The Infallible Word of God

2 Timothy

The Infallible Word of God

February 25th, 1979 @ 7:30 PM

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
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Dr. W. A. Criswell

2 Timothy 3:16

2-25-79    7:30 p.m.


Once again welcome to the uncounted thousands who are listening to this broadcast from Wyoming to Florida and over KCBI in this great Metroplex.  This is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Infallible Word of God.  These Sunday nights are given to messages that are chosen by the sponsoring division.  Next Sunday night, the sponsoring group will be the Junior division.  And to my amazement, those boys and girls have asked me to preach on the security of the believer, a message entitled Saved Forever.  And the message tonight, chosen by our Youth division, is The Infallible Word of God, and as I preach it, I pray that you will follow me with your mind as well as with your heart.

As I came to the service, Robert Jeffress, who himself is such a brilliant young fellow, he said, “In anticipation of your message tonight, I was reminded of a quotation from Charles Malik,” who was president of the United Nations, who is one of the most distinguished diplomats in the world; he’s from Lebanon.  He said, “You spent three days with him about two weeks ago.”  And by the way, he and I were good friends.  And I asked him, “Would you come here to our First Baptist Church?”  And he said, “I’d be delighted to.”  So we’re going to arrange for that world-famous ambassador and diplomat and former president of the United Nations, its general assembly, to be here in this pulpit.  In answering the charge that the Bible is not relevant to today’s society, he replied—and this would be very typical of him, “The Bible is relevant by showing how shamefully irrelevant our lives are to it.”  Charles Malik.

 Now the text is 2 Timothy 3, verses 16, 17; and [chapter] 4, verses 1 and 2.  Now, let’s read them out loud together, 2 Timothy, toward the end of your New Testament, 2 Timothy chapter 3, verses 16, 17 and then the first two verses of chapter 4.  Now out loud together:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

[2 Timothy 3:16-17]


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; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine.

[2 Timothy 4:1-2]

And the passage of the text, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” [2 Timothy 3:16].  And those words translated, “given by inspiration of God,” one, two, three, four, five—those words, five of them in the English language—all of them are a translation of one word in the Greek language: theopneustos.  Theopneustos is a word made up of two words.  And the imagery back of it is the playing with a flute, blowing through a flute; God blowing through an instrument.  And the two words that make it up are theos, “God,” and pneustosPneustos is a participial adverbial form of the Greek word pneuō; the pneuō, which is “to breathe.”

So God is breathing through an instrument, like these sweet children here breathe through a flute.  And the instrument that God breathes through is the Holy Word, the Bible.  All Scripture, the whole Bible, all of it, “pas,” all of it is God’s breath; the Lord’s instrument through which He breathes, the truth of the Scriptures.  Now, as it is a compound word, theopneustos, “God-breathed,” so it refers to the two parts of the Holy Scriptures, the infallible Word of God.  First, the revelation: God—what God reveals, what He says—then the second part, pneustos, pneuō, breathing part, that’s the inspiration.

The words we use are Latin words.  Revelatio is the “uncovering”; a Latin word, the unveiling, the baring.  The inspirare, inspiration is a Latin word for “to breathe.”  In the Greek you have apokaluptō, apocalypse, “the unveiling, the uncovering.”  And the other part in Greek is emphusao, “to breathe upon,” or “to breathe into.”  So the word refers to the revelation of God, the apokaluptō of God, the unbaring, the revelation, the uncovering of the Lord, and the emphusaō, the breathing of the Lord, the inspiration of the Lord.

 Now, this is the difference between revelation and inspiration.  Revelation refers

 to the content, what God is saying to us, that no man in his wisdom could ever learn in himself.  And inspiration refers to the transmission of the truth that it is given to us without error.

For example, it is by revelation that Moses wrote of the creation [Genesis 1:1-31].  He wasn’t there.  No man was there.  How would we ever know how the earth was created or the universe?  Only by the revelation of God, the self-disclosure of God.  That is revelation!

Now, that the story was written without error is inspiration.  It would be revelation that Moses writes of those things before we were ever created, and it would be by inspiration that Moses would write, say, about the crossing at the Red Sea [Exodus 14:21-30].  He was there.  He saw it all.  But that he wrote it without error is inspiration.

