Preach the Word!

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
2 Timothy 4:1-4 ESV

I’m not always a big fan of chapter divisions in the Bible.

Yes, they are helpful for finding passages quickly, but they can sometimes hinder our proper understanding of the Word by causing us to subconsciously separate connected thoughts. The first four verses of 2 Timothy chapter four is one of those cases. Paul did not originally write this letter to Timothy with chapter divisions or verse numbers. He just wrote a letter, and if we read it like a letter, we will quickly realize that he is applying the truths that he stated in verses sixteen and seventeen of the last chapter.

Because all Scripture is inspired, profitable, and sufficient, Paul commands Timothy to preach the Word, but the command is not alone. The apostle prefaces his charge to his disciple by declaring that it is being made in the presence of God and Jesus Christ. He does this to emphasize the divine element of the command. It is not Paul’s idea for Timothy to preach the Word; it is God’s. Paul is simply the messenger.

Because God is driving the command to preach, we must not take preaching lightly. Reprove, rebuke, and exhort should immediately call to mind the profitability of Scripture. Though we can (and should) allow the Scriptures to teach, reprove, correct, and train us individually, the primarily vehicle for profiting from Scripture is through hearing it preached.

The regular, faithful preaching of the Scriptures should be a key focus of all followers of Christ. Since through preaching we are taught the sufficient, profitable, and inspired Bible, we are able to rightly call preaching the Word a means of communal discipleship. By hearing the Word preached, we learn more about the God who authored it, and we learn how to better follow Christ. Preaching makes disciples, and disciples of Christ should love to hear the Word preached.

Unfortunately, many people prefer to “accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions” turning away from the truth and chasing after myths. There are many false teachers who improperly use the Bible to tell people what they want to hear, and in many ways, they are judgment of God. We must be careful not to assign the blame entirely to false teachers. They only exist because people want to follow after lies. False teachers give the people what they want, and if we are not wary, we can become our own false teacher. Many claim the name of Christ, but never attend church because they believe that they can read the Bible and know God themselves. Though avoiding community does not guarantee false doctrine, it almost always leads to it. We are not meant to follow Christ alone, and we are not meant to interpret the Bible alone. When we read the Bible entirely apart from other believers, we risk avoiding what we do not want to hear. We, in essence, become our own false teacher. We need to hear the faithful, expository preaching of the Word. We need to be in a congregation with other believers, where we have elders who hold firm to the trustworthy Word, instructing sound doctrine and rebuking false doctrine. (Titus 1:9)

But the work of interpretation is not entirely upon the preacher, the congregation of believers must also hold the him accountable to sound doctrine. In Acts, Luke writes this about the Bereans in this way:

Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. (Acts 17:11)

Notice that Luke was not annoyed or offended that the Bereans fact-checked everything that him and Paul preached to them; instead, he commended them for doing so! A pastor whose heart is to see the congregation grow in their love of God and His Word will likewise rejoice to find the church daily searching the Scriptures to make sure that his preaching is correct.

For these reasons, regular attendance of the Sunday morning worship service is one of the primary expectations of a member at Western Meadows. Because we value the Scriptures as God’s Word and value making disciples as Jesus command to every believer, followers of Jesus Christ should desire to sit often under the proclamation of His Word.

Sufficient: completed & equipped by the Scriptures

that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:17 ESV

Though Paul does not use the word, sufficient well describes the message of verse 17. Once we know that all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for us, we are now ready to learn that it is sufficient for bringing us to completion and equipping us for every good work. Let us, therefore, examine these two effects of Scripture more closely.

First, all Scripture is sufficient for completing the man of God.

What might Paul mean by becoming complete? His letter to the Philippians might offer us a clue: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6) Since day of Jesus Christ is a reference to Jesus’ second coming, Paul encouraged the Philippians that God who first saved them would complete their salvation on the last day. This verse contains allusions to the entirety of the salvation, which occurs on three fronts: past, present, and future. First, our salvation occurs in the past through what is called justification. When justified, God imputes the righteousness of Christ onto us, legally declaring us to be righteous. Our salvation is also occurring in the present through the process of sanctification. Being sanctified means continually growing conformity to the image of Christ, everyday walking closer to Him. Our future salvation is called glorification. Upon our death or Christ’s return, God will give to us a glorified body that is no longer corrupted by sin. Justification destroys the legal power of sin over us, sanctification is our present and continued battle against sin, and glorification is how God grants us final victory over sin. Bringing God’s first work to completion means that God will be faithful to carry us from justification to glorification. And God uses Scripture to do so. It is through God’s Word that the man of God becomes complete, not apart from it. We need His inspired Scriptures to continue forming us into His image.

