THE INFALLIBLE WORD OF GOD
DR. W. A. Criswell
2 Timothy 3:16
6-16-77 SBC Pastor’s Conference
I do not know of anything more joyous for my own soul than to come to the pastors’ conference. I have been coming for years and years and years. And to see these young men who are taking over, exalting the cross, lifting up the Word of God, oh I am encouraged beyond any way that syllable or sentence could say it.
Tonight, this will be a second chapter on Adrian Rogers’ sermon. I am going to speak on The Infallible Word of God. In Paul’s last letter, 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture,” all of it, not just some of it, or a piece of it, or a part of it, all Scriptures—you know, these half-infidels say it is inspired in spots. And they are inspired to pick out the spots!
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, theopneustos, God-breathed. . . .
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom;
Preach the word!
[2 Timothy 3:16, 4:1-2]
What a solemn and serious adjuration: “I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom; Preach the word!” [2 Timothy 4:1-2]. Evidently, the apostle thought there might come a time when a minister might be tempted to preach something else. “I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, to preach the word!”
Now can I do that and be intellectually honest? Can I? From the beginning of Satan who said, “Yea, did God say . . . ?” [Genesis 3:1], to this present day, there has been an unwearying and unmitigated attack against the inspiration of the Word of the Lord.
In the 200s AD there flourished the last phase of Hellenic philosophy. It is called Neoplatonism. It was headed by a brilliant Hellenic philosopher in Alexandria by the name of Longinus. He pointed out to his young brilliant disciple Porphyry, that unless something were done to halt the inroads and thrust and march of these new Christians that they would win the empire. And he asked Porphyry to study the Christian faith, to watch the Christian preacher, and to write books against him. So the brilliant Porphyry looked at that Christian preacher, and he noticed that when he stood to speak he had a book in his hand.
And that’s the first time the world ever saw what you call a book. Until that Christian preacher, all of the things that were written were written on scrolls; and you turn the scroll as you read. But the Christian preacher delivered his message on the basis of the Word of God, and it would take a wheelbarrow to carry all those scrolls around; so he invented something that the world had never seen before. He took the scrolls and he cut them up into pages; and he bound them at the back. It was called a codex. It’s what you call a book! And the first time the world ever saw a book was when that Christian preacher stood up; and cutting those scrolls, and binding the back, turned from one passage of Holy Writ to the other to prove that Jesus in verity and in truth is the Son of God.
Now Porphyry saw that, and he mounted his attack against the Christian faith with onslaught against that Book. “For,” said Porphyry, “if I can destroy the foundation upon which the faith is built, I can destroy the faith itself.” The whole world, from that first day of Satan until this present hour, mounts its greatest attack against the faith of the true and living God by attacking His Word.
They do it bluntly and brutally. They say to us, “You had as well preach Jason and the golden fleece as to preach Adam and Eve and the garden of Eden. You had as well preach Hercules and the twelve labors as to preach Moses and the twelve tribes. You had as well preach Agamemnon and Achilles and the Trojan conquest as to preach Joshua and the conquest of Canaan. You had as well moralize from Aesop’s fables as to preach sermons from that Book.” Oh, they are blunt in what they say! If you have tractors to move mountains, you don’t need faith. If you have penicillin, you don’t need prayer. If you have positive thinking, you don’t need the salvation—Adrian was preaching about. If you have an Edison and an Einstein, you don’t need Jesus Christ. And if you have the state, you don’t need the church. And if you have fables, you don’t need preaching sermons.
It is amazing to me how the modern, intellectual, academic, scientific world challenges the preacher and the Book that he holds in his hand. For example, picking up something Adrian Rogers spoke of a moment ago, these kids in our church go away to school, and they come back, and they say to me, “I’ve given up the faith. I have learned in the university that that Book out of which you preach is nothing but a collocation of legends and myths and fables.”
Why, these kids say to me, “I have learned that I came from a green scum; no meaning, no purpose in life,” what Adrian referred to as existentialist philosophy. “There’s no reason that lies back of anything. We accidentally came here. I came,” these kids say to me, “from a cell called a paramecium or an amoeba. Then I was a tadpole, then I was a fish, then I was a fowl, then I was a marsupial, then I was a monkey, then I was an ape, and now I’m Homo sapiens. But I came from a green scum.”
