22nd Sunday after Pentecost (Prop 24 – C)
II Timothy 3:14-4:5
October 16, 2022
Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The text that I have chosen for this morning’s sermon is the Epistle from II Timothy, which was read a few minutes ago.
The average human can live without food for about 21 days. The world record for not sleeping is 11 days. We can live without water for about 100 hours. And we can live without oxygen for about four minutes before our brain starts to die. Of these four, obviously breathing is the most necessary. We breathe oxygen in and we breath carbon dioxide out. If we don’t get enough oxygen our bodies shut down and if we have too much carbon dioxide our blood turns into an acidic brew. God has designed our bodies so perfectly that the way they function is truly miraculous. But just as breathing oxygen is essential survival, so also is breathing the breath of God.
In a Bible passage that all Christians need to remember, Saint Paul tells Timothy, “All Scripture is breathed out by God.” This phrase is important because it tells us that every word in the Bible was inspired by God. What this means is that God the Holy Spirit led the writers of the Bible to write what they did. God used the authors different ways of speaking and expressing themselves to give us His exact words. As Saint Peter said, “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” (II Peter 1:20-21). So when you hear the Bible read in church or when you read it at home, you are hearing the very voice of God. We’re breathing His breath. He is breathing into us His Word which sustains us just as breathing oxygen does.
Since the Bible is inspired by God we know that it is, without a doubt, infallible. This means that it doesn’t have a single error in it; not in regards to science, history, or the life and miracles of Jesus. Contrary to what many people believe, maybe even some of you, and contrary to what our kids are being taught, is that what we find in the Bible are not fables or myths. They’re not cleverly written short stories intended to entertain us. The accuracy of the Bible has been attacked for centuries and it has never once been shown to be wrong. In fact, even atheist archaeologists have stated that the Bible is the most accurate description there is of ancient history in Israel and the surrounding nations. The Word of God isn’t bound by time – it’s as applicable now as when it was first written. And since the Bible is the very breath of God we can breathe deeply knowing that what we breathe is pure, holy and not polluted in any way.
Physical breathing gives and sustains life, and the breath of God gives and sustains spiritual life. Paul says that the Bible, the sacred writings, “are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” The Bible is accurate regarding science and history, but it is so much more than a textbook because it is entirely about Jesus. The first five books of the Law, all the books of History, all the books of the Prophets, the Psalms, the Proverbs, the Gospels and the Epistles all point to Jesus. They direct us to what Jesus was going to do, what He did do, and what He is doing right now. Everything we read and hear from the inspired Word of God is about Jesus and the forgiveness of sins. It’s all about how God loves you so much that He have His Son to die for you, how that same Son rose from the Dead, and how now, you live. Without the Bible we wouldn’t know the full truth about God and we would know nothing about Jesus. But God is merciful and compassionate so He spoke to us and by doing so He has breathed faith and new life into us.
What I want you to remember is that just as breathing air isn’t a one-time thing but a continual activity, so is breathing the Word of God. We breathe air so we remain alive, and we breathe God’s breath to remain spiritually alive. Again we hear Paul say, “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.” The Bible teaches us everything we need to know. It tells us about Jesus, it gives us the promises of God, it points out our sins, it corrects us when we’re wrong. It also equips us to live godly lives and it leads us to grow in righteousness, so we know what God has done for us and what He, quite frankly, expects of us. We continually hear God’s Word, read it, and as we pray, inwardly digest it, so that we would grow in our faith and our relationship with God. Breathing the breath of God isn’t something we can do occasionally, rather it’s part of our very existence. You breathe oxygen without thinking about it, but to breathe the Word of God is to hear it and make it part of you, because without it, you will die.
And where do receive what you need to hear? Right here, in God’s house! When I was ordained I took an oath before God that I would faithfully teach His Word. I reaffirmed this vow when I was installed here at Emmanuel, and it’s a vow that I take very seriously. I do my best to faithfully teach you what you need to hear, and while I know that some of you may think I’m too strict or too picky about certain things, I have to be, because that’s my calling. My calling is to share God’s Word, in its entirety with you, because it’s the only way that you will survive. I strive to do what Paul instructs Timothy to do; “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.”
I have to teach it properly and you have to hear it regularly because there are a lot of lying influences, false teachers, dishonest prophets, and deceptive pastors out there who are trying to suffocate you by cutting off the flow of God’s breath. And you don’t have to look very far to see that they’re all around us. They’re in Hollywood, Washington D.C., Des Moines, and Lake View. They’re on your TV, in your music, in your newspapers, and in some of your conversations. You need to be aware because Paul warns us about these people when he says, “evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13). These messengers of Satan want to lead you after their myths and lies like the Pied Piper led the children out of Hamelin Village.
And if you haven’t noticed, it is becoming increasingly evident that people want to hear what these evil people are teaching. It fulfills Paul’s words where he says, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” Paul isn’t just talking about unbelievers; he’s also talking about Christians.
These words apply to all people because the Bible doesn’t always tell us what we want to hear. God points out our sins. He tells us His expectations. He points out how we are to live, and that doesn’t always match up to what we to do. So we often perceive God as if He’s some heavenly killjoy. Worse yet, what’s really happening in Christendom is that people are telling God that His breath is flawed or wrong or poisonous. They say it’s polluted because it doesn’t say what they want to hear and some people tell God that His breath isn’t really His at all, that it’s just Paul’s or Peter’s or Moses’ breath.
To reject the Bible and what it teaches is to reject the Breath of God. It’s to listen to myths or stories that tell you what you want to hear. It’s declaring that God’s Word isn’t His Word and isn’t authoritative for us. When you don’t like what God says about gender, sex, marriage, life issues, sin or whatever you don’t like, your itching ears are going to look for what you want to hear in the wrong places. And while it’s common to think that to get away from God means that you can breathe deeply and freely, it’s the exact opposite that’s true. When you turn from the Truth, you find only lies. When you turn from Life, you find only Death. God’s Word is the sole authority for our lives and His breath is the only thing we are to breathe. We breathe His breath and we listen to His Word because it is only in Him that we find what we need – true and everlasting life.
I know that we may not always understand what God is trying to teach us in His Word. I also know that you may not always agree with what God says and you may not always like what you read. But just as breathing oxygen is necessary for life, so is God’s breath. So we have to trust that the Bible is God’s Word and that it has been given to us for our benefit. We have to have faith that God knows what we don’t, that He tells us what He wants us to know, and that if we don’t understand His Word or we disagree with it, the pollution is in us, and not in the Breath of God. After all, whose book is it? It’s His, right? He has given it to us that would know how to live in the best possible way, that we would know how Christians are to behave, but most of all He breathes His Word so that we would know Jesus. Jesus says that all of Scripture is written that you would know Him and the salvation that He offers to each and every one of you. This is what God really wants us to breathe in deeply – the love and forgiveness of Christ Jesus. So yes, all of Scripture is inspired, it’s God-breathed, and He breathes it out that you would breathe it in and become wise to the salvation that is your through faith in Christ Jesus.
Now the peace which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen