better way than to heed Peter’s words here in this first chapter. Having such certainty about this truth is the only way to die well, and it’s the best way to live.

The Inerrancy of the Bible

In recent years a number of semi-conservative theologians have questioned whether we should hold to the doctrine of biblical inerrancy or infallibility. After all, they say, this quest for absolute certainty reflects a "Greek, Aristotelian mindset" that is not really compatible with the nature of "sheer faith." They say that Christianity is a matter of "faith" and we don't need "absolute certainty."

We notice immediately that such statements as these presuppose that faith is incompatible with certainty. That is, they presuppose to some degree the modern existentialistic view of faith, which sees faith as a "leap in the dark."

Still, we can imagine that God might have given us the information about redemption in another way. He might have simply provided us with a lot of human testimonies. The Gospels, for instance, might merely be the personal recollections of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and no more. In that case, God would be calling us to believe the Gospel in the same way we believe that Ronald Reagan was president of the United States from 1981 to 1989. There is debate over what Mr. Reagan actually thought and did during his term, but there is no debate over whether he was actually president. In the same way, scholars could debate the details recorded in the Gospels while still having a "faith" in the "general trustworthiness" of the accounts.

But the Bible claims to be much more. In fact it claims to be the very word of God. The Bible claims to be breathed out by God (2 Timothy 3:16). If God is God, He does not make mistakes. If the Bible is breathed out by God, there cannot be "minor errors" in details of history. If the Bible contains such errors, it can hardly be the work of a perfect God. And if God is not perfect and totally trustworthy, God is not God.

If the Bible contains errors, it might still be correct in many of its claims. But there is one claim that could not be true: the Bible's claim to be God's breathed-out words. All the church fathers, the medieval theologians, and the Protestant Reformers clearly saw that the Bible claims to be inerrant and infallible. If that claim is false, the Bible is deceiving us, and has deceived people for many thousands of years.

Trusting His Word

Mike Malone

Every parent knows that children have a way of exposing the real issues of life in an innocent yet unsympathetic manner. “Where did God come from? Where did I come from? Where will I go when I die?” are questions which raise ultimate philosophical concerns. The most important of questions, however, is “How do you know?” Answers may be offered to all sorts of questions, but this most basic one begs to be asked when any of those answers is offered.

Imagine that you have just awakened from a deep sleep and you find yourself in a concrete bunker with a dozen other people. You all are suffering from amnesia. You don’t know where you have come from, who you are, what you should do, or how you might travel to some other place. It is clear that you are headed somewhere because each person possesses various provisions, food, clothing, medicines, etc.

As others awaken, you begin to engage them in conversation. “Who are you? How did we get here? What shall we do? When?” Each person in the room will offer observations. Each will offer opinions, suggestions, solutions, and preferences. Each person will, sooner or later, develop convictions about the situation and what, if anything, should be done.

In a sense, this is our plight. We are gathered on this planet and faced with questions demanding answers. A cafeteria of responses is available. But the critical question is, Who shall we believe and why? Shall I believe my New Age neighbor? Shall I believe my Lutheran cousin? Shall I believe my carefree work associate? Where shall I go to find the truth?

Think back to the people in the bunker. Christianity claims that a road map has been provided in order that we might find our way from where we are to where we want to be (and we do want to be somewhere else, we realize).

But it is more than a road map. It tells us that we were made for something greater than life in a concrete bunker. It offers explanations of the world in which we find ourselves, the One who created it, and His great desire that we might know Him. It describes us and explores the inner workings of our minds and hearts, revealing what is true but not altogether pleasant about us. It points us to a goal, an end, which is purported to satisfy the deepest longings of our aching hearts. And it tells us that, while the road is long and arduous, we may expect to experience great personal joy, comradery, and beauty along the way.

While the Bible is much more than this, it is not less. And it may be trusted to “deliver the goods.” How do we know that?

The question of the reliability and authority of the Scriptures revolves around the person central in them, Jesus of Nazareth. The Bible is not a book which simply fell out of the sky or was discovered on the side of a mountain with a peculiar pair of spectacles enabling its discoverer to read it. The Bible is the record of the mighty acts of God in human history, acts which prepare for and lead to the appearing, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. The claim of the Bible is that these are matters of history. They may be examined. They should be expected to withstand the scrutiny of any who would bother to investigate them.

When people argue for the trustworthiness of the Scriptures they will, rightly, refer to the majesty of its themes, the fundamental unity of its message, its power to influence the lives of men and women, and the remarkable way in which it has been preserved over centuries of use. But in the end the issue is Jesus Christ. At bottom, confidence in the Bible is a matter of loyalty to Him. Until one has come to terms with Jesus Christ, other issues are merely academic.

True, we must trust the Bible at some level if we are to come to terms with Jesus of Nazareth. Given this book’s claims and given what it offers us, the only responsible thing is to investigate whether or not we ought to trust it. And that may be done by examining what it and history have said about its central character, Jesus Christ.

In a conversation with a friend of my mother, I had the temerity to suggest that anyone who was not a Christian was one of two things: ignorant or irresponsible. That still seems to me wholly true. Life is much too short and filled with too many important questions to fail to take seriously this remarkable thing which has occurred on the stage of human history. It matters infinitely what one thinks about Jesus. Be neither ignorant nor irresponsible.

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