Summary: A talk intended to increase confidence in Scripture, regarding it as a source of truth and considering its historical features.
There’s a saying that goes like this, “A Bible in the hand is worth two in the bookcase”. C.H. Spurgeon wrote:
"I would recommend you either believe God up to the hilt, or else not to believe at all. Believe this book of God, every letter of it, or else reject it. There is no logical standing place between the two. Be satisfied with nothing less than a faith that swims in the deeps of divine revelation; a faith that paddles about the edge of the water is poor faith at best. It is little better than a dry-land faith, and is not good for much".
Every week in church we look carefully at the Bible. And we do this because, as Spurgeon says, we should “be satisfied with nothing less than a faith that swims in the deeps of divine revelation”. A faith that comes through the Scriptures ought to be our craving. As the psalmist says, “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul” (Ps 19.7).
The people of our day would have us belief that the Bible is irrational, untrue and for those who are weak-minded. The world will have us believe that only the facts that it discovers are true. The scientific method, the application of reason—the world says these are the only tools we have for acquiring facts for daily consumption in a humanistic world.
Away from the insights of science and technology—away from iPhones and the internet—there is a crisis playing out—the crisis of truth. No truth—only opinions. Yet we believe in truth and we assert that ultimate and absolute truth is revealed from God. And we affirm that God’s written revelation, the Bible, conveys truth because God is its author. A truth which not only satisfies our intellect but invites us into the warmest of fellowship with the God of creation and re-creation.
Last week we argued that truth does exist and we shouldn’t let the world’s unbelief in truth phase us, because philosophical moods come and go, but the word of the Lord endures forever.
And today we want to assure ourselves that the Bible is the legitimate source of truth and the source for deepening our faith. We want to assure ourselves that the words of God lead us beside still waters. We want to remind ourselves that the sword of the Spirit is the word of God (Eph 6.17).
This leads us to examine the nature of Scripture. What makes it special? How, humanly, speaking did it come into being? And then the implications of reading God-breathed books—truth and inerrancy, sufficiency and personal devotion.
One. Scripture is God-breathed. A good place to start are Paul’s words to Timothy in 2 Tim 3.10ff. That’s our main text for this morning. Here Paul speaks of the persecutions he endured in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra in contrast to evil doers and imposters who seemed to flourish as they went from bad to worse.
Paul advice to Timothy, as we see in verse 15, is to hold fast to what he learnt from infancy regarding the Holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation. Persevere in the Scriptures which ground you in the gospel. The enduring word of God us useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that we all may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
What is it about the Scriptures that make us wise for salvation? What is it about the Scriptures that thoroughly equip us for every good work?
The answer we see in verse 16. All Scripture is “God-breathed”. This is its basic, essential property. What makes Scripture different from all other writings is that the breathe of God exhaled into the words of men who wrote the Scriptures. As Peter says in 2 Pet 1.21, Scripture did not have “its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet 1.21).
The Spirit, using human authors, inspired the Scriptures. It is God who decides which books are God-breathed and which ones are not. The church cannot by any of its decisions change the character of a book inspired by God. It is the original texts which are God-breathed and our translations are excellent but subject to error from time to time.
An 1810 a version of the Bible read, “If any man come to me, and hate not … his own wife (instead of ”his own life”), he cannot be my disciple”.
The first English-language Bible to be printed in Ireland, in 1716, encouraged its readers to “sin on more” rather than “sin no more”.
In 1631 one version reported the Seventh Commandment as "Thou shalt commit adultery," a mistake which infuriated King Charles. He ordered all copies of this Bible destroyed and fined all printers whose hands had touched the edition.