Most of us have probably heard someone reference the “3 r’s”–readin’, ritin’ and ‘rithmetic”. They were the basis of everyone’s education. Now had I had a hand in it, I would probably of added spelling to the list, but so it goes.
Now I never talk about the 3 r’s, but I do talk quite a bit about the 3 i’s. The 3 i’s refer to important points about the Bible. The Bible is: Inspired; Inerrant; and Infallible. Let’s take just a moment to see what these words mean.
When I say the Bible is Inspired I am saying that those men (and women?) who wrote it did so under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. That means that they were being used by God to record that which He wants us to know about Him and what He has done for us in Christ. It does not mean that the Spirit just dictated the words to those writers–rather that He allowed them to use their own words and sources but in such a way that they recorded that which they were meant to record. No more, no less. The books we have gathered into the Bible, those which we call Scripture were written over the course of nearly 2000 years and in many different styles and types of literature. So we would expect them to seem different, one from another. What we would not find if they were simply human thoughts is the sort of unity of meaning and purpose that is so apparent to anyone who reads them under the inspiration of the Spirit.
The second “I” in our list is inerrant–in other words, without error. The Bible is without error in all matters of faith and morals, but it is also without error in its history and its explanations of things that occurred in those long ago days. If the Bible was not without error, how could anyone ever trust it about anything because they would never know what was error or what was truth. That brings us to another important point when we speak of Scripture–only Scripture can assess or define Scripture. In other words, if you find something in the Bible that puzzles you or seems wrong to you, don’t go looking in the Encyclopedia Brittannica for the answer. Don’t go to a secular source. Use the Scripture itself to find the explanation of what troubles you. Lots of folks believe they can stay orthodox in their faith even if they say some things in the Scriptures aren’t true. But in fact such a position can only lead in the long run to heresy and apostasy.
The third “I” is, again, Infallible. This means that Scripture will not fail to accomplish its purpose. And what is the purpose of Scripture? It is to bring to a saving faith in Jesus Christ those whom God has chosen before time to be His very own children. In the Bible we find two things taught–the Law and the Gospel. The Holy Spirit uses the Law to teach us that we are sinners deserving only of hell and to then teach us that there is nothing we can do about it. He then uses the Gospel–Jesus Christ, crucified and risen for you–to relieve us of our fear and dread and teach us that while the wages of sin is death, the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus. For those called according to His purpose, the Scripture will not fail to accomplish its work.