I say, “Where did you learn that?” And he says, “My professor taught me that.” Dear me!
Once I was a tadpole beginning to begin
Then I was a frog with my tail tucked in
Then I was a monkey in a banyan tree
And now I’m a professor with a PhD.
You know these smart boys are an interesting breed. Oh dear! Paul warned us against science falsely so called, and they do funny things.
Why, over there in East Texas where they raise so many chickens, those broilers over there were dying with some kind of a disease. The United States Department of Agriculture sent a team of scientists down there to see what caused the death of all those chickens. They finally made their official report to Washington and said in it, “We don’t know why all these chickens are a-dyin’; but one thing we have found; namely, that those who get sick and linger have a greater opportunity to recover than those that die immediately.
The smart boys, who know more than God and who lead our young people astray in a disastrous and a dismal deception; so they say to me, “I cannot believe the Bible as being inerrant and infallible and inspired. It is filled with historical and scientific errors.” So, we look at that. So you say the Bible is filled with historical and scientific errors, let’s take that first. So it is filled with historical errors.
One of the miracles of the modern age to me is this. These archaeologists have been digging down in the mounds and tells in the Holy Land for centuries, and they have never yet turned up one spade of dirt that contradicted any historical asservation and avowal in the Bible, not one. On the other hand, every time an archaeologist digs in the earth, he digs up artifacts and historical records that confirm the Word of God. For example, they used to say, “When the Bible says Moses wrote these things, Moses couldn’t write those things because writing when Moses lived had not been invented.” Then they discovered the Tel el-Amarna tablets in Egypt; then they discovered the Ugaritic tablets in Ras Shamra, northern Syria, and learned that writing was a developed science a thousand five hundred years before Moses!
Then they laughed and scoffed and said, “Hittites, whoever heard of Hittites? That’s a figment of somebody’s prolific imagination who wrote the Bible. There’s no such people as Hittites.” Then the archaeologists began to dig, and they uncovered a whole vast empire of the Hittites buried beneath the onrush of human civilization. And they said Belshazzar—they had a sure case here in the cylinder of Cyrus—and there is no Belshazzar. Even Herodotus the father of history, visited Babylon seventy years after Cyrus conquered the Babylonian Empire, and he never mentioned any Belshazzar. Belshazzar was lost to human history. Then the archaeologists began to dig down into the mounds of the ruins of ancient Babylon and discovered so many cuneiform plates, ostraca, concerning Belshazzar, that I could write a biography about the king today.
And they scoffed and laughed, saying, “It would be impossible for the apostle John to have written the Gospel of John by his name. The Fourth Gospel, John: impossible! Because the development of theology evidenced in the Gospel of John would have taken two hundred fifty years to have developed.” And while they were mouthing that, they discovered a papyrus in the hermetically sealed sands of Egypt quoting the eighteenth chapter of the Gospel of John that must have been written by about 98 AD. There has never been a spade of dirt turned up by the archaeologists but that confirms the infallibility of the Word of the living God.
Ah, but what about those scientific errors that are in the Bible? I quote from an eminent theologian who is apologizing for the Bible. This is what he says; I wrote it out exactly as he wrote it: “Of course there are errors scientific in the Bible. However, we can excuse these mistakes on the ground that the Bible is not a textbook of science and therefore does not pretend to be a scientifically accurate record.”
Well, that’s all right for him to say that, but to me, if the Lord God wrote that Book, He knew all of these scientific facts that we have lately discovered, He knew them in the beginning. And if there are scientific mistakes in that Bible, God didn’t write it! It’s that simple. It’s that plain for me. Well, when you say that there are scientific errors in the Bible, let’s be sure about our scriptural facts, and let’s be certain about our scientific facts.
