“God-breathed” – How?

The go-to-verses for considering “inspiration” of scripture are 2 Timothy 3.16,17:

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

Early today I read a great description of the process of inspiration. Like any attempt to explain the things of God there is a limitation because we only have words and our “through a glass darkly” understanding.

But I really enjoyed this; perhaps you will also. It is from the book Unbreakable – What the Son of God Said About the Word of God by Andrew Wilson:

     “Consider a jazz musician who can play all sorts of different instruments. Nobody, listening to Louis Armstrong, would ask whether the music was being made by Louis or by his trumpet; everybody knows that the breath and the tune come from Louis, but the instrument through which the breath passes, in order to become audible, is the trumpet. The Bible writers, if you like, are the instruments of revelation – a trumpet here, an oboe there, a saxophone here – and they all make different sounds. But the musician, the skilled artist who fills them all with his breath and ensures the tune is played correctly, is the Holy Spirit. That’s kind of how inspiration works.”

Butterfield on the “Nashville Statement”

If you are unfamiliar with “The Nashville Statement” you may READ IT HERE.

You are probably familiar with Rosario Butterfield? If not, she tells a bit of her story in the article below explaining why she signed the Statement. It has what would seem to be obvious truth (but, sadly, is not in todays “evangelical” climate) and I believe makes some incredibly vital points. Read it:

“Great battles in theology faced by the church over the centuries have been caused by the introduction of unbiblical categories about the nature of people and the nature of God, and the imprecise language that emerges from this.  Are we justified by faith or are we justified by faith alone?  Does the Bible contain the word of God or is the Bible the word of God?  Should we refuse to bake cakes for gay weddings because marriage is a creation-mandated institution and not a social privilege that can be re-packaged as the world whims?  Or should we bake two cakes because sexual orientation as a category of personhood erases sexual sin without the blood of Christ?

The issue is not primarily homosexuality; it’s Scripture.

The issue is not primarily gay marriage; it’s whether “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

The issue is not whether people are good-intentioned and sincere in desiring things that God forbids.

The issue is whether we all bear the sin of Adam, inheriting an unchosen moral deformity, an energy of opposition to God, a rebellion that bequeaths to us a sin nature that we cannot erase on our own terms and by our own hands.

The issue is whether Jesus rose from the grave, is alive today, and whether His blood and love and resurrection makes any wit of difference in how you fight the original sin that distorts you, the actual sin that distracts you, and the indwelling sin that manipulates you.

The issue is whether you can trust the Bible to tell you who you are, who God is, and which way is up.

Twenty years ago, I lived as a lesbian.  I delighted in my lover, our home on one of the Finger Lakes, our Golden Retrievers, and our careers.  When Christ claimed me for His own, I did not stop feeling like a lesbian.  I did not fall out of love with women.  I was not converted out of homosexuality.  I was converted out of unbelief.

Conversion to Christ did not initially change my sexual attraction for women.  What conversion did change immediately was my heart and mind.  My mind was on fire for the Bible and I could not read enough of it or enough about it.  The gospel gave me a light that was ruinous.  It ruined me for the life I had loved.  The Lord’s light illumined my sin through the law and illumined my hope through Jesus and the gospel.  The gospel destroyed me before the Lord built me back up.  In saying “yes” to Jesus and “no” to the desires of my flesh, I learned that the only way to peace with my God was through the Cross—the one that Jesus died on and the one that I was called, with the help of Jesus, to carry.

In this crucible I wondered how this could be so.  How could that which I loved be sin?  How could I hate my sin without hating myself?  How could I both hate my sin and feel drawn into it simultaneously?

I learned that sin does not lose its character as sin because I loved it.  I learned that my homosexuality was a logical consequence of the fall of man, the thumbprint of original sin on some of us.  It is true that some of us are born this way.  It is also true that we are all  born in sin, in one way or another.  We can hate our sin without hating ourselves because we who have committed our lives to Christ stand in his righteousness and not our own.  Our real identity is not in the sin we battle but in the savior we embrace.

Christ’s salvation is definitive and decisive.  Christ rescues his people, growing us in union with Christ, establishing us in God’s family, the church, and setting us apart to bear the image of God in knowledge (of God’s word), holiness (in God’s justification of his people), and righteousness (through sanctification, also called growth in Christ).

We gain more than we lose when we pick up our cross and follow Jesus.  But pick up our cross we must.  And for many of us, our cross demands forsaking the sexual sin that calls us by name.