Second, all Scripture is sufficient for equipping the man of God for every good work.

Though good works do not save us, God still desires for us to be a people of them. The beauty of the gospel ought to produce within us the hunger for good works. For example, elsewhere Paul writes that Jesus “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” (Titus 2:14) He also claims that God created us “for good works” and ordained for us to walk in them. (Ephesian 2:10) Of course, James also famously stated that “faith apart from works is dead.” (James 2:26) The point is that good works are still important for God’s people, and the Scriptures are meant to equip us for them.

Paul writes a similar thought about God’s giving of leaders to the church: “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-12) The work of ministry ultimately belongs to every Christian, and God gives each congregation leaders to equip the saints for their task. Since we know that we have each received the call to make disciples, we also realize that God provides church elders to equip the church by instructing them in the Scriptures. The Word is sufficient for equipping us to make disciples.

All Scripture Is Profitable

All Scripture is… profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness
2 Timothy 3:16 ESV

After informing us that all Scripture is inspired by God, Paul lists the second truth about Scripture: it is profitable. When it comes to owning a business, profit is great. Making profit is the only means of sustaining a business. When Paul speaks of Scripture being profitable, we could also use synonyms like helpful, valuable, or advantageous. In essence, we need Scripture, and we should want it. It is beneficial to us.

Why is Scripture profitable to us?

Paul gives us four answers to that question.

First, all Scripture is profitable for teaching.

This is the same root word from which we get the word doctrine, which are the teachings of Scripture. As noted previously because the Scriptures are the revealed Word of God, they primarily teach us about God. We come to the Scriptures in order that we may know God. If He is the one who breathed them out, He did so that we may know Him.

It is pretentiousness of the highest order to claim to know God without reading His Word. We cannot be a people who know God if we never hear what He has to say about Himself. If we speak of God without the teaching of Scripture to guide us, we either put words in God’s mouth or we create for ourselves a false god within our own imagination. All Scripture is profitable for teaching us what God is like.

Second, all Scripture is profitable for reproof.

This is not a fun one at all. Reproof literally means to convict us of sin or to show us our faults. To be honest, it is not my default setting to ask God during my devotion times, “Lord would you reprove me through Your Word this morning? God, please speak to me here and show me the areas of my life where I am wrong.” My natural inclination is not to pray things like that. Yet Paul is listing reproof as one of the chief benefits of Scripture.

In the book of Hebrews, we find reproof to be part of the God’s discipline process: “And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.’” (Hebrews 12:5) In fact, God sees this discipline as so necessary that He establishes it as one of the primary responsibilities of church pastors: “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also rebuke those who contradict it.” (Titus 1:9) God as our Father rebukes and convicts of sin, and He places church leaders in place as instruments to do so as well.

Many of us have false views that have come about through human tradition. Angels are a great example. While statues of angels as chubby babies are quite popular, the biblical truth is that angels are terrifying. Nearly every time someone in the Bible meets an angel, they need to immediately be told not to fear. Angels are not cute and cuddly. They are glorious and frightening. It is, therefore, important that we allow Scripture to combat our false thinking. If we do not allow Scripture to reprove us, we will never reap the benefits of the next point.

Third, all Scripture is profitable for correction.

You cannot be corrected of something until you first become aware that you need correcting. Reproof and correction go hand-in-hand. Correction literally means to be straighten up again. Imagine a picture frame that has fallen over and needs to be set up again. That is the notion of correction. In many areas, we are wrong, and we need to be corrected.

If we truly value the Scriptures as God’s Word, we will humbly approach them, asking the LORD to show us our errors and how to correct them. The LORD will never leave us with the conviction of sin alone. He will always provide in His Word the means of correction.

Fourth, all Scripture is profitable for training in righteousness.

