The Infallible, Inerrant Word of God
November 11th, 1991
THE INERRANT, INFALLIBLE WORD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
Georgia Baptist Conservative Preaching Conference
First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas; twenty-eight thousand members, for now forty-eight years as he serves now as the senior pastor; prolific writer of fifty-six books and many of us have most of those books in our libraries. I could go on and on talking about W. A. Criswell but you know him. One thing I love about W. A. Criswell is that Dr. Criswell was a conservative before conservatives were cool.
You never—that’s right—you never wondered where he stood. I remember a time when I was a very young man and in our convention, our convention was vacillating. Even the leaders that I admired so much, and I’ll not mention names, but they were vacillating. They were afraid to take a stand. You never had to doubt where W. A. Criswell stood. He’s a man who is a defender of our faith. I’ll say no more; welcome Dr. C., Dr. W. A. Criswell, will you?
Oh dear! Ah, thank you. Oh, my! Thank you with all of my heart.
A Texas highway crew out there in West Texas left a ten-ton Caterpillar tractor on the side of the road. Early the next morning a little sparrow landed on a barbed wire fence and looked at that monster with one eye and the other and read the sign: “Ten-ton Caterpillar,” and said, “Wow, what a worm! What a worm!”
Well, I bring you greetings from Texas, where every molehill is a mountain, and every dry wadi is a river, and every hole in the ground is an oil well, and every man is a liar. That’s Texas.
You know, I had no idea when that boy over there, Bill Harrell, wrote me a letter. And oh, he was so eloquently persuasive in it, asked me to come over here to Georgia. I call this the garden of Eden. To me it looks so beautiful. So I immediately acquiesced with gladness and delight just like you did Dr. Smith.
And that is absolutely one of the sweetest pastors in all this world, Bill Harrell, right there. Did you know that in the community where his church is located there was a mother that got ill? Instead of sending for him, the pastor, they sent for the Methodist preacher.
And the Methodist preacher came and knocked on the door, and a little girl came to the door, and the Methodist preacher said, “I suppose that Pastor Bill Harrell is sick or out of town because your mother is ill and you send for me, the Methodist preacher to come see her.” And the little girl said, “Oh no, our pastor, Brother Bill Harrell, is well and in town, but we think mother has a contagious disease, and we didn’t want to expose our pastor.” Oh dear!
In your clemency, I’m going to speak on the infallible, inerrant Word of God. Amen. All Scripture, all Scripture is theopneustos, God-breathed; translated inspired [2 Timothy 3:16]. “I charge thee therefore,” ekmarturomai, that “martyr” right in the middle of that word, ekmarturomai, “I charge thee therefore.” We’re to lay down our lives for it, a martyr, “I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom”; kerussō, “preach the word” [2 Timothy 4:1-2].
Do you remember how the third chapter of Matthew begins? First verse: “In those days came John the Baptist, kerussōn” [Matthew 3:1]—you could hear him clear to Jerusalem. That’s what we’re to do preaching the infallible, inerrant, inspired Word of God [2 Timothy 3:16].
I live and minister in a metroplex that is filled with colleges and universities; Baptist University, Methodist University, Disciples of Christ University, Catholic University, all of those parts of Texas University, thousands and thousands of students and they come to me and they say, “Pastor, this is a Book of fable and allegory and myth. I came from a green scum, my professor teaches me so. I have ancestors and they are an amoeba, and a paramecium. They are a fish and a tadpole. They are a marsupial and a monkey; and finally, me. That’s what I have learned in the university.”
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 Ph.D.
I don’t know how the law is here in Georgia but in Texas by law—by law!—you have to teach those children that they came from monkeys. You have to teach them evolution. And by law, you cannot teach them that they were created by God. That’s the law in the state of Texas.
Preacher, that’s one of the reasons that we have in our church a wonderful academy. We teach the Bible in that academy. We pray in that academy. By law, you can’t pray in your state or anybody else’s state. And we have chapel, and we have revival meetings, and we have services.
