What’s Special about Scripture

September 14, 2014

There is
normally a sense of urgency to people’s last words.  Last week as we finished up our Down the Road
Series I mentioned that the last letter of Paul’s that we have a copy of is 2
Timothy, and the scholars tell us that it may have
been written just weeks before Paul’s execution. 
Last week we looked at the words of Paul when
he told Timothy, 2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I
have remained faithful.   Paul was
summing up his life for his friend, it was almost as if he was delivering his
own eulogy.  But those weren’t the only
important words that Paul had for Timothy.
Earlier in this letter Paul reminds Timothy of
where he was to find his authority, and it wasn’t from Paul. Paul
writes, 2 Timothy 3:16 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.
You may
have noticed that in my messages I use a lot of scriptures, when I was in
college I read the words of John Wesley who said “I am a Bible
bigot. I follow it in all things, both great and small.”  And I really didn’t understand what he
meant but I have come to understand, because I too am a bible bigot, I don’t think that anything I or
anyone else has to say has the potential eternal consequences of God’s word.
You don’t
come to church on Sunday Morning to hear the collected wisdom of Denn Guptill,
at least I hope you don’t.  You come to
hear from the Bible, the word of God, the Holy Scriptures, so I don’t want to
take the time you have entrusted me with to let you know what I think. 
And I
would be naïve to think that everyone agrees with me on the validity or the
value of this book. A number of years ago I was asked to take part in a debate
on CBC radio concerning the Oxford translation of the Bible.  This particular translation worked very hard
at trying to offend nobody. So they were very gender unspecific.  Now I understand some of that, he and her
become they, mankind becomes humanity or should that simply be hu-people-y.  I can even concede a little bit on Sons of
God becoming Children of God, although socially and culturally speaking, 2000
years ago being someone’s son was a whole lot different than simply being
someone’s child and was understood as such. 
If you didn’t want to be gender specific but
still wanted to capture the essence of the original son would have to
translated “favourite child” not just child.
But the
translation kept going, it removed any mention of the Jewish leaders asking for
Christ to be crucified instead it was simply the religious leaders. Because it
didn’t want to be anti-Semitic.  But
historically it wasn’t just any religious leaders who demanding the execution
of Christ it was the Jewish religious leaders. 
That’s not to put any blame on Jews who live today that is simply the
historic reality.  To deny that is akin
to just referring to the authors of the holocaust as political leaders and not
mentioning that they were German political leaders.
In the
Oxford translation the right hand of God was no longer the preferred place
because that would imply that left was wrong or bad.  The parable of the blind guides was left out
because it was offensive to blind people, you get the gist.  And I was asked to debate another pastor who
thought the Oxford translation was the greatest thing since sliced bread. 
And I
challenged her saying that regardless of how you viewed the Bible it was wrong
to take that much liberty with it.  If it
was the word of God how could you make such radical changes, if it was just a
historical document how could you justify tampering with it or if it was only
great literature we wouldn’t change the wording of Shakespeare’s plays simply
to make them more appealing for today.
But to
her the Bible was just a book, a good book but just a book never the less.  And I couldn’t fathom how a pastor, a
minister could view the word of God as just a book.  What did she say when she stood up on Sunday
Morning?  What could she possibly offer
her congregation if it wasn’t from the word of God? 
And so in
the scripture that was read this morning Paul is writing a young pastor by the
name of Timothy.  And as we read
this we need to remember that 2 Timothy is a personal letter; it wasn’t addressed
to the congregation in the Ephesian church it was addressed to the pastor of
the Ephesian church. We are reading someone else’s mail. 
Paul is in prison in Rome facing execution and he is
writing to encourage Timothy and to remind him of his calling.
And part of what Paul reminds
Timothy of is his heritage, how he was brought up in a Godly home with a
foundation established on the scriptures.   And so Paul tells Timothy 2 Timothy 1:5 I remember
your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother
Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in
you.   And that goes back to the promise we are given
in Proverbs 22:6 Direct
your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave
it.
In other words parents do your best when they are little
and hope for the best when they grow up. 
And Timothy had that heritage, it would appear that his Mother Eunice
and his Grandmother Lois were followers of Christ and that they had brought Timothy
up in the faith.  Now understand that
these ladies came to their faith through a Jewish background and so that is how
Timothy would have been raised. The scriptures that he would have been taught
would have been the Jewish scriptures, what we know as the Old Testament,
because for Timothy the New Testament was still a work in progress.
After He turned 13
the Rabbis would have felt that He was responsible enough to observe all the
