God Speaks through the Bible, His written word, revealing Himself and transforming His people.
When I first came to faith in Christ, I was a high school senior. One of the “Christian phrases” I heard people say all the time was “God spoke to me…” or “God gave me a word…” Have you ever heard someone say something like that? Most of my Christian friends at that time came from a Charismatic background. I really didn’t know exactly what those phrases meant. Looking back, I don’t think my friends were trying to be theologically precise, and some of their phrasing and practices are things I wouldn’t agree with today.
However, what they were doing well, was pointing to their desire to have a deep and personal relationship with the One who had saved them. They were pursing intimacy with God! I liked that idea then. And, I still do! The problem is, many professing Christians haven’t HAD that experience. Instead, many of us struggle, feeling like our faith is more ritual than relationship.
However, I don’t believe that’s what Jesus wants for us. In fact, he tells us as much in John 10:27.
John 10:27 (ESV) – My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
Jesus’s sheep hear His voice. That means He has something to say, if we’re willing to listen faithfully.
Over the next few weeks, we’re going to spend some time talking about the ways in which God speaks, leading His people into deeper relationship and alignment with His will. I’m excited about this series, because it’s the first time in our church’s history that we have a four-part series with four people from the church who will be sharing!
That said, I have the joy of opening the series with this morning’s message, God Speaks Through the Bible.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV) – 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
There are at least three principles that I see in play in our passage. The first one is: The Bible is God’s word.
We’re told here that “All Scripture is breathed out by God…” That phrase isn’t meant to be simply poetic. It goes beyond symbolism and flourish and contains a deep theological truth: Scripture is the very word of God because He is the one who breathed it out.
Maybe you’ve never given this concept much though before, but as I stand before you today and share this message, I am constantly breathing; inhaling and exhaling. “When we inhale, the diaphragm lowers and the rib cage expands, drawing air into the lungs. As we exhale, the process reverses and air exits the lungs, creating an airstream in the trachea. This airstream provides the energy for the vocal folds [cords] in the voice box to produce sound.” (https://www.entnet.org//content/how-voice-works)
Put simply, I’m breathing out these words for you to hear. You know they are my words because I’m the one who spoke them.
The process of Biblical inspiration, or God breathing out His word, is similar. However, instead of using the power of an airstream and the instrument of vocal cords, God used the power of the Holy Spirit and the instrument of faithful people. Peter, the Apostle, explains it this way:
2 Peter 1:21 (ESV) - For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Yes, the 66 books of the Bible were recorded over roughly 1600 years, in three languages, and in multiple genres of literature. They were written by men. But, these men were carried along by the Holy Spirit, used by God as instruments to compile His special revelation.
This is so important for us to understand! The Bible is God’s word, which means that every time we read it, we’re hearing God speak. This isn’t just some dusty old book! [I mean, maybe you’ve neglected your copy, so it’s become dusty and old… But it isn’t meant to be!] But God created it as something more!
Hebrews 4:12 (ESV) – For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
The word of God is living and active! God’s word has POWER. God’s word has always had power. Remember, He spoke, and the universe came into being. Christ spoke, and Lazarus was raised from the dead. The same breath of God who spoke those things also spoke these words. He did so specifically so that you and I would hear Him when we read these words.
God speaks through the Bible, because the Bible IS God’s word.
Let’s switch gears a bit. Have you ever met a new person who you wanted to get to know? Other than Facebook stalking them, how might we do that? What about, you know, listening to them? What a person says can show us who they are, can’t it? Some things are direct and factual, while other phrases may just give you a sense of their larger worldview.
Reading the Bible, and hearing from God, works the same way, because of the truth found in the second principle we see in 2 Timothy 3:16-17: The Bible reveals who God is.
16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
Have you ever noticed there are a lot of faulty preconceptions about God out there? Here’s just a few, and notice that some of them even disagree with one another:
I wish more people would read the Bible and take it seriously, because God’s word clears up these misconceptions about him, and far more. The Bible reveals who God is!
For example, take a look at Psalm 19:7-9:
Psalm 19:7–9 (ESV) -The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.
A God whose word “revives the soul” and “rejoices the heart” doesn’t sound like a buzzkill to me. Likewise, a God whose word “makes people wise” and “enlightens the eyes” isn’t at all in conflict with intellectual rigor. The word of God reveals the God of the word. God is so much more than we typically give Him credit for. The more we hear Him speak through the Bible, the deeper our relationship with Him grows, and the more we begin to recognize Him in our lives.
God speaks through the Bible, because the Bible IS God’s word, and it reveals who God is.
Now, check out Romans 12:2:
Romans 12:2 (ESV) - Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Clearly, we must allow the Bible to reveal to us who God is, but that’s only part of the larger puzzle. Another principle we see in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 is that The Bible transforms who we are.
17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
The Bible is used to make us complete in Christ, equipped for the good work He has called us to!
Many times people see God’s word as a list of rules. In some sense, that’s true. Scripture contains teachings called the Law. The Law is actually meant to show us that apart from God we’re incapable of measuring up to His perfect standard. But not all of the word is law. Particularly in the New Testament, we also see Gospel. Sin has separated us from God. But Jesus, came to tear down that wall of separation! He was sinless and lived a perfect life, but He took our sin upon Himself, and was crucified in our place. He paid the debt of our sin, so that we can be forgiven through faith in Him, and reconciled with God.
So, why don’t we who are in Christ do the things God says? Two reasons come to mind (though I’m sure there are more):
But that’s not what God speaks to us in scripture… We DON’T have it IN OUR OWN STRENGTH. But we CAN DO what He calls us to, by faithfully walking in His Spirit and power, even when it’s uncomfortable.
James 1:22 (ESV) – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
We need to be hearers. God speaks, after all. But we also need to be doers! Wouldn’t it be crazy to hear God [the creator and sustainer of all things!] speak… and yet not faithfully obey?
The Bible transforms who we are.
As we wrap up our time in this passage, it’s clear that God Speaks Through the Bible!
Maybe it’s obvious, but there’s a fairly straightforward practical application to that: We need a steady diet of the word of God in our lives. We need to read the book.
Of course, just because that’s straightforward, doesn’t mean it’s easy. So, here are some thoughts that are offered to help you in practical ways.
In conclusion, God speaks through the Bible.
Scripture is unique: it is the only one that is authoritative over all other things. That’s because God Himself breathed out the words of Scripture. The Bible is our all-sufficient rule of faith and practice, written to encourage us to Hope in Jesus!
Romans 15:4 (ESV) - For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.