The Bible is much more than a book of stories and rules from the past. It’s rich with a relevant message God has for us today. Join First UMC El Dorado for worship as we discover how to engage with the Bible like never before and how to apply it to our lives each and every day.
- August 17 – Making Sense of the Bible
- August 24 – The Old Testament in Fifteen Minutes
- August 31 – The New Testament in Fifteen Minutes
- September 7 – Is the Bible God’s Word?
- September 14 – Violence, Suffering and Other Troubling Issues
- September 21 – How to Study the Bible
2 Timothy 3:10-17, CEB
10 But you have paid attention to my teaching, conduct, purpose, faithfulness, patience, love, and endurance. 11 You have seen me experience physical abuse and ordeals in places such as Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. I put up with all sorts of abuse, and the Lord rescued me from it all! 12 In fact, anyone who wants to live a holy life in Christ Jesus will be harassed. 13 But evil people and swindlers will grow even worse, as they deceive others while being deceived themselves.
14 But you must continue with the things you have learned and found convincing. You know who taught you. 15 Since childhood you have known the holy scriptures that help you to be wise in a way that leads to salvation through faith that is in Christ Jesus. 16 Every scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for showing mistakes, for correcting, and for training character, 17 so that the person who belongs to God can be equipped to do everything that is good.
Every week we respond to the scripture reading with the response you said a few moments ago.
This is the word of God for the people of God.
Thanks be to God.
What does it mean when we say that the Bible is the word of God? Today we look closer at this question.
Sermon Notes and Scripture Study
I invite you to open your bulletin to a place where you can take notes during the message today. Today, I hope that you will hear:
- Something new or find new questions
- Perspective on your life or something in your life that gives additional meaning to the message today.
- Guidance about how to live as a disciple of Jesus.
I invite you to write down some of the things that you hear in the sermon today and take your bulletin home as a tool to grow in your faith outside of worship. You can reflect on what you heard today, pray for people of our congregation and read scripture to prepare for worship next week.
Will you pray with me? O God, use these words to speak good news so that as individuals and as a congregation we will fear nothing but sin, desire nothing but you and live as part of your kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.
Listening in a conversation
Do you hear the words coming out of my mouth?
As United Methodists, part of what we mean is that we believe that the Bible reveals God’s word through the words of human beings inspired by the Holy Spirit. The scriptures are both human and divine. They were written by particular people at at particular time and place. This shapes the text. However, we believe the Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit and contains God’s word. It is the book, one that is distinct among all others.
Scripture is Inspired by God
One of the key verses in the Bible that helps us consider what it means when we say that scripture is inspired by God is 2 Timothy 3:16, hear these words again:
Every scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for showing mistakes, for correcting, and for training character,
What do we mean by every scripture? To what is the author referring? The gospels had not yet been written, Acts had not been written. The author was referring to the Hebrew Bible. Yet there was disagreement about what books of should be included in the Hebrew Bible. It would have been easier if he would have just listed them out, but he didn’t do that. He is speaking broadly. He says here is what I experience in the holy writings – they are useful for teaching, showing mistakes, correcting and training character.
Absolutely. Of course they are.
Inspired by God
So what does it mean that the scriptures are inspired by God? The Greek word which we translate is translated in the text for today as inspired may have been made up by Paul. As far as we can tell, it did not exist in the Greek language before this was written. Paul is the only one who uses it in the entire New Testament and it is only used here.
The word is literally two words theopneustos – God-breathed
- theos – God
- pneustos – breath or breathe
Paul doesn’t tell us exactly what that means and there is a wide variety of ways we could understand this phrase.
God’s breathe for God’s word
One way to consider this phrase is to think about our own breathe. We breathe to sustain life. It is something that we need. We also use breath to speak and communicate to others. I want to suggest that the Bible is God’s word, as it is God-breathed. As words that we speak to someone else contain what we want to communicate, so the Bible contains what God wants to communicate to us and God’s word brings us life.
We can get a better sense of this by looking at how the Word of God or God’s Word is used in the Bible.
Scripture contains God’s Word
The phrase Word of God or God’s Word shows up about 40 times in the entire Bible and the phrase, the word of the Lord, contains about 260 times. Very few times are these phrases used to refer to a book. Instead, the phrase is used most often in the Biblical text to refer to a message from God.
John the Baptist
When we read about John the Baptist in the gospel according to Luke, the story tells us that “God’s word came to John … in the wilderness.” What does that mean? Did a Bible drop from heaven? No. It meant that he had an impulse and word from God that he was to preach repentance to the people. So, John began to preach repentance and baptizing them “to show that they were changing their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins.”
Jesus Preaching the Word of God
In the gospels, Jesus is constantly preaching the Word of God. In Luke when Jesus is along the edge of the Seas of Galilee, we read that “the crowd pressed in around him to hear God’s word.”
Most of the time when Jesus is preaching he did not begin with a passage of scripture. One of the only sermons that Jesus preached that began with a biblical text was when he preached in the synagogue in his hometown of Nazareth and he begins with Isaiah when he begins The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. After he was done with this sermon, the people dragged him out of town to throw him off a cliff.
Instead, most of the time when Jesus is preaching the word of God he tells a story like this. The kingdom of God is like a father who had two sons. One of them asked for his share of the inheritance and wandered away. He wasted it all in wild living. When he finally came to his senses, he headed back to his father’s home. Before the boy even got close to the house, his father ran to him, because he had been watching for him. Then before the boy could get out an apology, the father wrapped his arms around him and said, my son who was dead is alive again.
In Acts, we read of people accepting the word of God, which means they received and believed the great message that God has for us.
This message is the good news of Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the definitive, infallible, inerrant word of God.
God’s Word is Jesus Christ
We see this clearly in the Gospel according to John in the first chapter of verses 1 and 14:
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.
The Word became flesh and made his home among us. We have seen his glory, glory like that of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
The truth about God, God’s desire to be revealed and his will for all of creation became flesh in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the definitive Word of God. When God wanted to speak definitively in human history, he did not dictate a book, he sent his son. When Jesus lived among us, he did not write a book either, he preached, healed, ministered, suffered, died and rose from the dead. When Jesus was raised from the dead, he did not tell his disciples to write a book. Instead, we hear his words in Matthew 28:18:20:
Jesus came near and spoke to them, “I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go 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 obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.”
We see the clearest picture of God in Jesus.
Jesus is the Word of God by which all else is measured.
We see the clearest picture of Jesus in the Bible.
So we come again to 2 Timothy, this time one verse earlier––2 Timothy 3:15
“Since childhood you have known the holy scriptures that help you to be wise in a way that leads to salvation through faith that is in Christ Jesus. “
The good news is that the Bible contains God’s Word and all things necessary for salvation through faith in God through Jesus Christ.
Call to Action
This week, I invite you take a next step in your reading the Bible. It may be that you never read the Bible on your own and a next step would be to find one and open it up. It may be that you read the Bible every day and seeking extra engagement through commentaries, resources or sharing with others would be your next step.
When you read the Bible, listen for God’s word for you.
Know that the Jesus Christ is the Word of God and that this book contains all things necessary for salvation through faith in God through Jesus Christ.
The word of God for the people of God.
Thanks be to God.