2 Timothy 3:14-17
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 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.
All Scripture Is God-Breathed
Crawl into the shoes of the Apostle for just a minute. Paul sits in a Roman jail. He’s not on house arrest like one of his previous imprisonments. This time he sits in a dark, damp, and mildew ridden hole, dug twenty feet into the ground. He’s literally counting the days until execution. Having just written that seasons of terrible times will come, what does he say that will strengthen his reader? “Don’t forget the sacred writings you’ve been acquainted with your whole life. All of it is breathe out by God himself.”
Certainly the Scriptures he is referring to are the books of the Old Testament. When this letter was penned, there was only one established set of Scriptures, but even as the ink to this letter was being laid, another was being established.
From Paul’s very words were coming something God himself was speaking. Peter describes the process of God’s word being delivered to us like this, “men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:21). Peter even equates Paul’s letters with Scripture (2 Peter 3:15-16). Just as Paul writes this letter to Timothy, God was carrying him along by the Holy Spirit, directing the words as He desired. This is the reality of all Scripture; all of it God-breathed through human authors. Peter’s words, Paul’s words, Isaiah’s words; the testimonies of Moses, John, Luke, and Mark; the prophecies of Jeremiah, Daniel, and Jonah; the Psalms of David and proverbs of Solomon; the letters of Jude and James; every human author of Scripture, carried along by one God, revealing his unified mind, character, and intentions for his created world.
All Scripture is Profitable
And so what is enclosed in Scripture, because it is from God is helpful, or profitable. It’s helpful in four ways.
The Scriptures give us strength in troubled times because of their authority. Consider these helpful distinctions of Scripture’s authority:
1. It is not a derived authority bestowed by humans; rather it is the original authority of God.
2. It does not change with the times, the culture, the nation, or the ethnic background; rather it is the unalterable authority of God.
3. It is not one authority among many possible spiritual authorities; rather it is the exclusive spiritual authority of God.
4. It is not an authority that can be successfully challenged or rightfully overthrown; rather, it is the permanent authority of God.
5. It is not a relativistic or subordinate authority; rather it is the ultimate authority of God.
6. It is not merely a suggestive authority; rather it is the obligatory authority of God.
7. It is not a benign authority in its outcomes; rather it is the consequential authority of God.
Why does Scripture’s authority help us in troubled times? What happens when a relationship goes sour? Who do we petition for justice? What about when a society commits atrocities? What grounds do we have to say there is any wrongdoing at all? Scripture stands as a court of appeals to the truth and justice of human activity. It reminds us of the righteous Judge who arbitrates over mankind.
But not only does Scripture stand as an authority over mankind, but it is also “living and active” accomplishing what God wills. The Scriptures are powerful.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth,making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (Isiah 55:8-13)
The authority of Scripture is helpful to us because it is both powerful and stands over mankind judiciously as court of highest appeal.
It’s Without Error
The Scriptures give us strength in troubled times because they are without error. The nature of God is truthfulness. God cannot lie, therefore when God speaks, what is spoken is in truth and without error. “God is not man that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should repent.” (Numbers 23:19). What is most profitable to us is that the Scriptures are able to make us wise unto salvation, through faith in Jesus Christ” (2 Tim 3:15). The Bible does not tell us every fact about every subject, but to where it does speak, it makes no errors regarding fact or truthfulness.
We have a great need for Scripture. Adam, even in his innocence, required God’s direction: And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evilyou shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 3:16-17). But as a result of Adam’s disobedience, the curse of sin rests upon all mankind, our thinking becoming futile and our hearts being darkened. We need Scripture. Where will we get direction for life? How can we find joy? How must we be saved? Scripture is necessary for us, for its truth, its promise, its view of the word. As the Psalmist says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). The Scriptures are “the perfect rule for a good and happy life.”
What’s also necessary for us is the correction and rebuke of Scripture. In the previous post in this series, it was observed that terrible times are the result of selfish men and women. What sets anyone apart from the list described in 2 Timothy 3:1-9? Those who receive the rebuke and correction of Scripture and turn to find life and favor with God through Jesus Christ. God blesses his word to set straight many crooked sticks. We need its teaching, correction, and rebuke.
The Scriptures are helpful because the meaning of Scripture is accessible to the ordinary reader. God did not intend for his word to be cryptic, but for it to be understood. It’s not only the scholar that may understand God’s word. It is a great blessing that God give teachers of his Word to the world. But what would happen to the church if most believers gave up reading the Bible and only listened to Bible teachers or read books about the Bible? What would happen to your personal reading of Scripture if you thought only Scholars could understand the Bible rightly? We are helped by God, because the message of Scripture can be understood by the ordinary reader.
All Scripture Exists to Equip God’s People
And so as this section concludes, how will Timothy face the terrible season he is in? How will God use Timothy in the midst of the difficulty? The Scriptures will benefit him in making him complete, ready and equipped for good works.
Are you facing terrible times? God desires that you would be strengthened to endure them; even find victory in them. He does so through his Word. Let us turn to these Scriptures continually.
I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word. (Psalm 119:15-16)