The Infallible Word of God
July 12th, 1964 @ 8:15 AM
2 Peter 1:16-21
THE INFALLIBLE WORD OF GOD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2 Peter 1
7-12-64 8:15 a.m.
On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the early morning message entitled The Infallible Word of God. This is the first of several messages that will be delivered on the Bible.
In the passage of Scripture that we read standing together is one of the most phenomenal things you will find in all the Word of God; you doubtless did not notice it, but it is plainly and evidently there. In the passage that you read in the first chapter of 2 Peter, the apostle is avowing that "We have not followed cunningly devised fables" [2 Peter 1:16]; these marvelous, incomparable, indescribable things that attended the life and ministry of Jesus: the miracles that He did, the mighty works that He performed. These things are not fable or myth or legend, but they are things that we have seen with our own eyes, and we have heard with our own ears. "Yea," said this apostle Peter, "we even heard God speak from heaven saying that ‘This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased’" [2 Peter 1:16-17]. That’s the first part of the passage that you read.
Then he says this astonishing and amazing thing: "But, we have also a more sure word of prophecy," the Old Testament Scriptures, the Bible, "whereunto ye do well that ye take heed" [2 Peter 1:19]. Why, it’s an astonishing thing! Here this apostle says "We have seen these things with our own eyes, we have heard them with our own ears; yea God spoke from heaven, the Father," authenticating the person and ministry of Jesus Christ; but above what we have seen with our eyes, above what we have heard with our ears, above the very authentication from the voice of the Father in heaven, "we have a more sure word" [2 Peter 1:19], namely, the Holy Scriptures, the Bible itself.
Then he describes that Bible. The prophecy of the Scripture is not of any private interpretation [2 Peter 1:20]. A man of his own personal will didn’t write it, nor does a man of his own idiosyncrasy or peculiarities interpret it. But "The prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" [2 Peter 1:21]. Whether the man understood what he was writing or not, whether he was able to comprehend the prophecy that he made, the product was not of his mind, or of his genius, or of his inspiration. It came by the will of God: "Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" [2 Peter 1:21].
Now this is a very typical attitude toward the Bible by this modern day. An eminent theologian apologizing for the Bible said, now I quote from him, "Of course there are scientific errors in the Bible. However we can excuse such mistakes on the ground that the Bible is not a textbook of science, and therefore we do not expect it to be scientifically correct." And when I read that, I am voicing the opinion of practically the entire theological modern world to the Word of God. "It is filled with errors and mistakes, but of course we should not expect it to be infallible or above correction; for it was written before this scientific modern age, and therefore these people who were darkened in their counsels and superstitious in their minds, filled the Word of God with scientific inaccuracies." Now that’s the attitude of the whole modern world.
All right, I have something to say about that. If that’s true, if the Bible is filled with inaccuracies and mistakes and errors, if that is true, then the Bible is not the inspired Word of God, period and exclamation point! Simply because of this; do you think these modern discoveries we are making about God’s world are amazing surprises to the Lord God? Why man, He made these things in the beginning [John 1:3; Colossians 1:16], and we’re just now discovering them, we’re just now finding them out.
These ether waves upon which this radio program is being carried, did we invent those things? Did we create those things in the last few years? No. Those ether waves upon which this radio theme is carried was created by God in the beginning, and we’re just now discovering it! When you see these planes coursing through the skies, and they roar and thunder and go like lightning, do you think that we invented jet propulsion? Why men, God did that in the creation of the world, and we just now discovered its power [Genesis 1:1].
Now if this Bible is inspired by God [2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21], He knew all of these scientific things back there in the beginning. And if it is inspired by the Lord God, then there’s no mistake in it. But if it is filled with scientific inaccuracies, then the Bible is a product of mortal man, and not the infallible Word of God. Now let’s talk about these things until we have to quit.
