Be People of the Word

2 Timothy 3:16-17

If people of God are to be disciples and make disciples, must be people of the Word. Especially true given the times in which we live, the people who surround us. Remember how Chapter 3 begins: “in the last days perilous times will come.” What does it mean, perilous times? Means we are surrounded by dangers – ideas and statements and ways of thinking and living contrary to God and his laws. Every one of them has potential to sidetrack us, derail our Christian life and witness (not ultimately, but you know what I mean).

Not just the people, its also the purposefully deceptive ideas that are promoted as truth or stated as fact. Find some fossils, taken for granted they’re millions of years old; people look at you funny if you question it. Of course we all worship the same God; who would doubt that? It isn’t right for me but who am I to tell you what to do? SImply showing respect for other people isn’t enough; must also approve of what they believe, their lifestyle choice, their living arrangement. The list is truly endless – for every right belief or principle, thousands of ways to pervert or distort.

So how do we know what is true and good, what should serve as standard by which to compare, to judge everything else? The Christian must go back to beginning presupposition: there is a God and he has spoken to us in his Word. The standard, then, is the Bible. No higher standard, no greater authority than Word of God. Even miraculous signs do not have power to convince where God’s Word fails – remember rich man and Lazarus: “if they don’t hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” Luke 16:27-31

We, then, must be people of the Word: because it is God’s word and comes with his authority; because it is useful and accomplishes his purpose; because it is sufficient for God’s people. We can reach God’s goal for us by following his word; and, that is the only way to achieve holiness.

A. because it is God’s word v.16a authority

when God speaks with purpose, things happen – see Psa. 33:6By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host.”

sometimes when we speak, response is “hold the phone, gotta think about it”; not so when God speaks

the form by which we receive God’s word is not important: his word has come in visions, by audible voice, through prophets, by his Son, through his written word – all carry equal weight of authority to intended audience

authors are inspired – see 2 Pet. 1:21For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

when we say biblical writers were inspired as they spoke or wrote, what does it mean? Means they spoke or wrote what God intended to communicate; were empowered and guided by Holy Spirit as they communicated

Bible is not a product of 40 men’s reasoning and writing abilities alone; they were instruments guided unerringly by God himself

God did not overrule personal style; he did ensure that what they wrote precisely communicated what God intended

and word of God is inspired

the claim Paul makes: all scripture is God-breathed – not just that God directed authors to communicate right ideas, valid principles

the writers of the Bible wrote exactly what God would have written had he chosen to do so right down to precise choice of words

e.g. Jesus said Exodus 3:6 proves the resurrection (Matt. 22:31-32) “And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.”

not “I was”, not “I used to be”, not “I will be”, “I am the God… of people who have died”; must mean they are still living since “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”

all of Bible the word of God

the Law and the Prophets and the Writings and the Gospels and Epistles were not put on probation: let’s see how they do, how well they last, if people keep checking them out of the library

received as word of God from beginning – see 1 Thess. 2:13when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God”

when there’s reference in Bible about Bible, no exceptions made, no distinctions between validity of one part and another

words in red have no greater weight than ones in black; it’s all God’s word

NT has no greater importance or weight of authority than OT; it’s all God’s word

doesn’t contain the word of God, it is the word of God

Jesus himself said: “Scripture cannot be broken”; cannot pit one part of scripture against another, has no weak points, stands or falls as a comprehensive whole

means we must submit to the authority of all of it as from God

I confess that sometimes I come across a text which does not, at first blush, agree with other teachings of Scripture which I have already received—and this startles me for the moment. But one thing is settled in my heart, namely, that I will follow the Scripture wherever it leads me and that I will renounce the most cherished opinion rather than shape a text or alter a syllable of the Inspired Book. It is not mine to make God’s Word consistent, but to believe that it is so! …Sometimes I say to myself, “I did not think to find this Truth to be just so, but as it is so, I must bow. It is rather awkward for my theory, but I must alter my system, for the Scripture cannot be broken.”” CHS

