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2 Timothy 3: 10 to 17 Walking in the truth of the holy Scriptures the Bible

The Importance of Scripture

10 But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance,
11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra--what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me.
12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.

14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them,
15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

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

Our portion of Scripture today is looking at the Word of God and how we live within the precepts of it. Within this overarching span are three focus points: the first is living as a Christian, the second, sticking with it - Scriptural instruction in our lives, one may say, and finally, the inerrant word of God, the reason we have it before us today.

So, the overarching message is that of the gospel, as written in the Holy Scriptures - The Word, with all the instructions, encouragement, examples, and doctrine found there in both old and new Testaments. In particular there are instructions on how we need to stay with the Truth, no matter the circumstances or outcome. The words in the Bible are God's, anything else that is not the Bible - what we may read or quote from is man's interpretation, some very good, some very bad, some very deceiving.

I thought that I would start today with a couple of the subtle falsehoods of the small 'c' christian world to give a platform to today's lesson. Christmas (note I steer away from Easter) is no more a biblical event, than Labour Day. Anyone who can read, will quickly find with minimal research, that December 25 started out life as a pagan holiday, was Christianised if you like, and has slowly but surely slid downhill ever since to be yet again, for the majority, a pagan holiday. It is not something that we have learned through the Holy Scriptures; it is not given by God, yet we are found each year, celebrating the day. Yes, there are some very good reasons to do so; it gives opportunity to spread the gospel, to be able to contact people who only have the door ajar a couple of times a year. But, we follow tradition not Scripture. This is an obvious example of tradition versus God's Word.

As we delve into these passages, we need to ask ourselves, how many other more subtle traditions do we hold to, because it is a nice thought, or because we do not even realise that we have been deceived? A further example may be that of "saints". For example, the Scots amongst us will know what I am talking about when I say: St Andrew's cross. Why is he, or any of the other thousands of named saints, more saintlike than you or I? But it rolls off our tongue, St Nicholas, St Augustine, St Jude, St Peter and so forth. Traditions of man we subtlety ascribe to, even if we don't really "believe" in it.

So, with this in mind, how should we approach our Christian life, the first part of this portion of Scripture? We can note nine characteristics. Here is a good summary of these, by two men, MacDonald and Farstad. It is a longish quote, but I think it worth more than what I would have written.

3:10 In marked contrast to these false teachers was the life and ministry of Paul. Timothy was well aware of the nine prominent features which characterized this servant of the Lord. He had followed Paul closely and could testify to the fact that here was a man who was faithful to Christ and His word.

The apostle's doctrine or teaching was true to the word of God and loyal to the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. His manner of life, or conduct, was consistent with the message he preached. His purpose in life was to be separate from moral and doctrinal evil. Faith here may mean Paul's trust in the Lord, or his own personal fidelity. Timothy knew him as one who was utterly dependent on the Lord, and at the same time, one who was honest and trustworthy. The apostle's longsuffering was seen in his attitude toward his persecutors and critics, and toward physical afflictions. As to love, he was selflessly devoted to the Lord and to his fellow men. The less he was loved by others, the more determined he was to love. Perseverance literally means "bearing up under," that is, fortitude or endurance.

3:11 Some of the persecutions and afflictions, or sufferings, of Paul are described in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28. However, he is thinking particularly of those with which Timothy would have been personally acquainted. Since Timothy's home was Lystra, he would know about the persecutions which came to Paul there and in the neighboring cities of Antioch and Iconium. The inspired record of these sufferings is given in the book of Acts-Antioch, Acts 13:45, 50; Iconium, Acts 14:3-6; Lystra, Acts 14:19, 20.

Paul exults in the fact that the Lord had delivered him out of ... all of these crises. The Lord had not delivered from trouble, but He had delivered him out of the troubles. This is a reminder to us that we are not promised freedom from difficulties, but we are promised that the Lord will be with us and will see us through.

3:12 Persecution is an integral part of a devout Christian life. It is well that every young Timothy should be reminded of this. Otherwise, when he is called upon to go through deep waters, he might be tempted to think that he has failed the Lord or that the Lord is displeased with him for some reason. The fact is that persecution is inevitable for all who desire to live in a godly manner.

The reason for this persecution is simple. A godly life exposes the wickedness of others. People do not like to be thus exposed. Instead of repenting of their ungodliness and turning to Christ, they seek to destroy the one who has shown them up for what they really are. It is totally irrational behavior, of course, but that is characteristic of fallen man.