You have to be careful of two things when you study the Bible in the light of this modern day. You have to be very careful for two things. First, you have to be careful of your Bible facts, very careful. You have to know the Bible. You have to be certain of your facts concerning the Word of God. Some time ago, there was a man who advertised in the papers of the United States, all over the United States. He’d give anybody a thousand dollars if they could point out an error, a scientific discrepancy in the Bible. Well, there was a young woman who was a graduate of the University of Michigan who lived in Detroit, and she wrote and claimed the thousand dollars. She said, "I can point you out a scientific error in the Bible." And she said, "It is this, it is this: from all indications the Bible means that the garden of Eden is located in the Mesopotamian Valley." And that’s right; one of the rivers is named over there, the Tigris [Genesis 2:14], another one, the Euphrates River [Genesis 2:14]. "The garden of Eden was located in the Mesopotamian Valley." Then she said, "It has been now scientifically demonstrated that no apples can grow in the Mesopotamian Valley. But the Bible says that Eve ate an apple and that was the reason that the first parents were driven out of the garden of Eden. And that is a scientific error in the Bible. Now give me my thousand dollars."
Well the fellow wrote back and he said, "Now, now you just look at the Book. It doesn’t say anything about an apple in the garden of Eden." And she finally wrote back and said, "You know for the life of me I can’t find the verse where it says she ate an apple in the garden of Eden, but I know it’s there because my teacher told me so."
Now I want to tell you another thing that I found this week. This is the most astonishing thing! In my studying and preparing this message, I came across a debate that they had in adopting the Gregorian calendar. That’s the calendar that we go by in our modern life. And the Gregorian calendar, as you know, starts the first of the year in January, the first of our year. The year the whole world lives by now starts in January. That’s the Gregorian calendar. Did you know when they were debating the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, the one we now live by, did you know that those who opposed it opposed it on the ground that Eve ate an apple and apples are not eatable until September; therefore the first of the year in the beginning of creation was in September and not in January? I came across that in my studying this week. Why, it is an astonishing thing! That’s my – why, we must hasten – that’s my first observation. You be very careful about your Bible facts.
All right, now my second observation; and you had certainly better be careful about your so-called scientific facts. Did you know that in the library of the Louvre in Paris, France, it is estimated there are more than three and one-half miles of scientific books that are now obsolete? Three and one-half miles of bookshelves of scientific volumes that are obsolete because of the new things that we have learned and discovered in these latter years.
Why, what if you were to bring the Bible up to date and try to make it conform to the latest scientific theories? Just think what you’d do to the Bible; think what you would have done to it in 1000 BC to make the Bible conform to the scientific theories in 1000 BC. And then think what you would have done in 500 BC; and think what you would have done to the Bible bringing it up to the latest scientific fad in 1 AD. And then what would you have done again in 500 AD? And what would you have done again in 1000 AD? And what would you have done again in 1500 AD? And just think of what this Bible would have been, filled with all kinds of obsolete absurdities, had we changed the Bible to conform to the latest scientific fads in those generations past.
Think what you’d have done to the Bible had you issued a copy of the Bible to conform to the latest scientific fads back in 1660. And then after that you brought it up and made it conform to the latest fads of 1860, and then you change the Bible again and made it conform to the latest scientific fads of 1960. And now in 1964, why, we would have been looking for a new edition of the Word of God. Why, the very idea is preposterous!
Did you know that in 1861 the French Academy of Science published a little brochure in which they pointed out fifty-one scientific facts that controverted the Word of God? Fifty-one of them! Now 1861 is not even five, little over five scores of years ago, comparatively a short time in the life of this world; and did you know that today there is not a single one of those fifty-one of those so-called scientific facts that controverted the Word of God? There’s not a single one of them that is believed by any of the scientists of the earth. But the Bible hasn’t changed, there’s not a syllable in the Bible that has changed since 1861. But every one of those fifty-one so-called scientific facts and certainties are no longer believed.
Man, one of the most amazing and startling of all the phenomena you’ll ever find in this earth is the infallibility of the Word of God. Look at this, brother, look at this. That Bible was written by forty men, forty different men; and they were scattered out through fifteen centuries, through one thousand five hundred years. And they wrote, and they grew up in the ages of the most gross, and crass, and weirdest, and wildest of all of the explanations of astronomy, and cosmogony, and anthropology, and geology that mind could imagine. And yet you won’t find one syllable of all of that darkness and superstition reflected in the Word of God, not a syllable of it. I want to show that to you.
