|From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase|
Part one of a series
Holy Scripture is holy Scripture. We dare not take a low view of this Book.
In both of his letters to the church at Corinth, the Apostle Paul found it necessary, among other things, to defend and to vindicate his ministry among them. His defense of his ministry focused upon his handling of the Word of God.
Here was the situation: Some men had come into the church at Corinth and had told them things about the Word of God that simply were not true. The root of these false teachings was a low view of Scripture.
Low and High Views of Scripture
What do we mean by a low view of Scripture? A low view of Scripture says that at the end of the day, my opinion determines what is true or not true. A low view of Scripture allows men to twist Scripture. The writer to the Hebrews talked about this. He spoke of those who adulterated the sections of Scripture that the Apostle Paul had already written at that time. The writer to the Hebrews said this - he said that these false teachers twist Paul's words, just as they twist all the Scriptures.
The Apostle Paul wanted the believers at Corinth to understand that he held the highest possible view of Scripture. And so, he begins one of the sections within his two epistles in which he defends his ministry to the Corinthian church by saying this - Second Corinthians chapter 4, beginning at verse one:
Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the Word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
Here is the essence of what the Apostle Paul is saying in verse two: He and those who ministered with him had not handled the Word of God deceitfully. Literally, "We have not falsified, adulterated, or corrupted the Word of God." Paul then went on to say that his ministry had been characterized by "manifestation of the truth" - literally, a plain and forthright disclosure of revealed truth.
In other words, the Apostle Paul was simply obeying the Bible's own commandments about how God's Word is to be handled. In Deuteronomy chapter 4, verse 2, God said this to the nation of Israel as they were about to enter the promised land:
You shall not add to the Word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.
Again, in Deuteronomy chapter 12, verse 32:
Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.
And we find these words in Proverbs chapter 30, verses 5 and 6:
Every Word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.
In Matthew chapter 5, verse 18 we have the Lord Jesus' own words concerning the nature of Scripture. He proclaimed that "not one jot or tittle" of Scripture would remain unfulfilled. The "jot" is the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The "tittle" is a tiny stroke that is added to letters of the Hebrew alphabet to indicate the specific meaning of a word in its context. The purpose and precision of God the Holy Spirit in the inspiration of the text of Scripture extend to even these minutest details.
Doctrine Can Hinge on a Single Word
We find in many places in both the Old and New Testaments where the meaning of a vital doctrine hinges on a single word in the text of Scripture. Let me briefly mention just two examples.
In Matthew chapter 22, the doctrine of the eternality and the deity of God the Son hinges on the fact that Jesus declares to the Sadducees, "Before Abraham was, I am" - not, "Before Abraham was, I was."
And in the book of Galatians, the Apostle Paul makes the vital point that in the plan of salvation God speaks not of "seeds" in the plural, but of a "seed" in the singular. He declares that the seed (singular) of Abraham is the Lord Jesus Christ, and that we are Abraham's spiritual seed because we are in Christ. This is the doctrine of our union with Christ in salvation.
You see, if you were to change just two little words in the text, you would undermine two of the most vital doctrines in all of Scripture concerning the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the one case, changing a verb from present tense to past tense undermines the doctrine of His deity, and in the other case changing a noun from a singular to a plural undermines the doctrine of our union with Christ in salvation.
Dear friends, Holy Scripture is holy Scripture. We dare not take a low view of this Book. We dare not alter a word of it. We must have a high view of God's Word. But a low view of Scripture is, unfortunately, a common attitude, a common problem, even in some of the most conservative Protestant churches today.
Next: Today's Low View of Inerrancy
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