“Jesus loves me, this I know…” There’s a note of confidence in a statement like that. “Jesus loves me, THIS I KNOW…” How do you know? Because you’re just so loveable that He just can’t help Himself? Because you feel His love in your heart? Because you’re so healthy or wealthy or happy – the sure signs that Jesus must love you? No! “Jesus loves me, THIS I KNOW, FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO.”
So, what makes the Bible so special that it has the authority to “bring to nothing” those feelings in your heart, and your pious opinion of yourself, and the circumstances of your life, and to say that all of this counts for nothing?
Or to put the question another way, why can you say, ‘Jesus loves me this I know….”, even when you DON’T FEEL His love in your heart; even when you’re NOT VERY LOVEABLE at all; even when the circumstances of your life ARE IN THE PITS?
The question is, what gives the bible the ‘authority’ to demand that it have the ‘final say’ in everything that it says?
In our Epistle reading for today, Paul writes to young Timothy, who is a pastor in the church, giving him strict instruction to Timothy is to preach the Bible, because the bible and only the bible, “is able to make one wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.”
That’s a bold claim to make. There are lots of books out there that promise that they are able to make one wise for attaining wealth or true happiness or marital bliss or getting into the right college or cooking a delicious dinner.
But a book that “is able to make one wise for SALVATION…” Now, that’s a bold claim to make. As bold as the claim that we just made, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the bible tells me so.” We want to know, what is the basis for a bold claim like that about the Bible?
Paul explains, “all Scripture is breathed out by God…”
The Scriptures are nothing less, and nothing other, than God’s own breath, breathed out. When God made man, He formed his body out of the dust of the earth and then He breathed out His breath into the man “and the man became a living being.”
In the same way, the Holy Scriptures are God’s breath breathed out into us, with the all of the divine power to make us ‘living beings’ in the fullest sense of all that it means to be ‘alive.’
God’s Word is God’s Word, not yours or mine or anyone else’s. There’s no human breath breathed into God’s Word so that what is ‘breathed out’ is some kind of MIXTURE of divine and human breath.
Men and women who are by nature sinful and unclean have ‘BAD BREATH.’ But Paul insists that “ALL SCRIPTURE is God breathed” and therefore it’s ‘GOOD BREATH’ with no ‘bad breath’ mixed or mingled with it.
And this is where the Bible gets its AUTHORITY. The AUTHOR of every word in the Bible is God Himself. God IS the Word and the Word IS God.
In the beginning, God breathed out His Word, and through this Word, He created everything, and apart from this BREATHED OUT WORD, nothing was made that has been made. And God saw all that He made and declared – ‘IT IS GOOD!’ There was no ‘bad breath’ mixed or mingled into His Word.
One day a shepherd named Moses was tending his father-in-law’s sheep, when he saw a bush on fire. When he went over to see this strange sight, a voice from within the bush called out, “Moses, Moses. Take off your sandals from your feet, for the ground on which you are standing is holy ground.”
That was God speaking to Moses through the burning bush. But now God no longer speaks through burning bushes. Now He speaks to us by the Holy Scriptures.
And so The Bible is ‘holy ground’ because God Himself speaks to us through the Bible just as He spoke to Moses through the bush. And therefore we call them the “HOLY Scriptures” and “the HOLY Bible.”
And therefore we come to the Holy Bible, not as ‘magistrates’ who want to rule over it and demand that it prove itself to us before we are willing to submit to it. Rather we come to the Bible as servants, in all reverence and humility just as Moses did the burning bush.
The Bible is where God speaks to YOU just as personally as he spoke to Moses and David and Peter and Paul and all of the prophets and apostles. So, if you’re searching for a ‘PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD,’ don’t go looking inside yourself or to the stars. Go to your Bible and read it and listen to God speak to you.
And then speak back to Him in prayer. That’s the kind of two-way communication that ‘personal relationships’ are made of.
It is as we listen to God speak to us through His Word, that we are transformed by that same Word and we actually believe what we had previously believed was unbelievable. We believe that “God loves me” based on nothing more, but also nothing less, than “THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO.”
And so it is from this position of faith that the Holy Spirit has created in me through His Word, that I not only believe that God loves me, but also that “all Scripture… is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
What Paul wants to be sure that pastor Timothy understands is that the Holy Scriptures, BEING WHAT THEY ARE, are ‘profitable’ or ‘useful’ for living this new life of faith in God, that has been given to us by the same Holy Scriptures. The Bible is not only useful for ‘conversion’ and then it has little purpose. It is also ‘profitable’ for right instruction and living by faith.