mitzvahs, which were the divine commandments or meritorious acts.  As He grew He would have read the Talmud
which were the books of wisdom written by the Rabbis through the
centuries.  And in those books He would
have learnt things like “Never threaten a child, either punish him or forgive him.”
or
“A child’s tears move heaven itself” or “Why was man created on the last
day, so when pride takes a man it can be said, ‘God created the fly before
you.’”  He would have learnt all
these things at the Heder or Hebrew school. 
Historians tell us that at a time when 90% of the world’s population was
illiterate, that every Jewish boy over the age of five was learning to
read.  And while most of us do our best
to struggle though with one language, Timothy was undoubtedly learning in both
Hebrew the language of his people, and Greek which was the language of the
marketplace. 
On His first day
of school Eunice would have included a honey cake in His lunch to remind Him of
how sweet learning was and His teacher would have given him a taste of honey
and told Him, “The study of God’s word is sweeter.”  But Timothy’s education in the scripture
would have begun long before that, in his own home. 
But what are some of the things
about the scriptures that Timothy and we by default are reminded of here in
regards to God’s word?  Paul begins by
reminding Timothy  2 Timothy 3:16 All
Scripture is inspired by God
First of all we are told that The Scriptures are Inspired by God 
This is the crux of the entire sermon.  If you can’t believe that this book was
inspired by God then what good is it for you? 
It’s not just another self-help book, it’s not just another book on
morality, it’s not just another “Good Book”. 
This is the word of God.  And it’s
not enough to say “Well I believe that parts of the Bible are inspired.”  What parts? 
The parts that you agree with? 
The parts that make you feel good but don’t make you feel guilty?  Do you get your pick of the Ten Commandments,
so you’ll pick do not murder and do not steal but skip lying and adultery.  This book is either the word of God or it’s not
and if it’s not then why waste your time with it?
It was Augustine who remind us “If you believe what you like in the
Gospel, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but
yourself.”
We hear the word inspired tossed around a lot these days,
artists are inspired, musicians are inspired, and interior decorators are
inspired.  But does that mean the same as
the bible being inspired by God? 
No.  In most cases when we speak
about someone being inspired it means they are very creative, that they are
able to draw some special inspiration from within themselves or from their
Muse.
But the thought of the original language in saying the
scriptures were inspired comes from the two Greek words which meant God and
breathed, God breathed the scriptures into being.  As a matter of fact if you were to read 2 Timothy 3:16 in the New International Version it
begins by saying All Scripture is God breathed.   You have 40 different human authors who put
pen to paper, so to speak, who contributed to this book, and we believe that
they were inspired by God in what they wrote. 
I read a great analogy a while ago.  If you were a musician and picked up a
trumpet and played it the music would be created by your breath, the trumpet
would simply be the tool, it would be what turned your breath into a
recognizable sound. If you then picked up a tuba and played it would still be
your breath but it would come out sounding different, hopefully.  In the same way the breath of God is played
through various human writers in the Bible, same breath but we hear it in
different ways.  So Moses writes
different than David, who writes different than Amos who writes different than Jonah,
who writes different than Matthew.  But
the initial inspiration or breath is from the same source.
So it’s inspired, but why? 
Do we have the Bible, the inspired word of God just to have a good book
to read?  And it is great reading, there
is mystery and intrigue and romance and betrayal, poetry and songs,
inspiration, philosophy and theology all wrapped up in this book we call the
Bible. No it’s not just a good read there needs to be a purpose to our
reading. 
2
Timothy 3:16
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 Scriptures Teach
us What is True 
There has to come a
time when we ask: What is truth?  Is it
something that is defined by politicians? 
God help us if it is.  Or do we
leave it up to nine appointed judges in Ottawa to decide what truth is and by
default what morality is?  Can truth
change? 
According to the Supreme Court of Canada it can and they
would have us believe that they are the ultimate authority for truth.  Back when the Supreme Court ruled changing
the definition of marriage I met with our MP, Geoff Regan, and asked him what
protection was in place for me as a clergy if I was asked to perform a same sex
marriage.  Mr. Regan assured me that I
was protected by the Supreme Court Ruling. 
And so I asked if the Supreme Court ever changed its mind.  And he said it did.  Not much protection, but the point being is
that truth is not supposed to change. 
Jesus promised in John 8:32 And you will
know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
But how can the truth set you free if the truth
is ever changing and if what is true today isn’t true tomorrow?  Jesus said in John 14:6 Jesus told him,
“I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
And we are told in Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ
is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

The truth is the same yesterday, today and forever and this is where you
find it.

