Is the doctrine of preservation Biblical?

The doctrine of preservation in regard to Scripture means that the Lord has kept His Word intact as to its original meaning. Preservation simply means that we can trust the Scriptures because God has sovereignly overseen the process of transmission over the centuries.

At the same time, we must also be aware that we do not possess the original writings/autographs. What we do have are thousands of manuscripts from which the original writings can be ascertained. By thorough examination and comparison of those manuscripts, it is determined what the original writings stated. This does not mean that there are absolutely no differences between the manuscripts. But the differences are extremely small and insignificant and do not in any way affect the basic teachings or meaning of God’s Word. The differences are things like minor spelling and punctuation variations. We should keep in mind that this would not and does not affect the accuracy of Scripture, nor does it mean that God has not preserved His Word. God has supernaturally kept or preserved His Word.

The early scribes, whose jobs were to make exact copies of Scripture, were very meticulous. One example of their precision is the practice of counting all the letters in a given book and noting the middle letter of the book. They would then do the same for the copy to make sure it matched. They employed time-consuming and painstaking methods to ensure accuracy.

“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 5:18

In this verse Jesus declared that not even the smallest stroke of a letter in the Hebrew alphabet would pass away until all is accomplished. He couldn’t make that promise unless He was sure that God would preserve His Word. Jesus also said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” Matthew 24:35 (Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33). Jesus affirms that God’s Word will not pass away. God’s Word will remain and accomplish that which God has planned.

“The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.”Isaiah 40:8. This was reaffirmed in the New Testament when Peter quoted the same passage and referred to it as “the word that was preached to you” 1 Peter 1:24-25. Neither Isaiah nor Peter would make such statements without the understanding of God’s preservation of Scripture.

We should keep in mind that when the Bible speaks of God’s Word remaining forever, it is not referring to it being kept hidden away in some vault in heaven. God’s Word was given specifically for mankind, and it would not be fulfilling its purpose if it were not available to us. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” Romans 15:4.

Also note that a person cannot be saved apart from the gospel message, which is recorded in the Biblical account.

“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

In order for the gospel message to be proclaimed “to the ends of the earth” Acts 13:47, the doctrines and truths of the Word must be protected. If Scripture were not supernaturally preserved, there would be no way to ensure the consistency of the message it contains over time.

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© Tony - W.A.M