This ‘teaching’ that is based on what the Bible says, is precisely the mission that Jesus sent His apostles to the ends of the earth to accomplish. “Go therefore and baptize all nations, TEACHING THEM EVERYTHING THAT I HAVE COMMANDED YOU.” (Matt.28:19,20)
And isn’t it right here where we all run headlong into all kinds of trouble – opposition and resistance and rejection – not only from the unbelieving world in which we live, but also from within ourselves – beloved children of God that we are.
“Teaching” that is based on the Holy Scriptures so very often contradicts the ‘teaching’ that is based on the word of fallen men and women and our flawed understanding of what is truly ‘profitable.’
And so “reproof” is very often necessary. The fallacy needs to be exposed and the error rebuked. And Paul insists that the Bible is “profitable” for just that, because it is God’s Word which is altogether true and right.
What is sin? Is abortion sin? Is sex outside of marriage sin? Is same sex marriage sin? Is divorce sin? Is failure to pay one’s taxes sin? Is drunkenness sin?
Not everyone answers those questions the same way do they? So who is right? AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, WHERE DO YOU GO TO ANSWER THAT QUESTIONS? Do you turn to the bible only INSOFAR AS it agrees with you or backs your position? Or do you let the bible ‘REPROVE’ you, and repent, and turn from sin to the One who loves you and has forgiven you all of your sin?
King David answered several of these questions the way that so much of our society today answers them and that we do. And the prophet Nathan ‘REPROVED’ him on the basis of God’s Word. And David could not stand against God’s Word and repented.
LISTEN, DO NOT BE ASHAMED TO ‘REPROVE’ SIN OR BE ‘REPROVED’ OF SIN, SOLELY ON THE BASIS OF “THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO.” IT IS WORTHY OF SUCH NAKED TRUST.
But if you will repent and turn back from what the bible calls ‘sin,’ you will then find that the same bible is “PROFITABLE FOR CORRECTION.” The same Word that has the authority to call ‘sin’ what it is, also has the authority to “correct” the sinner and make a ‘saint’ out of him.
Having been “REPROVED” by the Word of God, David prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God. And renew in me a right spirit.” And God ‘CORRECTED’ David and cleansed his heart and renewed a right spirit, even the Holy Spirit in him.
LISTEN, DO NOT BE ASHAMED TO “CORRECT” OR “BE CORRECTED” SOLELY ON THE BASIS OF “THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO.” IT IS WORTHY OF SUCH NAKED TRUST.
Reproved and corrected by the Word of God, the believer continues to read His bible because it is “profitable… for training in righteousness that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
Living this life of faith based solely on God’s Word requires “training.” Some people are NATURALS – natural athletes or musicians or artists or parents. They’re very good at what they do with no training at all.
But the life of faith doesn’t come natural to anyone. In is, in fact, the most unnatural thing for fallen and sinful man. Who would ever say that “sell all that you have and give to the poor,” and “do good to those who persecute you,” and “love your enemies” come naturally? No one hears the Word of God in the flesh say, “whoever would come after me must take up His cross and follow me,” does this naturally. There is much “training in righteousness” that is necessary – and it is a lifelong training.
This is no ‘academic’ learning about the life of faith that is done from behind the desk. This is ‘ON THE JOB TRAINING’ in which God Himself brings the poor, and our enemies and our persecutors to us. Just as Jacob was forced into a wrestling match with God, so are we. And what a struggle it is.
It is in the ‘struggle’ with God’s Word, the ‘wrestling’ with it that we receive our “training in righteousness” – and we learn what Jacob learned – which is that we cannot and will not prevail over it but must seek our blessing from it by holding onto and submitting to it.
Luther writes, “This is the touchstone which teaches you not only to KNOW AND UNDERSTAND, but also TO EXPERIENCE how right, how true, how sweet, how lovely, how mighty, how comforting God’s Word is, wisdom beyond all wisdom… For as soon as God’s Word takes root and grows in you, the devil will harry you, and will make a real doctor of you, and by his assaults will teach you to seek and love God’s Word.”
It is not we who gain the victory over God’s Word but His Word that gains the victory over us. This is “Thy strong Word that BESPEAKS us righteous” as it breathes out the righteousness of Jesus Christ into us, making us “complete and equipped for every good work.”
SO LISTEN, DO NOT BE ASHAMED TO BELIEVE AND TO CONFESS THAT “JESUS LOVES ME THIS I KNOW” SOLELY ON THE BASIS OF, “THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO.” IT IS WORTHY OF SUCH NAKED TRUST.