Trey Brunson gave us a needed exhortation this past Monday to read our Bible. In this post, I want to support that needed exhortation with some thoughts on why God’s Word is worth it.
The Day the Squirrel Got Loose
When I was a kid, my grandfather used to make me watch music videos of this southern comedian named Ray Stephens. One of my favorites was called: “The Mississippi Squirrel.” The music video tells the story of two young boys in Mississippi who had caught a squirrel, brought it to church in a shoebox, and then accidentally let it loose. The squirrel scurried under the pews, brushing up against people’s feet as it went. Just as the commotion was getting going, the squirrel hilariously runs up Aunt Bertha’s skirt and she yells “Something’s got’a hold on me!” Without anyone noticing, the squirrel continues through the church gettin’ a-hold of e’rybody. Revival breaks out, everyone starts repenting, and even the preacher gets baptized. It is one of the most ridiculous videos you will ever see and it is a hilarious caricature of Baptists in the South.
Somebody Give Me a Squirrel
Now, we all know that story is ridiculous. If revival or personal transformation were as easy as setting a squirrel loose on Sunday morning, then we might be tempted to just trap a squirrel and then set it loose.
The Clear Path of God’s Word
Unfortunately, it is not that easy. Growing in godliness, persevering in the faith, remaining faithful through trial and loss and sickness are all supremely challenging tasks. Growing weary of fighting the faith is always a creeping temptation—or reality. Yet, God has given us a clear path for maintaining a vigorous devotion to Him through all the vicissitudes of our cursed and blessed life. The clear path is in his unchanging Word. We all depend deeply on God’s immutable Word to guide us through the mutable moments of life. I imagine many of us have made some type of resolution or commitment in 2017 that involves reading God’s Word. I want to bolster your devotion and breathe some life into your commitment and put some wind in your sails. In other words, I want to let you know why God’s Word is worth it.
Let’s take a brief look at a well-known passage and perhaps mine some rich truths that will motivate us to the faithful intake of the Holy Scriptures. 2 Timothy 3:13-17 is a classic text that tells the young pastor Timothy what matters most to his ministry and to his own pursuit of Christ. Paul reminds Timothy that God’s Word has been at the center of his life as a young child and exhorts Timothy to keep it at the center of his life and ministry.
2 Timothy 3:14-15 — The Capability of God’s Word
“14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and 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.”
As we read verse 14, a question pops off the page. Why did Timothy firmly believe in God’s Word? The answer is not what we expect: he read a 1,000-page apologetics book, he had a conversation with the risen Lord Jesus, he had a vivid and life-transforming dream, he took a class on the Bible. The answer is surprising: Timothy believed in the sacred Scriptures because his momma told him so. The character of his mother and others who had gone before him like Paul grounded Timothy’s trust in the Word of God.
There are one-hundred good reasons to believe in the Bible and to commit yourself to reading it daily — but one of the greatest reasons is the tradition and testimony of the saints for centuries. Millions of ordinary men and women have picked up this book, read it daily, and found themselves encouraged, equipped, and invigorated. Of course, there are other reasons hinted at here. Timothy is to continue in what he has been acquainted with since childhood — meaning Timothy has studied and memorized and wrestled with Scriptures since he was a young boy. Surely, the power and the authenticity of God’s Word had impressed itself on Timothy throughout the years.
Will you commit to opening the Word daily and reading it slowly and carefully so that it may impress upon you it’s sacred quality? Let us commit to opening it daily so that it may do what it also did for Timothy — to make us wise for salvation. God’s Word will give us wisdom — wisdom to fear the Lord, wisdom to fear judgment, wisdom to turn from sin, wisdom to persevere through difficulty, wisdom to maintain character in severe temptation, wisdom to delight in and pursue King Jesus.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 — The Character of the Word
“16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
The first seven words of verse 16 are some of the most significant words in all of Scripture. Paul is talking about the sacred writings from verse 15, the Old Testament. But, he is also talking about the writings that the early church was producing at the time — the Gospels, the Book of Acts, and the Epistles. The apostles and their delegates knew that they were writing Scripture and their writings were recognized as such. The apostles were viewed the same way Israel’s prophets were. They were speaking and writing God’s Word with God’s authority. This is why Paul uses this rare term to describe Scripture that is only used here in the New Testament: theopneustos.
