Because we believe in a sovereign God who rules the whole world, right down to the death of sparrows, the naming of stars and the number of hairs on your head, we also believe in the doctrine of inerrancy.
This means that we believe that the word of God is error free.
This does not mean that we believe that the translation of scripture is error free but that we believe that the thoughts and words in scripture are completely trustworthy. They are God’s words.
Those who have no assurance of God’s sovereignty over every atom also have no assurance of inerrancy. The bible may be free of errors, then again, it may not. If God is not sovereign, then maybe a disciple slipped in a doozy. A whopper. Maybe God wanted to say X, but the prophet carelessly put Y.
Our attitude to this matters because, like the Pharisees, we have a tendency to give this high honour to other writings and the imperfect words of other men.
The Pharisees had a good idea. They taught that people should obey the bible. We are all for that idea. But, with this emphasis on obedience comes the inevitable question of, “how?”
It was not long before the Pharisees began attaching a growing list of “How-to’s” to the commands of scripture. Over time, these “how-to’s” became legislation and were considered as authoritative as the scriptures themselves.
In other words, the inerrancy now applied to the “how-to” as well as the command. They were trying to legislate wisdom (the application of scripture).
But you can’t legislate wisdom – not successfully.
For example, the law commands cleanliness.
That’s the principle. But the Pharisees then tried to legislate wise ways to keep things clean and if you didn’t clean things their way you were out on your ear. A godless law breaker. A sinner.
We do something similar with our confessions, church policies, procedures and creeds when we treat them as authoritative over the hearts and minds of Christians. They are helpful, yes. But they are not inerrant. Neither is this blog, your Pastor, your Tim Keller collection or your Keith Green playlist.
All these things may be genuinely helpful and insightful but they are not law and they are not inerrant.
To the law and to the testimony, if they do not speak thus, it is because there is no light in them! (Isaiah 8:20)
The writings of godly men and women may be packed with biblical wisdom and application, but let us be very careful not to let inerrancy bleed of the pages of scripture and soak and sanctify our own imperfect works so as to force others to comply to any standard not laid down for us in God’s Word.
“Live as free men”, writes Peter, but not in a way that accommodates evil (1 Peter 2:16). Rather, we live out our liberty by cheerfully ignoring the doctrines and commandments of men (Colossians 2:20-22), while still honouring all men and having a clean conscience that’s submitted to the law of God in the Gospel.
Of course, living this way will inevitably lead to conflict,
Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus (Revelation 12:17)
The world, and even the world of the visible church, will repay you the same way Rome and the Jews repaid Jesus for His efforts – with a cross.
But also like Jesus, we are to count the cost joyfully (Matthew 5:11-12, Hebrews 12:2) as those who inherit the earth and eternal life with it.