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The Promise of Preservation

The doctrine of the Inspiration of the Scriptures is of supreme importance in the fight against apostasy. Even in today's age of prevailing liberalism, many Christians still vigorously defend the doctrine of Inspiration. They resist the attacks of liberal theologians who claim that the Bible was not verbally and plenarily inspired, even in the original autographs.[1]

The doctrine of Inspiration is clearly taught in the Bible. Easton's Bible dictionary defines inspiration as "that extraordinary or supernatural divine influence vouchsafed to those who wrote the Holy Scriptures, rendering their writings infallible."[2] The Bible clearly teaches this doctrine in 2 Timothy 3:16. It states, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." The apostle Peter wrote regarding the doctrine of Inspiration in 2 Peter 1:21, "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." Inspiration means that the men who wrote the Bible were so influenced by the Holy Spirit, that we can say that they were simply the pens that God used to write His Word.

While the doctrine of Inspiration is widely accepted in the modern Christian world, the doctrine of the Preservation of the Scriptures is not. Most modern theologians believe that the exact wording of the Bible has been lost. Therefore, the ideas of God are what have been preserved, and not the words. Norman Geisler, one of the most famous modern theologians, represents this view in his statement: Even when the accuracy of a reading in the original text cannot be known with 100 percent accuracy, it is possible to be 100 percent certain of the truth preserved in the texts that survive.[3]

Is it true that God only preserved His ideas and not His words? If this is indeed the case, what exactly was the purpose of the infallible inspiration given to the original autographs? What benefit do the inspired autographs give us today if we don't know exactly what they said? Does the Bible have anything to say about this issue?

One does not have to look far in the Scriptures to find the answer. Psalm 12:6 tells us that, "The words of the Lord are pure words:" God did not say that just the ideas of the Lord are pure, but rather that His words are pure. Jesus said in Matthew 4:4, "But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." Jesus noted an importance in the words of the Scriptures, not just the ideas. God did not just promise to preserve the ideas or the truths of the Bible, He promised to preserve the words. The Lord placed an importance on each individual word of God and not just the ideas contained in those words.

The preservation of the Bible has been a special miracle of God here on the earth. Psalm 119:89 says, "For ever, O Lord, Thy word is settled in heaven." If the Word of God is settled in heaven, why would God not preserve it on earth for us as well? Logic dictates that God would have preserved the words that He inspired. Proverbs 30:5 also confirms the promise of preservation, "Every word of God is pure: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in him."

The Bible promises harsh judgment on those who alter the words of God. In Revelation 22:18 it states, "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:" It is clear that the focus of the doctrine of the Preservation of the Scriptures is regarding the words of God, and not just the ideas.

God has promised to preserve His words perfectly for every generation. Jesus said in Matthew 24:35, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." This point could not be clearer than what He said in Matthew 5:18, "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." Rolland McCune comments regarding this verse: Here the references to the 'smallest letter' (kjv: 'jot') and 'stroke' (kjv: 'tittle') are hyperbolic, indicating the inalterability and thus the continuing authority of God’s entire written revelation.[4] The Bible is clear that the individual words of God have not passed away from the time they were written until now.

The promises of preservation are clearly stated and presented throughout the Bible. Despite this, many modern theologians try to explain away these promises by performing hermeneutical gymnastics in order to claim that these passages do not really teach the doctrine of the Preservation of the Scriptures. Again, to those teachers and preachers who believe and proclaim that the words of the Bible are not preserved, one must ask, what was God's purpose then of inspiring the original autographs? If only the original autographs contained the words of God, and the Bible we have today is corrupted, what good does inspiration do us today? If the exact words are indeed lost, then very few human beings have ever actually had access to the pure Word of God.

The greatest problem presented in denying the doctrine of the Preservation of the Scriptures is that the Bible clearly teaches and promises it. If these promises are lies, then what of the other promises? Titus 1:2 specifically states that God cannot lie. If what Jesus said about not one jot or tittle being lost is a lie, then all the promises of God are immediately now in question, including that of salvation. This is the ultimate goal of Satan. He continues to present the same argument to Christians today as he did in the garden of Eden. His subtle lie was then as it is today, "yea hath God said?"

The good news is that the promises regarding the preservation of the Bible are true. God’s exact words have been preserved for us today, and we can trust that the Bible, and its teachings, are 100 percent true. We can know for sure what the exact words of God are, because they have not been lost.

God has placed a tremendous and undeniable importance on the Bible. Every word in the Bible is important. Jesus said that man must live by "every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). How could we live by "every word" if those words have been lost?

The importance of the Scriptures can also be seen in Psalm 138:2. There it states, "I will worship toward thy holy temple, And praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: For thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name." If God has magnified His Word above His very name, you can be certain that He took the effort to not only inspire, but also to preserve it. God is certainly capable of preserving His Word throughout history and has done so. If someone wants to see the preserved words of God today they can see them in the King James Bible and its base text.

[1] A biblical autograph is the original manuscript written by the biblical author. [2] M. G. Easton, Easton’s Bible dictionary, (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1893). [3] Norman L. Geisler and William E. Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible, Rev. and expanded. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1986), 44. [4] Rolland McCune, A Systematic Theology of Biblical Christianity: Prolegomena and the Doctrines of Scripture, God, and Angels, vol. 1, (Allen Park, MI: Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, 2009), 51.

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