If you are like my wife and me, you can remember from your first day in church being taught that the Bible was God’s holy word. The Bible was perfect and without mistake or any contradictions.
We felt the Bible was personally written by the hand of God through chosen men, and all the answers were contained therein. I truthfully think a lot of us Christian people have come to see the Bible as the fourth member of the God-head.
In fact, to even question if the Bible is inerrant was sacrilegious. It was like the familiar quote in the court system when being sworn in, do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. We have come to believe the Bible is the truth, the whole Bible and nothing but the Bible. Everything is contained within the written word, and God can do nothing outside of the written word.
Of course that way of thinking really limits the Holy Spirit, who lives within us and is our teacher and guide. If the Spirit teaches us something or shows us something, we immediately want to look it up in the Bible, and if we cannot find it there, then we think the voice of the Spirit certainly must be wrong.
Also like my wife and me, many of you have come to a point where you began to wonder if this inerrancy of the written word of God is really the case. I remember reading a section in one of my Bibles between the Old and New Testament that was about how we got our Bible. I remember thinking about how certain books were chosen, by men, as divinely inspired and others were not, which books to put into what we call the Bible and which books to leave out. It sure made me think about how this can be a perfect, inerrant group of writings. Of course at that time, I quickly dismissed my questions and moved on, lest I made God mad at me for questioning his perfect book. Or maybe I was more worried about making the pastor and other members mad.
Of course a lot of us were taught that the King James Version of the Bible was the true word of God and any other translation was wrong, and some translations were even an insult to God. My thought on that is how can any translation be considered the true word of God? They are all translations, even the King James. Truthfully, some of the stories I have heard about King James and his instructions on interpreting the manuscripts would make me want to stay away from the King James Version anyway. This is why we depend on the Spirit within us to bring the truth to light and not depend on any particular translation.
When we read John 1:1 and many other verses within the Bible, we come to realize that when we hear that the Word of God is living, perfect, powerful, inerrant and so forth, what is being described is Jesus, not a book.
The Bible was definitely inspired by God, and that inspiration was through men. We all know if mankind has a hand in anything it is going to be flawed. Being inspired to write does not mean you write word for word through dictation. I can be inspired to write a book about a topic, but it is still going to be me writing, and have my thoughts, feelings, and flare to it.
Just because the written word of God is not perfect, that does not negate anything about God. I always heard people say that if the Bible has errors in it or contradicts itself, then the whole idea of God must not be true either. I really do not understand that logic, especially since we know that Jesus is the Word of God. The written word, when viewed through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness. The verse in 2 Timothy 3:16 does not say the written word is perfect.
In fact, when Christ walked on the earth, and the early days of Christianity, there was not even a written word like what we call the Bible available to the believers. There was the Word of God though, because Jesus has always been around.
My wife and I believe the Bible to be very valuable for learning and a means of hearing from God. We also believe the Holy Spirit within us and His still, small voice is even more valuable. We believe godly friends and wise people of God can be a help and guidance to us as the Holy Spirit speaks through them.
So many of us want to fight and defend the written word we call the Bible. We divide ourselves into groups and denominations, we separate ourselves from the world, we fight, condemn and alienate ourselves over the written word because we think it is the inerrant words and ways of God, yet the true Word of God, Jesus, is standing right in front of us and we miss Him. Just like when Jesus was talking with the Jews and said in John 5:39 and 40 … ‘You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life’.
We see that life is in Christ. Jesus is not telling them to come to the Bible or accept the Bible, but to come to Him. Jesus is the true, powerful, inerrant, living Word of God. Read your Bible, let the Holy Spirit bring life to the words, learn and be encouraged from them, but realize the written word is not perfect. Look to the living, perfect Word who is Jesus, and listen for His voice through the Spirit.