The Inspired Word of God
There are more than 200,000,000 copies of the Bible in the world, not counting Testaments and Scripture portions. It is the most quoted, cited, loved, hated, read, and studied book of all times. It has inspired millions of works of art. It has been the basis of the highest ethical and legal systems the world has ever known. It has prompted the establishment of great centers of learning and entire educational systems. But more important than all that, the Lord Jesus Christ put His stamp of approval on the Bible as “the truth” ( John 17:17). Jesus asked the Father to use the Bible to sanctify you. You cannot grow in your relationship with your Heavenly Father if you neglect this book. Our objective in this study is to find out what makes this book so special?
In John 17:17 Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them by the truth, your word is truth.” James Packer comments on this verse: “Truth here bears a theological sense: it is a declaration and disclosure of reality as God knows it. Since all Holy Scripture is God’s Word of truth, we are right to infer from Jesus’ words that biblical teaching is the means of the sanctification for which he prayed…Though his heavenly intercession (Rom 8:34; Heb 7:25) would seem to be more a matter of active intervention on our behalf than of continual supplication before the Father, we may be sure that the sanctification of his people remains his constant concern. And the means whereby it takes place is the Word of God.” (Hot Tub Religion, pp 163-64)
I. WHAT IS THE BIBLE? 2 Timothy 3:14-17
As the Apostle Paul faced death he wrote this letter to the young man he had selected to carry on his ministry. He was especially concerned about Timothy's attitude about the Bible and its importance in the lives of Christians. Because the Bible is so vital to Christian growth Paul knew that Satan would exert a great deal of effort in keeping Christians out of the Bible. In order to remain true during the persecution which is certain to follow (verse 12), Timothy is reminded of the true nature of the message he has been called upon to preach. It is important to take note of two specific facts about the Bible in this passage:
A. The Bible is GOD-BREATHED 2 Timothy 3:16
The Greek word translated ‘inspired by God’ is theopneustos. Quite literally it means ‘God-breathed’. It is a vivid word picture describing the quality of the Scriptures: They are a product of the creative work of God. Although this does not imply that the Scriptures were dictated by God to those who wrote them, it does imply that the finished product is a product of the creative power of God. Therefore the Bible is reliable, sufficient and authoritative.
But how was this God-breathed book given? In John 3:8 Jesus told Nicodemus that although we cannot see how the Holy Spirit does His work we are able to see the results of His work. We do not fully understand how the Holy Spirit used man to create an inspired Bible but He has let us in on a few things...
FIRST: According to 2 Peter 1:20-21 no prophesy of Scripture originated from an act of man's will. Rather men, set apart for this task, were “borne along” by the Holy Spirit, who enabled them to accurately record God's message. It is important to notice that the men themselves were not "inspired" or "God-breathed," but it was that which they wrote through the work of the Holy Spirit that was called God-breathed or inspired of God. So the Bible is not just the product of human genius.
SECOND: According to I Corinthians 2:11-13 this process involved both the Holy Spirit and especially chosen men. Paul describes the following steps:
(1) Revelation: God unveiled specific truths that He wanted His people to know (verse 12).
(2) Inscripturation: The Holy Spirit guided the apostle in communicating God's revelation in words from the Apostle's own vocabulary that perfectly represented God's thoughts (v. 13).
(3) Inspiration: Because of the Holy Spirit's involvement in this process the finished product is “God-breathed”; a product of God's creative activity ( II Timothy 3:16).
* Note: These verses make it clear that God did not dictate the Bible to human authors. They often used their own understanding and vocabulary to communicate truth and yet the Holy Spirit enabled them in such a way that the finished product was “God-breathed”.
Summary: Only the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments are inspired or “God-breathed.” No other writing has been produced by this enabling ministry of the Holy Spirit; therefore the Bible stands in a category all by itself. Every word of Scripture as well as every section of Scripture is a product of God's creative activity. All the Bible is therefore inerrant and the only authoritative word from God to His people.
B. The Bible is PROFITABLE 2 Timothy 3:16-17
According to 2 Timothy 3:17 the Bible outfits the believer for every good work. The Bible is indispensable in living as a disciple. One of the characteristics of a disciple of Christ is that He abides in the word ( John 8:31). How does the Word profit you as a disciple? It is profitable in four ways:
1. It is profitable for TEACHING
Since the Bible is our only authoritative word from God it is our only source of absolute truth. Man has used two main methods of searching for truth. One method called empiricism, seeking knowledge through sensory experience, stresses personal experience. The other, rationalism, seeks to gain knowledge through human reasoning. The Bible teaches that these methods are not adequate to discover truths about God. “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard (which rules out empiricism), and which have not entered the heart of man (which eliminates human reason), all that God has prepared for those who love Him.” (I Cor. 2:9). Thus the Bible declares that God's truths cannot be learned through either of these methods alone. The Bible goes on to say in the next verse, “For to us God revealed them through the Spirit” (I Cor. 2:10). Without revelation from God we cannot know the truth of God!
2. It is profitable for REPROOF
Not only does the Bible tell the believer the truth it also tells him when He is wrong. Reproof is a rebuke which brings about a conviction of wrong doing. The word of God is a mirror that will give you a true reflection of yourself ( James 1:23-24).
“A rich man from China visited England and took great delight in a beautiful microscope which was shown him. Later, he purchased one for himself and took it back to China. But one day he happened to examine a tiny piece of rice he was eating. To his horror he discovered that many microscopic creatures were crawling on it. According to his religion, he was not to eat any animal life, but he was very fond of this food, and it was the staple item in his diet. There was only one solution to the problem. He would destroy the instrument which pointed out the distasteful fact, and so he dashed the microscope in pieces. Many attempt to do the same thing with God's Word when it reveals sin in the life but one must be prepared to receive this ministry of the Bible.”
