2 Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
As we wait to celebrate the coming of the Messiah at Christmas we need to take the time to be equipped to follow him in our lives. I have many times heard and read verse 16 quoted as defining the value and purpose of the bible in discipleship. However, I cannot remember verse 17 being expanded upon. The reason for reproof, correction and training is to equip his disciples in every way for good work. What might these good works include? Amongst other things it includes the use of our money, (Philippians 4.18) the praise and worship of God, (Hebrews 13.15) charitable works, (Hebrews 13.16) as well as sharing the gospel and spiritual ministry. (Romans 15.16) Whatever the good works are Paul is clear, it is scripture that prepares us for them and is the tool used by the Spirit of Christ to equip us for the life and task.
Paul opens the chapter with a devastating description of the pervading culture of the time that he calls the ‘last days.’ 2 Timothy 3.1-5 He means by the last days, the period between Pentecost and Jesus’ second coming. He describes a culture dominated by many people who he compares to Jannes and Jambres. These refer to Egyptian magicians who opposed Moses before Pharaoh, prior to the exodus. He was warning Timothy that this is the world he lives in and this is the level of opposition that exists to godly living and God’s will. Avoid such people, he warns Timothy. He cannot mean by that do not engage in terms of the gospel and ministry as Jesus spent a great deal of time with those who were looked down on in society and people who were not yet believers. He may well have been particularly concerned about avoiding people who were trying to draw believers back into godless practices and away from discipleship. The enemy within. 2 Timothy 3.5-7
Paul offers Timothy two antidotes, firstly the example of his own discipleship through persecution and suffering and secondly the power of the word of God. In describing the bible as God breathed it captures the image, when reading, reflecting, meditating and learning from it, of breathing in God’s Spirit. It has often been said that two miracles need to occur for us to learn from scripture. God needs to inspire it and then he needs to inspire our learning of it. Godly learning is not always easy because it involves both reprimand and correction. We have not learnt well it if it has not included repentance. However, scripture also builds us up through teaching, training us in Christ like living. When the Spirit is using scripture in this way he is making us complete and able to live for him. Oh what joy!
What value do we as individuals and as a church place on learning from the bible?
Are we prepared to accept the discipline of the Spirit through the words of scripture?
Every Promise of Your Word – Keith and Kristyn Getty