2 Timothy 3:17 – 17

Well, howdy.  Hey, if you’ve got your Bible, would you turn with me to 2 Timothy chapter 3?  We’re going to be in verses 14 through 17 this morning.  And as you are turning there, let me begin by just saying welcome.  Especially to any guest that we’ve got with us this morning.  We are so glad that you’re here.  One of the things I tell our college students every week is that we are with you and we are for you.  And the reason that I say this because I want you to know that here at Central Church, you are loved.  Regardless of how you walk in, what you’re struggling with, what you’ve done, where you’ve been.  Here at Central Church, you are loved and we can’t wait to get connected to you.  And one of the things I try and do each Thanksgiving is stop and pray and reflect at the many blessings the Lord has given us.  And one of the blessings I’m most grateful for is this church.  I mean the Lord has been so kind to us to allow us to gather week after week to worship the Lord in song, to open God’s word, to live in community, and proclaim the name of Jesus.  Thank you, Lord for this church and for these people and thank you each one of you for the way that y’all selflessly serve and sacrificially love and generously give.  The Lord has been so kind to us to allow us to gather this morning and open His word.  But one of the other things that I kept coming back to this week that I’m thankful for is God’s word.  This book right here.  So often, I take it for granted and fail to see it for what it is.  It is absolutely essential to our life as a Christian.  Our life is a church.  We see in it the most epic story of all time.  With the greatest hero’s journey you will ever experience.  It is not a collection of old, mostly true, or partly true stories with a good moral.  It is living.  It is transformative.  It is the word of God that points us to King Jesus.  I’m thankful for His word.  And in light of the reality of what God’s word is, I believe that we as Christians should be committed to it with our lives.  And our text this morning is going to help us understand why that is important.  And my prayer this morning as I was on my knees talking to the Lord was that He would work in our hearts as a congregation, as a church that as we leave here today, we would be men and women and children who are committed to this book.  That we would not take it for granted because of the power that we see in this book.

So, let’s go to God’s word now.  2 Timothy chapter 3, verses 14 through 17.  Paul is writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

            14But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  16All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Will you pray with me?

Heavenly Father, we come before You this morning humbly as sinners in desperate need of a Savior.  We’re so grateful for the many blessings You’ve given us, Lord.  This Thanksgiving season is a time to pause and reflect.  And regardless of how challenging or difficult our lives become by worldly standards, would You help us remember how kind You’ve been to us?  How You sent Your Son for us to live a perfect life with no sin so that He could go to the cross and die the death we deserve to die.  To conquer the grave, making it possible for anyone who would believe in Him not to perish but have eternal life.  And Lord, we also thank You for Your word for these holy Scriptures that You have given us and what they mean for each of us, for the wisdom, and the knowledge and instruction that they contain.  Lord, we confess, I confess there’s been times where I take Your word for granted, where I’m not as committed as I’ve, as I should be, where I failed to see it for what it is.  Please help me and each of us in this room have a right understanding of Your word; a heart that treasures it and desires more of it.  And Father, if there’s anyone here in this room who doesn’t yet know Jesus as their Savior, would You let today be that day that You open their eyes to their sin, that You draw them to You.  If there’s anyone here who isn’t consistently reading their Bible, who’s not committed to Your word, would You change our hearts through the power of Your word?  Would You open our eyes to the beauty of Your word?  And would You let all of us commit to reading the Bible every day for the rest of our lives?  If You would, in the quietness of your heart just now, would you talk to the Lord and ask Him to remove any distraction that you might be experiencing and to prepare your heart to hear from Him.  If you would, please pray in the quietness of your heart for the person sitting next to you.  Ask the Lord to knit our hearts together and give us unity as a church.  Ask Him to use His word in a powerful way in their life.  Father, we love You.  We’re grateful for You.  We pray these things in Jesus name.  Amen.

