Thursday, June 16, 2005

What does the Bible say about itself?

Have you ever wondered if the Bible has anything to say about how we should read it? The Bible does give instructions on how to interpret it in many places. One such place is 2 Tim. 3: 16-17, which says, "All Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correction, and training in righteousness, that the man of God may be thouroughly equipped for every good work." Paul makes two interesting observations about Scripture: it is God-breathed, and it is useful (or profitable in the KJV). First, Scripture is God-breathed. Paul uses an interesting phrase here for inspiritation. He gives the reader insight into the nature of Scripture using verbage that will remind Timothy of the creation of humanity. In Genesis 2:7 we find God giving life to humanity in a different way than He did the rest of creation. He placed His eternal nature into humanity, and Paul is drawing a parallel here about that event and the source/nature of Scripture. So, all Scripture is something from God that has an eternal quality to it.
Second, he tells Timothy that all Scripture is useful or profitable. Scripture has more to offer than just a good book to read. It brings profit to the reader. In Proverbs 3, Solomon makes the same assertion about the wisdom of Scripture, telling us that it is more profitable than silver and more costly than gold. The Scriptures are a source of success. The Scriptures are like a river that nourishes the trees planted near it (Psalm 1). But Paul doesn't leave it at that. he tells us there are four particular ways that the Scriptures are useful or profitable. He says they are useful for teaching, rebuking, correction, and training in righteousness. I use an accrostic from an old radio station to remind me what the Scriptures are set forth to do in my life: K S C S. In all Scriptures, there is something God wants me to KNOW (teaching), STOP (rebuking), CHANGE (correction), and START (training). All Scripture is useful in my life to show me something God wants me to know, stop, change, and start. Give it a try. Find a Scripture, say for instance Colossians 4:2, "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." In this verse, God wants me to know that I need to be devoted (passionatley pursuing) to prayer. He also wants me to know that I need to be watchful and thankful as I do so. So, I need to stop being devoted to the things that keep me from being devoted to prayer. I also need to stop wasting my time on things that don't bring me to prayer. I need to stop wandering through life without paying attention to the things God is showing me. If I am going to be thankful, I'll need to stop complaining. In the area of change, I need to change my schedule and my priorities, or change my focus to that of prayer. I need to change how I do life, being more watchful and thankful. With that change, I will start praying more often, and with more direction and a greater sense of God's work around me.
Now, isn't that simple? Give this "formula" a try on some other passages. Don't be surprised when it works. Afterall, this "formula" comes straight from the Bible itself!

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