We live now in a world that has no use for the God of the Bible, for Jesus, the savior of His people and of the world.  The terms are shifting quickly.  Calling people like me to forsake sexual sin is no longer considered a first step toward walking with Jesus in liberty and in new life.  Today, some influential people who claim to know Christ no longer believe that God hates sin.  Sin is in the eyes of the beholder, they say.

Just a few years ago, these people blamed sin on the devil, saying “the devil made me do it.”    Now these same people—some of them leaders in the church—blame sin on the Holy Spirit, declaring that He is blessing what the Bible condemns.  In a few short years, blame shifting has morphed into  blasphemy.  And this blasphemy is coming from people who claim to have Christ’s salvation and from the pulpits and blogs that they wield.

When blasphemy comes from the church, the Bible gives us ways to understand how prophets become lions and wolves.   First Peter 5:8 issues the warning for today’s church climate:  “Be sober-minded.  Be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”  Matthew 7:15 shows us what to do:  “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.  You will recognize them by their fruits.”  Christian fruit grows you in holiness, like Christ.  Christian fruit grows you in grace—which is bought by the blood of Christ, the ransom price for my sin and yours.  Grace leads you to love and desire the moral law of God, and not to despise it.  Christian fruit has no measure but the word of God.

I signed the Nashville Statement because I stand with Biblical orthodoxy, which is inseparable from God’s creation mandate and definition of gendered personhood found in Genesis 1:27:  “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female, he created them”.  The soul is God’s fingerprint on humanity, but the gendered body—essentially and ontologically male or female—will also, for the believer in Jesus Christ,  be glorified and resurrected in the New Jerusalem.

I signed the Nashville Statement because my conscience compels me so, because the promises of liberty on the world’s terms are false and deceptive, and because many who currently claim to have Christ’s forgiveness and salvation must be called to account for leading good people astray with false promises and filthy lies.

I signed the Nashville Statement because the wolves are prowling, and the lions are roaring, and because they are bold and proud of their heresy, and because you must be warned.

By God through the merit and power of Jesus Christ, here I stand.”

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>Most books, yeah, But not the Bible

>Somerset Maugham said, “The only important thing in a book is the meaning it has for you.”

This may well be true of most books; but it is not true of the sixty-six books contained in The Book.

“Well, what this verse is saying to me…” sounds okay at first blush…and certainly the Spirit of God uses the Word of God to speak directly to us in a variety of ways. But that same Spirit wrote through human authors with certainty and primary meaning. As we “work out our salvation in fear and trembling” it does, in fact, take work (and time) to “study to show ourselves approved…”

To rightly hear from God it is vital to read in context…and that is why I continually encourage people to read the Word the way it was written…book by book rather than hopping around reading a few verses here, and a few verses there.

In these days when there is so much garbage “preached,” written, and taught; it is vital for us to become rooted and grounded in the Word of God.

There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going….

>Agree on What We Disagree On

>Very good, and very important (though it will offend some who bow at the altar of “tolerance,” nonjudgmentalism, and big-tent-we’re-all-God’s-children stuff) from KEVIN DE YOUNG

Why can’t all the professing Christians in the world look past their differences and just get along?
Because some of those differences are irreconcilable. Most significantly and most foundationally, the three main branches of Christianity in this country–Roman Catholic, Liberal Protestant, and Evangelical Protestant–do not agree on the locus of authority. We don’t answer the question, “What is our final authority?” in the same way.
Every Christian acknowledges that in some sense our theology and ethics must “accord with Scripture.” But whether that means “Scripture along with Church Tradition” or “Scripture as redefined through personal experience” or “Scripture alone” is what separates us. And as long as we disagree on this matter of authority, we should not expect genuine spiritual unity among the three groups. There can be no unity where there is no agreed upon authority.
Let me show you what I mean.
Peter Kreeft (Roman Catholic):

Most Protestants reject all Catholic doctrines they cannot find explicitly in Scripture–for example, Mary’s Assumption into heaven–because they believe sola scriptura: that Scripture alone is the infallible authority. This is the fundamental reason behind all the differences between Protestant and Catholic theology. (Catholic Christianity, 20).

Gary Dorrien (Liberal Protestant):

The essential idea of liberal theology is that all claims to truth, in theology as in other disciplines, must be made on the basis of reason and experience, not by appeal to external authority. Christian scripture may be recognized as spiritually authoritative within Christian experience, but its word does not settle or establish truth claims about matters of fact. (The Making of American Liberal Theology: Idealism, Realism, and Modernity, 1900-1950, 1)

Michael Horton (Evangelical Protestant):

Ultimate authority always resides outside the self and even outside the church, as both are always hearers of the Word and receivers of its judgment and justification. The church is commissioned to deliver this Word (a ministerial office), not to possess or rule it (a magisterial office). Thus, the authority is always transcendent. Even when it comes near us, it is never our own word that we hear (Ro. 10:6-13, 17). (The Christian Faith, 194)

So it seems that whatever else we may disagree on as Catholics, Liberals, and Evangelicals, we should at least agree that it is our view of Scripture and authority that divides us.

