You Can Take God’s Word for it, Except When I Say Otherwise

I was listening to a theology class on inerrancy the other day while jogging. I know, I live an exciting life.

It was a 45-minute lecture on the credibility of God’s Word. Many have attacked the Bible for being historically inaccurate, yet as time goes on, more and more archaeological evidence soundly backs up the Bible.

For instance, when this professor was in seminary, an archaeologist who did work at Jericho said that yes, while there was proof that the walls did fall down suddenly, based on the pottery, the date of the fall was several hundred years earlier than Joshua says it was. Therefore, Israel didn’t do the wall knocking, they just borrowed the story, and thus the Bible is in error.

Therefore, since the Bible is clearly wrong, we cannot hold to the innerancy of Scripture. Yes, it may be good for spiritual insight, maybe even trustworthy for finding out how to be saved, but as for history, it’s no good.

Until years later when another archaeologist did some work at Jericho and found that the previous archaeologist didn’t do thorough enough work. The previous one did work in the poor part of town where they had old pottery. But the richer part of town had newer pottery, and thus the date was consistent with Joshua’s testimony.

He gave several other examples where time came through on the side of the Bible as more information was gathered. He spoke in very certain terms that you had better take the Bible’s word for it. Trust what it says. Don’t change the words. Even if the words haven’t been proven right yet, stick with them, they will be.

Very adamant and clear on the point about trusting Scripture, taking its word for it. It was very nicely done.

He then quoted Mathew 24:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” He bucked up the point further: people can be wrong; God will not be. Stick with what God says, not with what people make up, as people will pass away but not God’s word.

He then tried to explain what heaven and earth passing away meant.

Again, let me set the scene: he has just spent 30+ minutes talking about the credibility of God’s Word, how we should trust what it says, take it for what it says and not trust people’s opinions about what it says. Again, 30+ minutes on that.

“Heaven and earth passing away can’t actually refer to the heaven and earth passing away,” he loosely said. “What will happen is that some of the bad works on the earth will be burned away, but this earth will remain.”

I busted out laughing while running down a hill on Forest Lane. “You gotta be kidding me!” I said out loud.

Again, 30+ minutes of “the Bible said the walls of Jericho fell over, and they did. Always take the Bible for what it says, don’t listen to those who change what it says.” 30+ minutes of that followed by, “well, it doesn’t really mean what it says here.”

Now, granted, there is always debate about how biblical prophecy will be fulfilled. There is even some wiggle room on translating the phrase “shall pass away” (which is all one Greek word), but still, based on the context, Jesus is talking about something (the heaven and earth) that ceases to be with something (God’s words) that will never cease to be.

He’s clearly not saying “Yes heaven and earth will slightly be altered, but God’s word will not slightly be altered.” He’s speaking in absolutes. Creation will disappear; God’s Word is eternal.

Why can’t the professor just say that? Because the theological camp he belongs to does not believe there will be a 1,000 year kingdom on this earth (even though Revelation clearly says it about 8 times) before the destruction of the heavens and the earth and the creation of a new heaven and earth. Therefore, when the Bible describes life in the Kingdom, the professor and his camp mix that with life in the “new heavens and the new earth.”

His camp has taught him their theory, which I don’t think is consistent with Scripture. Since he has to stay in his camp, he can’t teach what the Bible says here. That’s his call. He can do that if he wants, but if he does, he can’t really teach the previous 30+ minutes of his lecture with a straight face.


4 thoughts on “You Can Take God’s Word for it, Except When I Say Otherwise”

  1. There always must be Bible interpretation, in order to know “what the Bible says”.

    For example, we who have been raised among a Christian environment, have no problem thinking that Jesus “fulfilled the prophecies,” even though some of our interpretations of how he fulfilled them do not go along with what the Bible “seems” to say. It requires interpretation, and not just jumping to conclusions based on our own understanding.

