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“All Scripture is breathed out by God and 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” (2 Timothy 3:16,17).

MANY OF US, LIKE TIMOTHY, HAVE BEEN ACQUAINTED WITH THE SCRIPTURES SINCE WE WERE CHILDREN. But we, also like Timothy, need to be reminded of the extraordinary nature of these books that comprise the sacred writings. In 2 Timothy 3:16,17, Paul points to several fundamental facts about these documents.

Scripture. The Jews, and later the Christians, recognized a very special body of writings which they knew as “Scripture.” The word basically meant “writings,” but when referring to this unique collection, it meant writings that came from God. Of all the writings in the world, these are the most treasured and the most authoritative.

Breathed out by God. The uniqueness, and hence the authority, of the Scriptures derives from their having been “breathed out by God,” as Paul says. We do not know precisely the process through which this took place (indeed, the writer of Hebrews indicates, in 1:1,2, that it was not always in the same way), but the end result is clear: the books that can be called “Scripture” originated in the mind of God. In the words of Peter, “men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21).

Profitable. The Scriptures are not merely for our study; they are for our profit. God has revealed Himself for the purpose of our betterment. When mankind departed from God, one of the most tragic results of this alienation was the loss of the knowledge of God. But God reached across the gap and progressively reintroduced mankind to the truth about Himself. So the record in the Scriptures of this revelation is extremely profitable to us: “for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”

We are right to say that the Scriptures are unfathomable. That is not to say they are mysterious or impossible to understand, but simply that they are inexhaustible. No matter how many years we study, there is always more to learn — and more to profit from. Indeed, the inexhaustible nature of the Bible is one of the clues that it was not produced by merely human wisdom.

“God’s Book is packed full of overwhelming riches; they are unsearchable — the more we have the more there is to have” (Oswald Chambers).

Gary Henry — +

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