>What is the Purpose of the Bible?

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“The Bible’s purpose is not so much to show you how to live a good life. The Bible’s purpose is to show you how God’s grace breaks into your life against your will and saves you from the sin and brokenness otherwise you would never be able to overcome… religion is ‘if you obey, then you will be accepted’. But the Gospel is, ‘if you are absolutely accepted, and sure you’re accepted, only then will you ever begin to obey’. Those are two utterly different things. Every page of the Bible shows the difference.”

>Don’t Dalmationize the Word!

>In other words, take the Word as the Word, not “inspired in spots!”

D. A. Carson has an important word for us:

“However hard some things are to understand, it is never helpful to start picking and choosing biblical truths we find congenial, as if the Bible is an open-shelved supermarket where we are at perfect liberty to choose only the chocolate bars.
“For the Christian, it is God’s Word, and it is not negotiable. What answers we find may not be exhaustive, but they give us the God who is there, and who gives us some measure of comfort and assurance.
“The alternative is a god we manufacture, and who provides no comfort at all. Whatever comfort we feel is self-delusion, and it will be stripped away at the end when we give an account to the God who has spoken to us, not only in Scripture, but supremely in his Son Jesus Christ.”
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>Don’t Neglect Genesis – Malachi!

>I try often to refer to the “old testament” as the “First Testament.” Why? Because the word “old” implies, even unconsciously, that it is passe, dated, ah, “old.”

J. C. Ryle amplifies the importance of the first “testament” of the Word:

“Let it be a rule with us, in the reading of our Bibles, to study the types and ordinances of the Mosaic law with prayerful attention. They are all full of Christ. The altar–the scape-goat–the daily burnt-offering–the day of atonement, are all so many sign-posts pointing to the great sacrifice offered by our Lord on Calvary. Those who neglect to study the Jewish ordinances, as dark, dull, and uninteresting parts of the Bible, only show their own ignorance, and miss great advantages. Those who examine them with Christ as the key to their meaning, will find them full of Gospel light and comfortable truth.”


>Deut 29.29

>Deuteronomy 29.29 is, in fact, one of my most-cited verses, since I am convinced half of being so-called “smart” is knowing what you are dumb at…and there is a ton of stuff of which I am dumb (yes, I can hear choruses of “amens” by friends, family, fellow workers…)


But, Scripturally, it is fine to not have all the answers. I get nervous around people, regardless of how many initials they have after their names, who seem to have it all, or even most, figured out.


That’s why I resonate with this:


“It is a great blessing from God that some parts of the Scriptures are clear while others are not. By means of the first we acquire faith and ardour and do not fall into disbelief and laziness because of our utter inability to grasp what is said. By means of the second we are roused to enquiry and effort, thus both strengthening our understanding and learning humility from the fact that everything is not intelligible to us.”

Peter of Damaskos

>7 Reasons We Find The Bible Boring

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This is a bit long, but worth reading. It is from THIS BLOG

Speaking from a protestant perspective, the Holy Bible is the final authority for faith and practice.  Moreover, it is God’s ultimate communication to us.  However, there are a number of Christians who struggle with reading the Bible.  In fact, you might be one of them and find it difficult to engage with on an in-depth and consistent level.  Now, I confess, I have always enjoyed reading the Bible .  But even in my zeal, I have found dry times.  As I contemplate various reasons for the ennui based on observations of others and many conversations as well as my own life experiences, I think that one or more of these reasons could account for it.

1.  Lack of Understanding: for some, reading the Bible is like the reading comprehension portions on standardized tests, the kind that includes a bunch of technical terms, themes and conclusions that are hard to decipher.  Who wants to read something they don’t understand?  I think the contributing factor to this difficulty is not understanding what the Bible is, how it was put together, the different genres, the progression of God’s revelation, the major themes and the correlation of how all the books fit together.  When people are told to just read the Bible and don’t have an understanding of what they are reading, its like picking up a puzzle piece and trying to make sense of the whole picture.   This is an essential component of the discipleship process yet, I fear that might be missing in a great many churches.   Good Bible study methods are needed for understanding.
Now I am of the opinion that the Bible is meant to be understood and can be understood by all (although not all will accept the message).  The Bible is a divine book, in that it is inspired by God, but it is also written by human authors who were using normal means of communication.  Therefore, reading each book according to its literary genre and particular place in God’s overall program is important.
Remedy: If this describes you, get a hold of some instructive material that will aid understanding how the Bible is put together.  Some basic resources that I have found useful for this task is,

