This article/sermon addresses the question, “How do I get the most out of the Bible?” It uses 2 Timothy 3:16 as the foundation for the answer.
If you have your Bibles take them and turn to 2 Timothy 3:16. Today we begin an important series called Essentials to Life. We are going to try to answer questions like: How do I get the most out of the Bible? What do I say to God and how does God talk to me? How can I know what God wants me to do? Why do I need growing believers in my life? And what if I sin as a Christian? Today, we are going to start with looking at how to get the most out of the Bible.
In the construction world, nothing good is built without a blueprint. The necessity of a plan is universally accepted assertion that you would have to be nutty not to know. Any time there is a problem or question, builders examine the blueprints. Every time there’s an uncertainty or a perplexity, every time there’s a question about what to do next, they go back to the blueprints. Interestingly, though, the principle is not just true in the construction world. It’s also true in life. Everything worth building needs blueprints, direction, and guidelines.
- You can’t build your finances without a blueprint.
- You can’t build your family without a blueprint.
- You can’t build your future without a blueprint.
- You can’t build your faith without a blueprint.
It’s amazing to me how professionals in the construction world would never try to build anything of value without a blueprint, but all the time people try to slap together some sort of life without a pattern or a plan. They reach for materials, cut without measuring, hurriedly nail a bunch of stuff together randomly. Then they say, “Look at the life I’ve built. Look at the future I’ve built. Look at the faith I’ve built.”
It is important and essential that you have a set of blueprints, guidelines, directions, and instructions to build your life with. God has given us that blueprint, it’s called God’s Word, the Bible, and the Scriptures.
Jesus refers to this blueprint a lot:
- Luke 6:47-48 – Jesus said, “I will show you what someone is like who comes to Me, hears My words, and acts on them: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. When the flood came, the river crashed against that house and couldn’t shake it, because it was well built.” (HCSB)
- Matthew 4:4 – When Jesus and the Devil were battling it out in the wilderness Jesus told him, “Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (HCSB). Jesus put the word of God in the essential category with that statement.
- Matthew 28:18-20 – When Jesus gave the disciples and us the Great Commission He said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you” (HCSB). The word of God is an essential part of our mission as the followers of Jesus.
We take this seriously. One of our core values is “Communicating God’s Word.” It states, “We value communicating God’s Word to both believer and non-believer in creative and relevant ways believing God’s truth is the key to transformed lives that reflect the greatness of Christ.” For that core value to become a reality we need to understand and apply 2 Timothy 3:16 which is probably the greatest summary of God’s Word in God’s Word.
2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (HCSB).
There are four things that will help us understand the Bible and help us get the most out of it. All four are mentioned in 2 Timothy 3:16. These are essential to your spiritual growth. We are going to take a look at half of this lesson today and finish next week.
All Scripture is divinely inspired
The first thing we need to see is that all Scripture is divinely inspired. This answers the question, “How did God give us the Bible?” In 2 Timothy 3:16 we are told, “All Scripture is inspired by God…” (HCSB). Some translations describe it as “God-breathed.” It is hard to imagine another phrase that communicates the connection between God and His Word than “God-breathed.” God’s Word is more than God-blessed or God-approved. Scripture is God-breathed. It is inspired by God.
Sinclair Ferguson explained it this way, “It is not a matter of God adding to what men had written, but of God being the origin, the source of what has been written.” The Bible came from the very mind and heart of God. It is inspired by God.
The process of inspiration – the way in which God directed the writing of Scripture – wasn’t always the same. In some cases, as with the apostle John, God said, “Write this down” and then gave specific instructions (Rev. 21:5). But most of the time, God worked through seemingly normal means. Nehemiah wrote a first-person account. A scribe named Baruch wrote down Jeremiah’s prophecies. Paul wrote letters. Luke documented eyewitness testimony in writing his gospel, then spent time traveling with Paul to write his history of the early church, found in Acts.
Yet 2 Peter 1:21 says, “No prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, men spoke from God as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (HCSB). Peter gives us some insight regarding Biblical inspiration.