Over here, for example, in the seventh chapter of the Book of Acts it says, and I read, "And Moses was learned in all of the science of the Egyptians. And Moses was learned in all of the wisdom, in all the sophia, in all of the science of the Egyptians" [Acts 7:22]. Well, what was he learned in? You don’t have to stumble around to find that. These archeologists have dug up those very textbooks of the Egyptians that Moses read, and that Moses studied, and that Moses knew. We know exactly what was the science, and the sophia, and the wisdom of the Egyptians. Now look at some of it. They had a science of cosmogony, the origination, the beginnings of the earth, the science of cosmogony. Well, what was the science of cosmogony in the Egyptian day when Moses was taught it? It was this. The Egyptian scientists taught that the way this world came to pass was through the hatching of a cosmic egg, of a cosmic egg. The Egyptian scientists said that there was swinging around through space a winged egg; and while that winged egg was flying around through space, the processes of mitosis on the inside of its shell were finally completed and the world hatched out. And out of that flying ovoid you have this marvelous world that you see today. Now that was the latest science that Moses was taught when he grew up among those masters in Egypt. So I’ll turn to the Word of God and I’ll see if there’s any of that in the Bible! Man, I’m amazed! Moses doesn’t even refer to a flying saucer, pitcher, anything else. He starts off with the ten greatest words that you could imagine: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" [Genesis 1:1]. Isn’t that an astonishing thing?
All right, the Egyptians had a science of astronomy. They believed that the sun reflected the light of the earth. I turn over here in the Book of Genesis to see if there’s any of that in the Bible. And Moses turns it around and says, "The sun shines on the earth, and the earth reflects the glory of the sun" [Genesis 1:16-17]; not that the sun reflects the light of the earth.
And then those Egyptians had a science of anthropology. They were naive evolutionists. The science of the Egyptians was, in the days of Moses when he studied – and he was learned in all the science of the Egyptians [Acts 7:22] – the science of the Egyptians was, in the days of Moses, this. They said that men developed from little white worms that they found in the slime of the Nile Delta after those alluvial deluges every year. I presume they got that idea from observing the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly. And as they were tracing back the origin of man, those first naÃ¯ve Egyptian evolutionists concluded that all of us were hatched out of those little white worms that they found in the Nile Delta after the annual overflow.
Well, considering what you have today, I don’t think that’s very bad. If I were looking for my grandpap and my grandma, I believe I’d just as well have those clean little white fishing bait for my ancestors as to have some flea-bitten ape hanging from a tail in some primeval jungle. I don’t believe there’d be much difference. Anytime you think this theory of evolution is new, brother, you go back and back and back; that is the birth out of distorted and darkened mind! But let’s go on.
So I turn over here to the Book of Genesis to see if I don’t find that in what Moses wrote. Man, what a world of difference! As Moses writes in the words of God, "And the Lord God said, Let Us make man in Our image and after Our likeness. And in the image of God created He man; male and female created He them" [Genesis 1:26-27]. Why, you’re in a different world, you’re in a different world. And you can take the whole Word of God and find that same marvelous disassociation from the so-called science of the day, a universal belief.
Let’s take it just for a minute; in the background of those Bible writers was for centuries the Chaldean culture and the Chaldean civilization. Well, what did the Chaldeans say about this world? They also had a geology, and they also had a cosmogony. Well, what was the cosmogony, and what was the geology of the ancient Chaldean? Well, this was it. They believed that this earth was one great big monster, a big living monster. And that he had feathers and scales, and the feathers and scales on that big monster are the rocks and the trees and the vegetation. And they had an idea that like the fleas live on the hide of a flea-bitten dog, so mankind lives in the hide and in the furs and in the feathers of this big monster. And their theory was said, their scientific explanation said that if you dig down too far you will hurt that monster, and he’ll shake himself and the buildings will fall down. And they had a certain proof of it. Men were digging in the world for mines, in mines for gold and silver and iron, they were digging down in the world, and sure enough there came earthquakes, and sure enough buildings fell down; and that was the scientific proof of their theory. Now doesn’t that singe you? Just dig down. Oh brother! You find any of that in the Word of God, find any syllable of that, any reference to that in the Word of God? Yet that was the scientific latest in those days.