(William Bellshaw, On These We Stand —Great Doctrines).
3. It is profitable for CORRECTION
The Bible not only shows you when you are wrong, it also corrects you or sets you straight. It is not enough to tell you that you are wrong you must be instructed on how to get right. Every disciple of Jesus Christ needs this ministry of God's Word in his life.
4. It is profitable for TRAINING IN RIGHTEOUSNESS
This word was used of rearing children. The Bible is the instruction book for the child of God. The Bible will train you to live right before God.
So far as human knowledge goes, the Bible deals as freely with things unknown as it does with the known. It speaks with utmost freedom and assurance of things altogether outside the range of human life and experience. . . of things eternal as well as of time. There is a border beyond which the human mind, basing its conclusions on experience, cannot go; yet the human authors of the Bible do not hesitate when they reach that boundary, but move majestically on into the unknown realms with intrepidity. By what other means than through the Bible may one gaze into eternity either backward or forward?
Lewis Sperry Chafer (Systematic Theology, Vol. 1, Page 27)
So the Word is profitable for teaching us what we need to know, confronting us about what we should change, setting us on the right path where we should walk, and instructing us how walk down this path.
C. The Bible Is A PERCEPTIVE JUDGE Of The Inner Man Heb 4:12
The writer of Hebrews describes the Word of God as…
1. Living (zoe) – Because it is God-breathed it is the instrument of imparting life to those who believe it.
2. Active (energes) – It is energetic, active, productive. This word is used of activity which produces results and is used often for divine activity which produces effective results.
4. Piercing The extreme power of penetration of the Word of God to the very core of man’s being.
5. Judging the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
The thoughts of the heart (enthumesis) refers to the function of the heart in making a decision, discerning, and making judgment.
The intentions of the heart (enoiwn) refers to the heart’s ability to think, reflect and feel. The word refers to the actions of the affections and is related to the will. It is the action of reason.
D. The Bible Is A TOOL FOR SANCTIFICATION John 17:17
1. This reveals the nature of sanctification. It is not natural morality but supernatural conformity to the moral and spiritual likeness of Jesus Christ. It is not ‘mystical passivity.’
2. This displays the standard of Sanctification: God’s preceptive will.
3. This teaches the necessity of Sanctification (cf. Heb 12:13 with 1 John 1:-10). It is necessary because of…
- The nature of God 1 Pet 1:15-16
- The plan of Grace Eph 1:3-4
- The nature of man Ps 16 ‘No happiness without holiness’
- Conditions of assurance 2 Pet 1:3-11
II. HOW DOES THE BIBLE CHANGE THE CHRISTIAN’S LIFE? Col 1:9-14
In the context of Colossians notice how the false teachers were trying to convince them to construct a lifestyle that seems very religious:
• 2:16 Don’t Eat certain things, don’t drink certain things, observe certain festivals and days
• 2:18 Observe rituals that demonstrate humility, worship spirit beings, have mystical experiences
• 2:11 Don’t handle, taste or touch
These are the ‘elementary principles’ of religion in the world.
A. How Can I Begin To Experience A Lifestyle That Is Pleases The Father? 1:9-10
This is my part.
1. I must know God’s will (1:9)
“filled with the knowledge of His will”
• filled implies two things: (1) be well-rounded in knowledge and (2) be influenced by this knowledge. We can’t please God if we don’t know what He wants.
• will = the revealed will of God
2. I must see how His will fits my life (1:9)
“in all spiritual wisdom and understanding”
• wisdom is the ability to apply the knowledge to real life situations.
• understanding is the application of wisdom to particular situations. The ability to see the true nature of things and situations as they occur.
• Spiritual – this is a work of the Spirit. It demands illumination.
The false teachers at Colosse treated knowledge as though it were an end in itself.
3. I must respond in obedience (1:10)
“so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord”
• walk – live your daily lives.
• worthy – your life should reflect the worth of your Lord.
• please – cf. John 8:29. My attitude is to be: ‘I will do anything to meet and even anticipate His wishes.”
B. How Can I Know I Am Experiencing Such A Lifestyle? 1:10-12
This Is God’s Part
These verses contain 4 present participles which create a It will be characterized by:
1. Fruitfulness “bearing fruit in every good work” (1:10) This speaks of both inward character (fruit) and outward activity (good work).
2. Growing intimacy with the Father increasing in the knowledge of God” (1:10) Principle: Intimacy grows with obedience.
3. Power to meet my everyday situations “being strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness” (1:11)
• Steadfastness (humomone abiding under pressure) refers to faithfulness in the midst of bad circumstances. It is the opposite of cowardice an despondency.
• Longsuffering (makrathumia keeping your boiling point a longs ways off) speaks of faithfulness in the midst of bad relationships. It is the opposite of revenge and wrath.
• And notice it is ‘with joy’ not sour resignation.
4. Joyous gratitude to the Father “joyously giving thanks to the Father” (1:12)
"This makes the believer as refreshing as a long cool drink on a long hot summer day."
In the context (vv 12-13) it is giving thanks for three things:
(1) The inheritance for which the Father qualified us
(2) The deliverance from the Satanic Realm; i.e. the deadly effects of sin and the consequent horror of the fear of judgment.
(3) The tranference to the domain of Christ. We’re already citizens of heaven and the future kingdom.