|Volume 22 Number 10 October 2020||
Louis Rushmore, Editor
“But the word of the Lord endures forever. Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you” (1 Peter 1:25 NKJV). In no way comparable to the inspired Word of God, nevertheless the written word of God’s children shares some of the same characteristics. First, whatever biblical literature Christians produce ought to be filled with “sound words” (2 Timothy 1:13) derived from the Word of God—the Gospel.
Second, the written word of God’s servants is durable. Written material is always ready whenever and wherever the reader is ready for it. In some cases, this may be many years (e.g., the Bible itself). In the middle of 2020, a church secretary from Anchorage, Alaska informed me of an article written about “Encouragement” by Bonnie Rushmore, which appeared as parts 1 and 2 in two successive church bulletins. That article by my late wife was published in 2002 in Gospel Gazette Online—13 years before her death and 18 years ago now. Maybe not classified with the Bible character Abel, however, Bonnie “being dead still speaks” (Hebrews 11:4 NKJV). The written Word and the written word, too, are durable.
Third, the written word of God’s servants travels well. Also in 2020, I received an email from overseas, I presume, in which the writer offered lauds regarding Gospel Gazette Online. He wanted me to know that the magazine was his library from which he draws substance for his television programs, sermons and Bible classes. Alaska or Africa, for instance, are places to which neither Bonnie nor I have ever been, and yet, our writings and those of so many other brothers and sisters in Christ have traveled and continue to travel to places on earth to which we have never been and to which we may never go.
The churches of Christ distribute good Christian literature stateside and especially abroad to a degree nearly unimaginable. The written word can outlast any of us and go more places (simultaneously in different directions) than any of us can. Christian literature, filled with “sound words” (2 Timothy 1:13) derived from the Word of God—the Gospel, is always a wise investment.
The Bible’s Mistakes?
Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor
A recent Gallup poll showed that only 24% of Americans believe the Bible to be the literal Word of God. This is the lowest in Gallup’s forty-year tracking. The number of those who view the Bible as merely secular stories and history (some of which they think is false) has risen to 26%. Sadly, far too many people are losing confidence in the Bible. Someone has said, “If I were Satan, I would put as many barriers around the Bible as I could. I would plant thorns and hedges to frighten people away.” Truly, that is exactly what Satan is hard at work doing today. Doubt, skepticism and outright disbelief regarding God’s Book are so popular in our world.
Unfortunately, these doubts and disbeliefs are often founded upon bias and prejudice. Many who claim that the Bible is “full of mistakes” and “inaccurate” have never honestly and rationally read and studied its contents. Another point to consider is that when bias and prejudice are the core of a person’s conclusion, truth cannot really be seen for what it is. Many volumes have been written to answer these Bible critics verse by verse, and yet, most will never take the time or the effort to peruse such written documents.
Is the Bible really filled with mistakes? Is the skeptic right in his conclusion that the Bible cannot be trusted? This author outrightly and boldly affirms that the Bible is 100% trustworthy, and there are no mistakes in the Book God has given us. How could I make such a claim?
Firstly, there is inspiration. The very words of the Bible claim that they come from the very breath of God! “All scripture is given by inspiration of God…” (2 Timothy 3:16a). “Knowing this first that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation [not of human origin]. For 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 1:20-21). These passages deal with what is known as “plenary” (from the Latin plenus, meaning full or all) inspiration. Every Scripture, all the Scriptures, not just parts and pieces, are inspired of God. Jesus consistently endorsed the Words of the Bible as “Scriptures” (John 5:39), “the Law” (John 10:34), “the Law” and “the Prophets” (Matthew 5:17), “the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms” (Luke 24:44), “Moses and the prophets” (Luke 16:29), notwithstanding the fact that Jesus quoted and cited at least 18 different Old Testament books.
Not only all the Bible is inspired of God, but the very words are inspired of God. This is known as “verbal” inspiration. David affirmed, “The Spirit of Jehovah spake by me, and His word was upon my tongue” (2 Samuel 23:2). Notice, David did not say “thoughts” or “concepts” were upon his tongue, but the very words were upon his tongue! Paul declared that the very words came from God (1 Corinthians 2:12). Thus, when we speak of Bible inspiration, we speak of verbal (the very words) and plenary (every part) inspiration. God does not make mistakes, and His Word is the very breath of His power and glory. The Bible has no mistakes because of inspiration!
Secondly there is preservation. Amazingly, scribal work was a meticulous occupation that copyists took very seriously. Scribes copied just about any and every document that needed copied in the ancient world. In fact, scribes copied not only the Bible, but they copied marriage certificates, business receipts, land purchases and legal documents. They were meticulous in their work, so much so that many scribal rules were employed. For example, Scribes, copying the Sacred Scriptures, used a special kind of ink and made sure that each letter of a word was spaced apart exactly a hairsbreadth (the thickness of a hair). They also would never write even the smallest letter from memory. One group of scribes known as the Masoretes were even stricter in their copying rules. They counted how many times a letter was used, and which verse, letter and word should be precisely in the middle of the book. Relatively recent discoveries are of great importance in validating the preservation of the Scriptures. For example, in 1948, an Arab boy was looking for a lost goat near the Dead Sea. He threw a rock into a cave and heard something break. Upon investigation, hundreds of scrolls with ancient writings on them were discovered. On those numerous scrolls were copies of many Old Testament books, which were produced from about 200 B.C. to A.D. 100, making them about 1,900 years old. What was amazing about these “newly” found scrolls is that the words matched almost verbatim with what mankind already had in his bound copies of the Bible, once again proving that God caused the Scriptures to be preserved, and that they are reliable! Numerous similar finds have proven the same. The Bible has no mistakes because of preservation!
Thirdly, there is examination. From history to geography, the Bible is accurate! Predictive prophecies, including the rise and fall of nations and kingdoms, all point to the fact that the Bible is from God. Anyone who honestly searches the Bible will conclude that the Bible is from God and contains no mistakes! To claim that the Bible is a book of contradictions and errors is to show one’s own ignorance and bias. Search the Bible and you, too, will come away with the only logical conclusion — the Bible is in fact composed of the very Words of God!
So then, why do so many believe that the Bible is no longer a trustworthy book? Simply because so many have failed to really read and study it! The Bible has been removed from the schoolroom, the boardroom and the living room in America. Prejudice and ignorance have replaced its sacred precepts. Sadly, even many “churches” have replaced the Bible with entertainment, motivational speeches and inwardly focused programs. Satan is hard at work to discredit the Word of God. However, no amount of diligence on Satan’s part can overturn, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). God’s Word is true, and it will stand the remainder of time. May we seriously study her precepts, stand by her promises and shield her from the attacks whenever, wherever and from whomever. The only mistake regarding the Bible is the one mankind makes by failing to heed her sacred words. Truly, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105).