Then of course the Babylonian civilization, those great learned Babylonians, they followed the Chaldeans. Well, what was the Babylonian theory and ideas and science in their day? And so much of these writers in the Bible lived in the background of the Babylonian civilization. Well, what did they say? Well, they also had a marvelous theology, and they had a marvelous anthropology. And their cosmogony was this. In the beginning they said was a terrible monster by the name of Tiamat, and then there was a great god by the name of Marduk. And Marduk and Tiamat had an awful fight; and Marduk the great god overcame Tiamat the monster. And Marduk flattened out Tiamat the monster; and that’s the earth. And then their latest science said, "And Marduk spit, and where he spat men came up." And then he said, "The men spat, and where the men spat women came up. And then the women spat, and where the women spat animals came up." Oh, do you know that reminds me of a sign? One of those companies over there in Pennsylvania put up a sign, "Don’t smoke, remember the Chicago fire." And a wag came along and wrote underneath it, "Don’t spit, remember the Johnstown flood."
Now, until our time runs out I want to take the Bible. We’ll just turn to one after another, and I want you to see, and I want to show you how this Word of God, written against the background of those scientific theories that I’ve named in Egypt, and in Chaldea, and in Babylonia, and in all the rest of those darkened ages, I want to show you how the Word of God, inspired by the Holy Ghost, inspired by the living Spirit [2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21] is written in the latest scientific knowledge; has been, is now, and always will be. All right?
Listen to it. Listen to it. Listen to this passage in the twenty-sixth chapter of the Book of Job. "He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing" [Job 26:7]. Now isn’t that something? "He stretcheth out the north over the empty places, and hangeth the earth upon nothing." When Job wrote that every civilization in this earth believed that there was some firm support, some undergirding support that was holding up this world, every one of them, every one of them. The Egyptians said that the world was held up by five great pillars, one at each corner and one in the middle.
Now I have a comment to make about that. I can see how those Egyptian scientists could think that they could crawl to the edge of the world and look at that pillar, and crawl to the other edge and look at that pillar, and crawl to this corner and look at that pillar, and crawl at that corner and look at that pillar; but I tell you I still say it is sheer speculation for them to say that there’s one underneath right in the middle. They never could look at that one. But that was the latest science; it was held up by five great pillars.
There’s not a one of you children, wait a minute, there’s not a one of you young people, not a one of you young people but that can tell me what the Greek said about the world. How was the world held up according to those learned Greeks? There was a great giant by the name of Atlas. And on the back and shoulders of Atlas, the whole world was borne up. That’s what the Greeks said.
I think the [Hindus] had the cutest idea of all. Brother, they had a humdinger of a theory. Their science about the sustenance of this world was marvelous. They said that this world was held up on the back of a tremendous elephant, and that the elephant was supported on the back of a great turtle, and that the turtle was swimming in a cosmic sea. I don’t know what they thought the cosmic sea was hanging on; but that was the [Hindu] idea. The whole world believed some theory that the world was sustained. Look here in the Word of God. All you got to do is just read it, "He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the world upon nothing." Isn’t that amazing?
Well, let’s turn to another one. Oh, this is full of them, the Bible. You look at this: in the thirty-[eighth] chapter of Job, "The waters are turned into a stone when the face of the deep is frozen." That’s the thirty-eighth chapter and the thirtieth verse. "The waters are turned into a stone when the face of the deep is frozen" [Job 38:30]. Do you know that’s the most miraculous thing that you could imagine? Everything that gets colder contracts, everything. There’s no exception to that. And the waters, the little molecules in the water, when they get cold, they contract too, they huddle together.
