In my final installment in this series, I offer what I find are the two most important things a Christian must remind himself and settle in his own heart and mind. I find if I can hold to these things, I can weather the attacks on my faith, wherever they come from. I can overcome my doubts, fears, and hopelessness–in whatever form they take.
Our faith, in large part, relies on the testimony of a book. We read it and we preach from it. It is the most important piece of physical evidence that exists for our faith. The Jews placed such a premium on the physical existence of the record that full-time laborers were employed to copy it and ensure its reliability. If we can maintain our trust in the authority of the record? There are good reasons for Christians to believe what it says.
Our faith is authored and secured by Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God. In fact the Book of Hebrews tells us:
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
The testimony of Jesus Christ anchors our faith. His accomplishments encourage us to “lay aside every weight…” that we may run our race. He is seated at the right hand of God. In addition to trusting the Book, we have the Author of the faith securing our place. The person of Jesus and the reliability of the record undergirds my faith and overcomes my doubts.
I find when my faith falters, is challenged, or when my earthly body attempts to deceive me I remember this: the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. However, as J.P. Moreland said, “We do not need to prove inerrancy. We only need to hold that believing in inerrancy is more rational than not believing in it.” That may seem like lowering the expectation of the doctrine but I firmly believe, especially in my flawed earthly state, that expecting to suppress all doubt is not realistic. Thus, to arrive at this point I use a brief, three-pronged approach:
- Biblical argument: Now, to avoid circular reasoning, we must avoid asserting the inerrancy of scripture because the Bible says so. Underneath the Biblical argument, there are many subdivisions but I want to use three:
- The testimony of the authors: Over 3000 times the Bible writers claim they were proclaiming the message of God. If this were not the case, then we must reject the Bible as a fraud. The apostle Paul in II Tim. 3:16 told Timothy that the scriptures were breathed by God and could make him “perfect,” and “throughly furnished” in the work of God.
- The testimony of Jesus Christ: Building on the above, when Jesus spoke of the scriptures He repeatedly used phrases like “God says” or “scripture says.” He stated the eternality of the message when explaining that “heaven and earth would pass away” before “one jot or tittle” would pass from the Law (Matt 5:18; Luke 16:17). Jesus said that the scriptures could not be annulled (John 10:35). He also assumed that knowing the truth meant knowing the scriptures (Matt. 22:29).
- The fulfillment of prophecy: Specifically the prophecies concerning Jesus Christ about His birth, life on earth, death, and resurrection. There are literally dozens of them, all written before His birth and fulfilled in specific literal fashion. That type of advanced revelation can only support the divine nature of the Word of God. Since it is divine, it must also be inerrant.
- History/Tradition: In addition to the Biblical argument, the inerrancy of scripture is also defended by the great theologians of history, notably Augustine, Martin Luther, and John Calvin to name three.
- Logic: Finally, Biblical inerrancy is logically consistent with the character of God. Since God is perfect and cannot be wrong and scripture is God-breathed (II Tim. 3:16-17), God’s Word must retain His perfect character, thus scripture must be inerrant.
This defense is by no means exhaustive but a firm foundation, I think, for a convincing argument for the inerrancy of scripture that .
Jesus Christ is the Son of God, NOT merely a great teacher or prophet. In the words of C.S. Lewis, Jesus did not leave open this possibility to us. Jesus’ actions and words are direct proof that He was asserting Himself as someone who possessed Divine authority. We see this in the titles that He chose for Himself (Son of God, Son of Man, one greater than Abraham, the Light of the World, the Bread of Life, I AM and others).
These titles are direct affirmations of deity. He further asserted His deity by His actions: forgiving sins, cleansing the temple, healing on the Sabbath, the calming of the storm, and other acts. Jesus elevated His word over that of the Law in the Sermon on the Mount, “Ye have heard that it was said…but I say unto you…” (Matt 5:21-22, 27-28, 31-32, 33-34, 38-39, 43-44).
If Jesus was not who He claimed to be in word and in deed, He is, as C.S. Lewis contends, either a liar or a lunatic, but a great teacher or prophet he cannot be. The New Testament writings also reinforce the claims of Jesus Christ and it is certain that the early disciples knew and believed the claims of Jesus. His deity is not the product of the Council at Nicea (as falsely asserted in trendy books and movies like The DaVinci Code), but the teaching of Jesus Himself and carried forth by the early church.
The writings of Paul and other New Testament writers teach that Jesus was creator, pre-existent, in the image of God and, more strongly, God Himself (I Jn. 5:20; Jn. 1:1, 20:28; Titus 2:13 and others). These people walked with Jesus, talked with Him, ate with Him, and witnessed His miracles. They saw Him resurrected. Their lives were changed by His presence.
If I can hold to this, the rest of the details take care of themselves. Don’t get caught up in the minutiae in those circumstances when your faith is weak or challenged. The record is true. Our Savior lives. The rest always works itself out. Let not your heart be troubled…