  • How to Study the Bible for Yourself, by Tim Lahaye
  • Living by the Book, by Howard Hendricks
  • What the Bible is All About, by Henrietta Mears

2.  Lack of Relevance: if the reason we find the Bible boring is that it just doesn’t seem to applicable to our lives, we will get bored.  Especially, when reading Numbers!  This will happen if we are approaching the Bible to find solutions to our problems and will only be interested if what can solve the problems we face.  However, while the Bible was written for us, it was not written to us.  The Bible is God’s revelation and provides a description of his plan for history.  Understanding his plan should give a great deal of meaning to understand his heart and how we fit into that plan.
Remedy: if this is you, start approaching the Bible to learn about God and his overall program for history.  Always ask with each reading how what you are reading is relevant to his program rather than our personal program.

3.  Too Impatient: We live in a micro-wave culture.  We want understanding and we want it now.  While I do contend that understanding what the Bible is communicating is possible, studying takes time.  Understanding how each part fits together takes time.  It involves a consistent and diligent effort.  The use of study tools, like commentaries, can seem like it slows the process down but are valuable for the understanding process. In the end, it is about understanding and I am of the opinion that the more we understand, the greater our interest will be to learn more.
Remedy: if this is you, resolve in your mind that learning involves discipline and diligence.  It doesn’t happen overnight.

4.  Too Conditioned for Excitement: As long as we are looking for something new, a fresh word from God, the next move of God or wanting to go to the next level we might be conditioned for excitement. But if our Christian walk is conditioned upon needing excitement, reading the Bible can feel like watching paint dry at times.  Now, I contend that there is excitement in learning what God is communicating through his word, but as mentioned in #3, that will take time.  The end product of understanding can cause exhilaration although the process can not seem that way at times.  God has not changed what he has communicated but our understanding does and will increase with each reading.
Remedy: resolve in your mind that learning will not always be exciting.  But learning about God on his terms should be and provide the motivation to continually seek what he is communicating.

5.  Incompatibility with Personal Agendas: similar to #2, if you are looking for the Bible to resolve a self-interested agenda and it does not, then reading what is not relevant to personal agendas can get old real fast.
Remedy: if this is you, ask yourself the question of whom do you serve – self or God.  It is a hard thing at times to loosen the grip of self-serving motives but surrendering to the lordship of Jesus Christ does require us to do just that.

6.  Lack of Spiritual Motivation: I have been here plenty of times, just not interested in spiritual things even though maintaining a commitment to Christ.  Paul indicates in Galatians 5:16-17, that the flesh and spirit oppose each other.  The flesh is that principle within our humanity inherited from the fall that does not want to subject itself to God’s ways. (Romans 8:7).   When its winning, we lose interest.
But consider that God breathed out his word through the pens of 40 authors in order to reveal himself.  Consider the Bible as a love letter where God expresses his heart to us.  When we are apathetic, his word has a way of wooing us but won’t if don’t engage with it.
Remedy: if this is you, read anyway and with intentionality for the word to speak to you.  Now that doesn’t mean ignoring contexts or reasonable rules of reading, but open up to what is being communicated.  This does require discipline that says, even though I don’t feel like it, I’m going to read anyway.

7.  Discouragement or Anger with God: this is worse than spiritual motivation.  Whereas #6 refers to apathy, this is where we are just down right disgruntled with God.   When you are like this, who cares what God is communicating.  You may even feel like he opposes you and has no interest in you.
But here is where I’d say reading the Bible becomes the most crucial.  Jeremiah says that the heart is desperately wicked, who can understand it (Jeremiah 17:17).  Relying on a troubled heart will only pull us down and must combated with the immutable, timeless truths of scripture.  Otherwise, the troubled heart will continue to pull you further and further away from God’s truth, which may even result in you rejecting it all together.
Remedy: honestly, this is the toughest one.  The only thing I can think of is to cry out to God, reach for Christ and keep reading his word even though there may be buckets of tears with each reading.   Finding a loving, leaderful and wise shoulder or two to cry is important too.  Consult your pastor or even get some sound Biblical counseling.  You have nothing to lose but everything to gain, even though it may not feel that way.
Overall, the encouragement here with each one of these categories is to think about what makes the Bible boring for you and how to possibly work past it to absorb the wonderful truths of who God is, his plan for history and the greatest gift of eternal life for those who would place their trust in the work and person of Jesus Christ.