Hebrews 12 translates this word as discipline. God lovingly disciplines us toward righteousness because we are His sons and daughters. Likewise, Paul uses this word in Ephesians 6:4, where he charges fathers to raise their children in the discipline and instruction of the LORD. Anyone with any degree of serious commitment to sports knows the value of training. Without the repetitive conditioning of the body throughout the week, no one would be able to play their best in an actual game. Training is not always pleasant, but it is necessary.

The goal of the Christian is to be holy as God is holy. We desire to live a righteous life in the likeness of Jesus Christ. John the Baptist’s prayer must be the prayer of every follower of Christ: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30) Everyday we should long to be conformed ever more into the image of Christ. Scripture is the vehicle for this process. The Bible trains us toward being more and more like Christ.

What Is Biblical Inspiration?

All Scripture is breathed out by God…
2 Timothy 3:16 ESV

Before we address what Paul means by Scripture being breathed out by God, we must first identify what we mean by the word Scripture. At its simplest, the word scripture means a writing, some form of written document. The Apostle Paul is using it as a title for what many of us today call the Bible (which means book). The Word of God is also an appropriate title, and the Old Testament is fond of calling it the Law. So the Bible, Scripture, Word of God, and the Law are all titles for the same collection of ancient literature that we Christians value greatly.

You may also note that Paul refers to the Bible as Scripture (singular), but they are also called the Scriptures (plural) just as often. In fact, Jesus Himself tended to use the singular and plural pretty interchangeably. I think this is because the Bible is both a collection of books and one single book.

With sixty-six books, the Bible is a library, divided into two parts: the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Containing thirty-nine books, the Old Testament is significantly larger than the New, and many considered to be much more difficult to read. However, the Old Testament’s story can be easily read in the following books: Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, Ezra, and Nehemiah. Those eleven books form the overall narrative, from creation to the restoration of Jerusalem. Beyond that, the Old Testament can be divided into three categories: the Torah (Hebrew for Law), the Writings, and the Prophets. The Torah consists of the first five books of the Bible, authored by Moses. Psalms, Proverbs, and the other poetic books compose the Writings. The oracles of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Jonah, and others fill the largest section, the Prophets.

There is a four-hundred-year gap between the Old and New Testament. The New Testament opens with the four Gospels. These are each accounts of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The presence of four books that tell the same story should point to the importance and centrality of their message.

Jesus is the focus of the entire Bible.

The Old Testament looked forward to Him, the Gospels proclaim Him, and the rest of the New Testament is a reflection upon what He did and will do.

But why do we need four Gospels?

We can think of the Gospels as being different portraits of Jesus. They all tell the same narrative but from a slightly different angle. Matthew paints Jesus as the Jewish Messiah, coming to establish the eternal kingdom of heaven on earth. Mark depicts Jesus as the suffering servant, coming in authority to lay down His life for others. Luke pictures Jesus as the Son of Man, who reaches out to the poor, sick, and outcast with healing, grace, and mercy. John portrays Jesus as the Son of God, the divine Word of God who eternally existed with God, as God, and has now come into humanity on a mission to redeem us.

Acts is the only other narrative work in the New Testament. It describes the growth of the church and how they, through the Holy Spirit, continue the ministry of Jesus as His body. Romans through Philemon are letters written by the apostle Paul to churches or individuals. Hebrews is a letter/sermon of unknown authorship that explains the Old Testament’s completion in Christ. James through Jude are letters named after their respective authors. Finally, Revelation is a book of prophesy concerning the end of everything. It contains many allusions to Genesis because it the completion and closing of all the Scriptures.

What Is Inspiration?

The most recent books of the Bible were written nearly two thousand years ago, while many Old Testament books were even written thousands of years before those. But even though the Scriptures were written by various authors over thousands of years in a plethora of genres, there is unifying thread that weaves them all into one book: their Source.

While men like Moses, Ezra, Paul, or John are considered biblical authors, Peter tells us that no “Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophesy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20-21) Notice the phrase carried along by the Holy Spirit. Moses may have physically written Genesis, but the Holy Spirit guided him to write what was needed.

This process of the Holy Spirit carrying along the biblical authors is called the inspiration of the Bible. The Scriptures were written by men but inspired by God, or as Paul says to Timothy, they are breathed out by God. A literal translation would be that all Scripture is God-breathed. The LORD breathed the Scriptures into existence, using the human authors as instruments.

