When God Speaks

2 Timothy 3:13-17

By Daniel Mayfield

Introduction

I was thinking about the idea of the words we say, and where they go. Audible words come out of our mouths and then vanish forever, unless those words enter the ear of another, and they then pass them on from there. But even with that, the exact diction, tone, and phrasing is lost, and significantly changed as they pass from one ear to another. 

 

We understand that words are the very substance by which we communicate. Whether one is speaking Russian, Latin, Spanish, English, or sign language, it is words that transfer ideas from the originator to the receiver. Words are really just symbols that portray certain ideas. Imagine trying to communicate to someone without words or symbols. You might be able to communicate some things through body language, but even this would be insufficient for fully describing the finer nuances of thought and ideas. 

 

And so, presupposing that there is a God, how is it that He would communicate to us? I would suggest that he would have to communicate through words. Now, he could show himself to us, giving us the proof that He exists, but even this would not allow for an understanding of what He wants from us. And so, whoever God is, He’s going to have to speak to us in some way. The God of the Bible spoke in a number of ways. He spoke to Abraham and Lot through angels (Gen. 18-19). He spoke to other prophets in dreams. Sometimes God used visions to communicate. God spoke to Samuel audibly. He spoke to Moses in a burning bush. One time God spoke through the mouth of a donkey. And although there were a number of forms of communication, God always used words. 

 

In every attempt to reach man, God must ultimately use words. Some might argue that God often used providential disciplinary measures to speak to men, seen in the various famines, locust invasions, plagues, and captivities, but even these measures did not allow God to fully communicate with his people. These measures were tools that essentially brought Israel’s attention to hear what God had to say concerning their lives. Once the attention was gotten, he could then speak to them as he so desired. But those efforts in and of themselves could not be confidently pegged as being divine in origin, if God didn’t then say that it was him. God always accompanied these disciplinary actions with the words of his prophets. God must speak through words. He may get our attention by showing the beauty of the creation around us. He might show his presence through some answer to prayer. But ultimately, God must then communicate through words. 

 

How is it that words are preserved? And passed on to one generation after another? Well, they’ve got to be written down. As mentioned before, oral tradition only suffices so far as the words are perfectly passed from one to another. To accurately preserve one’s words, they must be written down. Is it any wonder that the God of the Bible wrote his first law down on stone? “And the Lord gave me the two tablets of stone written with the finger of God, and on them were all the words that the Lord had spoken with you on the mountain” (Deut. 9:10). 

 

It is my conviction that God has indeed spoken to us. Even more specifically, it is my conviction that he has spoken to us through the Bible. Today we will examine why I believe that to be the case. 

 

  1. God’s word claims inspiration

    1. Some have called this circular reasoning that we would use the Bible’s claim of inspiration as evidence for its inspiration. This, however, is not circular reasoning. We are not suggesting that the claim of inspiration necessarily proves its inspiration, but that the Bible does indeed claim this. Just as a witness in a court of law can testify to his own truthfulness, we must first establish that the Bible ‘claims’ to be inspired. Further evidence as to the accuracy of this claim will be yielded at a later point. This is not merely an academic exercise, but an important faith-building study. Many have stated that the Bible does not teach its own inspiration, and so they have come to erroneous conclusions on how we ought to examine this book. If the book does indeed claim to be inspired, then one cannot merely pick and choose which portions of scripture they would like to model their lives after. 

    2. First, what is inspiration?

      1. There are two important terms to be defined in a discussion on inspiration. 

        1. The first word is “inspiration,” which came from the Latin word inspirare, which means to “breathe upon or into something.” According to Geisler and Nix’s General Introduction to the Bible, This word was used in the English language as early as 1386AD. By extension the word would suggest a sudden spontaneous idea, but in theological terms it is used to describe the direct influence of God in an individual. 

        2. Second, is the Greek word theopneustos, which is a compound word combining “Theos” and “Pneuma.” More literally, the word means “God breathed OR God spirited.” 

      2. The primary text for our discussion on this word is 2 Timothy 3:16, which says, “All scripture is breathed out by God.” The Greek phrasing is Pasa Graphe Theopneustos. All (every) scripture (writing) is God breathed. 

      3. The KJV, NKJV, NASB, and others translate this verse as “All scripture is inspired of God.” Having understand that the English word for “inspire” originally meant to “breathe upon or into something,” one can see the close association with the actual Greek word theopneustos. 

      4. The problem I have with these translations is they can leave the impression that God simply breathed onto scriptures that were already there. Or that God breathed life into scriptures that were already there. 