    Also, the correct interpretation is not gained merely by analyzing a bunch of human rules about interpretation, nor studying original languages. The Jews know the original languages, and they didn’t accept Jesus. Here’s a few words from one Jewish website that says why Jesus didn’t fulfill the prophecies:
    Specifically, the Bible says he will:

    – Build the Third Temple (Ezekiel 37:26-28).
    – Gather all Jews back to the Land of Israel (Isaiah 43:5-6).
    – Usher in an era of world peace, and end all hatred, oppression, suffering and disease. As it says: “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall man learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4)
    – Spread universal knowledge of the God of Israel, which will unite humanity as one. As it says: “God will be King over all the world – on that day, God will be One and His Name will be One” (Zechariah 14:9).

    If an individual fails to fulfill even one of these conditions, then he cannot be the Messiah.
    So, they would say that we Christians are not taking the Bible, “just as it reads”. We would argue that there is a spiritual fulfillment now (the kingdom of grace) and a literal fulfillment in the new earth (the kingdom of glory). It’s a difference in interpretation…but leading to very different results.

    Jesus said, if we desired to do his will, we would understand. Also, Jesus was anointed with the “oil of gladness” because he “loved righteousness and hated iniquity” (Heb. 1:9). So, wisdom in interpretation goes hand in hand with righteousness. It must be a burning desire to be like God, and to understand His righteousness, that drives us to prophecy. Those were the kind of people that were attracted to Jesus when He was on earth, even if initially they didn’t fully understand how the prophecies were being fulfilled the way they thought it should have been.

    What I’m more interested then, is knowing why you believe that the earth will be inhabited by people during the millenium, and what purpose does this play in the battle between sin and righteousness? How is God’s character revealed by this event? And how does this inspire us to put away sin now, and seek His face?

  2. In answer to your question: the doctrine of the millennial kingdom has a purpose in showing that even when the perfect environment exists, people will still go to sin, even after Christ has been magnified in the Gospel and glorified on earth in the kingdom. Since this world is tainted by sin, there is no possible way righteousness can fully exist on this earth. By destroying this earth–by fire melting the elements as Peter puts it–and creating a new heaven and earth, righteousness will finally reign supreme.

    God’s character is revealed in the Kingdom because His righteousness will be on a fuller display than ever before on this earth, yet even then people will still sin, His grace is still needed, and yet those who continue to resist will see God’s character out poured in wrath upon them.

    It inspires us to put away sin now because God is on the side of the righteous and resists the proud. The Kingdom is not a second chance–only the righteous make it in–the 144,000 of Israel and a multitude of Gentiles. I don’t see any way in which believing in the millennial kingdom encourages sin.

  3. Jeff, I don’t understand all the details of your view. Is there a book or website that represents it so I could study it a bit more?

    I know some people think the millennial kingdom will involve the saints and Jesus ruling over unbelievers. I don’t see how that is possible, since God’s kingdom is not one of force. The Gentiles rule over others, and Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” He rules over those who submit themselves to Him.

    Didn’t the Pilgrim Fathers try to set up a kind of theocracy in New England? It didn’t work out very well, because when you start punishing or restricting people for not believing in God, they will often outwardly profess belief, just to get what they want. It ends up making a church full of hypocrites, who eventually take over the church.

    Also, is God’s righteousness more fully displayed through saints who have a resurrection body, ruling over others who do not have a resurrection body? (Maybe that’s not your view). That would seem to go against the mystery of God. The treasure must come in an earthen vessel in order to reach the people. Certainly angels could come down and “awe” us with their glory and power, but this would lead to artificial conversions, ie. like the people who came after Christ for the “loaves and fishes.”

    God’s glory was most magnificently displayed when Christ was born in a manger. How could the great and glorious God come down in such a humble and lowly way? By the striking contrast with how men regard greatness, it revealed God’s character even more fully than if He had just come down in Angel form.

    But I’m rambling…where can I read more about your understanding?

  4. Sorry, I lost internet connection for a few days.

    The Pilgrim Fathers did try and failed, as will all other attempts to create heaven on earth. It is only through the rule of the Messiah that this will occur. God made lots of promises to Israel about dwelling in their land and the Gentiles coming to Jerusalem to worship. He will fulfill them all. He will; not human effort.

    I would point you to John Walvoord as the author who I think best teaches the pre-millennial, pre-Tribulation rapture view I hold to. Also John McArthur teaches it well too.

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