“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” [2 Timothy 3:16].
Paul lays it on the line.
What do we have with the Bible? Wisdom, Instruction, Guidance, Words from God.
What do we do with the Bible? Probably not enough.
John Bevere from his book Good or God? gets pretty accusative when he says “You and I must ask ourselves (and answer honestly), do I consistently read my Bible? Do I study it? Do I spend time searching out God’s wisdom for my life?” Can you say “yes”, “yes” and “yes”?
He breaks down Paul’s statement in 2 Timothy to support the case for Bible study.
Point number 1: “All Scripture…” What does Paul mean by all Scripture? Yes, there are many parts of the Bible that human beings don’t like, but does that mean that all Scripture does not come from God. In a recent group discussion about the Bible, it was very evident to me that all people don’t agree on the intent of the Bible. When you try to express human intent for God’s word, does that mean that we know God’s intent? From my graduate school days in the study of English, I recall a literature analysis concept called “authorial intent.” As readers, we are like detectives, always trying to determine what an author means [or intends to mean]. As human beings with very limited intellects [sorry but true] we can take passages about gender, sexuality, forgiveness etc. and twist them to fit our mind set. We may be so good with this that we try to speak with authority. But really folks, who can speak with authority…only God can.
My position is that all Scripture is inspired by God. Has man touched it? Yes, all one has to do is dig into the history of the many Biblical translations and the learned theological councils that determined the Biblical canon and see that man has touched the Bible. However that does not negate the fact that God was there when the translations were done and the councils were being held. His all-knowing hand was on the Scripture to guide man’s efforts. [The Dead Sea Scrolls compared to our translations attest to the accuracy of the translators].
Point number 2: Bevere focuses on the phrase “Scripture is useful to teach us what is true and what is right” . We have to be careful here. We can read the Bible and try to get it to say all kinds of things. This is the nature of words. The meaning of some words is very hard to pin down. We can take God’s Word and make assumptions, express opinions and attempt to reason with Bible ideas but there are always hidden dangers. Just like we can be about the temptations of everyday life, it is easy to veer away from the good that God intends in His word. Bevere takes Eve who lived with God, enjoying the riches of His goodness and the wonder of His presence but she became convinced that God’s wisdom was flawed. Wow, think about it. Eve was surrounded by a perfect environment and in touch with God and yet she fell away from the Lord.
Think about what we have to contend with in our lives today? I don’t want to begin to list the snares that can trip us up. The list would be infinite.
Let’s return to Pastor Bevere’s admonition to pick up the Bible and use it. He calls it a “life instruction manual.” That’s what it is. When we pick it up, read it and study it, we may get an inkling once in a while about what God expects from us. Sometimes we may get more than an inkling. Whatever guidance we can get is worth it. Bevere says we are “living on a corrupted planet and also battling the tempter.” I don’t know about you but I need all the help I can get.
Like Eve, we can fall away from God’s truth. That is the sinful nature of humankind. But what a joy when we can stay strong in the face of evil. What a joy when we are in the middle of tragedy and we can know a peace that others can’t understand. What a joy when we have a moral compass in the midst of an ethical dilemma and we can find answers…
In God’s instruction manual…