The theo part means “God” and the pneustos part means “breathed.” The point is simple: the source of Scripture is God himself. Human authors wrote it, but they were inspired by the Holy Spirit to write down the very words of God. We do not believe the Bible is a random collection of words, proverbs, and instructions from men. We believe God is the author and that the Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to man and is, as the Baptist Faith and Message says, “a perfect treasure of divine instruction.” Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, perhaps says it best: “His word is to be trusted and relied upon with all the faith that we would invest in God himself.”
The Purpose of Inspiration
In verse 15, we learned that God’s word is profitable to make one wise for salvation. In verse 16, Paul tells us what else Scripture is profitable for. These terms are often neglected, overlooked, and perhaps not even noticed. That is a big mistake. There is this glorious restaurant near Paducah, KY known as Patti’s 1880s settlement. They are known for their 1-inch thick pork chops, their flower pot bread, and their meringue pies that are several inches high. You don’t go to Patti’s 1880s settlement in Paducah, KY and miss out on the pork chop, the flower pot bread, or the meringue pies. If you skip over any of these, you might as well just go to Cracker Barrel. It’s the same with these words in verse 16. Don’t come to 2 Timothy 3:16 and stop at the truth of inspiration. You need to know the purpose behind the inspiration of Scripture.
- God’s word is profitable. If there is one thing I can give you today, it is that spending time reading and meditating on and listening to and talking about and teaching and writing God’s word is supremely profitable. The logic that Paul is using, then, is also simple. If God is the source of Scripture, and God is true, then Scripture is true and profitable: As William Mounce says, “[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][The] utility of Scripture flows from its inspiration.”
- God’s word is profitable for teaching and reproof. These first two terms generally refer to training in doctrine. In other words, God’s word shapes and defines and grounds our beliefs. It is here that we learn of the majestic goodness and the fearful justice and the saving righteousness of our God. It is here that we learn of Jesus’ compassion for people, hatred of sin, love of the Father, and eternal condescension into humanity. The foundation of our behavior is our beliefs. In the end, if we believe God is good, we will trust Him. If we believe God is out to get us or trick us, then we will not trust Him. If we believe God overlooks sin or sin will not ruin us, we will pursue it. If we believe the world was created for God and for His glory and that his glory is the best thing for us then we will pursue that glory. Right practice follows right doctrine, and right doctrine flows from a daily intake of God’s Word.
- God’s Word is profitable for correction and training in righteousness. These are moral terms. God’s Word not only teaches us what to believe, but it teaches us how to act. Have compassion, grant forgiveness, do not be angry, honor your parents, love the lost, serve others, put on gratitude and joy, pray without ceasing. As we read it, the Holy Spirit prods our consciences—encouraging us to persevere in godliness and to put off wickedness. God’s Holy Word trains us in right living by helping us label behavior correctly. “Righteous” at its core just means “straight, level, consistent.” The Bible then shows us whether our behavior is straight with God’s standard. It labels behavior that pleases God as righteous and behavior that does not please God as wicked.
- God’s Word is profitable to make us complete and equip us for every good work. Verse 17 is not a tack-on to verse 16. Again, we often get caught on the “God-breathed” part and miss the implications that flow from this truth. Verse 17 introduces the “ultimate purpose of Scripture’s inspiration” (Mounce). The purpose of God’s word being inspired is to equip every Christian for every good work. This means me, you, your roommate, your friend, your sibling, your spouse, your grandma. All of us.
Sufficiency for Every Insufficiency
Where do you find yourself feeling insufficient today? What parts of live weary you? What difficulty plagues you? What is trying to steal your joy? What anxiety is creeping in and taking over? What sin is creeping at the door?
If we are honest with ourselves, we all have squirrels in our closet or desk drawer that we set loose every now and then, hoping that they will spark a revival in us. We love to bring these squirrels out at New Years—we call them resolutions. Reading books by wise and godly authors is a good thing, but it cannot bring the profit that God’s word can. Exercising regularly is needful but God’s Word is essential. Cleaning up our souls is more important than tidying our garages. Scheduling our week is insufficient unless we first schedule a time and a place with God’s Word. Do all these things, but make sure the foundation is God’s Word. It is the one thing that ensures everything else.
God’s Word is absolutely effective and one-hundred-percent sufficient for all these things and more. God’s Word is the most profitable thing you can give yourself to—every single day. In fact, it is the only thing that promises to equip you for every good work. Don’t miss that. God’s Word promises to make you effective and faithful at whatever work he has laid before you.
God’s word is able to make you wise for salvation.
God’s Word is breathed out by God himself.
God’s Word is profitable to teach you right doctrine.
God’s Word is profitable to teach you right living.
God’s Word will equip you for every good work.
God’s Word is worth it.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]