Did you know if that continued, civilization, culture, life in the world would be impossible? Because, if they continued to contract, they would finally, contracting, fall to the bottom of the ocean and the great seas would be solid ice, north and south, and all of that interchange of current, the Gulf Stream, the Japanese Stream, and all would be impossible, and life as we know it would cease to exist.
But there’s a miracle there that God wrought. The only exception to that contraction is this: that when those little molecules huddle together and contract and contract, when they get to thirty-two degrees Fahrenheit, the little molecule of water starts to expand, and that’s why ice floats, and that’s why it doesn’t go down to the bottom of the sea. And that’s why a submarine can go underneath that icecap, and he’s just as warm and snug under there as if he were down there in the middle Atlantic. Isn’t that a marvelous thing? Isn’t that a wonderful thing? That is what Job’s talking about, what Job’s talking about.
Now let’s turn over here to Isaiah, number eleven, twelfth verse; Isaiah 11, twelfth verse: "And He shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth" [Isaiah 11:12]. Oh, have they had a field day on that. Yes sir, "They shall gather the dispersed of Judah form the four corners of the earth." Therefore all of these cynics and skeptics laugh at the Bible saying, "Why, all those writers back there in the Bible believed that the earth was flat, and that it was square, that it had four corners." Then they turn to this passage as an instance of it, "Shall gather together dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth."
Well, that just happens to be an English idiom, "the four corners of the earth." There was a big violent storm at sea, and this passenger was scared to death. And the captain gathered them all together and said, "Now listen to me, now listen to me," he said, "I have sailed this boat to the four corners of the earth, and I’m telling you this wind is nothing but a big blow, so you just be calm, there’s no harm going to come." Well, isn’t that funny? "I’ve sailed this boat to the four corners of the earth."
There was an advertisement of the United States government, "Join the Marines and visit the four corners of the earth." Well, that’s an English idiom. Well, let’s get back to this. The only bad thing about Isaiah is he didn’t speak English. He didn’t say English, so he didn’t say that at all. He used a Hebrew idiom. I looked it up last night. I was saying anyway that he referred to the four corners of the earth, but I just decided I’d look that up in Hebrew, I never had.
And do you know what he says? He uses the word, "the four kanpowt, kanpowt, I can’t pronounce the Hebrew, "kanpowt, kanpowt." Kanaph is wing, the wing of a bird; kanaph. The plural is kanpowt, and what Isaiah said there, "God is going to gather Judah from the four wings of the earth" [Isaiah 11:12].
Well, I had to look up what he meant by "wings." And to the Hebrew the word "wing" was an idiom for extremity; you know, way out there to one side, way out there on the other side. And what Isaiah was saying is that God is going to gather His children from the four extremities, the four points of the compass, North, South, East, and West; He is going to gather His people from the extremities of the earth, or in the Hebrew image, He was going to gather them from the four wings, the four extremities of the earth [Isaiah 11:12]. Well, isn’t it amazing how they take these things? You got to know your Book.
Let’s turn to another one in Isaiah, Isaiah 40:22. Look at that, Isaiah 40:22. "It is He that sitteth upon the circle of the earth." When Isaiah wrote that there was not a man in this world who had been or ever would for centuries believe the world was round. "He that sitteth upon the circle of the earth."
Let’s take another one, we’re going to have to quit here in a minute. Turn to 1 Corinthians 15:39, 1 Corinthians 15:39, oh, 1 Corinthians 15, chapter 15 verse 39, 1 Corinthians 15:39; look what Paul writes there. "All flesh is not the same flesh; there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds." Or we could translate it "All protoplasm is not the same protoplasm. There is one protoplasm of men, there is another protoplasm of beast, and there’s another protoplasm of fish, and there’s another protoplasm of birds."
Did you know comparatively recently men discovered that we were made out of little cells, and that on the inside of that cell was protoplasm, and in that protoplasm was cytoplasm and nucleus? And when they discovered that, it was the scientific rage that all life was made of that same protoplasm and that same nuclear cytoplastic cellular construction.