Take again, by revelation, John saw the whole denouement of the age written in the Apocalypse, things that no man could ever know; things that belong to the consummation of the age; things to the end of time [Revelation 1:1-22:21].  That is revelation.

Inspiration is, that he wrote it down correctly, without error.  Inspiration would be what John saw at the cross.  He was there.  He looked at it [Matthew 19:16-35].  But that he wrote it without error is inspiration.

So revelation refers to the content, what God has told us that no man in his wisdom or searching could ever find out.  And inspiration refers to the transmission of the truth of God; that the Lord gave it to us, wrote it down for us in inerrant and infallible words.

Now the message tonight is going to be a discussion of those two things.  First, revelation; there are three assumptions in revelation.  The first assumption is that God is willing to disclose to us truths that we would otherwise never know.  The second assumption is that the man is able to understand those truths.  God is willing to reveal them, and a man is able to listen to them and to receive them.  And the third assumption is that the revelation is of a content that no man in himself could ever discover.

Now, there are two kinds of revelation, the disclosures of the truth of God.  The first is objective; outside; something that is beyond us; not in us, but outside of us, an objective revelation.  An objective revelation would be when God placed in the hands of Moses the tables of the commandments.  And Exodus 31 [Exodus 31:18], and Deuteronomy [Deuteronomy 9:10] say they were written by the finger of God.  That is an objective revelation.  Another example of an objective revelation is when the fingers of God wrote in the plaster, over against the wall in the palace of Belshazzar in Babylon, an objective revelation [Daniel 5:5].

A subjective revelation is one that is revealed to the man on the inside of his heart.  For example, in the third chapter of the Book of 2 Kings, Israel, Judah, and Samaria are under great distress because the king of Moab is about to destroy them.  So they come to Elisha and ask what to do.  And Elisha says, “Have a minstrel to play” [2 Kings 3:15].  And while the minstrel played, the hand of the Lord came upon Elisha, and he delivered the message from heaven [2 Kings 3:16-19].  That is subjective.  God spoke to the prophet in his heart.

A subjective revelation would be in Daniel again.  Objectively, God wrote in the plaster on the wall with His own fingers [Daniel 5:5].  Subjective revelation is God revealed to Daniel what those words meant [Daniel 5:17-28].  Those are the two kinds of revelation we find in the Bible.

Now there are three characteristics of revelation in the infallible Word of God.  The first is continuity.  As the revelation continues, it expands and it opens more and more and more.  God will reveal Himself.  It will be a beginning in the Old Testament, and it will grow and unfold and grow all through the centuries and the ages until finally it reaches its highest consummation and climax in the New Testament.

So there is progress.  There is openness.  There is increasing revelation in the Holy Word of God.  The first verse of the first chapter of the Book of Hebrews says that, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke . . .  by the prophets, to our fathers, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son” [Hebrews 1:1-2].

In pieces, in times, in ways, as the revelation continued, God added to it and added to it, and it progressed through the days and through the centuries.  God didn’t do it all in the beginning, but He did it over a vast period of time.  Now you see that in the things that you read in the Old Covenant and the things that you read in the New Covenant.

It’s the same kind of a thing as you find in a child.  There are certain things to do in childhood with the child as you fetch him up, as you discipline him, as you train the child that is different from what you do when the youngster becomes a full-grown man or a woman.  Now in the childhood days of the revelation, God did things that is not done in the manhood time of the revelation.

For example, one of those you would find in force, in coercion.  In 1 Samuel, for example, it says that, “Samuel hewed Agag the king of the Amalekites” [1 Samuel 15:33].  Samuel hewed him before the Lord with a sword.  He cut him in pieces before the Lord.  Now, to us in the New Testament revelation, in our manhood, that would be impossible; that would be unthinkable!  But God in the childhood days of the revelation used coercion and force.

Let me illustrate that with a child.  A child is like that.  When the youngster is small and young, you discipline him with coercive measures.  And the Lord seemingly blesses that.  He says, “You spare the rod and you spoil the child” [Proverbs 13:24]. That’s children.

