Turn to 2 Tim 3
Key passage over the next several weeks is - "... train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come." 1 Timothy 4:7-8
Remember, the word training is γυμνάζω, meaning rigorous intentional training. It's something we do. The question is - So how do we train ourselves for godliness? The answer is - We do this through the Spiritual Disciplines - which is what this series is about.
What are spiritual disciplines? Donald Whitney says this - "... the Spiritual Disciplines are scriptural paths where we may expect to encounter the transforming grace of God."
Spiritual disciplines are the means in which we get to know God. God didn't say, "Hey, I want you to have a relationship with me, but I'm not going to tell you how. Not going to tell you how to talk to me ...." That would be cruel.
God gives us instructions, provides examples both in Scripture and throughout church history so we may know how to engage Him, to have a relationship with God as He intended - both personal and corporate.
God wants us to know Him. Remember, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
What is eternal life? A lot of us think it's just living forever. Listen to what Jesus calls eternal life - “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." John 17:1-3 Eternal life is more about knowing the One who gives eternal life than about living forever. Again, how do we know God and His will? Through spiritual disciplines.
Of course, today, we're talking about the Bible, the Word of God. When it comes to learning about who God is, His will etc., Whitney says this:
"The most critical Discipline is the intake of God’s Word. No factor is more influential in making us more like the Son of God than the Spirit of God working through the Word of God. If you want to be changed, if you want to become more like Jesus Christ, discipline yourself to read the Bible. Nothing can substitute for it. There simply is no healthy Christian life apart from a diet of the milk and meat of Scripture." - D.S. Whitney
Whitney is correct - without a consistent diet of the Word of God, one's spiritual maturity, one's knowledge of God and one's effectiveness as a Christian will be stunted.
Most of us know we're supposed to read the Bible - everyday. But most of us don't. There are many excuses for not reading the Bible, but one reason is we don't know what the Bible is or how to read it and study. So this morning, let's talk about that.
2 Timothy 3:1-17
2 Timothy 3:1-17
In verses 1-15, Paul gives Timothy this description that in later times, the world is going to get bad. Morality and good will plummet. Godlessness will be rampant.
In verse 12, Paul encourages Timothy to stay firm in the faith, trusting in what he learned from the sacred writings - talking about the OT - which pointed toward Christ.
And then in verse 16, Paul writes this -
12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
The ESV says, All Scripture is breathed out by God (other translations read God-breathed or Inspired). All means the same thing - but what does it mean?
First let me address All Scripture:
What constitutes "All Scripture?" OT? NT? King James? NIV?
Let's keep a few things in mind:
The English Bible is not inspired - this is a translation of the copies of what was inspired.
This is probably Paul's last letter before he was executed by the Roman Emperor Nero. This would have been around 64-65 A.D. By this time, the OT was completed between 400-300 B.C. The Greek translation (Septuagint) was completed between 250-100 B.C. So Paul is definitely referring to the OT (see verse 15).
However, the NT letters were already in circulation and accepted as inspired - with the exception of the writings of the Apostle John (and perhaps Peter) - which were soon to come. They are included as inspired because John and Peter were both disciples of Jesus So, when the Bible says the all Scripture is inspired, we take that to mean both Old and New Testament.
Let's talk briefly about the OT & NT for a moment before we get to inspiration.
66 Books of the Bible - 39 in the old, 27 in the new. The word testament means covenant. Old Covenant (Mosaic Law and Israel - it all points toward a coming Messiah, who is Jesus Christ).
New Covenant - is the fulfilment of the Old Covenant. And the fulfilment is who? Christ.
Here's one of the most phenomenal facts about Scripture - it has one central theme from beginning to end - that is God's redemption of humanity and the main subject of the entire Bible is the Messiah, Christ Jesus.
What makes that so phenomenal? The Bible was not written by one person, at one place in one location. The Bible was written by over 40 different authors, in 3 languages (H, A, G), over a period of about 1,600 years. If that isn't mind blowing - these authors all come from different backgrounds (farmers, kings, shepherds, fishermen, prisoners etc) and from different geographical areas. Again, it is consistent in its theme and content - Jesus Christ.
So let's talk inspiration.
What does inspiration mean? The word for breathed-out is (θεόπνευστος, theopneustos). Theos - God. Pneuma - Spirit or breath. This combination is not found anywhere else in Scripture. The idea here is that God is solely responsible for instigating the authorship of His Word.
Inspiration is that act of God whereby He "breathed" His words into a man so as to record precisely what God wanted without compromising the author’s personality. So the Bible is completely the work of God and completely the work of humans in its original writings, which is consistent with how God works. Who is Jesus? God and Man. Furthermore, God often works in partnership with people.
But God's partnership is always consistent - always working directly with the person. (This is one reason why we reject Mormonism and other religions - their origin of inspiration is inconsistent with how God works). God doesn't use mediums to write His word - special glasses, tea leaves, cauldron's of boiling herbs - God is direct.
Is it important to understand inspiration? Absolutely.
The doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture is vitally important, and a doctrine that Satan has attacked from the beginning (“Yea, hath God said?” [Gen. 3:1]). It is inconceivable that God would give His people a book they could not trust. He is the God of truth (Deut. 32:4); Jesus is “the truth” (John 14:6); and the “Spirit is truth” (1 John 5:6). - Warren Wiersbe
Because the Bible is Divinely inspired, I believe in the inerrancy and authority of Scripture. What does that mean?
Inerrant: This means that when all the facts are known, the Scriptures in their original autographs, properly interpreted, will be shown to be wholly true in everything they affirm, whether this has to do with doctrine or morality or with social, physical and life sciences." - Josh McDowell.
This means that the Bible is fully trustworthy and reliable in all things. Has yet to be disproven in anything - history, archeology, science and morality.
Inspiration also means it is
Authoritative: This means God's Word is the authority in all matters to which it speaks.
Which means we submit to the Word of God, not the other way around. Why do we do this? Because Scripture is from God, God is truth and He speaks truth.
John 17:17 "Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth."
Deut. 8:3 "...man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD."
Psalm 19:7-8 The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes ....
2 Peter 1:20-21 ... no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
So what does all that mean?
All Scripture is ... profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Tim. 3:16-17
What does all that mean. I'll close with the words of Warren Wiersbe.
[The Scriptures are] profitable for doctrine (what is right), for reproof (what is not right), for correction (how to get right), and for instruction in righteousness (how to stay right). - Warren Wiersbe
You can apply this to any area of your life - Scripture is beneficial, trustworthy, applicable etc.