Chapter 3: The Ground Rules
Anyone who has ever played a game, been involved in any kind of
competition, or conducted any type of scientific investigation knows that
"ground rules" must be established at the beginning. It is far better to
know the rules before beginning the investigation rather than to try to
establish them as you go.
If we are going to make a study of the preservation of the Word of
God, the rules we shall follow must be established now. The rules
we establish now will have a direct effect on the conclusion
reached at the end of our investigation. We must be cautious as we seek to
found these rules. We must free ourselves from prejudice. We must
establish rules which, firstly, will not contradict each other and,
secondly, rules that can and will be applied fairly to all evidence
As in any issue with two sides, the conclusion can not please all.
Those to whom the conclusion is favorable will commend the investigation
for its fairness, while those to whom the conclusion is unfavorable will
obviously seek to discredit the method used in arriving at such a
conclusion. With this in mind, the most important portion of our
investigation will not be what evidence we examine, but the rules by
which we interpret that evidence.
Much of the material to be examined is not new but holds huge
amounts of truth which have been locked up and unusable due to the
previously unfair method by which its testimony was evaluated. To insure
that this testimony will be thoroughly heard in an unprejudiced court
room, this writer seeks to establish plain, unprejudiced, and spiritually
sound rules by which to judge the witnesses. The voices of some learned
men will no doubt be heard to protest, while the voices of others, equally
as learned, will be heard to agree. The writer will not appeal to either
of these voices for approval but will seek to establish rules which even
those who disagree with the conclusion must admit are fair. These rules
will judge all the evidence fairly and completely so as to wring every bit
of worthwhile testimony from them. We must deal in facts and deal with the
facts fairly. As one scholar so aptly put it, "My leading principle is to
build solely upon facts -- upon real, not fanciful facts -- not upon a few
favorite facts, but upon all that are connected with the question under
First and above all in importance, it must be remembered that the
Bible is a spiritual book. If we divorce this fact from our minds, it will
be impossible to arrive at a valid conclusion. Let me explain.
First, God had His hand in its inception. The passage that so
quickly comes to the mind of all fundamentalists is II Peter 1:19-21:
- 19 "We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well
that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until
the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
- 20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any
- 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."
Note that Peter is stating that the written Word is more sure
than God speaking from heaven, a voice which Peter himself heard
(vs. 17, 18).
There are many "side-show evangelists" that would have us believe
that God "spoke to me last night." Peter says that God's verbal commands
and precepts are not as sure as His written words. Verbal
statements are not binding. They cannot be proven. But written
words are not so fluid. When God chose to put His words down in writing,
He made an irreversible decision. We can now hold Him to His words. Once
those words have been written, they are irrevocable. A God who would bind
Himself to us so inescapably must love us and truly desire for us to have
His words and to be sure of them.
Peter also states that the writers of Scripture did not write under
their own power, but "holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy
Why Inspire a Book?
God wants us to see that He had His hand in it from the beginning.
The words of those original autographs were not the thoughts of God, but
His very words, which brings to mind a question. Why did God inspire His
word perfectly? Obviously the answer comes back, "So that man could have
every word of God, pure, complete, trustworthy, and without error." Amen!
That statement touches the heart of any fundamental, Bible-believing
Christian. And yet, what if God gave those precious words only to those
early writers, then lost them in history, diluted them with heretical
teachings, and then locked them up in prison where few could visit them
and none could trust them? What if these words and manuscripts,
which have long passed off the scene, were the only perfect words God ever
gave us? What if it was impossible for us ever to obtain those
words for ourselves, in this present generation? Why did God inspire them?
Why write a perfect Book and then lose it? Why provide those closest to
Christ with a perfect Book but us, 2,000 years later, with a book that is
only a shadow of truth at best? A book filled with mistakes, spurious
passages, and doubtful readings! This is inconsistent with God's nature.
The question is: Could God, who overcame time (about 1,700 years
transpired from the writing of the oldest Old Testament book to the
closing of the New Testament in 90 A.D.1) and man's human
nature to write the Bible perfectly in the first place, do the same
thing to preserve it?
Let us look to see what the authority says about such a
Psalm 12:6, 7 "The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver
tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them O
LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever."
Note verse seven! "THOU shalt keep them O LORD, thou shalt
preserve them from this generation for ever."
The Bible, God's Word, says that God will preserve His words. Verse
six mentions the "words of the LORD" and the "them" of verse seven is
referring to those "words." No, apparently the all-powerful God of
creation will not preserve His "thoughts" or "ideas," but He will preserve
His very words!