So, as an undergraduate student at Texas A&M University, I was a member of the Fighting Texas Aggie Corps of Cadets.  It was a incredible season of life, a really fun couple of years.  And one of the things that I enjoyed was being part of the ROTC program where they would teach us just some basic skills and tactics, nothing too crazy.  They’d teach us how to go on a patrol.  They would teach us how to write and deliver an operations order.  They would teach us some marksmanship.  But one of my personal favorites was land navigation (said without any hint of sarcasm).  And Land Navigation, or Land Nav as we called it, was a pretty straightforward concept.  You would get this map.  There’d be coordinates.  You’d plot those coordinates on the map and then you would go find these checkpoints and make it back to a designated area in a certain amount of time.  Now, as you could imagine and the map was essential to this process.  Plotting those coordinates correctly would allow you to make sure you are going on the right direction to get there and make it back successfully.  And so, we started in a pretty simple and easy way.  The first time we did it, the checkpoints were easy to find and they helped us out a little bit.  I mean, we were millennials who’ve grown up with the GPS.  We needed a confidence boost for an easy first round.  So, I forgot to turn my off.  Every day at 10:02 my alarm goes off with a reminder to pray for laborers out of Luke chapter 10, verse 2.  The harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few.  So I want to do that right now.  And I’d like to invite each of you in the quietness of your heart to pray for laborers, missionaries, church planters, pastors, people who will go out and share the Gospel with those around them.

Lord, the harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few as Your word says.  Would You use this church to raise up a generation of laborers who are giving their life to making the Gospel of Jesus Christ known?  Would You let us play a part in that mission that You’ve given us?  In Jesus name, I pray.  Amen.

I’m sorry about that.  Um as I was saying, we needed a confidence booster and it started to get progressively more challenging.  The coordinates were more, the time was fewer, and it eventually got to night Land Nav.  So, I was excited.  I get my map.  I start plotting my coordinates.  I’m feeling a little bit rushed, but I feel good to go.  I’ve got my coordinates mapped.  I’m off into the woods with all the confidence of a 20-year-old who isn’t going to do anything wrong and who’s done this like five times in the daylight.  And I make great time to my first point.  Only I don’t see it right away.  And I’m like, well, it’s dark.  I just gotta look around for the checkpoint.  I’m using my little headlamp with the red light, and I can’t find this.  So, I start to get a little nervous, but I know that I could miss one of them, find the rest, and make it back and still pass this exercise.  So, I go to my second point.  Or I should say, where my second point should have been.  Once again, I look, and I can’t find anything.  And so, at this point, it hits me.  I have no idea where in the world I’m at.  I don’t know what went wrong.  I don’t know where I’m supposed to go, I am lost.  And that’s not a comfortable spot to be in.  I ended up failing that exercise, learned a valuable life lesson of double checking your coordinates to make sure you go right the first time.  I’m wired to want to move fast and break things and sometimes it works well and other times, it does not.  It was a life lesson for me there.  And it’s a funny story to look back on but I share it because I think it helps frame up a question I’d like for us to consider this morning.  What are the maps in your life?  Are you letting the world, the culture, social media guide you?  What is your worldview and where is that coming from?  There is great danger and temptation to get lured in by the world around us and letting people outside of the church guide us when we should be turning to the Bible.  We should be turning to God’s word as our map, as the foundation upon which we build our lives.  And our text today is going to show us why the Bible should be our map.  Why we should build our foundation upon it?  Why we should be committed to the word.  And if you were to ask me to sum up my message this morning in one sentence, it would be this, that we as Christians should be committed to God’s word because of its power, because of its author, because of its profit and because of its impact.  So, I’ll say that again.  We as Christians should be committed to the word of God because of its power, because of its author, because of its profitability, and because of its impact.

