2 Timothy 3:16

Sermon preached on August 12, 2007 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2007. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at http://www.cantonnewlife.org/.

When we were in Newfoundland last month we stayed at Marg's mother's camp on a lake. On the Saturday we were there we had a get-together for some of Marg's friends from her early school days. We had a wonderful day. For about 45 minutes that evening I got to go on a sailboat ride. I love being on a sailboat and it was the highlight of my trip to Newfoundland. The boat was owned by a neighbor, Bob, and while we were sailing he told me a story of his father's sailboat. His father had a real nice 20 foot sailboat but after awhile he decided to get rid of it and he sold it. I'm not sure how it happened but Bob really liked that sailboat and regretted that his father had sold it. So at some point he called the guy who had bought it and said that if he ever wanted to sell it, to let him know, that he'd be interested in buying it back. The guy said that he would give him first crack at it if he was ever going to sell it. Some time later the guy called Bob and informed him that he had sold the sailboat. Bob was surprised and disappointed and said something like,

"But you had promised me that I would have first crack at buying the boat if you ever sold it. What happened? How could you do this to me?"

The other guy said,

"I know Bob and I'm sorry. But I got a better offer."

Bob was really disappointed and said something like,

"A better offer? You didn't even know what I'd offer you for it. Who did you sell it to? Who bought it?"

The guy replied,

"The person who bought the boat is sitting across the table from me right now. We just closed the deal. Do you want to talk to them?"

Bob said yes and the next thing he heard was his wife on the phone saying,

"Hi honey. I just bought your boat for you."

Isn't that a wonderful story? Every guy should have a wife like that.

But for our purposes the point of that story is that at first Bob thought there was a big discrepancy or disjunction between the person who bought the boat and himself. He thought that he had lost the boat, that it had gone to someone else. But it hadn't. His wife bought it for him. The boat was his, he owned it. There was no great disjunction between him and the boat. The boat was his.

In the same way, today many people think that there's a great disjunction between God and the Bible. They claim to have a great respect for God. But they don't have a great respect for the Bible. They see a great divide, a great separation between God and the Bible. They don't view it as being God's Word. They feel free to disregard much of God's Word. The most that you may get out of them is that parts of it are God's Word, God's revelation. But they will tell you that a lot of it is not from God. They will tell you that much of the teaching there is
cultural, from a male dominated and homophobic society. They will tell you that we need to separate the parts that are from God from the parts that are the creation of men. In essence they're saying that there's a great disjunction between God and the Bible.

The lesson I bring this morning is that they are just as wrong as Bob was when he thought that he had lost his sailboat. There is no disjunction between God and His Word. Consider our text. Paul wrote, (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

"All Scripture is God-breathed
and is useful for teaching, rebuking,
correcting and training in righteousness,
so that the man of God
may be thoroughly equipped
for every good work."

The first thing we see from our text is that

Scripture is God-breathed.

There is a very close connection between God and Scripture. The Bible is His Word. He has inspired it. It is His. It has come from Him. The Greek word that Paul uses here is a compound word consisting of the parts, theos (God) and pneustos (breathed). It is passive and means, "breathed of God". E. J. Young writes that Paul, in using this term, (Thy Word is Truth, p. 21)

"wished to make as clear as possible the fact that the Scriptures did not find their origin in man but in God. It was God the Holy Ghost who breathed them forth, they owed their origin to Him, they were the product of the creative breath of God Himself."

B. B. Warfield tells us the same thing. He concluded his study of the Greek word with these words, it, (The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible, p. 296)

"is primarily expressive of the origination of Scripture… produced by the creative breath of the Almighty… the Scriptures owe their origin to an activity of God the Holy Ghost and are in the highest and truest sense His creation."

E. J. Young goes on to talk about how the English word 'inspiration' that is commonly used to refer to this doctrine is an unfortunate one, because it means a 'breathing in' and that is not at all what Paul intended. He writes,

"Paul does not wish Timothy to understand that the Scriptures are a body of human writings into which something Divine has been breathed. That is precisely what he does not want Timothy to understand. According to Paul, the Scriptures are not writings into which something Divine has been breathed; they are not even writings which are imbued with the Divine Spirit… The Scriptures, Paul vigorously asserts, are writings which came into being because they were breathed out by God Himself."

