Sermon on 2 Timothy 3:14-17
15th Sunday after Pentecost
Continue in the Word!
1. Because of its power
2. Because of its source
3. Because of its use
Text: 2 Timothy 3:14-17
Everyone loves a good book. Most of you have seen my library in my office. You know I like books and use books quite a bit. Lately I have been fascinated with business books. I’ve been reading books about management, successful businesses, decision making, and much more. They apply very well to what we are doing well as a church and school.
Those who know my more nerdy side know that I have a passion for another specific kind of literature—the works of William Shakespeare. Instead of spending free time in high school talking to all the girls, I spent a lot of time reading plays (Becky appreciated that senior year). I’ve read all 36 3, 4, or 5 times each. I have shelves in my office filled with Shakespeare commentaries. Actually, if I did not become a pastor, there is a chance I would have pursued becoming a professor who teaches Shakespeare.
I’m sure the same is true for you. When you have a passion for a subject, you read up on it. (Though you probably aren’t as nerdy as I am) Becky loves stories of intrigue and action like James Patterson’s books about the crime-solving Alex Cross. My dad loves stories about international espionage like the books by Robert Ludlum, The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, and The Bourne Ultimatum.
This is typical. When you have a passion for a book or a subject, you read that book often. You study that book. You learn about that subject. You read other commentaries on that subject. This is typical.
But is it always so typical with the greatest book—the Bible? There is no better book, because no other book can be called the Word of God. Yet do we always treat it in such a way? Do we show the same passion for Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as we do for Harry Potter? Do we love Psalms and Proverbs as much as Sports Illustrated or USA Today? Do we spend as much time in and around the Word of God as we do working? Watching TV? Riding our bikes or going fishing? We should! And we can! This morning we hear an encouragement to a young pastor named Timothy. That encouragement applies to us and to all Christians—Continue in the Word
“You gotta read this book. It will totally change your life.” How many times have you heard that before? How many times have you said that before? I’ve heard that recently about a number of books. One often pointed out is Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. But I also have said that a lot recently. I’ve encouraged all of our schoolteachers to read two books that are changing the way they teach. Actually, every month our staff reads a book together and then discusses how we can use that information to improve our teaching and our school. There are many books we read in life that are influential. But there is only one book that truly changes us. That book of course is the Bible.
First of all, Holy Scripture identifies and pinpoints who we are better than any other book ever has or could. Jesus said, “The things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man unclean. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” The Word of God is so powerful because it reminds us exactly who we are and what we have done. We are sinners that have unclean hearts. All kinds of terrible things like evil thoughts, immorality, gossip, slander, lies, and so much more come from our hearts. As Jesus said, these things often then come out of the heart and result in unclean words or unclean actions.
There is no other book that so powerfully cuts down our arrogant human egos. There is no other book that so forcefully hits us with the brunt blast of God’s demands. There is no other book that so accurately reminds us of the punishment and hell that awaits those who sin. (By the way, those books out there that do not speak of hell or that claim all people will be in heaven are simply lying.)
Yet no other book so powerfully proclaims the solution to our sin. The Bible says, “Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous,” and “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” The Word of God has the power to break through a stony, unbelieving heart of sin and then to create faith in that heart. The Word of God has the power to create in you a trust that your sins are removed through Christ, who died for all.
This is the power that the apostle Paul wrote about. He wrote in verse 15, “From infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” No person on his or her own makes the decision to follow Christ or to choose Jesus as Savior. No person has a life-changing event and then suddenly thinks, “You know, I better follow Jesus.” No! It is the Bible, holy Scripture, which first makes us “wise for salvation.” The Bible is what reveals our Savior Jesus. The Bible is what God uses to work faith in us.
This power for salvation, this power for faith, is not just for adults. It’s for everyone. It was for the pastor Timothy who “from infancy” knew the holy Scriptures. So it is also for all people and all children.
This is why Christ the King School is so important. We don’t run this school simply to fund our church. We don’t run this school so that we can brag about providing the best education or having the best teachers. The purpose of Christ the King School is to reach out to children and to families with the powerful Word of God which reveals our Savior Jesus. So we tell Bible stories to the children every day. They pray before snack time and lunch. They sing songs. Every Friday they join me in the church for chapel time. (By the way, you can watch Friday chapel on the internet!)
The message from Paul to Timothy and to us is loud and clear. There is no book more important than the Word of God. So Continue in the Word! Continue in the Word because of its power for salvation!
It is often the case that good authors gain good reputations. After reading The Notebook, every lady swoons at the thought of reading another Nicholas Sparks love story. After writing books like Twister and Jurassic Park, Michael Chrichton has become a famous author who is also involved in television and movie production. And perhaps no author has been as disruptive or as scrutinized as Dan Brown who wrote The DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons. Simply put, if you are a good author, people will want to read your books.