This does not mean that God overrode the authors individual writing styles. Paul writes different than Moses, Peter, or John. But it does mean that there is unity to the whole because ultimately each book is written by God, which makes each book of the Bible feel similar to one another. Exodus and Romans could not be more different, and yet they have a similar gravitas, a paralleling significance. If we consider Clement’s letter to the Corinthians, the familiarity becomes more identifiable.

Clement was a pastor in Rome, who was born in 35 AD, placing him roughly in the generation below the apostles. Living in the time of Jesus’ disciples, Clement wrote a letter to the Corinthian church that may have been finished before the book of Revelation. Thus, you would expect this letter to have much the same feel as the New Testament letters, and yet though Clement’s letter is beneficial and worth reading, one can feel that the Old Testament books are more similar to the New Testament letters than Clement’s letter does. This is because for all of its value, Clement’s letter is not Scripture. God did not breathe it out, and it noticeably does not contain the same weight as the books of Scripture do.

The Bible is ultimately God’s book, His Word breathed out to humanity about Himself. The Scriptures reveal His will, character, and commands for us, and they teach us who He is. They are for our benefit. This means that they are very much the actual Word of God; thus, as we read the Bible, we are hearing God speak to us.

Our value for the Scriptures is enormous; however, they do not themselves grant us eternal life. Instead, the Bible reveals to us the God who holds eternal life. The Bible’s infinite value comes because it is our means of knowing God.

Before concluding this post, we need to pause and consider one more thing.

If Paul truly does mean that ALL Scripture is inspired by God, then we have the duty to submit ourselves to them regardless of whether we like what they say or not. By believing that every word of Scripture is breathed out by God, we can no longer ignore unpleasant parts of God’s Word. We must face all of it, together as a whole, letting God speak to us. If we do not give the Scriptures the right to contradict and correct us, we will never know the God that authored them. You simply cannot know God without all of Scripture.

I urge you, therefore, to trust the words of the One who also spoke galaxies into existence. Give His Word permission to alter your thinking. You will never regret it.

Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-4:5)

Week 2 | Sermon

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of san evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1-5)

OPENING THOUGHT

Over the course of this series, we are studying why hold to certain values as a church. We began by studying Jesus’ Great Commission to His disciples. As the final commands of Christ, the call to make disciples must permeate everything that we do. Making disciples is our purpose and mission, both as individuals and as the church collective. Because followers of Christ bear the image of their Lord, we seek to fill the earth with His disciples in order that the earth may be filled with Christ’s image and His glory.

We also discussed the question of how to make disciples. This process happens at both an individual and communal level. As individuals, we are called biblically to make disciples in three major ways. First, we live our lives as a witness for Christ. Second, we proclaim the glorious good news that Jesus saves sinners. Third, we teach and train those who have decided to follow Christ. Through witnessing, evangelism, and teaching, we make disciples individually. But discipleship also happens on a communal level as the church, and we will study those more closely today and over the next two weeks.

The first means of discipleship in the church is through the upholding and teaching of Scripture. At Western Meadows, we believe that the Bible is the very Word of God, and we uphold the value that the Scriptures alone are sufficient for teaching us who God is and how to obey Him. Through Paul’s words to Timothy, we will learn why the Bible is so important, how it impacts us today, and why it is necessary for the making disciples.

GROUP DISCUSSION

Read verses 16-17 and discuss the following.

  1. What do we mean when we say that God inspired the Bible? How is the Bible’s trustworthiness tied to its inspiration?
  2. What does it mean for Scripture to be profitable to us? In what ways does Scripture profit us?
  3. How does Scripture equip us for the work of ministry? How does it grow us in sanctification?

Read verses 1-5 and discuss the following.

  1. How does the regular preaching of the Scriptures make disciples within the church?

PERSONAL REFLECTION

Because Scripture profits us through teaching, reproving, correcting, and training us, reflect upon the studied text, and ask yourself the following questions.

  • What has God taught you through this text (about Himself, sin, humanity, etc.)?
  • What sin has God convicted or reproved you of through this text?
  • How has God corrected you (i.e. your theology, thinking, lifestyle, etc.) through this text?
  • Pray through the text, asking God to train you toward righteousness by conforming you to His Word.

How Should We Read Genealogies in the Bible?