I would encourage every pastor under high heaven to have your own school and to teach your children the Word of God. Beats anything you ever heard of or could think for in your life to teach those children that they came from monkeys; unbelievable!
There was a man I heard of who had a little boy just as smart as he could be. And he said, “My little lad is going to be a naturalist. He’s going to be a professor of animals when he gets up.” And he said, “I want to show you.” So he took the little lad barely two years old, put him on his knee; reached up there and got a book on natural history and he turned to the book and showed the little lad a picture of a giraffe.
And the dad said to the little boy, “What is that?” And he said, “Horsey.” Then he turned the page and showed the little boy a picture of a tiger and said, “Sonny, what is that?” And the little boy said, “Pussy.” Turned the page and showed the little boy a lion and said, “What is that, son?” And the little lad replied, “Doggy.” Turned the page and showed him a picture of a chimpanzee and said, “Sonny, what is that?” And the little boy said, “Daddy.” Good night, you can’t believe it! You can’t believe it.
So these students come to me and say, “We absolutely cannot accept the Bible as being authentically true, or historically accurate, or scientifically correct. It is historically and scientifically inebriated.” So I look at that. So it is historically unauthentic and incorrect. Strange thing, for hundreds and hundreds of years, they have been digging in those archeological mounds over there in Asia Minor and in the Near East, and in the Holy Land. And after these hundreds and hundreds of years of archaeological discovery, they have never yet turned one spade that has denied any word in this living Bible, not one, not one, not one.
Every archaeological fact and discovery authenticates, and corroborates, and verifies the infallible Word of God. Why, I can stand here by the hour and show you that. There was a time when they said, “Moses couldn’t write”; yet the Bible says he wrote. Then they discovered the tablets in Ugarit, then in Ras Shamra, then in Tel El Amarna, and we learned that they were writing thousands of years before Moses.
Then they said the Hittites, there never was any people called Hittites, yet the Bible is full of Hittites. Then I received not too many years ago a copy of LIFE magazine presenting the vast empire of the Hittites. Then they said there’s no such person ever lived named Belshazzar. Then they began digging down there in those cuneiform inscriptions in Babylon and I could write you a biography today about Belshazzar.
Then these men who criticize the Bible said John’s Gospel could not have been written until over three hundred fifty years after Christ. And while they were mouthing that, these higher critics, they discovered a papyrus in Egypt that shows, quoting the Gospel of John, that shows it must have been written by 100 AD. Every thing we’ve ever discovered in archaeological findings verifies and corroborates the infallible Word of God.
Then they say, “It is scientifically incorrect.” I want to make an observation. You be sure of your scriptural facts, and you be sure of your scientific facts before you say the Bible is scientifically incorrect. Did you ever hear of Harry Rimmer? You’re too young to have heard of Harry Rimmer. Harry Rimmer went around everywhere in creation, and he lectured on the infallible Word of God. And wherever he went, he put a little ad in the paper, saying, “I’ll give anyone one thousand dollars if they’ll point out to me a Scripture that is not scientifically accurate”; a thousand dollars. Well, a woman came and claimed the thousand dollars.
And he said, “On what basis?” She said, “It says in the Bible that Adam and Eve ate an apple.” Good night alive! “And science has proved that it’s too hot in the Mesopotamian valley for apples, and no apples could grow in the Mesopotamian valley, but the Bible says Adam and Eve ate an apple.”
And he said, “Show me in the Bible where it says Adam and Eve ate an apple. Can you do that? You can’t do that?” No! Be sure of your scriptural facts before you say that the Bible is scientifically incorrect and be sure of your scientific facts.
Science is like a chicken. It is molting all the time. Did you know that in the Louvre library in Paris there are three and one half miles of books on science written in the last fifty years that are passé. They are out of date.
I think of that woman who went to her doctor and said to him, “Dear doctor, I’m afflicted with insomnia. I can’t sleep.” And the doctor said, “Well, you just eat something before you go to bed.” And she said, “Why, doctor you told me last week I was not to eat before I went to bed.” And he replied to her, “Tut, tut, Madame, science has made great strides in this last week.” Oh dear!