So what else is the bible good
for? 2 Timothy 3:16 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.
The Scriptures Make
us Realize What is Wrong in our Lives 
It’s
not enough that we get our creed from the bible we also need to go to it for
our conduct.  It’s is the source of both
our belief and our behaviour. It should make a difference in how we live.  And if it doesn’t then there something wrong.  Christians are referred to as being born
again, having a new beginning and being new creations.  That would signify new behaviour, how we act,
how we live, what we do.
Throughout the Bible our
behaviour is not taught to be a way to our salvation, as a matter of fact in Ephesians 2:8-9 God saved
you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a
gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so
none of us can boast about it.
So our salvation is not dependent on our behaviour, but
our behaviour is dependent on our salvation. 
Does that make sense?  No,
ok.  You don’t become a Christian because
of what you do, but when you become a Christian that determines what you do,
there are specific things Christians do and specific things Christians don’t
do.  And they are found in the book.  We are not left without guidance.
True story, this is too good to make up.  I was talking to a friend of mine one day and
he was telling me about how he became a Christian.  No church background, a friend of his introduced
him to Jesus, he had just started attending church.  His friend gave him a bible and he starts to
read it.  At the time he was living with
his girlfriend and one night they are lying in bed, he’s reading his bible and
comes to a word he doesn’t understand. 
So he turns to his girlfriend and says “What’s fornication?” Now if’n
you’re wondering the same thing, fornication is sexual activity outside of
marriage, sex is God’s wedding gift.
So he asks his girlfriend “what is fornication?”  And she replies “That’s what we do.” 
The scriptures tell us what is
wrong.  But more than that let’s keep
reading  2
Timothy 3:16
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 . . .
The Scriptures Correct
us When we are Wrong,
So the next morning Bill moves out, if they were
fornicating and fornicating was wrong then he knew that he should stop
fornicating.  Pretty simply right?  So what’s the problem?  And maybe that’s the reason we don’t read the
bible, because we don’t want to find out what we are doing wrong and what we
should do about that behaviour. 
When people talk about being
accepting of people they talk about Christ’s love and forgiveness.  They remind us of the woman caught in
adultery, how Jesus told those who wanted to judge her to cast the first stone
if they were without sin.  And then
people tell us how we should be like that accepting and forgiving of people
regardless of what they do or how they behave. 
What they forget is what Jesus told the woman when everyone had
left.  Do you remember?  Sure he told her in John 8:11 “Go and sin no
more.”
In other words stop doing what
is wrong.  Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:17 This
means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life
is gone; a new life has begun!

Not only is there a new life but the old life is gone. 

And finally 2 Timothy 3:16 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 Scriptures Teach us to do what is
right.  
Sometimes people say that
the Bible is full of Don’ts but there are actually more dos in the bible then
there are don’t so if you spend all your time doing the dos you won’t have time
to do the don’ts.

 If you want some place to start try Galatians 5:22-23 But when the Holy Spirit controls our
lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Here there is
no conflict with the law.  So I’ll
tell you what, work on those nine and when you get them down pat let me know
and I’ll find you some more.

Here’s the secret if you want to know what’s in this book
then you have to read it.  It can’t just
sit there.  If you don’t have a bible I
would recommend the New Living Translation, if you can’t afford one let me know
and I’ll buy you one.

Every once in a while I read a quote and think; man I gotta use that.  Charles Spurgeon was the pastor for 38 years
of the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London England.  During the time he was there the church grew
to over 5,000 in attendance and he became known around the world for his
preaching and this was before television. 
And Spurgeon said once “There is dust enough on
some of your Bibles to write damnation with your fingers.”  I hope that’s not true of you, let’s pray.