stay put

December 1, 2015

the bible

STILL OUR NUMBER ONE QUESTION, KNOWING THE WILL OF GOD, HERE’S ANOTHER RUN AT IT FROM A LITTLE DIFFERENT ANGEL THAN OUR LAST TIME ON THIS SUBJECT.

 

What is the will of God? Fundamentally, for Bible believing Christians, it is what God has revealed in His Word, i.e., the Scriptures. For example 2 Timothy 3:15–17 suggests not only the necessity of Scripture in discerning God’s will, but its adequacy to “make me wise” (3:15) and “thoroughly equip me for every good work” (3:16–17).

 

This clearly suggests to me, as it must have to Timothy, that there is no necessity for God to give me extra biblical revelation to know His will. Necessity is the operative term since God is sovereign and may choose to use anything or do anything to direct the course and character of my life. For example, I may glean insight into life–personally, socially, even spiritually–by simply being sensitive and open to my environment, by reading literature, by common sense and by honestly sharing my life with people. And all this, plus other factors, may contribute to making me a wise, mature and “thoroughly equipped” Christian, but that’s all it is–a contribution, supplemental to the “will of God” revealed in Scripture. It is the central and crucial text of 2 Timothy 3:13–17 that now deserves our attention and expanded commentary concerning the sufficiency of Scripture and knowing God’s will.

 

The Text (NKJV)

 

But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived (2 Timothy 3:13).

 

Our text begins with Paul warning Timothy of “evil men and impostors” who will adorn the religious scene, “deceiving and being deceived.” Earlier in this chapter Paul has illustrated with “Jannes and Jambres” the type of person who leads others astray while being deceived himself. The principle thus emerges: from the conscious deception of others emerges the unconscious deception of oneself.

 

But as for you (Timothy), continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you learned them (2 Timothy 3:14).

 

To avert any tendency to “self-deception” Paul says to Timothy that he needs to remain right where he is regarding the truth. Timothy’s tradition of abiding in the truth was highlighted earlier in 3:10: “But you (Timothy) have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, long-suffering, love, perseverance.” Thus Timothy is to be diligent to remain (endure) in this experience while others (3:13) are deceiving and being led astray down the dangerous road of emotional, spiritual ruin. Another principle emerges namely, “staying in God’s truth is an essential need for Christians today, especially teachers.”

 

And that from childhood you (Timothy) have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:15).

 

With 3:10–11 as a backdrop Paul goes on in this verse to remind Timothy that remaining in God’s truth requires that he cling to his knowledge of the Holy Scriptures. In possessing the Scriptures, we possess that which makes what we have learned a present and viable possession: “the Holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation.”

 

In our day where the spiritual menu offers an elaborate selection of religious ideas and deceptive doctrines we need to depend, more than ever, upon the Word of God in Scripture (sacred writings)! We need constant reminding that they–and they alone–make us wise to that which is most vital and viable to our souls, our eternal destiny and our daily personal relationship to God.

 

But, as Paul goes on to explain, the Scriptures that make us wise for salvation do not end their usefulness there. They are capable of fully and thoroughly equipping us to live a stable, balanced and effective life for God.

 

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16–17).

 

In commenting upon these crucial verses the first truth we observe is that the Scriptures ascribe to themselves divine authorship. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (θεόπνευστος, i.e., God-breathed). Because God is the Author of “all Scripture,” tremendous credence and credibility is given to the assertion that “all Scripture” is profitable (ὠφέλιμος).

 

Profitable for what or whom we ask? Notice first that God’s Scripture is “profitable for doctrine” (διδασκαλίαν). Whatever we NEED to know regarding our belief system and knowledge of God’s will is in Scripture. Second we observe that Scripture is “profitable for reproof” (ελεγμόν). Whatever we NEED exposed or divulged about ourselves the Scripture is capable of so doing (cf. Hebrews 4:12). Thirdly, notice that Scripture is “profitable for correction” (ἐπανόρθωσιν). Thus whatever NEEDS correcting in our attitude, perspective, viewpoint, the Scripture is able to accomplish. Finally we see that the Scripture is “profitable for instruction in righteousness” (παιδείαν). Whatever training or discipline I NEED as a developing, maturing Christian God’s Word provides.

 

The full sufficiency of Scripture in knowing God’s will is enunciated here. Nothing needs to be taught which it does not teach. Nothing needs to be censured which it does not censure. Nothing needs correction that it does not correct. And no training need be given that it does not give.

 

Where does this now take us? The final verse:

 

That the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:17)

 

If I possess God’s Word and what it offers, I possess all I need to be properly prepared for effective Christian experience and service. As I practice its truth I will become increasingly more mature, both spiritually and emotionally, and equipped with a proper and healthy sense of my personal worth and value to other people.

 

Conclusion

 

Do I believe all this? For the record, I do, and we all should! In spite of our failure flawlessly to live up to the lofty standards of these “sacred writings,” they nonetheless offer us a necessary exposure to God’s will for His natural creation and for us. As was true for Paul and Timothy, so it is true for us the Will of God in Scripture is our sufficient resource spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally. We should be deeply grateful for the Scripture and most importantly for its Author. In a day proliferated with false doctrine, deception and wandering from the truth the Scripture is sufficient!

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