Wednesday, January 2, 2019

The Value of the Old Testament

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16).

When Paul wrote to Timothy about the Scriptures, he was obviously referring to the Old Testament. Possibly, he also had in mind those New Testament books that had been written, but the “Bible” for the early church was the Old Testament. Thus, while 2 Timothy 3:16 applies to the whole Bible, its first application was to the Old Testament.

The Greek word translated “God-breathed” is theopneustos. In a classic study of this verse, the great nineteenth-century theologian BB Warfield showed that this word does not merely mean “inspired.” The word does not mean that God breathed something into the authors of the Bible so that it was written by men inspired by the Holy Spirit—although this is indeed true. Rather, theopneustos means that God “breathed out” the Bible. The Bible is completely composed of His very words, spoken with His breath, and thus breathed out by Him. (This is not to be confused or equated, however, with the mechanical dictation theory in which God supposedly by-passed the human agency of the actual writers.)

Thus, Paul told Timothy: “All of the Old Testament is breathed out by God—all of it.” I wonder what our attitude would be toward the Old Testament if we really believed it contains the revelation of God.

What does Paul go on to say about the Old Testament? To begin with, he said it is to be used. We are not to neglect it because God intended it to be useful. Paul then gave us four ways to use it. First, it is to be used to teach us about God—His nature, character, standards of righteousness, promises of redemption, plan of salvation—everything we need to know.

Second, Paul said the Old Testament is to be used to confront and rebuke sin. Third, he said the Old Testament is to be used to correct and point the way of righteousness. And fourth, he said the Old Testament is to be used to train people in righteousness, for realigning their lives according to the will of God.

When people learn that Scripture is to be used to confront and rebuke sin, their first thought is how this can be applied to others. Remember, however, Jesus taught us to remove the log from our own eye first. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal sin in your own life that needs to be confronted and rebuked.