      5. The text, however, is saying that the very words are God’s breath. In other words, they came from within him. 

      6. And so, a partial definition of inspiration involves that which came from the mouth of God. But, as we mentioned previously words that are not written down will ultimately disappear if they are not accurately preserved. For this reason, it is important to note that Paul mentions scripture being God breathed. The word for scripture means “writings.” So, how did God transport the words from his mouth to the written word? Well, I’ll tell you, he did not do it with his own finger like he did with the law of Moses. 2 Peter 1:20-21 says, “knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” This passage makes abundantly clear that God used men in the process of His communication. 

      7. Thus, our definition of inspiration is as follows. God breathed his Word into His prophets, by the means of the Holy Spirit, who then wrote those words on parchment or stone, in order to preserve them for us. 

    3. Where does God’s word claim this? 

      1. Some critics will suggest that the Bible does not claim that the very words written were divinely given, but rather that good men wrote down basic principles by which we ought to live. 

      2. In addition to 2 Timothy 3:16, and 2 Peter 1:20-21, the scriptures are virtually filled with language suggesting the divine origin of the writings. 

      3. Paul wrote to Corinth and said, “And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit.” This affirms Peter’s writings that no prophecy came from the will of men, but men spoke from God as the Spirit carried them along. 

      4. Christ himself used terminology suggesting the divine origin of scripture in Matthew 4:4,7, and 10. In each temptation, Christ lifted up the scriptures as authoritative. If they were anything but divine in origin, they would not have the authority Jesus placed on them, for we know that we are to obey no one but God. Time would fail to mention the many instances where Christ lifted up scripture as the authority. 

      5. Exodus 24:4 says that Moses wrote down all of the words of the Lord. 

      6. Isaiah is told in Isaiah 8:1 to take a large scroll and write down what the Lord would indicate. And then in chapter 30:8 God says again, “And now, go, write it before them on a tablet and inscribe it in a book, that it may be for the time to come as a witness forever.” 

      7. These are only a few instances, but the Bible is common with language suggesting that these words are God’s words, and that these writings are from the mouth of God. One might suggest that this book does not claim its own inspiration, but they have a major scriptural witness to oppose them. 

    4. Which portions are inspired? 

      1. I was speaking with a religious leader on the island recently, and he said that he doesn’t believe the Bible to be literal. After showing him 2 Timothy 3:16, he said, “Well, you know that’s just talking about the Old Testament, right?” Let’s talk about this for a moment. Is the New Testament inspired just as the Old? 

      2. Well, he’s right in that Paul had the Old Testament scriptures in view when he wrote this to Timothy. Paul mentions in the previous verse that Timothy had been acquainted with the sacred writings since his youth. We know that the New Testament was not in its finalized form at this point, and so Paul would have been speaking about the Old Testament scriptures in that sense. But, this does not mean that the New Testament is not equally inspired. 

      3. First of all, Paul affirms in his first letter to Corinth that his writing was imparted from the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote a very large portion of the New Testament. In 2 Peter 3:15-16, Peter says, “Our beloved brother Paul…wrote to you…as also in all his letters…which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.” Here Peter places Paul’s writings on par with the Old Testament writings. 

      4. Paul quotes from Luke in his first letter to Timothy and he says, “for the scripture says,” and then he perfectly quotes Luke 10:7. This passage is 1 Timothy 5:18, by the way. 

      5. In addition to both the writings of Paul and Luke being referred to as scripture, one might also note that the New Testament is considered to be “prophetic writing.” Peter wrote that no prophecy of scripture came about by men, but men spoke from God. When Christ was nearing the end of his ministry, he promised his disciples that he would send a helper who would guide them in all truth. Well, every New Testament writer was a prophet. Therefore we can deduce that these men also spoke only from God as they wrote. 

    5. It is clear to us that the entirety of our scriptural canon at least claims to come from God. Let us now look at some evidence to support this claim. 

    6. Now, this is a massive claim. Have you ever thought about how big this claim is? It’s a big claim. We’ve grown up in the church. We’ve grown up with the Bible. We’ve grown up in a culture that at least somewhat esteems this book as being special. But imagine if I were to write a book and say, “This is God breathed.” What might you think of it? If you didn’t immediately dismiss it, I imagine you’d hold it to the light and examine it very carefully. That a book would claim it possesses the words of God demands a very close examination by us as a people. You know, this is not the only book that claims to be inspired. The book of Mormon claims to be inspired of God. The Islamic Koran claims to be inspired of God. What might separate this book and its claim from the others with similar claims. Simply, there is not another literary work that possesses even a fraction of the evidence of this book. 

