What is Biblical Inerrancy?
In 1 John 1:5 we read, “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” Darkness is never within light itself, but rather, darkness is simply the absence of light. Likewise, unrighteousness (ἄδικος) does not bear within itself any rightness, but rather is the absence of rightness. This word-picture that the apostle is using is not attempting to describe God’s physical appearance, but instead is making clear God’s nature as the Truth itself (John 14:6). He alone is the standard, not merely an overseer (John 1:1-5, Rom. 11:36), and is the Creator. This message John (as well as the other apostles) are proclaiming is not merely a suggestion as to who might be right or wrong, but is a declaration of what is truth itself. Light does not include darkness out of pity, but instead we call those from the darkness out into the Light altogether (see Col. 1:13).
Why? Because God is righteousness (or, more simply put, God is right). In Romans 3:21-26, we see that He brought us the Law in order to show our unrighteousness before Him in comparison to His perfection (completion, righteousness, set-apartness), but now “apart from the Law the [rightness] of God has been manifested…” It was seen beforehand by the writers of the Old Testament, and is the redeeming truth that saves those who believe in Jesus Christ. All humanity has fallen short of God’s perfection (vs. 23), and there is not a single person who is correct in their understanding of reality in the sight of God (vs. 10-11). This is one of the most exciting realities of the work of Christ, that we get to bear His perfect rightness before the Father, He Himself having taken our sin (falling short of God’s glory, i.e. “the mark”) on the cross (2 Cor. 5:21), which cost us nothing, being a “free gift by His grace.” All of this was to “demonstrate His [rightness]” over ours (in our attempt to save ourselves through our own righteousness), in that He was the “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (vs. 26). The Bible is inerrant, not simply because it provides a glorying, undeniable account of facts (scientific, historic, etc.), but because the Author Himself is inerrant, and chose not to simply educate us, but to glorify Himself in saving us from our own sin which had already condemned us (Col. 1:13-23). He was not simply concerned with making sure all believed He was true, but went beyond this in order to save us, even when we did not believe He was true (Rom. 5:8).
How does this affect the Christian’s worldview?
In Mark 16:15 we find Christ giving the disciples what is often called “The Great Commission,” which says “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation.” The reality of God’s work through Jesus Christ must not only bring us joy, but a great deal of sobriety, and urgency, in that we must not only see sharing this Good News in excitement, but in full view of the coming judgment upon the sinner. “This Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Mat. 24:14) If our understanding of the Bible is that it is merely a “good book,” we will miss the urgency it requires in telling people of the saving work of Jesus Christ. If a soldier does not believe his bullet-proof vest actually works, and thinks himself invincible, would not his fellow soldiers feel a sense of urgency to rebuke his ignorance? Not because they think him stupid, but because they see the pit into which he will fall if left on the same course.
Therefore, we find that this doctrine of the perfection of God’s Word does not simply change how we see God, but changes our purpose as a whole. Such is the call to the sinner: Believe God (that He is right), and you will be saved. (Rom. 8:28)
“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” – John 6:68-69
(This is an essay I submitted to a contest)