Now what this means is that there is no disjunction between God and His Word. His Word carries His authority. John Calvin writes,

"we owe to the Scripture the same reverence as we owe to God, since it has its only source in Him…"

Now let me illustrate. The Bible is like the decrees of the ancient kings. You'll remember in Ezra's time Cyrus king of Persia issued a proclamation. It read, (Ezra 1:2-4)

"This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:
'The LORD, the God of heaven,
has given me all the kingdoms of the earth
and he has appointed me
to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah.
Anyone of his people among you—
may his God be with him,
and let him go up to Jerusalem in Judah
and build the temple of the LORD,
the God of Israel,
the God who is in Jerusalem.
And the people of any place
where survivors may now be living
are to provide him with silver and gold,
with goods and livestock,
and with freewill offerings
for the temple of God in Jerusalem."

That was Cyrus' decree. My point is that if anyone in Cyrus' kingdom ignored that decree, he would be in big trouble. No one could say,

"I love the King. I'm absolutely devoted to him. But I'm not going to obey his decree."

No. Anyone who did that would be severely punished. He would be considered a rebel. The King's decree had the king's authority. It didn't matter whether you agreed with the decree or not, you had to obey or suffer the consequences. People who heard the proclamation obeyed it. The Jews started preparing to go back to Jerusalem and we read, (Ezra 1:6)

"All their neighbors assisted them
with articles of silver and gold,
with goods and livestock,
and with valuable gifts,
in addition to all the freewill offerings."

People did what the king said. Loyalty to the king meant obedience to his decree.

We see this again just a few chapters later in Ezra. People opposed to the rebuilding of the temple sent letters to the new king, Artaxerxes, asking him to stop the rebuilding of the temple. They told the king that they were rebels. The king listened to them and he issued a decree for the rebuilding to stop. When the king's letter arrived the Jews in Jerusalem were compelled to stop the rebuilding. The king's decree expressed the king's will. There was no disjunction between the king and his decree. The decree expressed the king's will. His decrees had his authority. To disobey the king's decree was to disobey the king.

That's true of the Bible as well. The
Bible comes from God and has His authority. To reject His Word is to reject God.

Many people today say that they love God and that they are absolutely devoted to Him. But at the same time they have no respect for parts of His Word. They dismiss them. The parts they don't like or agree with they say don't come from God. They will tell you that they were mores of the society in which they were written and that they didn't come from God.

So the prohibition against women serving as rulers in the church are ignored. The prohibition against divorce—permitted on only very specific grounds—is ignored. The prohibition against marrying a non-Christian is ignored. The prohibition against fornication is ignored. The prohibition against homosexuality is ignored. Just this morning I was reading in the Chicago Tribune that,

"the nation's largest Lutheran denomination Saturday urged its bishops to refrain from disciplining gay ministers who are in committed same-sex relationships."

How could they do that when the Bible clearly lists homosexuality as a sin and warns people not to do it? The answer is that they have rejected the Bible's authority.

But any suggestion that Scripture doesn't carry the authority of God is quenched by our text. Scripture is God-breathed. The great truth is that there is no disjunction between God and His Word. If you have respect for God, you will have respect for His Word. It cannot be otherwise. The apostle John spoke about this in
1 John 2:3-6,

"We know that we have come to know him
if we obey his commands.
The man who says,
'I know him,'
but does not do what he commands is a liar,
and the truth is not in him."

It's that simple. Christians, beware any teaching that tells you that the Bible does not carry God's authority. It's a lie. The truth is not in them.

The second thing our text tells us is that

the whole of Scripture is God-breathed.

Paul wrote,

"All Scripture is God-breathed…"

The idea is that not some of Scripture, but all of Scripture, is God-breathed.

But someone may object and say, "But couldn't the first part of this verse be translated,

'Every Scripture inspired by God…'"

That is true and that's the way that the English Revised Version renders it. And as such there is not much difference between the two. If that translation is correct, in effect Paul is saying that whatever Scripture we consider, it is inspired of God.

But the problem with the translation, 'Every Scripture inspired by God…' is that it leaves open the door to misunderstanding. Someone could say,

"Paul meant that some Scriptures were inspired by God and others weren't."

But of course there is no indication that Paul believed anything of the sort. In the context here Paul is commending the Scriptures, all of them, to Timothy. In the preceding verse (15) Paul referred to the Scriptures as the,

"holy Scriptures"

and how they are able to make him wise to salvation. As E. J. Young writes, (Thy Word is Truth, p. 23)

"What Paul wishes to assure Timothy is that the Bible is the product of Divine breath…"

So the context is against the notion that Paul was suggesting that some Scriptures were inspired and other were not. That's the exact opposite of what Paul was doing.

