Today we’re sharing an excerpt from Mary Wiley’s new study, Everyday Theology. Order your copy or see a free sample today at Lifeway.com/EverydayTheology.
What we believe about God is foundational to every other belief we hold. God is the object of our faith and worship, the Person in whom and through whom we have life.
If that is the case, then why start with Scripture?
God has revealed Himself to us in two key ways: through Jesus, the Word made flesh (John 1:14), and through His written Word. Through Scripture we learn about God’s character and actions (past, present, and future). It also reveals what we are to believe about God and how we should live. Scripture alone is the authoritative source of our theology.
Why should we believe the Bible is true?
There is external evidence that validates the truth of Scripture. This includes noting the way God has sustained Scripture for thousands of years, the amazing reliability of ancient manuscripts that affirm we read what the early church read, and the consistency across all the books of the Bible, even though they were written by many different authors.
There is also internal evidence, which is what we will focus on today. Scripture has a lot to say about itself, and every word is valuable and true. Our God cannot lie. How beautiful that the God of the universe would come near by gifting us His Word!
In 2 Timothy 3:10-17, the word translated “inspired by God” or “God-breathed” (NIV) is theopneustos in the original Greek. The English Standard Version uses the literal meaning, “breathed out by God.” The Bible is unlike any other book ever written. It originated with God; He breathed His character into it. But how did it come to be written down? Hold your place in 2 Timothy and flip to 2 Peter 1:20-21.
The Holy Spirit moved in the hearts of the authors who delivered a message from God in their own style and personality. He didn’t dictate every word to the writers but led them to choose what He intended for every single word. (This concept is called verbal plenary inspiration.)
Why is the Bible the ultimate authority?
The authority of any particular instruction flows from the authority of the person giving it. Whether it comes from a parent, coach, friend, boss, or stranger largely impacts how much weight it carries. Scripture is the authority over every person and every aspect of life because it is breathed out by God. Every word is valuable and without mistake. Because of its authority, Scripture is also useful.
In 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul listed four ways God’s Word is useful: for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.
Scripture instructs us how to live and provides authoritative discipline to help us course correct when we are straying. It doesn’t just point out errors; it trains us in holy living so we can be fully equipped to do the work God has called us to in Christ.
If Scripture is to be useful, then it must be understood. This is the work of the Holy Spirit in us. He helps us understand and apply the Word rightly (John 14:26; 16:13-14). This doesn’t mean there aren’t passages that are difficult to understand. However, there’s no secret code needed to unlock Scripture. The Holy Spirit illuminates God’s Word as we study it and hear it taught and proclaimed. He helps us grasp its timeless truths and apply them to our everyday lives.
Most scholars believe Paul wrote this letter to Timothy from a prison in Rome just before he was martyred under the rule of the emperor Nero. He reminded Timothy that all who follow Christ will be persecuted. Timothy was serving as a pastor in Ephesus—a city saturated with idol worship and a church quick to believe false teaching about myths and the need for strict adherence to the Law. Paul reminded Timothy to stay faithful to God and His Word.
False teaching still exists today. It might be a call to ignore sin; a promise that trusting Jesus will result in a happy, prosperous life; or an assertion that we need to live our own truth. It’s appealing and may even sound right at times, making it harder to identify as false and more dangerous to our hearts. That’s why it’s important to thoroughly study Scripture and place ourselves under its authority. As we pore over the Word, the Holy Spirit will help us discern truth from lies. A right understanding of Scripture leads to a life of obedience that looks radically different from the world around us.
God has come near to us by gifting us His Word. When it comes to the grand narrative of Scripture, there is no “loosely based on a true story.” It’s all true, which should compel us to obey and worship Him.
Want to learn more about this new study? Watch the short video below or view a free sample and teaching video clips at Lifeway.com/EverydayTheology.
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