Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Infallibility - big word with a bigger meaning

It's Theology Tuesday!  Here's the second essay I've written for my NANC Certification.  Have a great day!

What is the relationship between infallibility and authority?

Wayne Grudem defines infallibility as “the idea that Scripture is not able to lead us astray in matters of faith and practice.”  This word is closely related to the word “inerrant” or without error.  Broken down simply, infallibility means that the Bible is true.  

We know from Scripture that the Word of the Lord is flawless, which means it has been tested and proven to be true. (II Samuel 22:31, Ps 18:30).  Psalm 33:4 says that God’s word is right and true.  Psalm 12:6 says, “And the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times.”  

Jesus and other New Testament writers often referenced passages from the Old Testament in their more contemporary texts.  Jesus showed his belief in the ancient writings when He used the Old Testament to explain his death, burial, and resurrection to the men he met on the road to Emmaus.  “Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” (Luke 24: 27)  Paul also declared in Acts 24:12 that he believed everything that was written in the law and the prophets.

Understanding that the Word of God is true is essential to reading and understanding it.  God himself testified in Isaiah that the words of the prophet were actually His own. “...Who told this long ago?  Who declared it of old? Was it not I, the Lord? And there is no other god beside me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me. (Isaiah 45:21)”  God Himself is pure and perfect.  Numbers 23:19 says that God cannot lie.  Therefore, if all of the Bible is inspired by God as II Timothy 3:16 says, then it is also true.  

We know the Bible is God’s word because it says it is, but also, as  believers, we have the Spirit of God inside us testifying that what we are hearing is the word of the Lord.  Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”  (John 10:27).  Therefore, if someone is not a follower of Jesus, then he will not hear Him speak through the scriptures.  Instead it will be foolishness to him.  (I Cor 2:14).

Webster’s dictionary defines the word authority as “power to influence or command thought, opinion, or behavior.”  A father has authority over his children, to command them to act a certain way.  A teacher has authority over her students.  A boss has authority over his employees.  A General has authority over his troops.

God gave the Bible the authority to influence our thoughts and actions.  God said He gives his attention to those who tremble at His word (Is 66:2).   Jesus instructs us in John 15:10 to obey his commandments.  Paul declares in I Corinthians 14:37 that “what I am writing to you is a command of the Lord.”  Therefore, disagreeing with the Bible and acting against it is disobeying God Himself.  

Now to the question: What is the relationship between infallibility and authority of the scriptures?  We must believe that the Bible is true, or infallible, and then obey it as the final authority on our lives.  It can be summarized in three words:  “Trust and obey.”  

“authority.” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.  2010. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/authority (September 21, 2010)

Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, pages 73-82, 93-94, 1236, 1245.

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