So, let’s start with the first one there.  We should be committed to God’s word because of its power.  Going back to verses 14 and 15, this is what Paul says,

            14But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

So, why should we be committed to God’s word?  Because of its power.  And how powerful is God’s word?  I mean, listen to the text.  It makes us wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.  That is incredible.  Every single one of us are sinners deserving of judgement and death.  And yet this book right here, it contains the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for salvation.  I mean, think about that.  This book teaches us who God is, what He’s done about our sin, our rebellion, the problem it causes, and about Jesus and the salvation that we have through Him.  There is no other book like that.  Not Harry Potter, not Lord of the Rings, none of the other so-called religious texts.  There is no other book like the Bible.  And why is it so special?  It’s the power of the Gospels for salvation through Jesus Christ.  And Paul understands the nature of this power.  He knows that He is about to die, that His journey is coming to an end, but that Timothy is going to continue on and so he exhorts Timothy to continue in what you have learned and firmly believed.  In other words, keep going.  Don’t quit, don’t stop, don’t give up.  Is this going to be hard at times?  Well, Paul of all people knows that life will get challenging at times.  He experienced some legitimate persecution, persecution that would make anything we’re experiencing today feel soft by comparison.  But he’s saying, keep on going.  To Timothy, that’s what he must do.  And in the same way, Central, when we encounter hardship, and it’s not a if we encounter hardship, it’s when we encounter hardship, we know that life as Christians will be filled with times that are difficult, that are hard.  It might be that unexpected job loss.  It be that diagnosis from the doctor that has heartbreaking news.  It might be the disappointment of unmet expectations like being announced as the head coach for the Aggie football team and a few hours later having that offer rescinded after social media went wild.  It might be a anxiety attack.  It might be depression.  It might be any number of things.  All of us are going to suffer in some similar ways, in different ways.  But what must we do regardless of what life throws at us, we must continue on.  We must press on in what we have learned and believed.

So, it’s a pretty straightforward message from Paul, right?  We can all understand that regardless of what happens in life, keep pressing on.  Check.  Got that, Paul.  But what else does he say?  He says, remembering from who you learned it and how from childhood, you’ve been acquainted with the sacred writings.  What do we know about Timothy?  We know that he had an awesome grandmother, an awesome mother, who were the source of his faith, Lois and Eunice.  Right?  Who trained him from the time he was a child.  What a legacy.  What an impact.  Do we have any moms or grandmothers here today?  I’d love to see you raise your hand if you’re willing.  Hey, this Thanksgiving season, I just want to say thank you for all that you do.  If you’re sitting next to your mom or grandma, would you turn to her and say, thank you.  I love you.  Moms and grandmas are the best.  Y’all do so much.  We’re so grateful for you guys.  But I want you to realize the opportunity that we see in this text.  I want all of us to understand this.  We have an incredible opportunity to impact the next generation, to reach the next generation, to raise our children and our grandchildren to know the word, to love the word.  What a blessing.  We should embrace that calling.  We should cherish that calling.  And the best way to do that is to you yourself be committed to the word, to love the word, to study the word, to memorize the word, to talk about the word, to cherish the word.  We also see in the text that Timothy learned from Paul.  What an incredible spiritual father to have.  And an example of another instance where we can have a massive impact by investing in the next generation.  One of the things I love about this church is we’re multi-generational.  We’re a church where every generation wants to reach the next generation for the glory of God.  And one of my favorite ways I see this play out in the college ministry is when we get to pair men and women from this church who love Jesus, who love college students with college students who are hungry to grow and understand what it looks like to know and follow Jesus.  We have seen lives transformed through the discipleship program.  If that’s something you’d want to be a part of, come talk to me afterwards or shoot me an email.  We’re always looking to get more people plugged in to that ministry.  And the last thing I’ll say here about this section that we see Paul kicking us off with this morning is the fact that Timothy firmly believed in these things.  Like that’s worth considering going deep on.  This is not just a half-hearted, lukewarm, cultural Christian, yeah, I believe in those things.  No, he firmly believed those things.  He was convinced of the truth of God’s word and it changed everything about his life.  And this is so important for us.  When things get hard, which are going to get hard in today’s world, there will be times where we are facing persecution for what we believe.  If we don’t believe that all of this is true, we’re going to struggle.  And for you, maybe there’s parts of it that you’ve always wrestled with.  Maybe it’s Jonah, or creation, or the virgin birth, or the miracles.  Like if you are struggling with those things, I just invite you to search the Scriptures.  I believe as have generation after generation of Christians that every word in this book is true.  And if you can’t believe some of it, you can’t believe all of it.  But not only is this word true, it’s got the power to change eternity.  It’s got the power to change your family tree.  And because of that power, we should be committed to it.  But that’s not the only reason we should be committed to it.

