“The Breath of God Brings Life” (Part 1) by Pastor Andy Braams

Today is the first Sunday of a new month which means we begin comparing a new system of the human body to the system of the church. Last month, we discussed the link between the reproductive system and Jesus command for us to make disciples. This month, we will review the respiratory system with a connection to how God’s breath brings and sustains life.

When we think of the respiratory system, we obviously think of breathing. But most people simply consider the process of air going in and then being released. The reality is that breathing is really an exchange of gases. The human body takes in oxygen and then releases carbon dioxide. That exchange is really the function of our lungs.

However, the lungs are not simply taking in and passing out the same air – rather, the oxygen that comes into our bodies is taken by our red blood cells throughout the body, and those same cells collect any carbon dioxide and bring it back to the lungs where it is discarded when we exhale.

The key understanding for us today is that through our breathing, life is possible. We may focus on our breathing at times – particularly when we find it difficult to breathe, but the process itself takes place so naturally, we rarely give it thought. In fact, the average adult breathes approximately 23000 times per day – each time sustaining the life that has been given.

And that is our focus today – that breathing brings life. Not only does our breathing allow us to live, but the breath of God is what truly allows for life to happen and to have meaning. Later this month, we will review passages that discuss how the breath of God brings life to mankind, but for now, let us focus on the life it gives it gives to Scripture. This week, I will review the first part of 2 Timothy 3.16 that says the breath of God is part of Scripture. And then next week, we will look at how the remainder of verse 16 applies to the verses which precede and follow this verse to show how God’s breath sustains us and prepares us to live according to His purposes.

All Scripture… (2 Timothy 3.16)

Every single word.

Let me ask you this: Do you trust God? If yes, do you believe that the Bible is God’s Word? If yes, then you can trust God’s Word because it is God’s Word. Titus 1.2 says that God cannot lie. But just because something is true does not mean it is helpful, or even particularly relevant today. For instance, did you know that the average salary in 1900 was just under $450 per year? True, but not helpful. Why? Because facts are true, but that does not mean that they are “alive.”

But when God breathes, life begins. It happened for mankind in Genesis 1, and according to Paul, in the verse we are reviewing today, it is true for Scripture as well. What does this mean? It means that Scripture is true (it is from God who cannot lie), and it is also living. Hebrews 4.12 says that the Word of God is living and active. The implication is that we cannot only read Scripture as something that was written for those who lived in the past, we can read it knowing that God’s Word has application for us today as well.

As we discussed last Sunday evening, the words in the Bible only mean what they mean. What God meant when it was written is what each word means. But how those words apply might be as different as the number of people who read it. And that is only possible if the Word of God is living…and it is living because God breathed life into it.

Perhaps we find it difficult to understand parts of Scripture. Do you realize Peter even made this claim about some of Paul’s writings? (See 2 Pt 3.16.) And perhaps we find some parts as more challenging to read for their content (e.g. the genealogies). But our issues with the Bible do not make it any less true or any less applicable.

…is Breathed Out by God

I mentioned in my weekly email and Facebook post this week the importance of the biblical words used for breath. The Hebrew word from the OT is ruach (pronounced roo-awk) and the Greek word in the NT is pneuma (from which we get the English word pneumonia). Both of these words also mean wind. But more importantly, these words also mean spirit. Thus, to say that all Scripture is breathed out by God means that all of Scripture has the nature of the Holy Spirit within it.

If you recall the words of Jesus from John 16, one purpose for the Holy Spirit coming was/is to guide us “into all truth” (v13). This function of the Spirit is certainly possible if He is the very nature of the Scripture that is to be our guide. Thus, we are guided not by some presence or “force” that has to interpret Scripture and then try to help us understand what it means. Rather, we are guided by the Guide who helped create the written Word and thus can enable us to understand the Word from the very Source.

Consider it this way. In today’s world many people debate over the meaning of certain books or movies. But what if, instead of debating what the true meaning of Huckleberry Finn, we could sit down with Mark Twain who authored the book. Well, that is the opportunity that the Holy Spirit offers us.

