Inspired, not Dictated

Life Notes—August 23, 2012 

“All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.”   2 Timothy 3:16-17 

In school there were subjects where I took notes like I was taking dictation, striving to write down, word-for-word, exactly what I was being told.  I did not want confusion over what was being taught.  That is a good strategy when the lesson is a clear-cut, black and white, right or wrong type of subject.  The Ten Commandments are an example. That we are not to kill or steal or covet are pretty direct instructions, not readily misinterpreted. However, other subjects and teachings were more conceptual in nature, made to stimulate thought.  They were not intended to provide specific directions to be followed as much as to point the student’s thoughts in a particular direction and to encourage exploration of where that led and what it meant.  Notes from those classes might include general ideas or inspirations springing from the teacher’s lecture—like drawing a mental map of where I was being led in order to help find my way back another time. 

Timothy, a companion to Paul, writes, “All scripture is inspired by God…”  My study Bible says the word translated “inspired” is the same word used in Genesis 2:7, where God breathes life into the first human.  None of the translations I read interpret this passage to say God “dictated” scripture, and I think that is an important distinction.  Had God dictated scripture to its writers we would read it much differently than the God-inspired writing it is.  Christians differ widely on how literally scripture should be interpreted.  But Jesus taught in parables—a technique intended to provide an easily grasped concept for thoughtful application to more difficult issues.  Many of the more direct teachings in the New Testament are actually interpretations made by others, inspired by the parables of Jesus and the life he lived.  But the words directly attributed to our Lord tend to be more reflective thought-producers than recipes for righteous living. 

Personally, I believe God intended for us to wrestle with scripture, and in the wrestling we are drawn closer to God.  I love passages, like the first chapter of John, that can be read many times and inspire new and wonderful insights with each reading.  It is through careful reflection, both alone and with fellow believers, that scripture comes alive for “teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness.” 

Tom preaches downtown this Sunday, where Life worship is at 10:00 AM in Brady Hall, traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00.  Mitch continues his sermon series on the Bible at the West campus, where contemporary worship is at 9:00 and 11:00.  His sermon title is “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth,” based on 2 Timothy 3:14-17. 

Come home to church this Sunday.  Finding Truth is not a destination, but a journey…

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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