Sweet people, this miracle Book I hold in my hands is infinitely, unimaginably reflective of the mind and heart of God. Look at it just for a minute. This Bible was written by forty different men, over fifteen hundred years, against every conceivable background that secular imagination could contrive.
For example, in Egypt they had a cosmogony, the latest science. And the Book says that Moses was learned in all of the arts and science of the Egyptians [Acts 7:22]. That means that Moses was taught by the latest science in Egypt that there was a flying winged egg that went around, and around, and around, and around until the process of mitosis was achieved. And then the earth hatched out of that flying egg.
So I open my Bible, and Moses was taught those things according to the latest science in Egypt, and I expect to read about that flying ovoid out of which the world hatched. And instead I read the ten greatest words in human literature: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” [Genesis 1:1]. In the Book!
Take again. So much of this Bible was written against the background of Babylonian-Chaldean culture and science; Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, most of 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles. All of those books were written against the background of the science and culture of the Chaldeans. They had a great cosmogony and anthropology.
According to the finest science of the Chaldeans there was a monster evil Tiamat and a good king Marduk and they warred to the death. And Marduk slew Tiamat. Now this is their latest science in Chaldea. And when Marduk slew Tiamat, he flattened out his body and that became the earth.
Then Marduk spit and where he spat men sprang up. And the men spit and where they spat women came up. And the women spit and where they spat animals came up. When I read that as the latest science of the Chaldeans, I thought of that sign, “Don’t smoke; remember the Chicago fire.” And a guy wrote underneath it, “Don’t spit, remember the Johnstown flood.”
It’s hard for us to believe that this Bible written centuries and centuries and centuries ago has in it the latest science. It is unbelievable and unimaginable. For example, in Job 26, Job 26, “God hangeth the world upon nothing.” “God hangeth the world upon nothing” [Job 26:7]. Why, sweet people, it was a thousand, thousand years before they discovered that God threw this planet out into space.
All of them, in their science, believed that the earth was held up by some kind of a solid substance. There’s not a boy in school but that knows that the Greeks said that the world was held on the back of a giant named Atlas. The whole cultural world, educated world, knows that. Yet God said, thousands of years before we discovered this planet out in space, “God hangeth the world on nothing” [Job 26:7].
Or take again, in Job chapter 28 He speaks of the weight of the winds [Job 28:25]. Why, my sweet people, it was 1647 before Torricelli discovered the barometer. There was weight to the wind. In the fortieth chapter of the Book of Isaiah, Isaiah speaks of the global circle of the earth [Isaiah 40:22]. It was thousands of years before we learned the world was not flat. And sweet people, the finest sentence that ever you will read that describes the atomic molecular structure of substance is Hebrews 11:3; none like this Holy Bible.
But I am the first to admit, and do, that this Book is not written as a book of science, nor is it written as a book of history. It is written that I might know God, that I might go to heaven when I die.
So, there came up to me in our pulpit, in our dear church in Dallas, there came up Sunday morning about a week or so ago, there came up eight students from Baylor University. And they came up there at the end of the service. They came up there on the platform and surrounded me in a half circle, eight of them. And as you know we’re in a life and death struggle about the destiny of our senior university in Texas.
So those eight students came up and stood there in front of me. And as I talked to them and they talked to me, I asked them, “Do you take classes in the Bible department of Baylor University?” Yes, all of them, all of them. Well I said, “Does your professor teach you that the Bible is inerrant, and infallible, and inspired?” [2 Timothy 3:16]. And they said, “By no means, our professors in the university teach us that the Bible is full of contradictions, and inconsistencies, and errors.”
Well, I said, “Let me ask you once again, do your professors teach you that the Bible is authentically correct and that is it is historically true?” And they said to me, “No, by no means. We are taught that the Bible is full of fables, and full of allegories, and full of legends, and full of myths, and also full of outlandish unbelievable stories like Jonah and the whale” [Jonah 1:17].