As I approach Luke 3 for preaching this week, I find myself staring down upon one of the dreaded begats found throughout the Bible. As a pastor, I am uncertain if I am allowed to say this, but the genealogies in the Bible can be pretty boring. Often, they are simply scattered throughout certain places, yet occasionally, we find ourselves reading texts like the first nine chapters of 1 Chronicles and end up wanting to curl into a little ball out of boredom.

Though I believe that it is fine to admit our lack of enthusiasm for particular parts of Scripture, we must do so with 2 Timothy 3:16-17 in mind. Therein, the apostle Paul writes, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” These verses remind us that genealogies are a piece of Scripture and, therefore, are just as Spirit-inspired as any other text from the Bible. But notice that Paul does not stop at inspiration, he also claims that all Scripture is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training. Once more, genealogies are not exempt from this statement. The genealogy of Jesus in Luke 3 is just as much God-breathed Scripture as, for example, the Christ hymn of Colossians.

Of course, it is one thing to claim that genealogies are profitable for teaching and such, but it is another entirely trying to figure out how to profit from them. I aim, therefore, not to leave you simply with the truth that genealogies are important; rather, I hope to give some guidance for understanding their presence in Scripture and how to study them well.

1. They Remind Us of the Bible’s Historicity

The Bible is not a book of ancient myths and folk tales, as some may read it; instead, we believe that the Scriptures are completely accurate portrayals of history. Reading the Bible’s genealogies can help remind us of the Bible’s historicity. We may find it boring to read about some guy named Maath or Mahalaleel, but in seeing their names, we should remember that they were living, breathing people that walked this earth.

2. They Show That God Keeps His Promises

We are told repeatedly throughout the Bible that the promises of God are true, yet sometimes we have difficulty seeing them as such. Often in the Scriptures, God’s promises are not fulfilled within one generation. Look at Abraham, for example. Yes, God did accomplish the promise of giving him a son within his life; however, he died having never seen the great multitude that came from him nor did he ever possess the land promised to him. These do not make the promises of God untrue; rather, God fulfilled them over the course of many generations. Genealogies can aid us in understanding that God is faithful, even if we do not see some workings in our lifetime.

3. They Reflect the Nature of Life

This one is a little bit Ecclesiastes-esque, but hear me out. Viewing a list of generations should remind us of the brevity of life. Even though some men in Genesis lived for over nine hundred years, the fact is that all of them are now dead. Regardless of our age, power, wealth, or status, each of us will face the same end. Very, very few of us will ever be remembered in a substantial way. Some of us might be fortunate enough to have our name in a list for future generations. Most of us, however, will pass through this life, leaving behind little or nothing to be remembered.

Of course, this does not have to be terribly depressing. As followers of Christ, we do not live life for our own glory or legacy; instead, we are more interested in furthering the fame of Jesus. Countless Christians have died and been forgotten on earth, but because of their work for the kingdom of God, their lives were not wasted or without meaning. Thus, genealogies can also be a reminder for us to disciple others, so that the glory of Christ might be known throughout each generation.

4. They Give Us a Bird’s Eye View of Grace

Genealogies also provide for us a large lens for viewing the grace of God. For example, Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew lists people like Ruth and Rahab. Ruth was foreigner from the pagan Moabites, and Rahab was a prostitute. Yet through the grace of God, both of these women became a part of the lineage of Jesus! Our view of grace, however, is not limited to individuals. Genealogies also show the breadth of God’s common grace upon humanity. Even through generations of sin, we might find times when God would be completely justifiable in issuing another flood-level wipeout; however, generation after generation, we find our God patiently bearing with us.

5. They Are Ultimately Pointing to Jesus

This is the most important aspect to understand regarding genealogies. In listing the generations of people, we see the storyline of the Bible unfold. From Adam to Joseph, God promised a savior to the humanity. After the Fall, God told Adam that this savior would be the offspring of woman. Abraham was promised that all the nations of the earth would be blessed through his offspring. God, further, declared that David’s offspring would sit upon the throne forever. Jesus is the fulfillment of all of these. The end and goal of the entire Bible, really of all of history, is Jesus, and genealogies display God’s faithfulness is sending Christ.

The End of the Matter

With that said, one question still stands: will this make genealogies any less boring to read? If we are honest, maybe not, but perhaps, this will help you to see the depth of meaning and grace that can be found within them.