by A.E. Knoch

THE ATTITUDE of our blessed Lord to the infinite accuracy and importance of the letter of God's written revelation is evident from His statement in the Sermon on the Mount: "Verily, I am saying to you, till heaven and earth pass by, one iota or one ceriph may by no means pass by from the law till all should be coming to pass" (Matt.5:18). Now the yod or iota is the smallest letter in Hebrew, little more than an apostrophe in size, and it looks somewhat like one. We have no letter so small in English. On many words, if it should fall away, it would not change the sense at all, only the grammar. Let us note that our Lord does not say that no word of the law shall fail, or even no letter, but not even the smallest letter shall fail to be fulfilled. Such is the infinite accuracy of the written Word.

But even this does not fully illustrate His extreme devotion to the written record. Several pairs of letters in Hebrew are almost exactly alike. They are distinguished only by a little horn on one which is wanting on the other. Thus d has a little projection where r is rounded. This ceriph was only a small part of a letter. It is not that no word, or no letter, not even the smallest shall pass by, but not the most minute point of any significance, in God's inspired record may be overlooked, for all shall be fulfilled. No human writing is like this. Like all of God's works, its perfection extends to the minutest minutiae.

A parallel in the material world may help us to understand this, for God's Word is a living organism, and has the same perfection in detail that we find in nature. What a marvelous help has the microscope been to the student! Most wonderful of all, the more minutely God's handiwork is examined, the more perfect it appears. And this is blessedly true of the sacred text also. It will bear the most minute analysis. It will reward the severest scrutiny. But, alas! scientists have far more confidence in nature than even His saints have in nature's God. In this era of unbelief there is a strong current of opposition to the investigation of the jots and tittles of God's revelation. We have standard expressions for indicating our disapproval of "slavish literalism," "the worship of words," "unspiritual interpretation," and many more.

I thank God that, very early in my career, there fell into my hands a booklet entitled "The Necessity of Accuracy in the Study of Holy Writ." In it a number of statements were examined which had been put forth by an eminent theologian, purporting to show the great lack of accuracy in the Bible. These were taken, one by one, and in each ease the inaccuracy was shown to be due to the theologian's carelessness. I was thrilled with the thought that we have a Bible which would stand the most minute examination, and determined to put it to the test and make full use of it if it proved true. Ever after that, when a difficulty arose, I did not run to commentaries or to lexicons, but I made a careful examination of the text. It was not long ere I discovered the best ways and means of doing this, and I began to make a spiritual microscope to enable me to delve deeper into the exhaustless riches of God's revelation. It has become the source of purest joy and boundless satisfaction.

O that I could impress my readers with a sense of the infinite accuracy of Holy Writ, and the unutterable satisfaction and certainty which it imparts! Many cannot understand why I am so positive on many points where others cannot come to clearness. The reason is simple. I stand on God's unshakable Word, perhaps on only a part of a letter in it, but it gives me more confidence than if I had all the faculties of all the universities in the world to support me. Where others dimly discern mysteries, I behold gloriously revealed secrets. Where some insist that God has put a veil I find that He has torn it aside with His own hand, from the top to the bottom. Where others feel that God must be a veiled prophet, I have found Him fully revealed in His beloved Son.

How often have I tested the bare Word of God, and found it utterly reliable! Questions have come up which have been debated for centuries, and no satisfactory solution has been found. Sometimes I have been tempted to fall back upon a commentary or lexicon to save time. But it has proved a loss of time in difficult cases, valuable as these works are for ordinary information. Then I bowed my head before God's Word and acknowledged that, since it is His revelation, it cannot be contradictory, as it seemed to be. It cannot be double-tongued, as men would have it be. One of the earliest investigations was the subject of human destiny. This led to the study of the eons and microscopic examination of the word and its phrases led to the glorious confirmation of universal reconciliation, as well as marvelous unfoldings of God's ways on the path to His glorious goal. Then came the genealogies of our Lord, the chronology of the passion week, the problem of evil, and, above all, the secrets of the resurrection, of the evangel, and of this economy.

Almost every advance has been made by harmonizing the meaning by the help of a concordance or by heeding the minute indications which are usually deemed too unimportant to warrant investigation. For the last few years I have been especially impressed with the need of distinguishing between such verbs as are indefinite, and such as are incomplete. The lack of this distinction has held many an honest seeker in distressing error. The consequences of ignoring this point, which is generally over-looked in our translations, is very great indeed, even if the thing itself seems obscure and unimportant to the very ones who need to know it most. We hope to make it very clear to all in the Keyword International edition.

Whoever speaks slightingly of the literal and the minute in God's gracious Word thereby reveals the coldness of his heart and the cloudiness of his head in relation to God's written revelation. These are not merely symptoms of the prevailing apostasy, but the ultimate cause. This is the source of the withdrawal, and indicates the only radical cure. Only when we see that God's oracles are minutely and literally perfect are we really convinced of their inspiration, and content to trust our all upon their declarations, and able to discern the truth which they contain, and to reject the error with which men have encrusted them. No jot, no tittle shall ever fail, for they partake of the infinite perfection of their Author.

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