And because breath brings life, the Word of God is alive. Notice Paul’s words. Scripture is breathed out by God. Thus, it is intended to go into something else. Just as the air filled with carbon dioxide we exhale is taken in by plants and converted to oxygen for our benefit, God breathes out Scripture so we can take it in and convert it to action for the benefit of us and others. Remember, as James said, “But be doers of the Word, not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” That is, the Word of God is living, so it requires a response.

Let me remind us again of Hebrews 4.12 – Scripture is alive and active. It pierces us to the soul. Again, I mentioned last Sunday night that is why I focus so heavily on Scripture when I preach. Many have commented over the years that they are convicted week after week. Good. But realize that is not me, that is Scripture. And it is Scripture because it alive, being part of the very breath of God.

See, many pastors want you to feel good when you leave the church. My job is not to make you feel good or feel bad. My job is to make sure you realize that you need a Savior. You may be saved, but that does not mean that you do not need Jesus. So, if we preach the living Word of God correctly, not only will you realize that you fall short of God’s standard, but you will realize that He has made a way through Jesus – who may have died, but is now living and making intercession for you!

So, Jesus, as the living Word of God brings the written Word of God to life through ruach, the pneuma, the Spirit. And thus, the Word of God is…

…(and) Profitable

Now we get to the purpose of Scripture. God did not just create Scripture because He needed something to do. He did not just organize a collection of thoughts just because someone needed a book with some history and philosophy. No, God used 40 individuals over about 2000 years to write down His words, inspired by the Holy Spirit, because these words would be useful to people for the next 2000 years (and longer if He delays His return).

One truth in life is that everyone relies on various sources for information to get through life. We may rely on the newspaper, the television, radio, magazines, the internet, an app on our phone, fortune tellers, etc. But here is something about every one of those sources…they are seeking profit for themselves. The local news is not there to inform you of what is happening. The news is there to sell advertising. Same with radio and magazines, etc. Sure, they will help you be informed, but only as long as the overall success of that station or publisher or other business concept has the ability to make a profit.

But the Bible is profitable. It does not need to turn a profit, it IS profitable – to all who read it AND observe it. God gives it to us so that our lives can be profitable. Although God is not seeking to make a profit, it is fair to say that He has made an investment in you – and that investment was the life of His Son. So, God does expect a return on that investment…and He gives His Word, which is profitable, in order that we might become more like Him.
So, how is Scripture profitable?

It is profitable for teaching, reproof, correcting, and training in righteousness. We will explore these four concepts more fully next week; and we will do so in the context of the surrounding verses. For today, we simply need to know that: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable…” Therefore, if we can trust the living God, we can trust His Scripture because it is living as well.

CONCLUSION

Our emphasis today has been on the fact that God breathed Scripture which makes it alive…and makes it useful. And, as we will see in a couple of weeks, it was the breath of God that gave man life and made us useful. And, as we continue to breathe, we continue to live. And, thus, our system of the month is the respiratory system. As long as our respiratory system continues to function well, we will have the ability to live. But a day comes when we take our final breath, and thus our life ends which should make us consider how we live our lives in the meantime. And thus, our…

JOURNEY letter for today is: JOURNEY.

We only have so many breaths. But we have our breath and our ability to breathe because of God. So, what do we do with our life? How have we chosen to live? How will we choose to live from this moment until our final breath? Our JOURNEY is not yet complete, but when it is, will we recognize that is was the breath of God which gave us life and sustained us? Of course, this is true in our physical lives, but it is true of God’s Word as well.

So, let us live our lives well. Let us finish our JOURNEY strong. Let us realize that Scripture is profitable and the same Spirit who breathes life into it is ready to guide us along the rest of our path as well.

PRINCIPLE: God’s breath brings life.

QUESTION: Do you believe Scripture is profitable? If so, how can it produce more in your life? If not, why do you believe it is not?