- Biblical inspiration involves inspired guidance. We are told “men spoke from God as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” The phrase “as they were moved” (pheromenoi) means to be carried along and pictures a sailboat on the water with the sail catching the wind and moving or carrying the boat along. What wind is to a sailboat, Peter said the Holy Spirit was to the writers of Scripture. Biblical inspiration involves inspired guidance.
- Biblical inspiration also involves inspired writers. Peter says, “Men spoke from God as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” The unique men who God used to write the Scriptures were set apart by God and prepared by God. He used their personalities, culture, and language to give us exactly what He wanted us to have. These men were inspired writers inspired by the Holy Spirit.
- Biblical inspiration also involves supernatural involvement. Peter says, “Men spoke from God as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” The super power of the Holy Spirit chose and prepared natural men to give us a supernatural book we call the Bible. It is a divine book. It is a supernatural book. It is not like any other book on your shelf. It is God’s Word given to us by the Holy Spirit through godly men.
The Authority of God’s Word
This brings us to our second observation. All Scripture is fully authoritative. To get the most out of the Bible you need to know that it is inspired by God and give it authority over your life. We are told in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is inspired by God….” The source behind scripture is “God.” Since God is all-wise, all-knowing, all-loving, and completely trustworthy. His Word calls for and demands authority over our life.
This means Scripture must be the final rule of faith and practice for our lives. Not our feelings or emotions. Not signs or prophetic declarations or hunches, nor traditions.
I like what Joshua Harris had to say about this in His book Dug Down Deep, “The question is, will we listen? Will we obey when we don’t like what the Bible has to say? This is a moment when our belief about Scripture meets reality. What we say we believe makes very little difference until we act on our belief. I suppose most Christians would say that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God. But until this authority actually changes how we live – how we think and act – talk of the authority of Scripture is nothing but a bunch of religious lingo. We’re treating the God-breathed Word of God like a lot of hot air” (65-66).
Let me give you two thoughts about Biblical authority:
- Biblical authority means God is right. Because God cannot lie, and is all-knowing, all-wise He is right and correct about everything He says. God is right all the time.
- Biblical authority means we obey God by obeying His Word. Jesus said, “If you love Me you will keep My commands.” To obey God’s Word is to show your love for God. To ignore the Word of God is to ignore Jesus.
So with that said…
- So when God says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Eph. 5:25, HCSB) then we as husbands ought to do that.
- So when God says, “Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord” (Eph. 5:22, HCSB) then wives ought to do that.
- So when God says, “Children, obey your parents as you would the Lord, because this is right” (Eph. 6:1, HCSB) then children should do so.
- When God says, “Don’t worry about anything but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philip. 4:6, HCSB) we should do that.
- When God says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ” (Eph. 4:32, HCSB) we should do it.
- When God says, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls…” (Heb. 13:17, HCSB) we should do it.
God’s Word has ultimate authority over our lives because the ultimate authority wrote it, God.
What is your next step?
- You need to read it. Studies indicate that it takes about 70 hours to read the Bible (if read out loud). If you read the Bible for 12 minutes a day, you will read the entire Bible in a year. You can do this.
I am often asked where to begin? I recommend that you start with the Gospel of John. As you read slowly through the Gospel of John underline the word “believe” every time you see it and ask yourself: Believe what? Believe whom? Then go to 1, 2, and 3 John. That will get you started. While you are reading it, ask the Lord to open the eyes of your heart to His truth.
- You need to discuss it. God designed you to grow with other believers. In Acts 2 you begin to see the first Christians gathering together in homes and other places to discuss God’s Word. Get in a small group and discuss what the Bible says. Let other believers challenge you, encourage you and sharpen you.
- You need to apply it. Believe what it says and do what it says. In Luke 6:47-48
Jesus said, “I will show you what someone is like who comes to Me, hears My words, and acts on them: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. When the flood came, the river crashed against that house and couldn’t shake it, because it was well built” (HCSB).