The  Integrity Of The Text

The Bible is a book unlike any other work of literature, as it comes to us by the inspiration of God. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim. 3:16-17). There can be no error in what Scripture communicates to us, as the perfect God is its author and source. Those things in which it speaks to us, then, are to be accurate and reliable.

While Scripture is not a science textbook, it does speak accurately about the science it records. For example, in the Genesis account of creation, light, and the separation of light and darkness into day and night, is recorded as happening on the first day (Genesis 1:3-5), while vegetation, plants, and trees were not created until the third day (1:12-13). The inspired writer recorded what God knew, that without light, no plant life could be sustained.

In an age when many conceived the earth to be carried on the back of a turtle, or to be flat rather than spherical, Scripture reveals otherwise. In speaking of the power of God, Job testified, "He stretcheth out the north over empty space, and hangeth the earth upon nothing" (Job 26:7). Isaiah records, "It is he that sitteth above the circle of the earth" (Isaiah 40:22). This is also attested as true by David; "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us" (Psalm 103:12). On a spherical surface, east and west are infinitely separated in the sense that one can travel indefinitely in either direction without ever reaching the other. And yet, Solomon could also write, "The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it turneth about continually in its course, and the wind returneth again to its circuits" (Ecclesiastes 1:6). North and south are not infinitely separated as east and west, because a southward traveler on a spherical surface will be heading north after crossing the South Pole. Scripture speaks accurately of these concepts.

In discussing God's sovereignty over the animal world He created, David wrote, "The birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas" (Psalm 8:8). Yet, it would not be until AD 1860 that Matthew Maury spoke of the ocean as a circulating system, or the Gulf Stream that ships would ride to save time, the paths of the sea.

When Jesus gave the story of the Good Samaritan, he spoke of a certain man going down from Jerusalem to Jericho (Luke 10:30). This is accurate, as Jericho was lower in elevation than Jerusalem. How many other truths could be mentioned that are accurately recorded in the pages of Scripture as scientifically valid? It can be nothing less if it is the word of God. As the psalmist reminds us, "The sum of thy word is truth; and every one of thy righteous ordinances endureth forever" (Psalm 119:160). We can trust what it tells us not only as it pertains to the physical universe, but how to live life today, for the promise of eternity as well. "How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through thy precepts I get understanding: Therefore I hate every false way. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and light unto my path" (Psalm 119:103-105).      

Robert Johnson, Longview, TX