I one time heard of a spoiled brat who was in a toy department of a department store.  And the spoiled brat was on a little rocking horse, and the mother couldn’t get him off of it.  So she pled with the boy and tried to bribe the boy and tried to coax the lad, and he wouldn’t do it.  He’s staying on that horse!

So the store didn’t want to offend the affluent parent.   So the store called for the psychologist, the store psychologist, and asked the psychologist to get that boy off of that rocking horse.  Well, the psychologist went over there and said something to that little boy, and just like that, he got off of it.  And the mother was astonished!

So at home she got that little fellow in the corner and said, “Son, what did that psychologist say to you?”  And the little boy, “Oh, Mama, I promised him I wouldn’t tell.”  That made the mother all the more curious.  “Son, now that doesn’t matter.  Come, you just tell me what that psychologist said.”

“Well, well,” he said, “Mother, that psychologist came over to me, and he said, ‘You listen to me, you little brat.  If you don’t get off of that horse right now, I’m going to pull out my belt, and I’m going to blister your bottom so you can’t sit down, and I’m going to beat the daylights out of you so you can’t get out of bed!'”  Now, that’s revelation.

In the days of our youth, God used coercive measures, as you’ll find back here in the Old Testament, but in manhood you wouldn’t do it.  That’s God.  We change.         Take another instance out of ten thousand because we don’t have forty hours tonight, we must hasten.

Take another, Jesus said to those in Judea, “Moses, for the hardness of your heart permitted you to put away your wives, but it is not right, and God never intended it.  There is one man for one woman and one woman for one man” [Mark 10:5-9].  As the revelation continues, God expands it.  There is continuity.  There is progress in the truth of God.

A second characteristic of revelation:  it is teleological; that is, it has purpose.  It is striving toward a goal.  Wherever in the Bible you read God’s revelation, it is moving toward a great consummation.  From the beginning all the way through the end, it is moving out.  It is going on toward some great destiny chosen of the Lord.

And all through the Bible that teleological purpose is invariably seen.  God is moving, and He is reaching toward a great and mighty purpose.  He is achieving an elective choice that God has purposed from the foundation of the world.  And all the Bible is that.  What is enfolded in the Old Testament is unfolded in the New Testament.  What is latent in the Old Testament is patent in the New Testament.  Always there is that purposiveness found in the revelation of God.

For example, in the humblest, smallest mathematical exercise, there are all of the elements of calculus.  So with the revelation of God; in everything that is done, there is latent the great purpose of God, toward which the revelation is moving and reaching.

Take, for example, the tabernacle.  Why all of those chapters and all the things in the Bible concerning the Levitical code and the tabernacle?  What God is doing is He is teaching us nomenclature, so we can understand the language of heaven!  After I have worshiped in the tabernacle and learned the tabernacle, I know exactly what God means when He says “altar.”  I know exactly what God means when He says “sacrifice.”  I know exactly what God means when He says “atonement.”  I know exactly what God means when He says “propitiation.”  I have learned the language of heaven from the Old Testament Levitical tabernacle.  God is teaching me and reaching out toward the great and final purpose for which He has given us the infallible Word of God.

Now, a third characteristic of revelation; and that is, it is congruous.  It is in harmony.  It never contradicts itself.  Always, it is the same marvelous, infallible revelation of the truth of God.  It never varies.   It never contradicts.  It always moves on in perfect and beautiful harmony.

Now if I had an hour, I’d like to expatiate on that.  Our brilliant president of our Bible Institute referred to these creationist scientists who are coming in order to speak to us.  Now I want you to look at the difference between an evolutionist—which is all of academia, except for a little handful—I want you to look at the difference between a scientist who teaches evolution in our schools and the Word of God.  The anthropologist, when he begins to look at man, what he does is he starts in a slime.  He starts in the mud, he starts in a primordial animalcule.  He starts  with an amoeba or paramecium; he starts with some unicellular blob.  And then up we come, and we come, and we come, and we come, and we come, and we come, and in our evolution, we  are finally going to be archangels.  Now that is the idiocy of evolutionists, there’s not a syllable observable in life that confirms that anywhere!