Is He capable of that?
Jeremiah 32:17, 27 "Ah Lord GOD, behold thou has made the heaven
and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is
nothing too hard for thee:... Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh:
is there any thing too hard for me?"
Is a miracle too hard for the God of miracles? Was the
creation too hard for God? Was the flood too hard for God? Was the parting
of the Red Sea too hard for God? Was the 40 years of manna too hard for
God? Was the virgin birth of Christ too hard for God? Was the collection
of the 66 books of the Bible written over a period of 1,700 years too hard
for God? Was overcoming the human nature of the sinful writers too hard
for God? Is preserving the words of those writers too hard for God?
I think that inspiration would be far harder to believe than
Why is it that men of faith sound out their convictions so loudly
on the above mentioned doctrines (and others) in which their faith cannot
be pressed to the limit, but they suddenly shrink from the thought that
God, who could write His Book perfectly, could preserve
it? Why is it so easy to believe that God's great miracles are all in the
past, but He cannot work one now? Where are those "words" that Peter spoke
in II Peter 1:19-21? Where are those "words" which David spoke of in Psalm
12:6, 7? Where are those "words" which Jesus Christ Himself spoke of in
Matthew 24:35 when He said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my
words shall not pass away."
Have those precious and perfect words from the pens of Moses,
David, Isaiah, Daniel, Matthew, Peter, Paul, Luke, John and others been
cast into oblivion? Have they fallen to the ground to be trampled under
foot of men, only to be replaced by something not as pure,
not as perfect, not as reliable, which we 'Bible-believers'
are forced to pretend is the Word and the words of God when we
are in the pulpit, but in the quietness of our studies or in our private
conversations we let our infidelity and fear show as we check off
"mistake" after "mistake?"
Is this God's method? I trow not. For if God wrote the Bible
perfectly in the "originals," but we cannot have those same words in a
volume of that Book today, then it would seem that He wasted His time
inspiring it perfectly in the first place. We who are so far removed from
the New Testament times need His every perfect word far more than Matthew,
Luke, John, or Peter or the others who saw Jesus Christ in the flesh! They
had their memories. They had His touch still on their brow. They had His
words still ringing in their ears. All we have is the Book. All
we have is the words bound between those black covers. It is essential
that they be His every word, for they are all we have!
- So well has Wilbur Pickering put it when he said:
- "If the scriptures have not been preserved then the
doctrine of Inspiration is a purely academic matter with no relevance
for us today. If we do not have the inspired words or do not know
precisely which they be, then the doctrine of Inspiration is
Yes, if God has not preserved His words as He said that He would
(Psalm 12:6, 7), then He has done something which He has never done
before. He has wasted His time! The inspiration of the original
manuscripts was in vain if we do not have those very same words in English
So then we see that it is important to any seeker of truth to
always keep in mind that the Bible is different from all other books, in
that God had His hand in it. It is a spiritual book. Anyone
undertaking a study of the evidence of the New Testament, or any other
portion of Scripture, who does not take this into consideration cannot
possibly arrive at the correct conclusion.
Ground rule number one is: It is always to be remembered
that the Bible is a spiritual book which God exerted supernatural force to
conceive, and it is reasonable to assume that He could exert that
same supernatural force to preserve.
The Great Counterfeiter
This brings us to our next logical step. If God was active in the
conception and preservation of the Bible, then the supreme negative force
in nature must be active against it.
This Book has an adversary. Satan is against it!
The Bible is a tangible item. Like most books, it is printed on
paper with ink. As mentioned above, however, it must be
remembered that it is a spiritual book in which God has had a
positive and an active part. It must also be remembered that there exists
in the world a supreme negative power, Satan.
One general truth that we all know concerning Satan is that he at
one time had a position in Heaven. Iniquity was found in him, and he was
cast out. What was his offense? He wanted to be worshipped as God!
Remember that. The Bible records in Isaiah 14:13, 14, "For thou hath
said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne
above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the
congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights
of the clouds; I will be like the most High."