For example, our scriptural facts. There was a famous lecturer who went up and down this land when I was a young man, and wherever he came he’d publish a little thing in the paper offering a thousand dollar reward for anybody who would show him a scientific error in the Bible. And a woman claimed it. She said, “It has been scientifically demonstrated that apples won’t grow in the Mesopotamian Valley. We know that the garden of Eden was in the Mesopotamian Valley because the Euphrates River ran through it. And Adam and Eve ate an apple; therefore there’s an error in the Bible.” And the man said, “What makes you think that Adam and Eve ate an apple?” “Because my college professor said so.” Well, he said, “you go home and read the Bible.” And after a long while she wrote him a letter and said, “I can’t find it in the Bible, but I know they ate an apple because my teacher said so.”
Oh, did you know science is like a chicken? It’s always molting. It is always changing. What is science today wasn’t science yesterday. And what they assume is scientific fact today, won’t be tomorrow. I am told that on the shelves of the library of the Louvre in Paris, France, there are three and one-half miles of books written in the last fifty years that are outmoded.
Nobody teaches a book of science today that was written a few years ago. It is changing, always changing. And those who want to change the Bible according to the latest science would make it a collection of absurd inanities in the day that they wrote it. What if you’d done that 1000 BC? What if you’d rewritten the Bible according to the latest scientific theories in 500 AD? What if you’d done it in 1000 AD? What if you’d done it in 1500 AD? What if you’d done it fifty years ago?
The Bible is the Word of God, and the truth that it reveals is from eternity to eternity and from everlasting to everlasting. The marvel of the Word of God is a wonder of the world; written by about forty men, over a period of about one thousand five hundred years, and the man in the beginning had no idea of the man at the ending. And yet for two thousand years it abides as the truth and the reflection of the character of the great Jehovah, Maker of the heaven and earth [Psalm 115:15; Acts 4:24, 14:15]. You look at that for a minute. The Bible was written against the background of the weird and unbelievable scientific persuasions of the day in which the authors lived. For example, Moses; Moses was learned in all the arts and sciences of the Egyptians [Acts 7:22]. With the archaeological spade we can read the texts that Moses studied, the very words that he read.
Those ancient Egyptians had a cosmogony, how the world was made, and it reads like this. “There was an egg, and the egg had wings; and it flew around, and around, and around, and around and when the process of mitosis was achieved, it burst open and the world came forth.”
So I open my Bible to the Book of Genesis expecting to read about that flying ovoid. And instead I read ten words that are the sublimest known to man: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” [Genesis 1:1].
Or take again, against the Chaldean Babylonian background so much of the Bible was written, and you’d expect to find those weird and monstrous ideas on the pages of this Holy Book. Those Chaldeans, those Babylonians have cosmogony and an anthropology, and it went like this: there was a death struggle between the chaos monster Tiamat, and the good god Marduk; and Marduk slew Tiamat and flattened out his body, and that became the earth. Then their latest anthropology, the finest science in the days of the Chaldeans said Marduk spit, and where he spat men came up; and men spit, and where they spat women came up; and the women spit, and where they spat animals came up. That was their finest science. When I read that, I thought, “Oh, dear me!” That fellow that put a sign in the warehouse, “Don’t smoke, remember the Chicago fire,” and a wag wrote underneath it, “Don’t spit, remember the Johnstown flood.”
Contrariwise, every word that is found in that Book as yesterday, as today, and as a forever will be in accord with the latest, and the finest, and the truest scientific discoveries. Look, Adrian preached from Job. In the twenty-[sixth] chapter of the Book of Job it says, “God hangeth the world upon nothing” [Job 26:7]. Why, my brother, that was thousands of years before men came to see that the world was not supported by some kind of physical foundation. Those Egyptians believed it was supported by five columns, one at each corner and one in the middle. Man, that’s pure speculation, that one in the middle. There’s not a boy that goes to school that doesn’t know that the learned Greeks believed that the world was upheld on the shoulders of a great giant by the name of Atlas. And the Hindus believed that the world was supported on the back of a giant elephant who stood on the back of a giant turtle who was swimming in a cosmic sea. But God’s Word said, “He hangeth the world upon nothing” [Job 26:7].
Or take again, in the fortieth chapter of the Book of Isaiah, “He sits above the circle of the earth” [Isaiah 40:22]. That was hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years before men came to believe that the earth was round. “He sits above the circle of the earth.” And God has revealed in the first chapter of Genesis what His moon is for [Genesis 1:16-18].