Everything we know in life tends to go down; the whole universe is running down.  You take a fine strain of horses and leave them alone; they’ll turn out to be broom tails.  You take a fine, fine strain of Hereford cattle, leave them alone, and they’ll turn out to be critters.  All life goes down.  It never goes up.  The only place you’ll ever find life going up is in the evolutionist’s estranged and aberrant mind.  It’s in scientific idiocy that you find evolution; never anywhere else, never!  All right, that’s the way the anthropologist looks at the world.

Now you look at God, how He will be true to the faith and true to Himself.  God says we were not primordial insects or paramecia or amoebae, and then we are up and up and up, up and up and up, rising and rising.  God says we are a fallen race [Romans 5:12], and we need salvation [Romans 6:23]—we need deliverance, we need reconciliation [2 Corinthians 5:19], we need redemption [Colossians 1:14]—we need bringing back to our primordial and pristine state.

God says we were created perfect, and in sin, we fell from our estate [Romans 5:18].  And down, and down, and down, and down did we fall, until finally you see these forms of life in cave men.  But that was not an intention of God; God intended for us to be perfect in His sight.  And the Lord Jesus redeems us and brings us back to God, that is revelation [1 Peter 1:18-19].  Men never wrote that, never in the world.  Revelation does that.

We must hasten.  Inspiration, inspiration, the transmission of the text that we have here, the true and inerrant and infallible Word of God; what God revealed, that we have it here in the Bible without mistake and without error.  There are several theories of inspiration.  One is rationalistic; that is, the infidel and the unbeliever who say there is no inspired Word.  There is no infallible Word.  It is not!  And what you have in the Bible is nothing but a man seeking after deity, human genius.  And the Bible is inspired, they say, in the same sense that Homer was inspired, or Dante was inspired, or Milton was inspired, and Shakespeare was inspired.  So they say Moses was inspired, and Isaiah was, and Paul and Peter and John.  It’s all human effort.

Now, I imagine Shakespeare, who is by far the greatest literary genius the world ever saw, I think he’d be very complimented.  If he were alive, he would be very complimented that somebody would say he had the same inspiration as an Isaiah.  All Shakespeare wanted to do was to make enough money and to be accepted as a gentleman so that he could be buried in the chancel of the church.  And he wrote his plays for money.  And he strove and sought in his literary life for a place in the sun, so he could be buried in the church.  And he achieved it.

And if you were to go to Shakespeare and say, “Shakespeare, you are in the same place and category of the inspired writer Isaiah,” he would be astonished and amazed at such a judgment!  They don’t live in the same world.  One is a man writing about human life for a price, for money, and the other is a man, a prophet of God, who reveals these great historical events that are going to come to pass hundreds and thousands of years ahead of its time.

All right, the second theory of inspiration; the first one was rationalistic.  The second one is partial.  That is, the Bible is inspired in some spots, and some spots it isn’t.  They say that the Bible is not the inspired Word of God, but it contains the Word of God.

About two days ago, Dr. Paige Patterson came to me with another strange kind of a theory.  He says, “What they’re saying now is there is infallible purpose in the Bible.”  All that is, is just a maneuver to get away from the avowal that the Bible is the infallible Word of God.  It contains the Word of God, they say, but it isn’t the Word of God.  It’s full of error, they say.

Another theory of inspiration is mechanical; that these men were robots who wrote it, that they were just amanuenses—they were just secretaries, they were automatons, they were like a dictaphone—they were like a dictating machine.  And they say that in order to make a straw man, so they can cut it down in ridicule.

There is a marvelous and beautiful presentation of the idea of inspiration, and that is dynamic.  That is, God used the man just as he was.  His personality, his language, his thoughts, the whole soul and heart and body of the man, God used the man, and He spoke the inspired words of the revelation through that man and his personality.

For example, the great apostle Simon Peter, he says, “We know that the prophecy of the Scripture is not of any private origination” [2 Peter 1:20].   A man didn’t think it up.  But the prophecy came by them of old, who were moved by the Holy Spirit of God [2 Peter 1:21].  God used the man and just as he was, still that man.  But God spoke through him His infallible words.  That’s the dynamic theory of inspiration.