Yet why do we struggle so often to crack open the Bible and read it? Why is that often the last thing that we think about doing in a day? We often get all the important things of the day done—work, running errands, cleaning the house, taking care of the kids—then maybe if there is time left we will read the Bible.
As Paul reminded us already, the Bible is important because of its power. But next we see a second reason. The Bible is important because of its source. Look at verse 16: “All Scripture is God-breathed.” Many of you have heard me explain that the Latin translation says that all Scripture is inspirare. Inspirare is the English word inspired. Thus, when we say that the Bible is inspired, we aren’t saying that someone was moved and motivated to write the Bible. No, to say that the Bible is inspired means exactly what it says here in verse 16—“all Scripture is God-breathed.”
It is incredible to study the Bible in depth. Each writer wrote in his own style. Luke the doctor wrote with many careful details. Paul the brilliant scholar and apostle wrote some very complex sentences. Mark was a man of action, so as we are seeing in our Sunday morning study, he jumps from event to event to event with very little details. Yet all of the prophets and apostles were inspired by God. That means that God breathed in the very words that he wanted them to write in Scripture.
There is no other book like it. There is no other book that is completely and wholly God’s Word. There are no errors. There are no mistakes. There are no discrepancies. The Bible is God’s own Word. It is God’s love story—the story of how he so loved the world that he gave his only Son. God’s very words reveal to us our Savior who is also called the Word of God.
Christian friends, God will not touch or change your lives in any other way. He will not speak to you in dreams. He will not use “situations in life” or “life-changing events” to speak to you. He will not speak to you during meditation. God only speaks through his very words. At one time in history that was through prophets. At another time in history that was through Jesus. Shortly after that it was through apostles. But now, God only speaks through his Word. This is how he comes to you. This is how he reveals what he has done. This is how he touches your lives.
So Continue in the Word because of its source! The Bible is God’s Word—completely, totally, and wholly. Read, learn, study, hear the Bible because it is God-breathed!
There are many books that continue in popularity over the years because they are still relevant. The writings of Plato and Aristotle are still useful today because of the wisdom they contain. Romeo and Juliet is still a relevant play because it so beautifully tells a story of undying love that so many search for yet today. Books that are no longer relevant or useful sit on shelves and collect dust.
Just as no other book has the same power as the Bible, and just as no other book as the same source (God) as the Bible, so also no other book has the same important use as the Bible. Look at what Paul says in verses 16-17, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
The Bible has so many important uses for our every day lives. It teaches us. It teaches us what we need to know about our sinfulness and the punishment sinners deserve. It teaches us what we need to know about our Savior from sin Jesus Christ. The Bible is useful for rebuking. With it, we rebuke false teachings and doctrines. We don’t tell people what we think or what Lutherans think or what Pastor Huebner says. We use the Word of God to rebuke false teaching! In the same way, the Bible is useful for correcting. When a friend or neighbor or family member is sinning and not doing something God-pleasing, we use the Word of God to correct that behavior, just as we use it to correct our own behavior. Finally, the Bible is useful for training. It trains us in righteousness. It trains us in doing the things that God wants us to do, and not doing the things God doesn’t want us to do. The Bible trains us in showing love for God and love for others. The Bible trains us to such a degree that we are “thoroughly equipped” for serving the Lord.
There is no other book that is more practical, more important, or more useful for our every day lives. It’s not a self-help book. It’s a Jesus-help book! And Jesus will help you through his Word because it is so useful. So Continue in the Word because of its use!
The theme for worship today is Christian Education. Of course we remember today how important the mission of our school is. When you are talking about educating people with the good news of Jesus, nothing reaches more people more often than our school.
But Christian education is not just for children. It’s for everyone. Last Tuesday night in our Bible study on the book of Hebrews we noted how the writer compared the Word of God to food. The elementary teachings of the Bible he considered milk, the more advanced he considered solid food. The application of those words is obvious. If you are not in and around the Word of God, you are not getting fed and you are starving yourself. The less you read your Bible at home, the less you have personal devotions, the less you attend church, the less food you are getting!
God reveals a great mystery in his Word. He reveals that though we are rotten sinners who constantly disobey and defy, yet he has loved us enough to give his Son unto death for us. Learn more about that mystery which has been revealed. Be in and around the Word of God every day. Or as Paul would say, Continue in the Word because of its power for salvation, its source in God’s inspiration, and its use for every day life. Feed yourself. Stuff yourself with the news of salvation. Feast on the Word of God—every day and in every way.
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