2 Timothy 3: 16-17
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
By now, you know of my invitation to read through the Bible this year. I hope you have invited your friends and family! I hope you have your Bible ready! As I have previously said, I use the One Year Bible. I have used the NIV version for many years. This year I will use the NLT version. Any version is fine. Or use your regular Bible and find an online daily guide to get through the whole Bible in a year.
Today I want to prep us for our reading through the Bible. I want us to think about the “why” of this endeavor. Stop for a moment and read the above verse, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 aloud.
Let’s use this verse as our reason. This verse captures the reason we want to do this. The reason we will commit to reading and studying and being inspired by the Author of everything. So let’s break it down.
All scripture. This means the whole Bible, both Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament gets a bad rap sometimes. It is filled with history and laws and customs that can be confusing and sometimes downright boring. However, if we take the time to study it out, we will find that the Old Testament is key to truly understanding the New Testament. The Old Testament is Jesus concealed, the New Testament is Jesus revealed. But both parts of the Bible are vital in discovering the life-changing truths our hearts long to know.
God-breathed. This truth needs to stay in the forefront of minds. I love to hear and quote many wonderful authors from many different backgrounds. C.S. Lewis, Spurgeon, Tim Keller, Francis Frangipane, Oswald Chambers … these are some of my favorites. God does equip and inspire many people to share their experiences and insight. But only the Bible is God-breathed. Only the Bible is the final word.
Is useful. These two words are a comfort and a challenge to me. These two words tell me that The Bible is for me today. It is not just a history book. It will help me day in and day out. It will bring wisdom and comfort and strength and hope. It will give me the mind of Christ. It is useful for me each day, and is not a waste of time.
For teaching. I remember clearly when I was nine or ten my mom telling me to sweep the floor after dinner. I did that, and then went out to play. A little while later, I heard, “Sara Stevens Williams, get back in here!” Of course, I went immediately, because when I heard that tone I knew there was no messing around! When I went in the kitchen, with much fear and trepidation, she said, “I thought I told you to sweep the floor!” I said, “I did, Mama.” And she began to point out all the places that I had missed. I can remember tearfully saying, “But Mama, you never showed me how.” At that point she took the broom, showed me how to hold it, showed me how to get under the cabinets, and pointed out all the spots to look for crumbs. That was instruction. Now I’m sure she thought I was old enough to have understood that all by myself, and maybe I could have, but after that night I never had another excuse not to do a good job, because now I knew how to do a good job. After instruction comes discipline, not before. However, it is our responsibility to discover God’s instruction through reading and studying His Word. He has given us a complete instruction manual but we must read it.
For rebuking. My mother was extremely loving and a pretty strict disciplinarian. She kindly instructed, but then was wise to rebuke or discipline me when I did not follow the instructions. After my instruction of floor sweeping, she expected me to follow through on the instruction. This is rebuke. God has provided the proper rebuke in His Word when we stray from His path. And we all will stray, just as all children disobey at times.
For correcting. Sometimes, we unknowingly disobey. We unknowingly cause harm or hurt. The correction in His Word woos us to realign our hearts in every word and deed. The small things become big things if not dealt with properly and immediately. The Holy Spirit will correct us through the reading of the Word of God. If we correct our course, we will not need the more severe rebuke. We should keep short accounts with the Lord, and pray that our hearts are soft and pliable, quick to discern the course corrections which the Holy Spirit whispers through God’s Word.
For training in righteousness. Now, I am grown and responsible for my own floor sweeping. I am finally a great floor sweeper! And I am responsible for training my children to become great floor sweepers themselves. Martin Luther King’s said: “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” I believe this is an accurate description for being trained in righteousness.
Why? So that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. Then, we are ready to go out and serve others with our sweeping.
My favorite phrase in this passage is “thoroughly equipped”. This is a promise for all believers. Scripture will provide what we need. We can store it up, hide it in our hearts, and then the Holy Spirit will whisper it to our souls when we need it. We will be thoroughly equipped for every situation, for everything God calls us to, for every trial and temptation. But if we don’t read the Word, study the Word, memorize the word, savor the Word, we will not have the ingredients needed to make us thoroughly equipped. So keep reading, my friends!