  2. Both internal and external evidence support the Bible’s claim

    1. Historically

      1. I read a publication called Biblical Archeology Review. It is a monthly publication that seeks to educate men and women on the various archeological finds that pertain in one way or another to scripture. There are literally hundreds of publications produced that prove the historicity of the Bible. 

      2. The renowned archeologist William F. Albright, said, “There can be no doubt that archaeology has confirmed the substantial historicity of the Old Testament tradition.” 

        1. Expound on this. 

      3. Nelson Glueck, said, “It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference.” 

      4. Now, it may be stated that historical accuracy does not necessarily prove the truthfulness of the spiritual qualities of the scripture, but they certainly lend support to them. The fact that the Bible does not speak dishonestly regarding simple factual matters helps give us a greater respect for what it is indeed saying. For this reason, Miller Burrows said that, “More than one archaeologist has found his respect for the Bible increased by the experience of excavation of Palestine.” 

      5. This book is a historical book. HISTORICALLY, GEOGRAPHICALLY, ANTHROPOLOGICALLY 

      6. Before the Dead Sea scrolls were found, and archaeology made its modern advancements, critics said the words of the Old Testament were little more than mystical fantasies. This claim has been proven wrong over and over again. 

    2. Prophetically 

      1. According to Geisler and Nix, “No unconditional prophecy of the Bible about events to the present day has gone unfulfilled.” 

      2. Now, Deuteronomy 18 suggests that a prophet would be false if his words did not come to pass. 

      3. There are literally hundreds of prophecies that were spoken, and have already been fulfilled. 

      4. One of them specifically is the prophecy about Christ. The City of his birth (Micah 5:2), and nature of his birth (Isaiah 7:14) and nature of his death (Isaiah 53) were all told hundreds of years before he was born. 

      5. As one author put it, “Numerous other prophecies have been fulfilled, including the destruction of Edom (Obad. 1), the curse of Babylon (Isa. 13), the destruction of Tyre (Ezek. 26) and Nineveh (Nah. 1-3), and the return of Israel to the land (Isa. 11:11).”  

      6. The Koran, the book of Mormon, and parts of the Hindu Veda, claim inspiration, but have no predictive prophecy. What do they have as a witness? 

    3. Thematically 

      1. 40 different authors, over a period of 1500 years, wrote 66 unique books. These numbers are only impressive so long as there is a central theme which ties them together. There is. 

      2. The God of the Old Testament who revealed Himself as YHWH, introduced the unveiled Christ to an ancient people, promising that he would bring a deliverer to liberate the captives. Only Israel saw so shortsightedly to one who would release them from metal shackles, when God’s intention was to free them of spiritual bondage. The Bible has one theme—Christ. One problem—Sin. And one solution—The Savior. From Abraham to Moses, to the judges and prophets, God spoke of a coming Messiah, or anointed one. Christ is in the Old Testament concealed, and the New Testament revealed. 

      3. Let me ask you, how is it that so many men, living in different locations, at different times, without a moderator would be able to compose such a work that held so tightly with all that came before it? No work of man could accomplish this. 

      4. To contrast, one prophet, Mohammed, wrote one work, during one period of time, and his book is filled with countless errors, both historically and biblically. He grossly misquotes scripture on a number of occasions, revealing his ignorance and lack of true divine inspiration. He suggests that Ishmael was offered up on the altar, and not Isaac. That portion of scripture came over 2,000 years before Mohammed came along. He adopted portions of the Bible, twisted them, and called it revelation. This is the contrast between the work of God and the work of man. 

    4. Practically

      1. Charles Wesley has a very unique argument for the authenticity of the Bible, and it deserves a look. “The Bible must be the invention either of good men or angels, bad men or devils, or of God.” 

        1. It could not be the invention of good men or angels; for they neither would or could make a book, and tell lies all the time they were writing it, saying “Thus saith the Lord,” when it was their own invention. 

        2. It could not be the invention of bad men or devils; for they would not make a book which commands all duty, forbids all sin, and condemns their souls to hell to all eternity.

        3. Therefore, I draw this conclusion, that the Bible must be given by divine inspiration. 

 

If indeed this book is the word of God, it would be greatly advised that we observe its contents carefully. These words are sacred. They are not to be tampered with. Since this be the case, I would suggest that a failure to study this book would be tantamount to closing the mouths of the prophets, fleeing from the presence of the Lord, or killing the Christ in the midst of his ministry. 

 

He who has ears to hear, let him hear. 

© Finding Canaan. All rights reserved. "Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, declares the Lord, who steal my words from one another" -- Jeremiah 23:30