For example, God spoke through a donkey one time, Balaam’s donkey, but he still remained a donkey.  But God spoke through him [Numbers 22:28-30]. For example, God sent the ravens to feed Elijah, but they still were ravens [1 Kings 17:4-6].  God spoke to Moses out of a burning bush, but it was still a bush [Exodus 3:2-22].  God says, “I have ordained praise out of the mouths of babes and sucklings,” but they still remain babes and sucklings [Matthew 21:16].    So it is with the Word of the Lord.

Isaiah is a court preacher.  He falls into the highest life of poetry and peroration.  Amos is a country preacher.  He speaks as though he had just come out of the field, fresh turned furrows.  But God used Amos the farmer, the countryman, to deliver His message, and he was still Amos.  And God used the courtly preacher Isaiah, with his magnificent flights of oratory and poetical imagery, and he was still Isaiah.  God uses him.

For example, George Eliot, the poet, represents Stradivarius as saying, “If my hands slacked, I should rob God—since He is fullest good—leaving a blank instead of violins…God cannot make Antonio Stradivarius violins without Antonio.”  That’s God.  He uses the man just as he is.  And the man may die, but the infallible Word continues forever [Isaiah 40:8].

Briefly, four characteristics of the dynamic theory; I think truth of inspiration.  Number one, it is plenary.  That is all of it.  The whole Word of God, plenary, all of it, every piece of it.  From the first verse in Genesis to the last benediction in the Revelation, all Scripture is theopneustos.  It is God-breathed.  It is plenary.  It refers to all of it.  Number two: it is verbal, it refers to words.  You can’t have melody without notes, you can’t have mathematics without figures, nor can you have revelation without words.  And God speaks through chosen and inspired words; it is verbal.  Third: it is of all things marvelous—supernatural, from heaven—it is God speaking to us.  And the fourth verifies it: it has in it the Spirit of the living Lord.

As the author of Hebrews writes in [Hebrews 4:12], “All Scripture,” all of it, all of it, “is quick, and quick living, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”  God’s Spirit is in the Word.  The Lord’s mighty, changing power and witness is in that blessed Book that I hold in my hand, and its effectiveness can be proven and seen in the people that I see who are amazingly turned and converted by the living Word of God.

I’m sorry that we’re off of the air, but I want to give you an illustration of that, the dynamic theory, which I think is the truth, the dynamic truth of the inspiration of the Word of God; that it is found in its living, quickening power, in its effectiveness, that God is in it [Hebrews 4:12].

As you know, for ten years I was a pastor out in the country.  Lived with the people, and down there in Coryell County in my little church at White Mound, we had a godly deacon down there named Ed Davidson, one of the best men I ever knew in my life!  He is the first man I ever saw, when I called on him to pray, he’d get down on his knees, nobody else, but just he.  I love for us to kneel when we pray.  Oh, I loved Deacon Ed Davidson!  Stayed in his home Lord only knows how many times.  Well, somebody gave Ed Davidson a Bible, and he couldn’t understand it.  It was in another language, it was a foreign language.  So he gave it to me when I came to the home, and he said, “I want you to look at this.”  Well, it was a Spanish Bible.  It was a Spanish Bible, and he says, “I can’t read a word of it, what shall I do with it?”  “Well,” I said, “Uncle Ed, you’ve got a Mexican family down here on your place in a tenant house.  Give that Bible to that Mexican family!”  “Oh,” he said, “I shall.”  So he gave that Spanish Bible to that Mexican family.  The days passed, the months passed.  And when I went to my little country church, out of school, why, Ed Davidson met me, and he said, “Pastor, what are we going to do?  What are we going to do?”  He said, “You know that family that I gave that Bible to, my tenant farmer, you know?”  I said,   “Yes.”