OPPORTUNITY: Just as you have a pattern in your breathing, make reading/studying the Bible a natural part of your life each day.

NEXT STEP(S):

LEARN: Besides using the four ideas listed at the end of 2 Tim 3.16; write down ten way the Bible has been profitable to you.

LIVE: Reflect on one way the Bible has encouraged you in the past and seek to make that aspect even stronger in your life.

LOVE: Most of us struggle to love everyone. How does knowing the Bible is alive and profitable encourage you to love someone who is normally unlovable?

LEAD: Guide one person this week to better understand how the Bible can be profitable to them.

“The First Commission” by Pastor Andy Braams

Two weeks ago, we began this new series about having a healthy body so we can have a healthy church. The central theme for the series, and for all of 2019, is that we are the body of Christ. With that in mind, we can consider that the human body consists of many systems that keep it functioning properly. When one or more of those systems in the human body do not function as they should, the entire body will suffer over time. Likewise, when the church body is not healthy, the church will suffer. And like the human body, the church needs systems in place to function best. So, each month through November we will be comparing a system of the human body to that of the church. And the system for January is the reproductive system.

At first glance, you may wonder how the reproductive system fits into the context of the church. I would argue it is the easiest of all systems to correlate because Jesus said we are to make disciples. That is, as a believer (a disciple), we are commissioned (and expected) to reproduce other disciples. Thus, making disciples is about reproducing, and that fits quite well with the reproductive system.

In fact, as we will see, the idea of reproducing is not just addition, but multiplication, as Reggie taught last week. And we do not just randomly get the idea of multiplication, we see it evidenced in Acts as the early church had numbers added to it (Acts 2.41,47; 5.14) and then soon multiplied (Acts 6.7; 9.31). This idea, related to the church, fits well with the first commandment God gave humanity as well – be fruitful and multiply.

Before we turn to our primary text in Genesis today, you might be surprised to know the Bible talks specifically about the reproductive process even if the actual system is not mentioned. In James 1.15, we find that sin is conceived and then it is birthed before bringing about death at a later point. And this truth about the nature of sin is why we need to make disciples, not just converts.

So, let’s briefly review the reproductive system. First, to reproduce we need two people. And this cannot be any two people. By God’s design it requires a male and a female – that is, the anatomy has to work properly together. But not only does the anatomy have work, the process has to work as well. The male produces sperm and the female produces eggs. This production is regular and consistent over many years, but if the timing is not right or if the overall health of the individual is not right (even influenced by another system in the body), then conception will not occur. So, not only does the anatomy matter, but the timing does, and then of the hundreds of millions of sperm that are released only about 1 in 20 reach the fallopian tube where the egg is, and only 1 – ONE! – will be able to penetrate the egg and allow for reproduction to be possible. At that point, new life has begun, but then prenatal care is important, and finally birth. And then, for parents, the real work begins.

So, that is an abbreviated look at the reproductive system. Let us now turn to the Bible to see how it fits with God’s purpose – beginning in Genesis 1.

1. God commanded humanity to be fruitful and multiply. (Genesis 1.26-28)

We must remember that Genesis 1 and 2 are two accounts of the same story. Genesis 1 starts in the beginning and goes through Day 6. Genesis 2 begins with Day 7, but then backs up and provides some detail of what happened on Day 6.

Day 6 consists of the creation of animals (Gen 1.24-25), but then shifts to the creation of mankind. Verse 26 helps us understand why God would command mankind to reproduce. In Genesis 1.26, the text says, God (singular) said, “Let us” (plural). Thus, God is more than one person. In fact, we call that concept the Trinity. God is three persons in one – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Therefore, God had never been alone when mankind was created which is why in Genesis 2.18, God said it was not good for man to be alone. Adam had just named all of the animals, and in some sense realized nothing was like him. But Adam did not know it was “not good.” But God knew it wasn’t. And therefore, God made a woman from man (Genesis 2.21-22).