3:13 Paul had no illusions that the world would gradually become better and better, until finally all men would be converted. Rather, he knew by divine revelation that the very opposite would be the case. Evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse. They would become more subtle in their methods and more bold in their attacks. Not only would they deceive others, but they themselves would be ensnared by the very false teaching with which they sought to trap their hearers. After having peddled their lies for so long, they would actually come to believe them personally.[1]

So we read these characteristics or features that Paul held: doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, [and] afflictions. Paul is commending Timothy for faithfully being true to what Paul himself held, taught and exampled. So why did Paul feel the need to reinforce the message about the evil impostors? Last week we heard the naming of Jannes and Jambres, the last time I spoke we heard named Phygellus and Hermogenes. In chapter 1 Paul tells Timothy to "follow the pattern of sound words" (1:13), chapter 2 we noted the warning to "avoid vain babble" (2:16), in his previous letter, Paul, in chapter 6 devotes a good few words, about those who are "depraved in mind and deprived of the truth" (6:5). I suspect that Paul was writing as much for us, as he was for Timothy and those he knew would read the letter.

Let us re-read that line in verse 13: "But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived." I mentioned this briefly at the beginning. One only needs to look around to see that the worse and worse has not yet stopped. I was watching TV the other night and was listening to the commentator who was talking about the crusades, a so called holy war. When did war ever become holy in Christianity? It is so for the Muslim, but where in the total context of the Bible is war now a commandment for us? But it appears to have been part of tradition for over a thousand years. This program's commentator said, listen carefully to the US, especially to the Bush speak, both father and son. They never quite came out explicitly and said that their wars were Christian against Muslim, but it is certainly implied. Which is worse, subtle voices speaking in riddles that are not very good at keeping their own secrets, or just openly preaching a gospel that is not Biblical? Deceivers!

What do the Scriptures say about warring against the infidel as it were? The Scriptures say much about living peacefully, with longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions and afflictions. Oh! We just read that in verse 10 and 11 today! What does God say? Well, he makes it very clear and very emphatic. Let us start in the Old Testament in Deuteronomy 32:41:

"If I whet My glittering sword, And My hand takes hold on judgment, I will render vengeance to My enemies, And repay those who hate Me." Deuteronomy 32:41

Who will repay? God himself. God states this way back 3000+ years ago, and then through Paul in Romans 12:19-21:

Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. 20 Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head." 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Romans 12:19-21

Here we see not only God's actions, but what we need to be doing before God acts. A final example - we note that the same command is given in Hebrews 10:30:

"For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. And again, "The LORD will judge His people." Hebrews 10:30

When God says the same thing at least three times over, we know this is a major point we need to understand, therefore, we know if man speaks and says otherwise, he is a deceiver.

We also can see that suffering yet again is part and parcel of the life Christian person should expect, without surprise. I read the following verses the other day from 1 Peter 3, starting at verse 12 and it fits with the thoughts seen in this Timothy passage:

"For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the LORD is against those who do evil." 13 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you are blessed. "And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled." 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defence to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, 19 by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison." 1 Peter 3: 12-19

As Christ suffered so must we suffer. It is better to do the will of God, and suffer, than to avoid suffering through a lukewarm reflection of what we believe.

Let us move on to the encouragement that Paul gives Timothy. Starting again in verse 14:

14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:14

The first lesson we see here is the we have to continue in the things that we have learned from those that taught us from the Holy Scriptures. The most fascinating part of this passage is where Timothy's learning started. Paul is not just talking about what he had taught the young Timothy. We know Timothy had a godly Grandmother and mother as stated in 2 Timothy 1:5 "when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice". The same is for those of us who grew up in genuine Christian households, who were taught the Biblical truths. We know Paul is speaking Biblical truths here as he writes in full the words "Holy Scripture". Paul is telling Timothy to stick with what he learned when a child, listening to the Old Testament being read and taught. He of course would have been taught with the commentaries of the day, much like we have authors of today that we use to help us understand. Here Paul speaks of the Holy Scriptures, and inferring the parental teachings as being the foundation on which to build, from two women. Quite something - yes?