He wanted to be worshipped as God! Satan has not changed
his goals. He still desires to be worshipped as God. To be worshipped as
God, he must imitate God. Satan is the great counterfeiter. From
beginning to end, the Bible records Satan's constant efforts to imitate
and replace God. In Genesis chapter three, we find Satan implying that he
knows more than God, and from this point, he influences mankind into
obeying him. When Moses displays the miracles of God through the plagues
of Egypt, Satan's magicians counterfeit as many plagues as they possibly
Monasteries, mosques and huge cathedrals cover the globe as a
testimony to his religious fervor and as clear evidence of his ability to
extract worship from his followers. Call him Lucifer, Baal, Ashteroth,
Mary or any other name, but allow him the liberty, and he will take a
portion of truth and twist it in such a deceitfully convincing way
that if possible he could "deceive the very elect" (Matthew 24:24).
In Matthew chapter four, we find Satan's last desperate plea to
Jesus Christ was that He "fall down and worship me."
Satan is the great counterfeiter. For every genuine
manifestation of God, Satan produces hundreds of carbon copies. Look at
One God - many "gods"
One Christ - many "christs"
One Gospel - many "ways to heaven"
One following, Christianity - many religions, denominations, cults
One Bible - ?
Whenever God manifests His power through some positive action
resulting in a miracle, Satan manifests his power in a counterfeit, but
deceiving, way in an attempt to "steal" God's deserved reverence.
Note in Revelation chapter 13 how many times the word "worship"
occurs in reference to Satan in the form of the Anti-Christ. Notice also
that this worship comes as a direct result of Satanic, counterfeit
miracles which are all imitations of similar true miracles performed by
God, by His prophets, or by Jesus Christ, which resulted in God being
God knew of Satan's "standard operating procedure" and tried to
warn Israel of his ability to counterfeit God's miracles.
- Deuteronomy 13:1-3 "If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer
of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the
wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after
other gods, which thou has not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt
not harken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams:
for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your
God with all your heart and with all your soul."
Notice that God is aware of the false miracles and is awaiting the
outcome. To resist Satan's false miracles is to turn your heart
toward God. This is what happened with Job. This is what would have
happened with Eve if she had rejected his counsel.
Satan wants to be worshipped. This is Satan's motive. Let
us look briefly at a scriptural record of the method he used in dealing
with his arch-enemy, Jesus Christ.
1. Satan makes a direct approach to achieve his goal. Matthew 4.
2. He produces many "christs" to God's one Christ. Matthew 24:23, 24.
(Christ had many witnesses. Even after death there were over 500
witnesses at His resurrection appearance. I Cor. 15:16).
3. Satan can produce only two false witnesses to refute the testimony
of many, and their witness does not agree. Matthew 26:60, Mark 14:50.
4. He produces a lie attempting to prove that the original Christ has
been lost and is nowhere to be found. This leaves the field open for his
anti-christs. Matthew 28:13, 14.
Now remember, Satan desires to be worshipped as God. Remember he is
"the great counterfeiter."
God's Three Gifts
Now look at the three most important things God has given to the
1. Jesus Christ - through Jesus Christ, God's plan of
salvation has been wrought, and God has displayed to the world the coming
King. Jesus Christ is now in heaven.
2. Christianity - The born again believers regenerated by the
power of God, upon their accepting Christ's payment for their sins. The
Christians reside on earth, physically separated from their Saviour.
3. Bible - The crowning work of the Holy Spirit. It is the
lifeline of the earthbound Christians to the Heaven-seated
If heaven were real, and it is; if Jesus Christ died for our sins,
and He did; if salvation were free, and it is; if Jesus Christ is coming
back to get His church, and He is; if He will someday rule on a throne in
Jerusalem, and He will; but if we have no Bible to tell us these
things, we would not know them! Truth does no good if we do not know
about that truth! The Bible is God's medium through which He tells us all
that we know about Him.
If Satan can eliminate the Bible, he can break our lifeline to
Heaven. If he can only get us to doubt its accuracy, he can successfully
foil God's every attempt to teach us. The Holy Spirit will lead us into
all truth, but every truth He leads us to will be in the Bible.
If Satan is going to be consistent with his nature, he must attack the
Bible, the Word of God.
Our second rule to keep in mind, then, is: Satan desires to be
worshipped. He has the ability to counterfeit God's actions and definitely
will be involved actively in attempting to destroy God's Word and/or our
confidence in that Word, while seeking to replace it with his own
The Rules Reviewed
The two rules which we must keep in mind at all times are:
1. It is always to be remembered that the Bible is a spiritual book
which God exerted supernatural force to conceive; and it is reasonable to
assume that He could exert that same supernatural force to
2. Satan desires to be worshipped. He has the ability to
counterfeit God's actions, and definitely will be involved actively in
attempting to destroy God's Word and/or our confidence in that Word, while
seeking to replace it with his own "version."