This article/sermon addresses the question, “How do I get the most out of the Bible?” This is part 2 and it uses 2 Timothy 3:16 as the foundation for the answer.
If you have your Bibles take them and turn to 2 Timothy 3:16.
We are in a series of lessons regarding the Essentials to Life. We are taking a look at some of the basics of growing spiritually. When we say essentials we are meaning something absolutely necessary. Something indispensable. For example, we need food to grow physically. You can last for a while without food, but eventually you will starve to death. Food is essential.
When it came to God’s Word, Jesus put it this way, “Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4, HCSB). God’s Word is essential to our lives. God’s Word is often compared to food in the Bible. It’s called milk (1 Peter 2:2), meat (Heb. 5:12-14), and honey (Ps. 119:103). God’s Word is essential to life as food is essential to live.
2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (HCSB).
There are four things that will help us understand the Bible and help us get the most out of it. All four are mentioned in 2 Timothy 3:16. These are essential to your spiritual growth. We looked at two aspects of God’s Word last week. Let’s review them and then finish up with the other two.
The Inspiration of God’s Word
The first thing we need to see is that all Scripture is divinely inspired. This answers the question, “How did God give us the Bible?” In 2 Timothy 3:16 we are told, “All Scripture is inspired by God…” (HCSB). It’s God-breathed. It’s inspired by God. Last week we saw that the inspiration of Scripture involved divinely inspired guidance, divinely inspired writers, and inspiration is something supernatural. Peter tells us that “men spoke from God as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21, HCSB). This means that an all-powerful and all-loving God used godly people to write down what He wanted us to have in the Bible. The Bible is divinely inspired.
The Authority of God’s Word
This brings us to our second observation. All Scripture is fully authoritative. To get the most out of the Bible you need to know that it is inspired by God and give it authority over your life. We are told in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is inspired by God….” The source behind scripture is “God.” Since God is all-wise, all-knowing, all-loving, and completely trustworthy, His Word calls for and demands authority over our life. God’s Word must have authority over our lives because it was written by the Ultimate Authority, God Himself.
When we are talking about the authority of God’s Word, it means that God is right about everything. Whatever He says we are to do, we do. Whatever He says, we believe it. God’s Word has authority over our belief and behavior.
The Usefulness of God’s Word
A third observation is that all Scripture is practically useful. To get the most out of God’s Word we need to understand that it is useful and practical. Even though it’s a heavenly book it is also a down-to-earth book. It meets us where we are and tells us what to do. God’s Word is designed to reveal God to us but also to help us deal with the realities of our everyday lives. Notice again 2 Timothy 3:16 which says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable…” (HCSB).
This word “profitable” (ophelimos) carries the ideas of beneficial, productive, and sufficient. It is profitable and useful to teach us the truth we need to know and to train us how to live out that truth. God’s Word is designed to point you to Christ and to help you connect your life with Christ.
Here we are told four ways God’s Word is “profitable” to our lives.
God’s Word is profitable for teaching us
First, God’s Word is profitable for teaching us. This word “teaching” (didaskalia) refers to divine instruction and doctrine. It refers more to the content of what is taught rather than the method of teaching. The Bible tells us what we need to know. The Bible is going to tell you what is right and true about salvation, about God, about Jesus, about the Holy Spirit, about the church, about yourself, about money, marriage, ministry, leadership, parenting, attitudes, getting older, the purpose in life, creation, and end times and a host of other subjects. The Bible counsels us by teaching us the truth.
As you study the Word you will find yourself learning new truths that will challenge what you think is true. This takes us to the second benefit of God’s Word.
God’s Word is profitable for rebuking us
Secondly, God’s Word is profitable for rebuking us. “Rebuking” (elegmos) carries the idea of reproving, admonishing, and warning for the purpose of convicting. Through “teaching” God tells us what is right, but through “rebuking” God tells what is NOT right. Here is where God’s Word shows us where we are believing wrong or behaving wrong.
- For example God’s Word may rebuke you about a behavior in your life. The Bible says, “Do not lie to one another” (Col. 1:9). You read that and the Bible is telling you the truth about not lying. The Spirit of God takes the Word of God and speaks to your heart about that lie you told your parents, that lie you told your boss, or that lie you told your children. At that moment you are being rebuked and convicted about that lie.
- God’s Word may rebuke you about a belief in your life. Let’s say you become a follower of Jesus but you bring a lot of beliefs that are wrong into the relationship with Jesus. You believe in reincarnation and you come across Hebrews 9:27 which says, “It is appointed for people to die once – and after this, judgment” which challenges your belief about reincarnation. This is where God’s Word rebukes and warns you about a belief you have that is dangerous for you.
When God’s Word does this, it is profitable. It may hurt at the time. It may be uncomfortable and awkward at the time but it is useful. It is warning you of a belief or a behavior that is unhealthy for you and others. You will sense a rebuke and warning from God’s Word about many things: about what you believe about God, heaven, hell, marriage, the future, death, the church and about how you behave when it comes to treating your enemies, your spouse, your children, and those you work with. To help you become more like Christ God’s Word is going to rebuke us at times and that will sting.
God’s Word is profitable for correcting us
Third, God’s Word is profitable for correcting us. Look at 2 Timothy 3:16 again, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, [and] for correcting…” (HCSB). “Correcting” (epanorthosis) refers to restoring something to its original and proper condition. The idea is seen in setting upright an object that has fallen down or helping a person back on their feet when they have stumbled. “Correction” in Scripture is positive provision for those who accept its negative reproof. To help us understand how this looks, let’s look at how correction works regarding our beliefs and behaviors.