Moving on, we see should be committed to God’s word because of its author.  So, let’s look at the first part of verse 16.  Many of us are familiar with this.  Paul says,

            16All Scripture is breathed out by God

I’m going to read that again and just want to invite you to listen to those words.  Think about those words.  I think that is one of the most important phrases in the entire Bible because of its implications.  So, hear this again.  All Scripture, every part of it is breathed out by God.  Now, what does this mean?  We don’t typically talk like that today.  It breathed out.  That sounds kind of weird.  But here’s an illustration that might help with that.  We’re approaching the colder part of the year here in Texas.  We might have a couple of cold fronts in College Station.  Nothing too bad but I it’s not my favorite part of the year.  And when it’s cold and you’re outside and you talk, what do you see?  You see your breath.  So, in other words, when Paul is saying that all of Scripture is breathed out by God, he’s saying that this is all from God.  These are all His words.  I mean, think about that for a moment.  Far too often, we take that for granted.  We fail to be amazed by it, captivated by it.  You’ve got God, the creator of the universe and everything in it, the one who is infinitely powerful and knowledgeable, perfectly righteous, and holy and loving.  And He has given us a book filled with His words.  It’s incredible.  We should be amazed by it.  But how does that work?  I just said Paul is writing to Timothy and yet, they’re God’s words.  Yes, that’s how it works.  Here’s the way that 1 Peter chapter 1:21 describes it.

            21For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

So, in other words, the human authors were inspired.  They were carried along by the Holy Spirit to write exactly what God wanted His word to say.  So, think about the implications of that.  If we believe that God is perfect, that He is righteous, that He is trustworthy, that He is authoritative, the logical implication is that His word is perfect, is righteous, is trustworthy, is authoritative.  You can’t have one without the other.  And if that is true about His word, which we as Christians believe that it is, we should be saturating our heart with it.  Saturating our mind with it.  Saturating our lives with this word.  But not only that, it means we can’t cherry pick certain parts of Scripture that we really like and ignore these other parts that we don’t like.  Right?  That is tempting at times because we’re confronted in God’s word with our own sin.  And there’s parts of it that we we’d say, oh yeah, I don’t struggle with that.  Like I can embrace that but I I’m having a hard time of letting go of this alcohol addiction or pornography addiction or whatever it might be.  One of the dangers that we are seeing today is people who will use the Bible to affirm certain beliefs that they have by misusing or misquoting or ignoring other parts of the Bible.  It is all from God.  Meaning, we have to consider the whole council of God’s word when we think about these things.  And we see it especially on the hot button issues of today.  Things like transgenderism or same-sex marriage or abortion, right?  We have got to be people of the word because of who the author is.  That’ll inform our worldview and help us navigate these challenging times.  As people who are marked by love but also marked by commitment to the truth that we see in God’s word.  As I was thinking about God’s word recently, I am reminded of this past Thursday.  My family and I, we had three international students over at our house for Thanksgiving.  It was a ton of fun.  One of them was a Muslim.  Two of them were Hindu.  And we had a great time with them.  We were playing games.  We had to convince them to try a lot of the Thanksgiving foods.  Uh turns out sweet potatoes were a favorite of these students.  And we watched the Dallas Cowboys take care of business together.  It was a really fun day.  But one of the things that’s interesting to me about these students is all of them would say they believe in God. they’re just not Christian.  One of the things that that struck me was this belief of well it it’s really a different perspective on the same thing.  You know, we’re we’re all worshiping that the same God trying to be better people.  And obviously, I disagree with them and pray for them every day and look forward to continued conversations.  They were on my mobilization card for NEXT, praying for their salvation and pursuing Gospel relationship with them.  So, as we continue to build that relationship, I look forward to more conversations.  But I started thinking, if they listen to me describe the Bible and then looked at how I spend my time each week.  What would my Bible time look like?  Would they see a schedule that reflects a belief and an understanding and a commitment to this word as God’s word or would they see a couple of minutes, maybe a few times throughout the week, thinking how it must not be that important.  It’s an interesting thought exercise that I’d invite all of you to do.  Right?  We’re all pursuing these Gospel relationships, engaging the lost for the sake of the Gospel.  If you tell them about the Bible and they ask, well, well, what is your Bible reading look like?  Are they going to believe what you just said about the Bible?  Are they going to think, man, it must not be that important if he is not even prioritizing time here, if she is not devoting time to this.  Let’s be committed to the word.  If it’s all from Him and it’s got immense power, how could we not?  I mean, the only reason I can come up with is a misunderstanding of God’s word which I hope the Lord clears up for you this morning.  Or at times, we just take it for granted.  We get so focused on our pursuit of the American dream, so focused on our own life that we fail to consider what God’s word is.  I’m guilty of that at times.  But all of us need to remind ourselves of what this is and who it’s from so that we can be committed to it.  And if you think, I’ve got such a busy schedule, it’s not worth my time.  I would submit to you, it’s one of the most profitable things you could do with your time.