Finally we send a man up there on the moon, and they came back with the report saying those rocks on the moon are spliced with glass, and that sand is little tiny beads. And there’s no atmosphere, and there’s rough corrugations, and all of the titanium, more there than anywhere found in the universe. Why, did you know titanium will reflect light better than a diamond? Those little beads up there of glass are what you have on your screen to reflect the picture of a picture show. No atmosphere to interfere and those corrugations are like those rough corrugations on the front of your automobile, lamp lights, headlights. Why man, the moon is nothing but one great luminary, one vast reflection; and if the United States government had listened to me, I could have saved the American taxpayer six billion dollars before they sent anybody up there to the moon, just reading the Word of God.
I realize, of course, as you do, that the Bible is not a book of chemistry. It’s not a book of biology. It’s not a book of astronomy. It’s a book to tell us how to be saved, to see God’s face someday and live [Revelation 22:3-4]. I know that.
Once a year, Pat Zondervan of the Zondervan corporation in Grand Rapids, Michigan comes to our church and presents the cause of the Gideons. It’s a band of businessmen who pay their own expenses and who place Bibles in all the hotel rooms, motel rooms, give them to the armed services, and to school children.
I always look in the room when I’m in a hotel. I always look for that Gideon Bible. He’s been coming to our church, this’ll be the twenty-seventh year, second Sunday, come January. He was there making an appeal for the Gideon Bible, and he held up a little New Testament like they place in the hands of a soldier boy.
When he held it up I could see daylight through it; a big bullet hole. Holding it up he said, “This was taken by a chaplain off of the body of an American soldier boy from Georgia. He had carried it over his heart, and the bullet that had gone through the Bible had also gone through his heart.” Oh, I was riveted in attention!
And when he came back to sit by me in the pulpit chair, I said, “Pat, would you mind putting that New Testament and let me hold it in my hand?” And he placed it in my hand. It had been bathed in the blood of that American boy. I reverently turned its pages to the back, and I saw a writing. In the back of the Book was this, “Today,” and he dated it, “I, Wilton Thomas, take Jesus Christ as my Savior,” and he signed his name.
That’s why the Book; that we might see God’s face someday and live [Revelation 22:3-4]. When Sir Walter Scott lay dying he turned to his son-in-law Lockhart and said, “Son, bring me the Book.” And Lockhart replied, “Father, your library has thousands of books; what book?” And the dying Scottish bard replied, “Son, there’s just one Book. Bring me the Book.” And Lockhart brought Sir Walter Scott the Bible, and the great poet died with this Book in his hand.
“There’s just one Book,” cried the dying sage,
“Read me the old, old story.”
And the winged words that can never age
Wafted his soul to glory.
There’s just one Book. “One Lord, one faith, one baptism,” and one Book [Ephesians 4:5]. “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever” [Isaiah 40:8].
INFALLIBLE WORD OF GOD
against inspiration of the Word from the beginning(Genesis
a. Christian preacher
invented the “book” as we know it – a codex
Porphyry sought to destroy the Christian faith by destroying the foundation
upon which it was built – the Book
intellectual scientific world
a. The Bible a
collection of legends, myths and fables
b. College kids come
back home saying we came from green scum
II. Confirmed through the ages
a book of history
of digging, archaeology have not yet turned up one spade of dirt that
contradicted any historical avowal in the Bible
Writings of Moses – Tel el-Amarna tablets, Ugaritic tablets
Gospel of John
As a book of science
certain of scriptural facts
certain of scientific facts
a. Science like a
chicken – always molting, changing
III. The miracle of Scripture
by 40 men, over a period of about 1,500 years
against background of weird and unbelievable scientific persuasions of the day
in which the authors lived
Moses learned in all arts and sciences of Egyptians
a. Genesis does not
reflect them (Genesis 1:1)
Chaldean Babylonian ideas not found in the Book
Every word found in the Bible will be in accord with the latest and truest
scientific discoveries(Job 26:7, Isaiah 40:22,
IV. The purpose of the Book – to tell us how
to be saved
Bible from fallen soldier with bullet hole
Sir Walter Scott – “Bring me the Book!”(Ephesians
Word of God will stand forever (Isaiah 40:8)