So I hold in my hands a Bible that is full of error and full of mythological inanities. And I have, as a pastor of the church, I have to stand in that pulpit and preach the truth of the living God and the Book on which I am to base my message, and my sermon, and my appeal is full of error and myth. Where will I find that infallible teacher or professor who can point out to me what part is true and what part is untrue? What part is mythological and what part is the revelation of God?
Might as well preach Jason and the golden fleece as to preach Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden [Genesis 3:1-24]. Might as well preach Hercules and his twelve labors as Moses and the twelve tribes of Israel [Exodus 24:12]; might as well preach Aesop’s fables as to preach Jesus and the feeding of the five thousand [John 6:1-14]; might as well preach Homer, and Hesiod, and Virgil as to preach Moses, and Paul, and John.
My Bible, full of error and myth; what shall I do? Throw it away. Throw it away. Throw it away. And I stand in my pulpit where I have stood for now forty-eight years. I stand in my pulpit and what shall I say? What shall I say? Great God, what shall I say? Where is the foundation for the building of the home and the teaching of our children? Great God, what shall I say?
O Lord, and most of all, sweet people there are many weeks when I hold three, and four, and five funerals. And I stand there either in the church or I stand in the funeral home and I don’t have a message, for my Bible is full of error and myth. Like last Saturday, in our dear church, burying one of the distinguished young judges of our city, and I don’t have a Book. I don’t have a word from God. I don’t have a Bible.
One of the greatest biographies ever written is by a young fellow named Lockhart, writing about Sir Walter Scott. And when Sir Walter Scott lay dying, he turned to his son-in-law Lockhart and said, “Son, bring me the Book.” And Lockhart said to his father-in-law, “Father, there are thousands of books in your library. What book?” And Sir Walter Scott, the grading Scottish bard, said, “Son, there’s just one Book.” And he went to the library and picked up the Bible like you did. He picked up the Bible and he brought it to Sir Walter Scott and placed it in his hands. And Sir Walter Scott died with this Bible in his hands.
“There’s just one Book,” cried the dying sage,
“Read me the old, old story.”
And the winged word that can never age,
Wafted his soul to glory.
“There’s just one Book.” I have publicly said to my people and to my dear wife, “When I die, when I die, I want you to place my Bible in my hands, and I want to be buried with my Bible in my hands.”
Thou truest friend man ever knew,
Thy constancy I’ve tried;
When all were false, I found thee true,
My counselor and guide.
The mines of earth no treasures give
That could this volume buy;
In teaching me the way to live,
It taught me how to die.
[“My Mother’s Bible,” Henry Russell]
I told Bill, I said, “Son if you don’t mind, I want to make an appeal.” He said, “Why, you do whatever God leads you to do.” If you are a preacher or a pastor, would you stand up? If you are a preacher or a pastor, would you stand up? I wish we had room at an altar where we would come, and kneel, and pray. But not having room at an altar, I want to ask you if you will give yourself as you never thought for in your life, “I will give myself, preacher, to the preaching of the infallible Word of God. I will do it. I’ll lay down my life for it. I will preach it inerrant, infallible, inspired [2 Timothy 3:16], as I have never sought to preach that Holy Word before. I’ll do it, preacher.”
I want you to do one of two things. Go to the aisle and kneel, or if there’s not room, kneel down where you are. If you will covenant with God, “Dear God, I’ll give myself to the preaching of the infallible Word.” Kneel where you are or go to the aisle and kneel down for this commitment and this dedication of the strength of our lives, proclaiming the Holy Word of God.
Our Lord in heaven, and Jesus, my precious Savior, O God how encouraged I am. Eighty-two years of age I am, coming to the end of my ministry I am, but Lord look, these dedicated, consecrated men of God picking up that torch, raising it high and carrying it forward, preaching, proclaiming, kerussōn, the infallible, God-breathed, inspired Word of the living Lord [2 Timothy 3:16]. Give them power as they stand proclaiming it, giving them souls as they make appeal for the lost, and blessing their churches with growth and the sweet presence of heaven itself. Thank You, Lord, for the privilege of just being close by and sharing these precious moments with Thee and with them, in Thy dear and saving name, amen.
Now we’ll be seated.