The sad thing about today is the name calling of those who learn and teach Biblical truths. We are called "Bible Believing Fundamentalists"! Not only that, there is mocking of those who believe the literal truths expressed in the Bible, like the earth being created in 6 days around 6000 years ago! We are mocked by a large proportion of the so called Christian church for being conservative, for holding onto non-scientific views, and other deceiving words. Those that mock are deceiving, because these are so called Christians denying the wisdom needed for salvation, found only in the Holy Scriptures. Deceivers use fancy words and ideas to mock the literal believers. They twist the truths, wipe out entire passages of critical scriptures calling them examples, or analogies, anything but 'truth'; they eat their diet, and then have lunch, believing they are still doing OK!

Look what they are missing out on - salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. They believe in salvation, but not in hell, they believe in Jesus but not in Christ Jesus, they believe in the Bible except for those parts that are unpopular, or hard, or harsh, or any other excuse they can think of. Heaven is not literal, God just improves the world, we all live happily ever after, after all he is a loving God? Ever heard those words? People on both sides say it: "If he is such a loving God, why is there suffering?" How many of us can answer that one successfully? If God is so great why are there viruses and cancers and other vicious diseases? If he is the creator, why would a loving God create destructive things like that? Again, I ask me, and you, the same question? Are we wise in the Holy Scriptures that we can defend out selves against the deceivers; especially those who people think are on our side - so called Christians?

The bottom line - stick to what the Holy Scriptures teach as, as we learned through our Christian family, the family being whoever it was that God gave us to. It cannot be emphasised often enough that if we search the Scriptures hard enough, every question, every thing, doctrine, question that Scripture raises, has its answer right there also in scripture. At times you will find it repeated more than once, as we saw with the question of vengeance. Read Job for science, Ezekiel, Daniel, and so forth for the current history of the Middle East, especially Israel and Iran, or Corinthians for social commentary. Remember that science does not bring salvation, faith does.

Moving on in the verse - what is faith? Ok, you are already answering the question in your own heads, aren't you - what is faith? There are more than one verse, but let us try this one - is it the one that you are thinking of:

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible." (Hebrews 11:1-3)

Hebrew chapter 11 starting at verse one of course! However, let us move to what Timothy was learning from. The Old Testament! How does Job describe faith? Job the man before the Abrahamic covenant, the man pre-Torah, pre-Pentateuch? Did he describe faith, or salvation? Chapter 42: verses 5 and 6 states:

""I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. 6 Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes." And earlier in chapter 19 starting at verse 25 "For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; 26 And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God, 27 Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!" Jon 42:5,6

The Bible is where we can find our truths, all the rest is at best a sliver of helping hand, at worse, deceit, and lies, to be avoided at all cost. We need faith as described in both these books, to grow, to live those nine areas we read at the beginning of the sermon.

Let us move to our third section, the last verses in this chapter:

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

The first thing to note here is the word "ALL". Again, we can find the Scriptures emphasises this thought by having similar expressions elsewhere, for example Matthew 5:18 gets the word down to its smallest part:

18 "For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.

All means every part, even the smallest Hebraic mark in the text. Which version you may ask? Well, we need a bit of sensibility around that, but when you look at it, apart from a few modern or paraphrasing versions, on the whole, you can match Greek and English, Hebrew and English, and Aramaic and English pretty well. God says that He will preserve His Word and He has.

This text tells us that no matter which one of the forty authors, God gave the inspiration. If you go into a big European gallery and find an old picture, for example Titian's "Assunta", you will find that he did not paint every brush stroke, he had others that did a lot of the work, but it is his painting, he was the inspiration. So it is with each author of their book within the Holy Scriptures. They add their language, their flair, even their story, but what went in was totally from God, God's ideas, God's doctrine, His Word, every word. The painter's assistants never painted in their own bits, they painted in what the Master wanted, as did Moses, Amos, and Peter.

What we need to link to this thought, is the other half of the equation. As MacDonald and Farstad note, we need to read the first part of verse 16 with 1 Corinthians 2:13 and 14:

"These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." 1 Corinthians 2:13 and 14:

And also 2 Peter 1:20

"knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." 2 Peter 1:20

In these verses Jesus mentions the solidness of the Word, Paul tells us where the Word came from, and how we can understand the Word, and Peter backs him up with a verse that tells us the same, we need the Holy Spirit to be able to interpret the Word, and the Word came to man moved by the Holy Spirit. Paul in our passage emphasises the reason why the Holy Scriptures should be with us in all that we do. The Word 'is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness'.