- Let’s take a look at correcting a belief. Jesus did this correcting a lot. In the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5-7, He was correcting many false beliefs and assumptions. For example, Jesus would begin by saying “You have heard… but I tell you” (Matt. 5:21, 27, 31, 33, 38, 43). He was correcting their wrong belief. Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you , everyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:27-28). He helped them deepen and understand their belief of what adultery is. He did this with murder, divorce, telling the truth, forgiveness, and loving your enemy. He was correcting a belief they had.
- Let’s take a look at correcting a behavior: We see an example of behavioral correction in 1 Peter 2:1 which says, “So rid yourselves of all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander. [That’s a rebuke. Stop doing that stuff. It’s harmful to you and to others. It does not glorify God. Here comes the correcting in verse 2] Like newborn infants, desire the pure spiritual milk, so that you may grow by it…” (HCSB). You have fallen down with deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander but to get back up and realign your life you need to have a desire for the pure spiritual milk of God’s Word. Here is what you did wrong and here is what you need to do that’s right. That’s how correcting works. That’s how God’s Word works.
Listen carefully, God uses His Word to teach us, rebuke us, and correct us but He usually does this through the channels of godly teachers. Some times this may come from a pastor, a godly friend, or a Christian book we are reading. Earlier in 2 Timothy Paul reminded Timothy and pastors like me by saying, “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 2:24-25, NASB). You hear this same type of language in Galatians 6:1 which says, “Brothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit…” (HCSB). God’s Word will correct us. Realign us. Often times God will use His Word and one of His people to get our attention.
God’s Word is profitable for training us
Fourth, God’s Word is profitable for training us. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness…” (HCSB). The word “training” (paideia) is sometimes translated “instruction.” It carries the idea of instructional training to stay in shape. It’s like the guy who has changed his eating habits and started exercising. He lost 50 lbs. He is running the 5Ks and the 10Ks. Now it’s about staying in shape and to keep doing what he is doing. Training. Training to stay on the right path. Training to do what God has called you to do and be who He has called you to be.
- Let’s say when you became a follower of Jesus you believed the Bible was God’s Word but you weren’t so sure how it could be without error in its truth and you weren’t convinced about its level of authority over all areas of your life. But over time you have been exposed to good teaching about God’s Word, you have been rebuked about some unhealthy beliefs regarding God’s Word, and you have corrected those unhealthy beliefs and now through training you are deepening your understanding of the inspiration, inerrancy, infallibility and authority of God’s Word over your life. Training. At this point it’s not about getting strong in your faith, but getting stronger in your faith.
- The same is true for behavior. Overtime you have grown in loving people. You are finding yourself more patient, more understanding, less angered by others, and more kind, more sacrificial. At this point it’s not about learning how to love people but deepening and strengthening your love for people. Training.
The Results of God’s Word
Back to 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness (17) so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (HCSB). Here we see, all Scripture equips us for life ministry. When you are experiencing God’s Word at work in your life through teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness two things will happen. You will be complete and equipped for every good work.
You will be complete. This word “complete” (artios) refers to believers who are capable and proficient in everything they are called to be or do. It also has the idea of being in shape, ready, and in condition. Because of what God’s Word has done in your life you are spiritually in shape, spiritually ready, and spiritually conditioned for whatever “work” God has for you. You are thoroughly ready.
You will be equipped. The idea behind “equipped” is to be furnished with what you need in order to accomplish the “work” God has assigned you. It’s like the cook who has been given a fully furnished kitchen to cook and feed those they have been assigned too. It’s like the carpenter who has been given a fully furnished workshop with all the tools and equipment to make what he has been assigned to make.
In a similar way, God’s Word equips you and fully furnishes you with what you need so you can do “every good work” that God would have you to do.
- That “good work” of loving your spouse, God’s Word will fully equip you to do that.
- That “good work” of raising and training your children, God’s Word will fully equip you to do that.
- That “good work” of honoring God with your career, God’s Word will fully equip you to do that.
- That “good work” of sharing the gospel with those who are lost in your life, God’s Word will fully equip you to do that.
- That “good work” of managing your emotions, God’s Word will fully equip you to do that.
- That “good work” of leading others to follow God, God’s Word will fully equip you to do that.
What is your next step?
You need to read it. Studies indicate that it takes about 70 hours to read the Bible (if read out loud). If you read the Bible for 12 minutes a day, you will read the entire Bible in a year. You can do this.
I am often asked where to begin? I recommend that you start with the Gospel of John. As you read slowly through the Gospel of John underline the word “believe” every time you see it and ask yourself: Believe what? Believe whom? Then go to 1, 2, and 3 John. That will get you started. While you are reading it, ask the Lord to open the eyes of your heart to His truth.
You need to discuss it. God designed you to grow with other believers. In Acts 2 you begin to see the first Christians gathering together in homes and other places to discuss God’s Word. Get in a small group and discuss what the Bible says. Let other believers challenge you, encourage you and sharpen you.
You need to apply it. Believe what it says and do what it says. In Luke 6:47-48
Jesus said, “I will show you what someone is like who comes to Me, hears My words, and acts on them: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. When the flood came, the river crashed against that house and couldn’t shake it, because it was well built” (HCSB).