Posted by Bob Bardeen, August 18, 2016
Two weeks ago, we reviewed the four requests that Paul gave Timothy: Timothy’s return to Rome, Mark’s return to Rome, his cloak from Troas, and his scrolls (scripture). Last week, we learned about three gifts from the Spirit of God: power, love, and self-discipline, plus a warning to not permit tough circumstances stop Timothy, but instead have courage and hope.
Today, we consider Paul’s view of scripture in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV).
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Notice the goal of scripture: so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped. Knowing the Bible is not an end in itself. We do not study scripture so that we just know scripture! No, we spend time with scripture, reading and studying, that we can be equipped. Our goal is to make disciples! Jesus makes that aim as part of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19): Therefore go and make disciples of all nations. And thus, we become equipped for every good work.
That last phrase in verse 17 reminds me of Ephesians 2:10 when Paul proclaims the basis of our salvation (8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.) and then shows the consequences of our salvation, namely good works. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. We are not saved by good works, but our saving relationship with Jesus Christ brings forth good works.
Now look at the opening phrase of our passage today: All Scripture is God-breathed. That is such a delightful statement! God breathes his breath into scripture. Through the Holy Spirit, scripture become alive. We are not alone when we read and study scripture. The Spirit of truth (John 15:26, 16:13) guides us and reminds us what Jesus Christ teaches.
In his commentary on 2 Timothy, John Stott writes: “It (scripture) originated in God’s mind and was communicated from God’s mouth by God’s breath or Spirit. It is therefore rightly termed ‘the Word of God,’ for God spoke it. Indeed, as the prophets used to say, ‘the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.’”
Lasting, all scripture is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness. God’s word is profitable (as RSV puts it) for our instruction. The soft words in the list of four are teaching and training, and the hard words are rebuking and correcting. The profit of scripture relates to both creed and conduct. It gets our thinking in tune with God’s truth and it gets our behavior in line as well.
“Indeed,” Stott says again, “scripture is the chief means which God employs to bring us to maturity.”
To be frank, sometimes we need to be taught or trained, but at other times we need God’s Word to strongly rebuke or correct us. May we be close to the Lord during those times!
Father in heaven: bless us with the knowledge of scripture that we could grow into the likeness of your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, both in thought and deed. Amen