“All Scripture is breathed out by God.” With this one simple phrase, Paul anchors his previous words about saving Scripture (2 Timothy 3:10-15 ) with the wealth of instruction still to come. And with that one phrase, massive dividing lines are drawn in Christian faith and practice. So very much hangs on our active belief of these few words. Scripture is not only saving; it is also completely authoritative.
If we wonder how mere words could have saving power, we need only be reminded of the source of these words. They are God-breathed. If we question how effective these words may be, how much obedience can reasonably be expected to them, how weighty they are, we need only to believe the truth. These words come from God. Paul does not say the writers of Scripture were inspired. In fact, he doesn’t mention the human writers at all. He runs directly to the source of the words of Scripture. The very breath that spoke the universe into existence, that uniquely blew into man to make him a living soul, that still upholds the world today—this powerful breath spoke the words of our Bibles. All of them.
It’s no secret, and should be no surprise, that liberal theology has relentlessly attacked the inspiration of Scripture. Minor changes in wording, like saying Scripture is without error when it deals with matters of faith, and discarding “unessential” details like an actual fish to swallow Jonah, are actually seismic shifts to faith’s landscape. Erode this basic block, and the entire architecture of orthodox Christianity crumbles. It’s inevitable. When the creation account is re-explained to allow science to be authoritative, when the miracles of the Old and New Testaments are discounted to give reason its say, and when the brutal substituionary sacrifice of Christ is re-imagined on account of modern sensibilities, inevitably God is dethroned.
Scripture is authoritative because of Who it comes from. The Word you hold in your lap is not from a man. It’s not on the same plane as our newspaper or favorite novel or most insightful biography. These words come with divine authority and impact. All Scripture is breathed out by God. Are you sure you believe that? We cannot say we do without becoming radically dominated by these words. We can’t remain the authorities on how to parent, love, give, live and think if Scripture is the authority. Let’s make the words breathed by God our constant master.