That brings us to our third point.  We should be committed to God’s word because it’s profitable.  So, let’s go back to the text.  Here’s what Paul says, all Scriptures breathed out by God and profitable for what?  For teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training and righteousness.  So, we see four applications to the Christian life and I want to consider each one of those.  It’s profitable for teaching.  Teaching what?  Well, teaching us about God.  In order for us to know God, we must know about God.  And the Bible teaches us all that we need to know about God.  It can teach us about who He is, what He’s like, what He’s done, what He’s doing.  It can help us answer the questions that come our way from the world.  It can help us understand what it looks like to live in a sinful and fallen world.  It can help us understand what it looks like to love.  The Bible is profitable for teaching and it’s profitable at all ages whether you are 8-years-old, 88-years-old, or any other age.  The Bible gives us so much to learn about who God is and how we can live as Christians.  But not only that, it’s also profitable for reproof.  Interesting word, another one we don’t use all the time.  What does this mean?  It doesn’t necessarily sound great but we’re saying it’s profitable.  So, a way you could think about it is like a rebuke.  If you were to have some heretical beliefs or if you had false understandings or were living in an ungodly way, the Bible can rebuke you.  There is reproof in it.  And without the Bible, in our sinful and fallen state, we would be prone to walking in error and living in sin.  It’s also profitable for correction which is very practical when we do stray from the Lord, when we give in to sin, when we’re walking in a ungodly way, the Bible can correct us and it builds on those first two, right?  It teaches us, it rebukes us, gives us reproof, and when those two are put together, our hearts, they begin to change.  They begin to conform to what we see in God’s word and what God’s calling us to.  And our desires start to change as well.  God’s word corrects us.  And finally, it’s profitable for training in righteousness.  The Bible is the road map to Godly living.  It helps us understand how to live a life that’s devoted to pursuing the Lord.  It’s a foundation that will help you operate as a believer in Jesus Christ.  So, the Bible, the word of God, it is profitable for so many reasons especially these four.  And in light of these truths we see here, I want to challenge you.  Go to the Bible for teaching.  Go to the Bible for reproof and correction.  Go to the Bible for a road map on how to live as a Christian.  It’s one of the most profitable ways you could spend your time.