So, God was (and is) multiple persons and now humanity consisted of multiple persons as well. But unlike God, who is eternal, the human body is not, and thus, to perpetuate humanity, God commanded His new creation to be fruitful and multiply.

I mentioned the reproductive system a few moments ago. A person does not have to understand the system to reproduce. And, due to human nature as the result of the sin in Genesis 3, the curiosity of the anatomy of the opposite sex has been on the minds of men and women (and boys and girls) ever since. But I can’t help but imagine what Adam and Eve thought the first time they were ready to obey God’s command, which was the first command that is explicitly recorded as given to humanity. They had to know their bodies are different, although they were unashamed. But what happened when Eve started to “show.” Can you imagine the conversation? “Adam, why am I getting fat?” “Eve, did you eat from that tree?” “No, Adam, I promise I didn’t…and wait, something just kicked inside of me.” “Eve, were you eating burritos again? You know those can upset your stomach.”

In reality, we have no idea what the conversation might have been. But it must have been interesting!

So, to restate point 1, God gave humanity the command to be fruitful and multiply. And they began to do so.

2. God commanded humanity to fill the earth and subdue it. (Genesis 1.28)

Before God gave this command, He had already given a task to the man. We can see this by reviewing Genesis 2. Originally, God created the man outside of the Garden and then moved the man into the Garden (see Gen 2.5, 7-8). While there, the man took care of the Garden and gave him the task of working it (Gen 2.15) with one warning – do not eat from a certain tree (Gen 2.17). So, man was created with the task of tending to God’s Creation. Then the animals passed before the man and he gave names to all of the animals (Gen 2.19-20). And then, God created the woman.

The sequence here is important. God created the man with the purpose of working and keeping His creation. And, everything was in harmony. Yes, man had to work, but it was not difficult labor. In fact, we might say that his work was fruitful.

But after God created the woman is when the statement in Genesis 1.28 is made. Notice God said to them…that is, God spoke the command to be fruitful, to multiply to both of them. And then, He continued by giving authority to both of them. Now, truly all authority belongs to God, but He entrusted that authority to the first man and woman. They were to fill the earth (reproduce) and subdue it. That is, they were given dominion over the earth. In fact, specifically, if you read the remainder of verse 28, their dominion was over birds, fish, and anything that moves. God then gave them all plants for their benefit – including those with seeds for their food.

The words for subduing and having authority convey the idea of having an active power – even using force, where necessary. Thus, God gave full authority to mankind – both male and female – over the rest of His Creation. And, as they multiplied, that authority was to be passed down to their offspring as well. Why? Because the authority was given to the first man and woman – who were made in God’s image (Gen 1.26, 27) – and as their offspring we are made in that image is well.

But sin!

So, God commanded the first humans to be fruitful and multiply. Then He gave them His authority over the earth. But that authority and the fruit of our labor was challenged because of sin.

3. Humanity lost our intimacy and our dominion because of sin.

Genesis 3 is known as the Fall of man, or simply, the Fall. But before we briefly state effects of the Fall, let us look Genesis 3.8. Consider the intimacy of Creation at this point. The man had and intimate relationship with:

the Garden. He tended it, and it produced. (Genesis 2.15-16)

the animals. He named each species of livestock, the birds, and beasts of the field. (Genesis 2.19-20)

the woman. They were naked and unashamed. (Genesis 2.24-25)
God. (Genesis 2.18, 21; 3.8)

All of this intimacy was how God designed it to be. Again, we can conclude this is God’s design because of the intimacy of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit – united as One. But sin ruined all of it for humanity. Notice, the effects of sin – mostly from Genesis 3:

The intimacy was broken. The man and woman now covered themselves. (Genesis 3.7)

Being fruitful and multiplying became challenging. For the woman, it meant that giving birth would be increasingly painful (Genesis 3.16). For the man, it meant that thorns, thistles, and sweat would be part of the “fruit” of his work. (Genesis 3.18-19)

Humanity’s authority was forfeited to Satan. We see this in God’s response to the man, but we can see it more clearly in passages like Matthew 4.9 (where Jesus does not refute that Satan can make such an offer) and Ephesians 6.12 (where Paul says cosmic powers are in play), and very directly in Colossians 1.13.

