Monday, February 1, 2016

All Scripture is Breathed Out by God - Part I

Do you recognize patterns easily? Can you sense when something is typical based on your prior experience? Or more exactly, can you discern when something is dramatically different from what is expected?

I've lived in Upstate New York since 1957. That's a long time. During those many years, I've come to recognize our weather patterns. Today, the first day of February, is often in a transition from our January thaw to the frigid winter conditions of February. This year is no exception. March and April are months of change in a more dramatic way with spring flowers just beginning to show. Freezing rain is a problem we sometimes encounter—we seem more likely to get those in late fall and early spring although I recall a significant storm in January about sixteen years ago. Its all part of the patterns.

An ice storm in July would be really freaky. We typically receive lake effect snowfall in the winter from Lake Ontario as an inch or two each day. Some of those lake effect snowfalls can be massive events. But not in the summer. That is not our pattern.

In the Bible there is a verse that is often quoted from 2 Timothy 3:16. Using various translations, the first part of that verse reads:
All Scripture is inspired by God (NASB)
All Scripture is breathed out by God (ESV)
All scripture is given by inspiration of God (KJV)
All Scripture is God-breathed (NIV)

The pattern is the same regardless of the translation. Even The Message, which is a paraphrase, reads,
Every part of Scripture is God-breathed (MSG)

As you read the Bible, you begin to recognize patterns. The gospels are very different from the Psalms. The writings attributed to Paul are not like the prophetic books. Winter is different from summer.

Reading further in the Bible, we start to see repetitions in the Word that take on another form. The heart of God begins to take shape. Jesus hidden in the old, revealed in the new.

For example, love as we see it in the writings that begin with Matthew is still love in those prior writings—we have to discern how love was displayed in the old and then presented in the new. It is the same love.

These various translations seem to get it correctly in 2 Timothy 3:16. The Lord was the source, not man, of the content that we now know is the Bible. Through the Holy Spirit, God somehow breathed or inspired each word, sentence by sentence, in its original language: Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek. It was the same spirit poured into different men at different times with the same heart of God.

When you read this book we know as the Bible, think of it as the Holy Spirit's writings for you. They are not just the words that Paul, Matthew, or Moses wrote—if we focused on that approach, we would perceive discrepancies. Think of these as words of the Holy Spirit, breathed into imperfect men, translated by other men, and now read by an imperfect you. It is that same heart of God and His same voice.