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Part of the FBCS 2010 Read Through the Bible Project: Enter the Story. Join the Song.

God-Breathed and Useful

2 Timothy 3    Jeremiah 9-10    Psalm 123

“All scripture is inspired by God and is useful . . .” (2 Timothy 3:16). The better translation of the word behind “inspired by God” is “divinely breathed in,” or “God-breathed.” The image that comes to mind is that of Genesis 2:7, where we are told that God breathed life into the first human being . . . All scripture is God-breathed and useful “for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” So this, another “3:16,” reminds us of the value of reading through the Bible . . .

“All scripture” (2 Timothy 3:16). When we read this, we think of the Bible whole, and is it appropriate to do so. When 2 Timothy was written, however, Timothy would have known that “the sacred writings” (v.15) and “all scripture” referred to the Hebrew scriptures; that part of the Bible we know as the “Old Testament.” Much time would pass before what we name the “New Testament” would be considered “scripture.” Why is this important? Because many find it tempting to give the Old Testament little, if any, attention, viewing it as too old, boring, or depressing. Yet, we are here reminded that the Old Testament, as much as the New, is useful for, as Peterson translates, “showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way” (The Message). Just consider the cautionary material found in today’s texts from Jeremiah (Chapters 9,10). Might there be useful — and applicable — instruction in the description of Israel’s rebellion and God’s determination to therefore “refine and test them” (Jeremiah 9:7)?  As I look around and within, I say “Indeed, there is!”

“That they understand and know me” (Jeremiah 9:24). This, God says, is the only real reason to celebrate, or “boast.” And this is the true goal of the story that is “all scripture.” This is also the purpose in reading all scripture. As Timothy is reminded, the sacred writings are “able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). And with this we return to yesterday’s reflection on “relational intelligence,” for understanding and knowing God is about far more than information, it is a matter of intimacy; a matter of living, breathing relationship. May you remember that all scripture is God-breathed and useful. May you read the sacred writings with the goal of knowing God. And may your reading lead you ever deeper into the story of the living, breathing relationship known as God-with-us. Amen.

“Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. 
Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.”
— 2 Timothy 3:16,17, The Message

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