Thursday, July 27, 2023

2023.07.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Timothy 3:16–17

Read 2 Timothy 3:16–17

Questions from the Scripture text: How much of Scripture is 2 Timothy 3:16 talking about? How did it come to be? What is the primary characteristic that it gets from this inspiration? For what four things is it profitable? For whom is it given (2 Timothy 3:17)? What does it do to him? What does it equip him to do? 

Why can Christians be sure that the Scriptures will make them wise unto salvation? 2 Timothy 3:16–17 looks forward to the second serial reading of morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these two verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that Christians can be sure that the Scriptures will make them wise unto salvation, because they are God’s Word for doing God’s work in God’s man for God’s man’s works. 

God’s Word. Why can the Christian be sure that the words inscribed (inscripturated) on the pages of the Bible will make him “wise unto salvation” as 2 Timothy 3:15 said? Because it is God’s. It was Christ from Whom he learned (2 Timothy 3:14), whether by use of an apostle (2 Timothy 3:10), or by use of grandparents and parents (2 Timothy 3:15a), or by use of whomever the Lord used to bring that Christian to faith and grow him in faith. 

The Scriptures will work because they are His; they will work because all Scripture is God-breathed (a more literal translation than NKJ’s “inspiration”), God-Spirited (same word as “breath”). God the Holy Spirit has produced Scripture from God (particularly from God the Son, the Word, cf. John 1:1–14). It is as much His direct speaking to us as if He were physically with us, breathing out words the way that we each speak words to each other. It is as unbreakable as His Word, as truthful as He is (cf. John 10:35; Titus 1:2). Inerrancy and authority belong to God’s Word, simply because it is His.

For doing God’s work. The God-breathed words of the Bible are living and active (cf. Hebrews 4:12). The Word of God effectively works in those who believe (cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:13). So, 2 Timothy 3:16 gives us not just how to employ and respond to the Bible, but the certainty that it will work, the certainty that Scripture that will be useful, the certainty that Scripture will be (in the very words of verse 16) “profitable” in precisely the ways that verse 16 says. God’s Word. God’s work. God’s way. 

So first, we are to develop teaching from the Bible; we are to form doctrine. Let this verse end all complaints about forming a system of teaching from the Bible. The Scriptures are God’s Word, and His way of working is to make them profitable for doctrine. Second, we should be reproved by the Bible. It painfully tells us where we are wrong, and we receive that painful identification of the ways that we think wrongly and act wrongly. But the Scripture doesn’t merely point out where we are crooked in “reproof”; it also sets us straight in “correction.”  And once we are straight, it directs us in the way that we are going in “training” (a more literal rendering than NKJ’s “instruction”) in righteousness. As the old saying goes, “the Bible is a doing book” (cf. James 1:21–27). The Lord Who works in us by His grace has designed to do that Scripture-work by way of doctrine, reproof, correction, and training.

In God’s man. 2 Timothy 3:17 begins, “that the man of God”… it reminds us that we have more reason to use the Bible in this way than just that it is God’s Word. The Christian must use the Bible in God’s way because he is God’s man. We do not belong to ourselves. This is not only obligation (it most certainly is obligation!) but encouragement. God, Who has taken me to be His, will surely provide for me according to the same love in which He has been pleased to take me as His own. It’s not just me attending to His Word; it is He, using His Word to work in me! His desire is that “the man of God may be complete.” He Who has begun His work in us will be faithful to complete it.

For God’s man’s works. What is God’s purpose for the use of the Scripture, as He “completes” the man of God? His purpose is that the man of God would be “thoroughly equipped for every good work.” God has prepared good works for His man to walk in. This is the purpose for which He has saved us by grace,  the reason that He created us in Christ Jesus, that we would do “good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (cf. Ephesians 2:10). God’s man doesn’t exist for himself; he exists for God’s works, for good works. But where will he learn what these works are? From Scripture, he can learn the principles that will identify for him every good work. And how can he prepare for these good works? For every single good work, the Scripture will thoroughly equip him. Scripture is sufficient because the Lord has decided that it would be.

What a wonderful Scripture is! It is God’s Word, working in God’s man, and thoroughly equips him for every good work!

When and how do you receive the Scripture? Who has spoken to you the words in the Scriptures, and Who speaks to you by those words? What four ways should you be responding to the Bible? In which of these do you most need to grow? What’s the point of all of this attending to Scripture and being reproved, corrected, and trained by it?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You that You have given us Your own words in the Scripture. We are desperately in need of reproof. Forgive us for how we resist the smarting pain of that reproof. Forgive us for not wanting to make the corrections when Your word sets us straight. Forgive us for wishing that Your Word would give us what we want, rather than training us to do what You want. Grant that we would not only be thoroughly equipped for every work, but that we would also pursue doing every good work. Make us to think of ourselves as Your own people, we ask in the Name of Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP19B “The LORD’s Most Perfect Law” or TPH119E “Tell Me, O LORD, Your Way of Truth” 

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