Summary: A sermon on the reason we study the Bible. i.e., "so that" the man of God might be equipped for every good work.
Good morning. Happy New Year! I suspect some of you might be working on some goals. Some of you may be thinking about getting serious about saving some money so you can buy that new car, that new house, that new set of golf clubs. Right? Some of you are maybe thinking about taking a class or just beginning to read up on some particular topic so that at the end of the year or in a few months you may be able to get some sort of a new occupation, a new job. Then I suspect that there are some people who are here today that are like me that decide it is time to get serious about a health routine so that a month from now these nice new Christmas clothes will still fit me. Some of you also may be thinking about actually making this the year that you are going to study the Bible. You are going to study the Bible like we see in 2 Timothy in order that you may be equipped by the end of the year to be able to do the good works that God has in store for you.
So let’s start now by opening our Bibles to 2 Timothy 3:16 if you would like. A little bit of a refresher on where we are at and where we have been. We just got through December through all the Christmas festivities, and now we are returning back to our core values. Our four core values of worship, discipleship, outreach, and community. Today, we are revisiting the value of discipleship. A disciple is simply a learner like a student. We are students of the word and we are students of Jesus Christ. In many ways, we are disciples of other people. So we are going to return to this idea of discipleship. You may recall, if you were here back in October when we talked about discipleship, I said that the most important tool for a disciple is the Bible. We talked a little bit about the importance of that. Today, we are going to continue on with that idea of the importance of the Bible and particularly how the Bible can ensure that we are well equipped to deal with anything that we face in our own lives and in the culture.
A little bit of background before we go into this passage. You may recall that the apostle Paul was kind of like a mentor to Timothy. Some believe that actually Paul would have converted Timothy to Christianity. Paul saw a lot of potential in Timothy, so he allowed Timothy to go with Paul on various missionary journeys. Basically, Timothy would follow Paul around all through Asia. Consequently, he would be able to see Paul as Paul encountered opposition from the Romans. Paul encountered opposition from the pagans and from the cults out there. He would have been with Paul when Paul went into the marketplace and began to preach about this new thing called the gospel. He would have been with Paul when Paul went into the synagogue to demonstrate to the Jewish people how the gospel links to their Old Testament writings. Timothy would have been with Paul when Paul was starting new churches, those house churches back in that first century. In this particular letter, it is believed that Paul was actually in prison in Rome at this time. Actually, he was awaiting execution under the hands of the Roman emperor Nero. That is the situation here. Timothy at this particular time was believed to be in the area of Ephesus and was involved in basically a start-up church. So now Timothy was beginning to experience a lot of the same things that Paul was dealing with. He was dealing with these negative outside influences from the different competing religions and the competing gods and goddesses out there. He was also dealing with some internal divisions and some internal conflicts and also dealing with some internal false teachings that somehow had found their way into the church. So that is the situation here. Timothy is becoming quite stressed about the situation, so this letter that Paul writes from prison is kind of meant to be an encouragement to Timothy. We can’t look farther back, but basically, Paul is telling Timothy, you know, listen I understand what you have been through. You know that I have been through the same things, so he encourages Timothy to just remain steadfast. Stay focused on the faith. He says don’t forget the things that you were taught as a child. Don’t forget the Holy Scriptures because that will become your primary tool to be able to deal with the conflicts from outside and from within.
That brings us to our verse today where Paul then says, the verse that we hold to as far as the inspiration of God, that “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.” This is the passage I want to talk about today. I want to consider a few of these words. First of all, the idea of God-breathed. We look at that and we say what does that mean? What does God-breathed mean? At a minimum what it means is that when we talk about the scripture, the Old and the New Testament, we are saying that we are dealing with a special book. That is why we call it the Holy Bible. It is a special book. More than that, we believe that the book is an inspired book. Somehow, when the writers were logging down their entries on the scrolls years and years ago, they were inspired by God. What they wrote was truth. In many ways, when we open the Bible even today, it is the very words of God that we are looking at. We use the words like inspiration. We use the words like God-breathed. The question that a lot of people ask is exactly how did that work. How was the Bible inspired by God? That is the big question because really there is a lot of debate exactly what it means when somebody says that the Bible is inspired. There are several theories of what is called inspiration, but really they boil down to three primary theories.