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Fulton County Gospel News

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Prompted by God

By Barry O’Dell

The student of the Bible should be very familiar with what Paul wrote to Timothy: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). The phrase given by inspiration of God is translated from the Greek word theopneustos meaning, “breathed out by God or God breathed.” The Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament says of theopneustos, “Prompted by God, divinely inspired, occurs only in 2 Timothy 3:16 in the New Testament.” The obvious implication is that the content of the Bible is a product of Divinity. Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit wrote, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation. For prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:20-21). In other words, those men who spoke (or wrote) God’s word did not come up with it out of their own initiative. Peter states that they were moved, i.e. borne along, by the Holy Spirit. An excellent illustration of this is found in the words of David: “The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and His word was in my tongue” (2 Sam. 23:2).

One’s understanding of inspiration is critical to the understanding of Scripture and the application of it to daily life. If the Bible is just another book, as some claim that it is, it really has no authoritative relevance in life. However, if it is the God-breathed, Holy Spirit revealed word of God, it holds eternal relevance for every man! If it is just another book then all the claims, both Old Testament and New, are nothing but lies. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of statements from Genesis to Revelation claiming that the very words have been given to man by God. For example, Jeremiah 36:1-2 reads, “And it came to pass in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that this word came unto Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, ‘Take thee a roll of a book, and write therein all the words that I have spoken unto thee against Israel, and against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spake unto thee, from the days of Josiah, even unto this day.’” Concerning the New Testament writings we have this claim: “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which is preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1:11-12).

What is the significance of the doctrine of inspiration? Paul revealed several points in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that cause us to realize the gravity of this subject. First, Paul wrote that the God-breathed Scriptures are profitable or useful for doctrine. This word refers to the things that we teach. Contrary to popular belief in the religious world today it does matter what one teaches and practices. Paul referred to a particular form or pattern of doctrine that the Roman Christians had obeyed (Rom. 6:16-18). That doctrine led them, and can lead us to be “servants of righteousness.” Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, commanded that we be united in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10).

Second, Paul wrote that the God-breathed Scriptures are profitable for reproof. This word implies that the Scriptures reveal when man is doing something wrong. Jesus quoted the Scriptures to reprove Satan (Matt. 4:3-10). He also quoted Scripture to reprove the Pharisees (Matt. 15:7-9). Stephen referred to many Scriptures in order to reprove the Jews (Acts 7). Reproof is also a necessary part of preaching today. Paul wrote, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:2).

Third, Paul wrote that the God-breathed Scriptures are profitable for correction. Literally, “to set right again, to make straight.” God’s word does not leave us in the dark. The Bible does not tell us we are wrong and then let us guess as to how we are to get right! David wrote, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple…Moreover by them is Thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward” (Ps.19:7, 11). When man has gone out of the way God has a plumb line that will set him straight again (Amos 7:7-8).

Fourth, Paul wrote that the God-breathed Scriptures are profitable for instruction in righteousness. God’s word instructs or trains us in the way we should go. David wrote, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee” (Ps. 119:11). There are many who do not like the idea of “instructions” or “rules” when it comes to following God. Many want to bring God and His standard down to their level. Many have a zeal for God, but are seeking out their own way of righteousness (Rom. 10:1-3). In order to be righteous (right with God) we must come to Him on His terms, not our own. The wise man who built his house upon the rock heard Jesus and did what He said (Matt. 7:24-27).

Finally, Paul wrote that the God-breathed Scriptures are able to completely furnish the child of God in order to do all good works. God’s word gives us the capability of doing all things that please Him. Paul and others had been given the Spirit of God so that they could both speak and write the things that God has freely given (1 Cor.2:9-13). It is not impossible to please God. In fact, we are told that our love for God is shown by our keeping His commandments which are not grievous (1 Jn. 5:3). Children of God can be confident that (1) we have the complete, inspired will of God and (2) we are able to read and understand the things that God has revealed to us in order to please Him (Eph. 3:3-5; 5:17). It must be remembered that one’s view of the Bible is critical to how one might or might not apply its teachings to his/her life. 

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