Now Paul is quite a cytologist. He says, "No, there is a protoplasm of men, and there’s another kind of fish, and still another of birds, and still another of beasts" [1 Corinthians 15:39]. And did you know finally we have discovered that no protoplasm is the same protoplasm? And a good scientist today can take a little old piece of skin of an animal, or of a man, or a bird, or a dog, or a snake, or whatever it is and tell you exactly what it is; because they’re all different, just like Paul said, just like Paul said.
Let me take just one more, then I’ll have to quit. Come over here to the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. Come over to the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. Eleventh chapter of Hebrews, verse 3, "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear" [Hebrews 11:3]. Let me translate that exactly as the author of Hebrews wrote that: "so that the things that appear are made of entities that you can’t see; so that things that are visible are made of things that are invisible." Isn’t that remarkable? Isn’t that remarkable?
You couldn’t say the atomic theory of matter better than he has written right there in the third verse of the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. All the things that you see, said this author of Hebrews, were made out of little entities that you can’t see that are invisible; and all matter is made up of those little planetary atomic worlds where they whirl around and around and around. Why man, there’s nothing like this Book, nothing like this Book, nothing like this Book.
When Sir Walter Scott was dying, he said to his son-in-law Lockhart, "Bring me the Book." And Lockhart replied, "What book?" for the great Scot novelist and poet had a vast library. And Sir Walter Scott said, "Son, there’s not but one Book, one Book."
There’s just one Book, cried the dying sage,
Read me the old, old story;
And the winged words that can never age
Wafted him home to glory
There’s just one Book.
There’s just one Book for the dying,
One Book for the starting tears,
And one for the soul that is flying home
For the measureless years;
There’s just one Book.
This is just a little introduction to what I hope God will help us to do as we look at God’s inerrant, infallible, eternal Word.
Now on the first note of the first stanza, somebody to give his heart this morning to Jesus, or to put his life into the fellowship of the church, would you come and stand by me? In the balcony round, on this lower floor, coming into the fellowship of the church or taking Jesus as your Savior, while we sing our hymn, would you come immediately? On the first note, while we stand and while we sing.
GOD’S INFALLIBLE BOOK
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2 Peter 1:16-21
A. Eminent theologian apologizes for scientific errors in the Bible
1. If it is full of error, then it is not the Word of God(2 Peter 1:21)
B. Two things we must be careful for
1. We must be sure of our Scriptural facts
a. Young woman answered publicized reward for finding an error in Bible – the "error" was Eve eating an apple
b. Debate over adoption of Gregorian calendar on the grounds Eve at an apple
2. We must be sure of our scientific facts
a. Louvre contains miles of bookshelves filled with obsolete science
b. Some think the Bible ought to conform to science of the day
c. List of 51 scientific facts published in 1861 – none held true today
II. The miracle of the Book – unchanged through the centuries
A. Written thousands of years before modern science, by men of diverse background and culture
B. Moses learned in all wisdom of Egyptians – we would expect to find in his writings what he learned in Egypt(Acts 7:22)
1. Egyptian science of cosmogony – flying egg
a. Biblical account of creation (Genesis 1:1)
2. Egyptian science of astronomy – sun reflects light from earth
a. Opposite true in the Bible (Genesis 1:17)
3. Egyptian science of anthropology – man developed from white worms
a. Bible says we are made in God’s image(Genesis 1:26-27)
C. So throughout the Bible – does not reflect the science of that day
1. Chaldean science – earth a sleeping monster
2. Babylonian – Tiamat and Marduk
III. The marvelous scientific accuracy of the Bible
A. God hangeth the earth upon nothing(Job 26:7)
1. Egyptians said earth held up by five pillars
2. Greeks said earth held up by great giant named Atlas
3. Hindus said earth on an elephant, on a turtle, swimming in cosmic sea
B. Waters into a stone (Job 38:30)
C. The four "corners", extremes, of the earth (Isaiah 11:12)
D. The circle of the earth (Isaiah 40:22)
1. A modern discovery that the earth is round
E. Paul a great cytologist(1 Corinthians 15:39)
1. In our lifetime men began to discover cell structure, protoplasm, etc.
F. Atomic theory in the Bible(Hebrews 11:3)