April 8 – Guidebook

April 8 – Guidebook

2 Timothy 3:16

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16, 17 HCHB)

Consider our theme verse for today. What does “all” mean? Maybe it means all- everything from Genesis to Revelation. Well, then, what does “inspired by God mean”? Actually, the word literally means “God-breathed-out.” And what could that mean when God doesn’t have a body, doesn’t breathe? The word for breath is actually the same word in the original as “spirit.” So we might say that the Bible — all of it — was given by the Spirit of God.

Then Paul tells us why God gave us the book: He provides in the Bible everything we need to believe (“teaching”) and everything we are not to believe (“rebuking”); every behavior we’re to reject (“correcting”) and everything we’re to do (“training in righteousness”). How to think and how to behave — that pretty much sums up God’s expectancies, doesn’t it? But to what end? So that through the Scripture he plans to complete me (the term literally means “perfect” or “mature”), and to equip me for every good work. That’s what the Holy Spirit wants to do in you and me! The God-intended life, you might call it. And he gave us the Book to lead us in that direction.

Whether or not any word is to be believed depends on who said it. If I say, “there will be an earthquake in California tomorrow,” you have every right to ask, “and who are you?” So, because God said it, you can count on it. It’s trustworthy. Jesus trusted it! Not only the trustworthiness of any statement, but the authority of any word also depends on who said it. If I say, “come here” and I’m the King you’d better jump! And since this Book is “God-breathed-out” it’s the final authority. So the Bible is trustworthy — you’d better believe it. And the Bible is authoritative — you’d better obey it! What is the foundation you are building your life on? What do you expect when you read the Bible?

So the Book the Spirit gave is not purely human, full of good advice but also containing not a few errors, the way most people view it. That’s why they pick and choose what to believe, what to obey. But all Scripture is God-breathed out, says Paul. Of course, that doesn’t mean the Bible is purely divine in origin, either to be used like a ouji board to give some hidden meaning. Many use it that way. But, no, the book is both human and divine, as Peter told us: “Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:21, NKJ)) And Paul teaches us, as we have seen, that such a book is to be used for our spiritual maturing and for our effective ministry.

Is God’s purpose in giving us the Bible being fulfilled in your life—to trust it, to obey it? Why not pause right now and talk to him about it? Tell him how you feel about the Bible. Tell him what you intend to do about this Book in the future that might be different from what you’ve done in the past.

The surrendered heart wants to know what the Bible says, not what it can be made to mean. The acceptance of the possible meaning, rather than the certain, is often done to make a self-con­sistent scheme. But the system must not force the Bible into its logical mold. The Bible gives the system all it can legitimately have. If it needs more to complete it, it must wait for the fuller light of eternity. Charles Simeon of Cambridge said: “My endeavor is to make out of Scripture what is there, and not to thrust in what I think might be there. I have a great jealousy on this head [point] never to speak more or less than I believe to be the mind of the Spirit in the passage I am expounding. I would run after nothing and shun nothing.”

We must be willing to obey. Surrender is not merely a passive openness of mind, but it is also a willingness to believe and to obey. It is seen in an active, positive attitude: a hungry heart that is eagerly seeking. When one comes to the Bible with a willingness to learn and obey only when cornered, or with fear and cringing lest it change his opinions and reprove his conduct, that one gives evidence of a stubborn, unyielded heart and cannot be sure he is discovering God’s truth.

The aggressively seeking mind proposes new hypotheses, and then tests them mercilessly in the clear light of what the Bible ac­tually says. It is constantly testing and re-examining, perfectly will­ing to discover the truth in conflict with the sanctions of tradition. It purposefully ousts opinion—even widely held opinion—and de­mands that it return only with the authorized credentials of solid Bible evidence. It fears the bog of semantic stagnation—traditional statements and terms that hide or obscure the pure biblical state­ments, or those that have lost their vitality and accuracy through common use or misuse.

The eager search for basic truth is evidence of an active sur­render of heart, which is a parent indispensable in the birth of hu­mility. This spirit of unconditional surrender coupled with an honest facing of the facts produces humility. The humble mind does not aspire to omniscience, nor to any measurable degree thereof. It has sought out the facts with an open, yielded mind, recognizing the difference between established fact and matters of conviction or opinion. It keeps them separate, content to leave outside the realm of certainty those things that are not clearly re­vealed. As the psalmist wisely declares: “O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; nor do I in­volve myself in great matters, or in things too difficult for me. Sure­ly I have composed and quieted my soul.” (Ps. 131:1-2)[18]

[18] Excerpts from Understanding and Applying the Bible, 229.

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