January 22, 2023

Our Position on the Preservation of Scripture

Written by:
Rev (Dr) Prabhudas Koshy

The Doctrine Defined

The doctrine of the preservation of Scripture teaches that God providentially preserves all the inspired words of the Bible, in the original languages, forever. It proclaims the indestructibility of the Bible. The Bible today is every bit as perfect as it was first written, and it shall be so forever. Hence, God’s people of all ages esteem the Bible as entirely trustworthy and authoritative. It is forever the inerrant, infallible source of truth.

Despite the intense efforts of some wicked men to destroy the Bible, God has sovereignly overseen the process of Scripture’s preservation and transmission down through the ages. Throughout the history of God’s people, He has been actively preserving all the words of His Scripture. The LORD has kept all the inspired words of Scripture until now; we have no reason to believe He will stop preserving it now or later. We can confidently say that the LORD keeps His Word intact, as He has promised.

The Westminster Confession of Faith declares, “The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which, at the time of the writing of it, was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and, by His singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical…” (Chapter 1, Para. 8).

Certainly, this declaration corroborates our stand on Verbal Plenary Preservation. “Verbal” means every word in the Bible. “Plenary” means all parts of the Bible. So, just as we affirm the verbal, plenary inspiration of Scripture [i.e. the entire Bible is divinely inspired, down to the very words of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21; Matthew 5:17)], we also affirm that all the verbally, plenarily inspired (VPI) words in the original languages are verbally and plenarily preserved (VPP) by God throughout the ages. God assures us that we can trust the whole of Scripture to be accurate and perfect, because He preserves every word of it.

The Doctrine’s Biblical Proof

The LORD has promised to keep His Word intact. In the following Scripture portions, He has declared His perfect preservation of every word He has uttered in His Book. God has promised to keep His Word perfect, and make it available and unchanged as long as the earth remains.

  • 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.”
  • Psalm 33:11 – “The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.”
  • Psalm 111:7-8 – “The works of his hands are verity and judgment; all his commandments are sure. They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness.”
  • Psalm 119:89-90 – “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven. Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth.”
  • Psalm 119:144 – “The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting: give me understanding, and I shall live.”
  • Psalm 119:152 – “Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them for ever.”
  • Psalm 119:160 – “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.”
  • Isaiah 40:8 - “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.”
  • Matthew 5:18 – “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”
  • Matthew 24:35 – “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away” (Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33).
  • 1 Peter 1:23 – “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.”
  • 1 Peter 1:25 – “But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.”

The Identification of the Preserved Scriptures

Do we have the inspired words of God today in the original languages (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek)? If we do, then where are they? We stand with the traditional texts, which have been identified and propagated by the Reformers, namely the Masoretic Text of the Old Testament (Hebrew/Aramaic) and the Textus Receptus of the New Testament (Greek).

The Westminster divines in 1648 believed their Bible to be totally infallible and inerrant without any mistake. This is observed by William Orr who wrote, “Now this affirms that the Hebrew text of the Old Testament and the Greek of the New which was known to the Westminster divines was immediately inspired by God because it was identical with the first text that God has kept pure in all the ages. The idea that there are mistakes in the Hebrew Masoretic texts or in the Textus Receptus of the New Testament was unknown to the authors of the Confession of Faith.”

Our English Bible, the King James Version (KJV), being the most faithful translation of the preserved texts (words) of Scripture in the original languages, is therefore used as our Bible in all our worship and fellowship meetings. We refuse translations based on other original language texts, which the Reformation scholars and theologians had rejected.

The Hebrew O.T. text and Greek N.T. text that the Westminster divines used in their day were the Hebrew Masoretic Text and the Greek Textus Receptus, which underlie the Reformation Bibles, as best represented by the KJV. If the Westminster pastors and theologians did not think that the Bible which they possessed in their day had any mistake, why is it so wrong and sinful for us today to also believe that the same Hebrew and Greek Scriptures (which the Westminster divines used) are without any mistake?

Gethsemane Bible-Presbyterian Church adheres to the system of faith commonly known as the “Reformed Faith” as expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith together with the Larger and Shorter Catechisms.
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