B. because it is useful v.16b

not simply that Bible serves that purpose, was given precisely to accomplish these things

Isa 55.11 when God spoke and his instruments listened and then wrote, God had purpose in mind; God did not simply speak, hope someone would hear and respond

God spoke, knowing how he would accompany his word, how he would apply it to harden or soften as he purposed

God’s purpose is comprehensive – you and I and great-great-great-great-grandchildren just as much a part of it as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob

means God’s word is relevant to all people in all places at all times

useful for these purposes

teaching – God’s word is where we find all truth we need to live pleasing to God

who am I? why am I here? where am I going? how do I know God? how do I please my employer? how do I love my wife? what about raising kids? what do I do about temptation? how should I relate to others? what’s the best way to handle my money? what is acceptable worship?

to live rightly before God, draw closer to God, point others to God, we must know God and have wisdom from God – God has given his word and his Spirit, both are essential

warning – how we’ve gone wrong

Bible doesn’t mince words – calls sin what it is, sin, an offense against a holy God

Bible is like good friend who says “you wanna ruin your life for sure, keep going in that direction”

Bible also makes plain how something seemingly innocent can lead to serious sin

reproof that, when heeded, leads to repentance – turning away from sin

correction – how to go right

common way parents (and others) exasperate children: tell them all they’ve done wrong, not how to do what’s right

God’s word doesn’t make that mistake; if you’ve done this, if you’re in this kind of situation, here’s hope

confess sin, seek forgiveness, be reconciled, depend on God and move forward

discipling – training in righteousness

Jesus told followers work of discipling involves “teaching [others] to observe all he has commanded”

why are churches filled with wimps – spiritual babies, unequipped to stand and serve? the Word no longer central

It seems that down south, some recent excavations for a new highway had contributed to causing a flash flood. Volunteers risked their lives to rescue victims stranded in the deluge. One old man was up to his knees in the fast-rising waters when a rowboat came. “Hop in, we’ll save you!” “No thanks, the Lord will provide.” A short while later, a motor boat was sent to save him. By this time the swirling waters were over his waist, but again he declined: “No thanks, the Lord will provide.”

Soon the water was up to his chin, so a helicopter was dispatched at the last minute. “Climb aboard, this is your last chance!” “Thanks anyway, but I don’t need you, the Lord will provide.” Before the helicopter returned home, the old man was mad as a hornet, banging on the Pearly Gates. He bitterly complained to St. Peter, “The last thing I remember I was in trouble, praying up a storm, so why did you let me drown?”

St. Peter looked at him, shook his head, and explained: “We sent you two boats and a helicopter. What more do you want?”

Sadly, take similar attitude in other circumstances – looking for magic bullet, whiz-bang program instead of what God has provided – his word. Must be people of the word, must be central in church life and all of life.

C. because it is sufficient v.17

accomplishes God’s purpose – ίνα – so that

profitable, useful for a particular purpose – to change the one who is taught by it, submissive to its authority

brings to maturity – complete

only Bible is sufficient to bring person of God to maturity, competent and capable to serve God by serving his people

equips for holiness – good work

Bible equips people of God to live right and serve well by following Christ – “he went about doing good”

equips people of God to draw others to God, making disciples as Lord of the church expects us to do

According to the story, Karl Barth was fielding questions from the audience after a lecture in Rockefeller Chapel on the campus of the University Chicago in 1962. A student stood and asked him if he could summarize his [50 years’] life’s work in theology in one sentence. According to the story a gasp went up from the audience–responding to the student’s perceived audaciousness. Also, according to the story, Barth didn’t skip a beat. He said (paraphrasing) “Yes. In the words of a song I learned at my mother’s knee: ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so’.”

Song may have been written for children but applies to grown-ups, too. We know of love of God, redemption through Christ, closeness of the Holy Spirit and hope of heaven because the Bible tells us so.

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