“Well,” he said, “they’ve come to me, and they’ve said, ‘We’ve read the Bible and we’ve been converted, all of us!  And it says in the Bible, we ought to be baptized.’  And I don’t know what to do, we don’t have any Mexicans in this church, what are we going to do? It’s awful!”  he says, “they’d been saved, they’ve been converted, we don’t know what to do!”  Isn’t that the beatenest thing you ever heard in your life?  Yet I don’t know anything truer in human life.  “We’ve been saved and we want to be baptized.”  And Uncle Ed said, “We don’t know what to do, we don’t have any Mexicans in this church!”  I said, “Uncle Ed, I’ll tell you exactly what we are going to do.  We are going to have them testify to what Jesus has done in their hearts and lives, and we are going to receive them on a confession of faith, and I am going to baptize every one of them, and I did, in the Leon River!  Made a confession of faith, and I baptized the whole kit and caboodle of them.  I don’t know how many of them.  Man alive, they are a prolific, and fertile and thick fecund of people!  I baptized them all.

The days passed and the months passed, and I went to Uncle Ed’s home again.  And he said, “Pastor, I have promised my tenant farmer, the Mexican family, I have promised them that I would take you down there when you came to the church.”  So I said, “Fine, Uncle Ed, we will down and see them.”  So we went down there to see them, but they weren’t in the cottage, they weren’t in the house, they weren’t in the tent.  He took me to another place, a temporary shelter for them.  And so I said, “Well, Uncle Ed, what’s the matter?”  “Well,” he said, “the tenant farmhouse burned down.  Their house burned down, burned down.  And he said, “I’ have them housed over here temporarily, until I can rebuild it, and they have something they want to show you.”

 So Uncle Ed Davidson took me to the temporary house, where they were for a while lodged until he could rebuild their tenant home, and drove up to the front, and the father, the patriarch in the home, came out.  And he had in his hand a half-burned Bible, and he came to me with great decorum and heavenly joy and pride, and holding that Bible in his hand, like that.  He came to me, and I would give anything in the world if I could mimic his Spanish brogue, but he came to me, and he said, he said “Pastor, my house burned down, house burned down!  But I ran into the flames, and I rescued out of the house just one thing, this holy and blessed Book!”  He held it there in his hands.  You know, if I had my life to live over again, I would have asked him, “Would you mind giving me that Bible?”  The Word of God is in it!  The Spirit of the Lord is in it!  It’s like the wheels of Ezekiel; the Spirit of God was in the wheels [Ezekiel 1:20].   The Spirit of God is in the Book!  And wherever it’s preached and read and loved, you have a new civilization, a new culture. You have new homes, new lives, new children, new young people, new families.  It’s a new day when the living Word of God—infallible, inspired, inerrant—is delivered to the people.

And dear sweet folks, I think it’s the most marvelous thing in the world that we have in our schools, both our academy and in our institute, and in the Sunday school teaching ministries of our church, and please the Lord, in the pulpit; our people are dedicated to the proposition that this is the living Word of the living God, infallible, inspired, inerrant!  “The flower fades, the grass withers: but the word of God shall stand forever” [Isaiah 40:8].  Doesn’t that comfort your soul?  He has not deceived us!   He has not misled us! He has not lied to us!  Every promise He made, He will faithfully keep!  Promises of God in Christ Jesus are everlastingly yea and amen [2 Corinthians 1:20].  And when God says yes, it’s forever and forever.

That’s what we are going to preach about next Sunday night.  Well, it’s a long time over the day but just praising God, thanking the Lord for His immutable and unchanging Word.  It’s like Himself, “the same yesterday, today, and forever” [Hebrews 13:8]. 

In a moment, we are going to stand and sing our hymn of appeal.  And while we stand to sing it, a family you to come and to cast life and lot and destiny with us, a couple, or just one you; out of that balcony, down a stairway, in this throng of people on the lower floor, down one of these aisles, “Pastor, I have decided for God and here I am.”  “I want to belong to the communion of God’s redeemed.”  “I want to accept Jesus as my Savior.”  “I want to be baptized.”  “I want to come into the church by letter.”  “I want to bring my little boy or my little girl.  I want to bring myself.”  As the Spirit shall press the appeal to your heart, answer with your life.  May angels attend you in the way, as you walk down that stairway, as you come down this aisle.  Oh, bless God for you as you answer, while we stand and while we sing.