And finally, we see we should be committed to God’s word because of its power, because of its author, because of its profitability, and because of its impact.  Back to the text, I want to look the very end here.  So, all Scriptures breathed out by God, 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.  So, all of those reasons that Scripture is profitable leads us to an incredible impact that the man or woman of God may be complete for every good work.  This is godliness.  This is what we’re pursuing as Christians.  And it comes from the word of God.  Scripture has the ability to transform us, to take us from darkness to light, from death to life, from sinners following the prince of the power of the air to believers following Jesus Christ, King of Kings, Lord of Lords.  The Bible has the power to do that.  It’s molding us.  It’s shaping us.  It is equipping us for good works, good deeds.  Don’t miss this as Christians.  We’re not called to make a proclamation of faith and then sit on the sidelines.  We are called to go and live out these good works for the glory of God.  And imagine what would happen to our world, to our community, if this church, the people in this room, took these commands as seriously as we possibly could.  What would change about our community?  What would change about our workplace, about our dorm, about our neighborhood?  If we were a people committed to the word.

And so as we close, I want to challenge each one of you to make a commitment to the word of God.  For the Christians in this room, we would acknowledge that we believe God’s word, that we are trusting in it, that it is true.  But would your life reflect that?  Just answer honestly in the quietness of your heart.  Make the Bible your map.  Make it the foundation upon which you live your life.  Are you spending time in it each day?  Are you meditating on it?  Are you memorizing it?  Are you cherishing it?  This is one of the most important things we can do.  And if we understand its power, its author, its profitability, and its impact, I’m convinced that we will be a people who desire to be committed to it.  But if you’re saying, what could that look like?  What’s a practical takeaway?  Here’s my suggestion.  If you’re going to hear nothing else I say all morning, I’d love to have your attention for the next 30 seconds.  Make a commitment starting Sunday, right now, November 26th, 2023, that every day for the rest of your life, you’re going to read your Bible.  Each one of you can make that commitment.  And it might seem really hard to make that commitment for the rest of your life.  Just say, I’m going to read my Bible today.  And then, when you wake up tomorrow, make the same commitment that you’re going to do it again.  It doesn’t need to be big at first.  It can even be two minutes to start.  Block the time on your schedule if you need to.  Wake up earlier.  Stay up later.  We spend our times on so many things that are not eternal in nature.  Like, if we believe the Bible to be what it is, the very word of God, we have got to be committed to it.  And when you start spending 2 minutes in it, that’s going to turn to 5 minutes and 10 minutes and 20 minutes and 30 minutes because the more time you spend in God’s word, the more you’re going to grow in your love for it.  More going to grow in your love for Jesus.  The more you’re going to grow in your desire to make Him known.  So, let’s be committed to God’s word.  But not just that.  Let’s be committed to the hero that God’s word points to.  To King Jesus.  The One who came down from heaven, lived a life free from sin, who went and got nailed to that cross, dying to death we deserve to die.  The One who conquered the grave, who made it possible for all who believe, not to perish, but to have eternal life.  Let’s be committed to Him.  Have you committed your life to Him truly?  Have you surrendered to Him as your Lord and Savior?  If not, I want to invite you to do that.  We’ll have a moment of response here in just a moment.  There is no greater decision you can make.  But if you have made the decision to follow Jesus, I am pleading with you, let’s be a man, a woman, a child committed to this word because of its power, because of its author, because of its profitability, and because of its impact.  Let’s go church.  Let’s pray.

Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your word.  For what You revealed to us in it.  For the reminder this morning of its power, of Your authorship, of its value, of its impact.  Lord, we have busy lives, far too busy at times, but I pray coming out of here by Your Spirit, You would convict each one of us of the need to spend time in Your word every single day, to meditate on it, to memorize it.  Would our lives and our church be marked by commitment to Your word, for Your glory and I pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.

So now, we’re going to move into a time of response where we invite you to respond in whatever way the Lord is leading you.  We’ll stand and sing worship.  We will have ministers up at the front.  If you want to take a next step with the church and pursue membership or baptism.  If you need prayer, we’ll have ministers ready to pray for you.  If you have never surrendered to Jesus and committed to Him, we’ll have people who’d love to talk with you about that.  In whatever way the Lord is leading you, I’d like to invite you to stand and respond right now.