Last Sunday, we started an exciting new series designed to cultivate greater appreciation and confidence in our Bible. We started TXT MSG with the fundamental question, "Where did the Bible come from?" This question of origins is beautifully answered in 2 Peter 1:19-21:
And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Peter writes that we "do well to pay attention" to the words of the prophets, or "prophecy of Scripture" [at this point in history, "Scripture" is the Old Testament.] The reason is that Scripture is a light shining in darkness. The psalmist likewise declares, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path" [Psalm 119:105]. It's not surprising that the Scriptures would possess such valuable guiding and guarding light because Scripture comes from God "in whom there is no darkness at all" [1 John 1:5].
Peter goes on to amplify this idea by stating that Scripture never came about by a prophet's own interpretation for Scripture didn't start in the will of men. In verse 16, Peter states that neither he or the other Apostles were communicating "cleverly invented stories." The writers of Scripture didn't create myths and fables to promote their own spiritual agendas. Authorship began much earlier: In the heart of God.
This is Peter's crescendo in verse 21: Men were "spoke from God." God spoke to men who recorded God's speech to us. Paul gives us even greater insight when he writes "All Scripture is God-breathed" [2 Timothy 3:16]. The breath--or Spirit--of God was the animating force in Genesis 1 when God scooped dirt from the ground and breathed life into the first human being. God's breath is Himself. It's his His life. Similarly, at moments in time, God spirited the writers of Scripture so that they penned God's language and His life for all to read.
This wasn't a matter of dictation, for even a cursory reading of Paul's letters compared to John's gospel reveals individual style. In the same way, Isaiah's writings are far more sophisticated than the words of Amos. The writers were not linguistic automotons. Rather, they were "carried along by the Holy Spirit" [v. 21]. In the same way that the Holy Spirit overshadowed and empowered Mary to carry the sinless Son of God [Luke 1:35], so the writers of Scripture were moved to to scribe the inerrant Scriptures. Both God's living Word and written Word were born flawless.
As we learned Sunday, the implications of this important truth are twofold. First, the Bible is truthful. I can trust it to speak accurately and authoritatively on all matters it addresses [Note: The Bible doesn't speak to all matters of life]. Second, because it is truthful, the Bible becomes immensely valuable and helpful to me. After declaring that "all Scripture is God-breathed," Paul adds, "and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" [2 Timothy 3:16-17]. My Bible is the most useful resource I possess to live all the life that God gives me to live.
Check back on this blog for next week's reflection on the important TXT MSG topic of "canonization"--How do we know which books should be in our Bible?