Four reasons are given. The first is doctrine. What is doctrine? Doctrine is a body of teachings or instructions, taught principles or position. Here the word is used in the context of profitability, the ability to give you more than it cost to acquire, a profit. Spend one hour in the Word and the outcome will be worth more than that hour in your life. For us, God's Word tells us every thing we need to know about God, about His ways, and about how we need to live our lives. Of course the Scriptures do not tell us everything about God! We know from John:

"And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written." (John 21:25).

We also know that there are many mysteries out there about the universe, heaven, the soul, the Holy Spirit and so forth we have no idea about. And if you are anything like me, there is a huge slab of the Holy Scripture that I know nothing about, despite having read every book! But God has given us all that is necessary.

The Word is good for reproof, for being able to tell someone, why something they are doing is wrong, we don't need any of our own words, just God's, and for correction, ensuring what is preached, taught, discussed, written by man, is correct. You can check this sermon today, get a copy, check it against the Scriptures, tell me the errors, hopefully none apart from grammar, but, I am human.

The Scriptures tells us what is right, as it instructs in righteousness. The absolutes - Salvation comes from the Lord, or a Christian must maintain values that include humbleness, holiness, meekness and love. There are some interesting concepts that God hints at, that we grapple with, like keeping the Sabbath, but as a Christian. Righteousness is about ensuring that the traditions we keep, are right according to Scripture, and, Scripture will give the answers to questions that may be raised.

Then comes the BIG one. The absolute bottom line about the Word and its role in our lives. Verse 17. Let us read it once more - "that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." Who is the man of God? Ladies? Sorry, God doesn't bother with dualism in gender language. He may say man in this statement, but he means all of us. What do we need to be? Complete? Not half baked, not getting there., not later., no procrastination. The Word was given so that we may be complete. What does complete do for us? Being complete in God's Word means that we are equipped to do His work. The verse does not say that we need to know everything about God right now, or every jot and tittle in Scripture. The word instruction, as in "instruction in righteousness" indicates a continuum, ongoing work. God's work in us will start out small, matching what we know, and we should, if we do His will, grow as we grow in Him, thus the little word 'every' in 'every good work'. We have no need to be doing rally's in Town Hall, but, we may be thoroughly equipped to do the dishes on Sundays after fellowship lunch. This of course does not absolve those with greater equipping to do lesser tasks; they will be able to do them though with greater humility!

So there you are! Three big ideas in just a few short verses.

One: A Christian life may be tough, people will try to deceive us, in the most subtle of ways, especially through traditions we grow comfortable with, that may have no basis in the Christian life. If we stand up for what the Scriptures teach, we will find persecution and affliction will follow. But we can read Romans 8: 38

"For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38)

Two: We may have had great teachers within our own families who taught from the Scriptures, so keep it, learn from it, and grow on it. Whatever question a passage asks, another will provide the answer; always check the Old Testament to inform you on the meanings in the New Testament.

"And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord." (Ephesians 6:4)

Three: God's Word has no error, no contradiction and is perfect to instruct us in righteous living. It is there to enable us to do God's will, His work, in whatever He wants from you. Our learning and understanding will always be congruent with what the Holy Spirit has instructed and instilled into you, or me.

""I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them." (Ezekiel 36:27)

A little while ago we finished with a Hymn. I thought we may do today, to invigorate our souls as we go forth. This hymn, by Daniel Whittle[2], is based on a Paul verse to Timothy, and captures how we should be thinking - 2 Timothy 1:12 'I know whom I have believed'. Can we stand and sing together to close Hymn 229.

  1. I know not why God's wondrous grace
    To me He hath made known,
    Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love
    Redeemed me for His own.


But "I know Whom I have believed,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I've committed
Unto Him against that day."

  1. I know not how this saving faith
    To me He did impart,
    Nor how believing in His Word
    Wrought peace within my heart.

  2. I know not how the Spirit moves,
    Convincing men of sin,
    Revealing Jesus through the Word,
    Creating faith in Him.

  3. I know not what of good or ill
    May be reserved for me,
    Of weary ways or golden days,
    Before His face I see.

  4. I know not when my Lord may come,
    At night or noonday fair,
    Nor if I walk the vale with Him,
    Or meet Him in the air.

References

[1] MacDonald, W., & Farstad, A. 1997, c1995. Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments, Thomas Nelson: Nashville

[2] http://library.timelesstruths.org/music/I_Know_Whom_I_Have_Believed/ (I Know Whom I Have Believed | Daniel W. Whittle) accessed 10 August 2014

Stephen B Simon (3 April 2010 CCC)
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