But someone may raise another objection and say,

"Wasn't the Bible written by men? How can you say that it's from God when it was written by men? Much of it has its origin in men. It's their writing."

That position is exactly what our text denies. It refutes it. Even though the Bible came to us through men, our text shows that they were merely instruments of God and were serving His purpose, bringing His message to us. The Scriptures were God-breathed. They did not originate in men. William Hendriksen comments on how God inspired the Biblical writers,

"The Spirit, however, did not suppress the personality of the human writer, but raised it to a higher level of activity… By causing him to be born at a certain time and place, bestowing on him specific endowments, equipping him with a definite kind of education, causing him to undergo predetermined experiences, and bringing back to his mind certain facts and their implications, the Spirit prepared his human consciousness. Next, the same Spirit moved him to write. Finally, during the process of writing, that same Primary Author, in a thoroughly organic connection with all the preceding activity, suggested to the mind of the human author that language (the very words!) and that style, which would be the most appropriate vehicle for the interpretation of the divine ideas for people of every rank and position, age and race. Hence, though every word is truly the word of the human author, it is even more truly the Word of God."

We have the same teaching in 2 Peter 1:20-21. Peter wrote,

"Above all,
you must understand
that no prophecy of Scripture came about
by the prophet's own interpretation.
For prophecy never had its origin
in the will of man,
but men spoke from God
as they were carried along
by the Holy Spirit."

God carried them along. He used them to give the Israelites, not the message of men, not a mixture of the message of men and of God—but the message of God. John Calvin writes,

"we owe to the Scripture the same reverence as we owe to God, since it has its only source in Him and has nothing of human origin mixed with it."

Calvin continues and says,

"This is the principle that distinguishes our religion from all others, that we know that God has spoken to us and are fully convinced that the prophets did not speak of themselves, but as organs of the Holy Spirit uttered only that which they had been commissioned from heaven to declare. All those who wish to profit from the Scriptures must first accept this as a settled principle, that the Law and the prophets are not teachings handed on at the pleasure of men or produced by men's minds as their source, but are dictated by the Holy Spirit."

Now what does this mean for us?

First of all, it means that

you ought to have the highest regard for the Bible, in its entirety.

What an inestimable gift God has given us in His Word. It is His Word. We can trust it as so. Our attitude toward God's Word ought to be like David in Psalm 119. He said, (Psalm 119:41-48)

"May your unfailing love come to me,
O LORD, your salvation
according to your promise;
then I will answer the one
who taunts me,
for I trust in your word.
Do not snatch the word of truth
from my mouth,
for I have put my hope in your laws.
I will always obey your law,
for ever and ever.
I will walk about in freedom,
for I have sought out your precepts.
I will speak of your statutes
before kings and will not be put to shame,
for I delight in your commands
because I love them.
I lift up my hands to your commands,
which I love,
and I meditate on your decrees."

David had absolute confidence in the Word.

Jesus did as well. You'll recall that He met every temptation of Satan with God's Word. Satan said to Him—turn the stones into bread, Jesus answered, (Matthew 4:4)

"It is written:
'Man does not live on bread alone,
but on every word
that comes from the mouth of God.'"

He met all three temptations that way. He warded all three off because of His trust in God's Word. What confidence He had in the Word. You should have the same confidence. Christians, love the Word. Study the Word. Value and appreciate it. In Matthew 5:18 Jesus said,

"I tell you the truth,
until heaven and earth disappear,
not the smallest letter,
not the least stroke of a pen,
will by any means disappear from the Law
until everything is accomplished."

As David wrote in Psalm 119:72,

"The law from your mouth
is more precious to me
than thousands of pieces of silver and gold."

Secondly, Christians,

how thankful you ought to be to God for giving you this revelation.

Where would we be without it? General revelation, looking at the sun, moon, stars and the rest of God's creation is not adequate to lead us to Jesus. We needed the Word to come to know Christ.

How you ought to be thankful for the Word. How you ought to be thankful for Him who is the incarnate Word, Jesus. He came, lived and died for us. How you ought to be thankful to the Father who sent Jesus. How you ought to be thankful for the Spirit, who reveals Christ to you.

Lastly, for those of you who are not Christians, what you should see from our text is that

you need to start believing the Word.

You need to listen to what it says or you'll be lost. In John 3:16-19 we read,

"For God so loved the world
that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him
shall not perish but have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son
into the world to condemn the world,
but to save the world through him.
Whoever believes in him is not condemned,
but whoever does not believe
stands condemned already
because he has not believed
in the name of God's one and only Son."

You need Jesus. Do what the Bible says and trust in Him today.