But God! Our sin is why Jesus had to come!

4. Jesus reclaimed the dominion over this world, and has now commissioned us to be fruitful and multiply a new type of people. (Matthew 28.18-20)

Yes, Jesus came to die for our sin. But it is more than that. God gave authority to humanity to rule over His Kingdom. But mankind lost that right. Actually, it was stolen from them when the serpent deceived the first man and woman. So, Jesus comes and says, that the Kingdom of heaven is near (Matthew 4.17). That is, the time of Satan’s domain including the world was coming to an end and people needed to repent of following the dark ways – the ways that broke the intimacy between all aspects of Creation – and turn to the coming Kingdom, the returning Kingdom, where Jesus has all authority as the King of all kings.

Please understand, God never lost full dominion. We see evidence of this in Job 1 where Satan had to go to God for permission. But humanity lost the dominion we were given by God due to our sin and the separation we have from God. But Jesus’ sinless life captured that dominion once again, and His death confirmed that He alone is worthy and should have the dominion.

So, what does Jesus do after He has regained the authority – now not only as God, but also acting on behalf of man? He says the same thing that God said in Genesis 1.28 – Be fruitful and multiply. Of course, Jesus used different words. His words were “make disciples.”

In Genesis 1, God needed the humans to fill the earth with other people – those created in the image of God.

In Matthew 28, Jesus needs the humans to fill the earth with other humans – those restored into fellowship with God.

This is an amazing parallel. We did not lose our commission to multiply. But the form was changed. Rather than reproducing humans, we are to reproduce disciples. And just as God gave the responsibility to the first humans to reproduce, Jesus has given His disciples the responsibility to reproduce.

We know longer have the dominion – it was given to man (Adam), but he proved irresponsible, and Jesus had to win it back. But now Jesus has all authority, but He entrusts it with us (we
participate).

We will look a further look at the idea of bearing fruit, reproduction, and the effects on church attendance next week. But for now, let us just realize that God’s reproductive system is about us making disciples even more than it is making babies.

CONCLUSION

Reproducing disciples is not as easy – or as fun! – as reproducing children. But the process is similar. Notice the similarities.

You need two people.

Discipleship – guided by Holy Spirit – puts the right discipler with the right disciple

Human Reproduction – two people are necessary to bring life into the world

The discipler needs persistence.

Discipleship – not easy, which is why many do not participate or succeed.

Human Reproduction – 250 million sperm are released and only 1 in 14 million make it far enough to have a chance.

The disciple must be receptive.

Discipleship – The timing must be right for the person to grow

Human Reproduction – the egg must be ready to be fertilized

Early care is critical.

Discipleship – A study diet of the Word of God is important. Opportunities to serve others is critical as well.

Human Reproduction – The food a child ingests can drastically impact the health of a child in the womb (as does the presence of harmful substances, such as drugs), and eventually a newborn

Guidance is necessary.

Discipleship – Disciplers are to teach others to observe all that Jesus commanded. That means showing others the way not just talking about it and leaving them on their own (although that comes later).

Human Reproduction – a baby cannot care for self. A child needs guidance until they can begin to live on their own.

A new generation reproduces.

Childhood – just as a young child gains confidence and begins to explore life, a new Christian begins to explore the parameters of their faith.

A teenager may rebel against authority, but love can help to retain the necessary bonds. Likewise, a new Christian may rebel for a time, but a gracious and loving God will welcome the person back – and uses humans to show the love necessary to restore the individual.

Adults typically seek a mate and eventually procreate – reproducing a new generation to carry on their life. For the Christian, reproducing is not about them passing down their own genes, but making Christ known to the next generation so that His life, ministry, and mission is carried forward for generations to come (see 2 Timothy 2.2).

