Equipped by His Word (Part 2)
“Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another – showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 MSG)
In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, we find Paul talking with his spiritual son and disciple Timothy. By this point in history, the New Testament hadn’t been fully formed so Paul would be referring primarily to the Old Testament, but nevertheless, these sentences have made their way to us two thousand years later and so, without doubt, we can read our New Testament stories and place them with equal importance to the old.
The Bible tells us that it is inspired, it is in fact, God-breathed.
The words appear in our Bible because God breathed them out of His mouth. The Almighty, The Creator of all that we see and don’t see, spoke these words in being.
A lot of other Bible translations use the word, ‘inspired’ and not ‘God-breathed’. ‘Inspired’ can be defined as: something of extraordinary quality, something that: rises from something external and creative. So although written down by human beings, the Word of God that we hold in our hands is ultimately something that has come from an external source and one that is infinitely creative! God has motivated hands to move and to write, and by the Holy Spirit, whispered words formed in the deep mystery of God into minds that have transmuted these words from one another, to leaf, to parchment, to paper – and today, into digital format.
When we really take in from whom the source of the words come, when we have a revelation that what we have is God speaking to us, our reading of the Bible becomes a very different, very important, and very serious exercise. We can know practicalities of its formation, the length of time it covers (which is thousands of years), and the councils that decreed what’s in and what’s out, but ultimately, by faith, we trust that God has guided and directed the content of the book that we should hold so dear and that every word has meaning and purpose. The Bible is a book with stories set in historic times and places, but with morals and messages that are timeless and without borders. So, if we accept that the Bible is the inspired Word of God and that both the Old and the New have genuine lessons to teach us and stories to encourage us, what do we do with that?
Well, I think that the Bible helps us work out our salvation.
Now, please note the next sentence clearly: When we give our lives to Christ, when we submit to Him fully and completely, we are undoubtedly saved and Heaven at some point is our eternal destination. But at this present time, we live in a fallen world, where the Kingdom of Darkness still has a hold, a place where we still find temptation and sin crouching at our door and it is a daily battle to keep it at bay. Yes, we have the Holy Spirit living within us to help us know right from wrong, but even then we can choose not to listen to that inner voice and find ourselves stumbling on an otherwise righteous path.
The Bible helps us in our process of sanctification – our living out of our lives as beings who are doing their best to be more and more Christ-like.
Read again what Paul said to Timothy, he said that: “Scripture is useful one way or another – showing us the Truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word, we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.”
Reading the Word of God and not just reading about the Word of God is so important. If we just read someone else’s thoughts on what the Bible says, we’re not necessarily reading Truth, we could be just reading someone’s opinion. And if we just read McNuggets of Scripture as our only way of digesting God’s Word, we can become bloated and fat, full of Word, able to regurgitate Scripture, but not able to place it in context and therefore not getting the all-rounded goodness that it has to offer.
The bottom line of what we need to do is read the Word of God, regularly, as a priority, and try to gain as much context for what we’re reading (or indeed listening to) as possible. And this means actually understanding not just the word context, the paragraph, the chapter, the letter or book, but learning to ask the correct questions as to what is it we’re reading, what was the culture in which it was written, who was the person writing it and to whom were they writing?
We are living in an age where we are spoiled with information. It only takes a couple of clicks or a few taps to discover something new about almost anything and everything. Even though we can sometimes deride the truth behind internet stories, we can also be sure of having access to some amazing resources that are verifiable and true. This means that if we want to ask those questions I’ve just stated of a particular book or letter, there are websites available that can give cultural and geographical context, as well as studies for whatever we are reading from Scripture without jeopardizing our own thoughts and personal Holy Spirit revelation.
Just a couple of those online resources which I rely quite heavily on are: Biblehub.com or Biblegateway.com. And to really get into reading the Bible on a regular basis, why not sign up to a free account with Bible.com? You can choose one of their hundreds of different Bible plans, focusing on The Bible In One Year, or less, plans.
Think how powerful the Church would be in both word and deed if we were all honest with ourselves about how much of the Bible we read regularly, and we made a commitment from this day onwards to knuckle down and give God’s Word a higher priority?
Think how powerful the Church would be in both word and deed if we read the Bible together, challenging one another to think outside the box of church tradition, encompass context, and put in the effort to research as a group goal – such as in small groups?
Think how powerful the Church would be if we recognised the power of the Holy Spirit working in us and through, combined with the equipping of God’s inspired written word. It says in The Message translation of 2 Timothy 3:17: “Through His Word we are brought together, and through agreement on foundational truths, we are shaped together ready for whatever God asks us to do.
If we choose to dream of a Church that embraces a commitment to reading His Word I think we would grow bolder in our evangelism. We would love more genuinely in our relationships with one another as we hold one another to His Word with grace and truth. We would see a more defined difference between the Kingdom of Darkness and the Kingdom of Light which would enable us to tackle issues of the hour with confidence and a calm principled stance. We would find our voice in a world that so desperately needs to hear it, a voice of love and acceptance and a voice of power and wisdom.
If as Church we make a pledge to read His Word, and by His Spirit, ask for fresh revelation of what God is saying I think it would powerfully change us. I think we would find our purposes together, we’d be a people group with a greater level of wisdom and a greater faith for the miraculous, a people of divine patience, and a people who would show love to each other and those outside of the church despite whatever we might have to endure.
And the reason I think that is because the Bible tells me so.
In 2 Timothy 3:10 Paul says this: “But you, Timothy, certainly know what I teach, and how I live, and what my purpose in my life is. You know my faith, may patience, my love, and my endurance.”
Paul clearly had a respect and a love for the Word of God so much so that it leapt from the pages and all that he learned inhabited his soul. Knowing the Word changed not just his theology or his opinion, but it had a very real effect of who he was and how he lived his life.God’s Word is not just there to gain information … it’s here for our transformation!
God’s Word is not just there to gain information … it’s here for our transformation!
“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us, We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)