All Scripture is God-breathed
Sunday October 21, 2007
Sermon: “All Scripture is God-breathed” (2Tim 3:16)
“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.” (2Tim 3:16; NIV)
“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.” (2Pet 1:20, 21; NIV)
“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer (or defense) to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” (1Pet 3:15, 16; NIV)
“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.” (2Tim 3:16, 17; NIV) The New Living Translation translates it this way, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.”
The Bible is inspired of God. It is “God-breathed”. The Greek word translated “inspired” in some Bible translations or “God-breathed” in others, is the word theopneustos. The first part of the word comes from the Greek word for God – theos. The second part of the word is derived from the Greek word pneo which means “to breathe”. It’s also related to the Greek word pneuma (spelled p-n-e-u-m-a) which can be translated “breath” or “spirit”. It’s from this Greek word that we derive such English words as pneumatic and pneumonia. The Bible is the very breath of God – literally the Word of God. God breathed out the words and men wrote them down.
“Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved (or carried along) by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.” (2Pet 1: 20, 21; NLT) The first thing we are told is that the Scriptures did not stem merely from the prophets themselves; their writings came from God. God is the source and author of the Bible.
The second thing we learn is that the prophets wrote as they were “moved” or “carried along” by the Holy Spirit. Now Greek word translated “moved” or “carried along” is the word pheromenoi. In Acts 27 verses 15 and 17, Luke used this same Greek word in referring to a sailing vessel carried along by the wind. Just like a sailboat that is at the mercy of the wind, the Scripture writers were under the “direction” of the Holy Spirit.
“Always be prepared to give an answer (or a defense) to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1Pet 3:15; NIV). The Greek word (Yes I know – another Greek word. I promise this will be the last one.) translated “answer” in some Bible translations or “defense” in others, is the Greek word apologia from which we get our English word “apologetics”. Now the word “apologetics” confuses many people into thinking that it refers to some kind of apologizing. Again, this word is not derived from the English world “apology”, but rather from the Greek word apologia, which is a word referring to “making a defense”. Christian Apologetics is that branch of Christian theology that answers the question “is Christianity believable”. Scripture tells us that we should always be prepared to defend our faith.
Now being “prepared to give an answer or a defense” means that we not only have to know what we believe but also why we believe it. This means that not only do we need to have a good “working” knowledge of God’s Word – which comes through diligent Bible study – but we also need to be able to give an explanation of why we believe it to be true. Are you “prepared to give an answer”? Do you feel confident that you are able to defend your faith?
Now I’ve spoken Greek to you, and I’ve used some big theological words such as “apologetics”, but what you need to understand is that apologetics is not just for Scholars and Theologians. Apologetics is for all Believers. As you share your faith with family, friends, neighbours, or co-workers there will come a time when you will need to defend your faith; when you will need to answer some tough question and objections; when you will need to explain not only what you believe but why you believe it. Therefore, you need to be ready to give an answer. That is what is called apologetics.
There is a large percentage of Christians today who never (or almost never) share their faith with others. They will use a number of different excuses such as, “I don’t want to impose my beliefs on them.” or “Most of the people I know are not really interested in spiritual things.” or “If it’s God’s will that they be saved, then they’ll saved regardless of what I do or don’t do.” But one of the main reasons many Christians don’t evangelize is fear and doubt. Maybe they’re afraid that if they start talking about Jesus and the Bible, people will see them as a “religious nut” or a “Jesus freak”. Perhaps they have doubts about their ability to answer people’s questions or respond to their objections and attacks; they don’t feel that they can adequately or properly defend their faith. Or maybe they have doubts about their own faith.
Now let me tell you a secret: it’s okay to be a little scarred sometimes, and it’s okay to have doubts. Believe me, even I have doubts from time to time. I’m sure that even Pastor Steve has the occasional doubt. And let me tell you something else: you don’t need to have all the answers. I know I certainly don’t. The only one who has all the answers is the Lord. But the answers are there.
If you are struggling with doubts and fears of different kinds, you need to realize that they won’t go away merely by ignoring them or by pretending that they don’t exist. Facing your fears is not easy – that’s why people make up all sorts of excuses to avoid them instead of facing them – but you still need to face them. Just keep in mind that “with God, all things are possible”.
But how do we know that the Bible is true; that it’s reliable? How do we know that it really is the Word of God? Oh sure, the Bible testifies about itself that it is, but how can we know for sure? Or can we? Are we just supposed to except it out of “blind” faith?
First let’s look at a few facts about the Bible.
1. The bible is by wide margin the bestselling book of all times.
2. It has been translated in more than 2000 languages and dialects.
3. It is the most widely known book in the English-speaking world.
4. The American Bible Society has, in more than 180 years of its existence, distributed as many Bibles as there are people in the world – over 5 billion.
Now let’s look a few of the popular attacks on the Bible’s reliability.
1. The Bible is full of errors and contradictions. This is one of the most common attacks against the Scriptures. Critics claim the Bible is filled with errors. Some even speak of thousands of mistakes. But the truth is, there is not even one demonstrated error in the original text of the Bible.
2. Since the Bible has been translated so many different times over a period of thousands of years there is no possible way that the Bible we have today is the same as the original manuscripts. Actually, for hundreds of years this was probably the most common objection to the reliability of Scripture. After all, the Bible had been translated many times over the years and we only had a handful of copies of ancient manuscripts. And the few manuscripts we did have were very late manuscripts, the oldest ones dating hundreds of years after the actual events. But in 1947 an incredible discovery was made. A young shepherd chanced upon some ancient scrolls in jars in hidden caves near the Dead Sea. These would eventually become known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. These scrolls – which were found to predate the time of Christ – contained all the books of the Old Testament in whole or in part, except for the book of Esther, as well as a few fragments of the New Testament. This was the find of the century. When experts compared those ancient manuscripts with modern Scriptures, they found that they were virtually identical. The Bible had not been changed or corrupted after all. Since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, many more ancient manuscripts have been unearthed. Today we have close to 6000 ancient Greek manuscripts – some dating back almost to the time of the actual events.
There are mountains of evidence in favour of the truthfulness of the Bible. We’ve barely scratched the surface this morning. Just remember that the more time you spend in the study of God’s Word and in prayer, the more your faith will grow.