The JOURNEY letter for today is: OOBSERVE.

We may be willing to follow certain commands of Jesus, but are we willing to make disciples? As our Lord, our King, it is not for us to choose, it is for us to follow. We must observe in order to be a better disciple, and we must observe in order to make more disciples as well.

PRINCIPLE: We are not asked to reproduce. We are commanded to do so. Make disciples!

QUESTION: Who are you intentionally making a better disciple?

OPPORTUNITY: Make 2019 a year to strengthen this Body of Christ by reproducing disciples for Jesus.

NEXT STEP(S): Become a more complete disciple of Jesus. The idea of being a disciple is to learn what a master teaches and to do what He says.

LEARN: Take time to learn what Jesus taught. If you need to be a better disciple (and we all do), ask someone to lead you.

LIVE: Begin to live as Jesus lived – which included making disciples of others.

LOVE: Find a way to share the love of Jesus with a random person this week.

LEAD: Begin praying about one person you can disciple.

Bread Crumbs

After nearly three years of posting weekly (or more) on Blogger (ffxbc.blogspot.com), we are moving the Bread Crumbs blog to our website. We believe this will better help us communicate in writing what is taught and shared at Fairfax Baptist Church in Fairfax, Missouri.

Most of the rest of this post remains the same as the first post on our old Blogger account because the purpose of the blog remains the same. However, migrating to WordPress should allow us more options as we move forward.

The posts on this blog will largely be from the pastor but may include the thoughts and reflections of others from time to time. Largely, the content will be an adaptation from a sermon, or other time of teaching, but again, the option exists for other possibilities. The intention is to blog here once weekly after providing some introductory thoughts, and some catch-up posts transitioned from another blog. The pastor, Dr. Andy Braams, also has his own blog which will, at times, provide reflection to the posts made here, and at other times focus on other areas of his life and or ministry, as well as covering aspects of ministry in general. Again, this blog will be exclusive to teachings and other thoughts specifically related to Fairfax Baptist Church.

The idea for the name stems from two important pieces. First, the Bible is often referred to as the Word of God. But other monikers exists as well, and one of thought, as used by one devotional is that the Bible is to be like our food – our daily bread. And wherever bread has been, crumbs are left behind. These crumbs are evidence of something greater that exists (or existed, if already eaten), but whether we cut the bread before we eat it, or slice it into more manageable pieces, crumbs are left behind. Likewise, when we peer into the Bible, whether in deep study, or at a passing glance, we may take part of the meaning with us, but we cannot consume all of it. Thus, what we take is more like a crumb. And a crumb is never enough to sustain us, but enough crumbs may allow us to maintain our strength until we can return for more substance.

The second piece of the puzzle relates to the church’s strategy. Our strategy is built around the idea that we are on a JOURNEY. A set of posts will be added soon to discuss this in more detail, but each of the letters are part of an acrostic that helps guide us in knowing what we need to do. (Our ministry is guided by words with a theme of traveling – we are all on a journey, for instance – which you can find out more about here.) But the journey we travel, or at least one that has been set for us, is marked by the examples of others who are further along the path, by the example of Jesus when He lived among us, and certainly by the written Word of God. Whenever traveling in a new area, it is nice to have known markers to have as a guide in knowing the proper direction to continue. Having someone further along the journey who is willing to leave bread crumbs can help those who come along behind. Of course, true discipleship is walking alongside of another, but we are all following the bread crumbs of someone who has gone before us.

It is acknowledged that bread crumbs are used by many to know how to backtrack out of a situation as well, and while that possibility may be pertinent at certain points on this blog, the primary purposes are the two pieces from each of the preceding paragraphs.

So, welcome to the new blog home of Fairfax Baptist Church. May it encourage you, comfort you, inspire you, and challenge you on your journey through this life. May the bread crumbs left by others guide us to learn to walk with God more faithfully. And may we learn to leave bread crumbs behind so that others will learn to walk more faithfully as well.