2 Timothy 028 – Why Preach the Bible? – Part 32 Timothy 3:16b • Dr. Andy Woods • April 24, 2016 • 2 Timothy - The Call to Persevere
Why Preach the Bible? Part 3
4-24-16 2 Timothy 3:16b Lesson 29
Good morning everybody. If we could take our Bibles and open them to the book of 2 Timothy, chapter 3 and verse 16. The title of our message this morning is Why Preach the Bible? Part 3. And as you’re turning there I want to encourage you to visit our table on the way out, as you go out right to the left you’ll see our CD and DVD’s that contain a lot of teaching that we’ve done at this church. And it contains a lot of my personal teaching that I’ve done elsewhere that I haven’t necessarily given at this church, a lot of good topics for you to explore. The reason I bring it up is we just refilled that rack and all that stuff is in the f-r-e-e- category so there’s no charge for it. If you want to help us with the expenses that’s between you and the Lord but we don’t really formally charge for the Word of God. So I just want to make you aware of that.
2 Timothy chapter 3, verse 16, Why Preach the Bible? Part 3. Of course Paul is, in this letter, encouraging Timothy to continue on as a pastor and complete his calling in God. The whole point of 2 Timothy is endurance, finishing what God has called us to do in life. So this would apply to pastors but it would really apply to anybody that’s struggling with completing an assignment from God. We all have different assignments from God and we foolishly think that because God asks us to do something, somehow it’s going to be easy.
God always equips us for our callings but there isn’t really anything in the Bible that I can see where it says everything is going to be easy. And to prevent us from becoming discouraged when things are difficult this book is essentially written as an strong motivation to complete the task. So Paul has called Timothy to faithfulness, chapter 1. Chapter 2 he’s given Timothy about ten metaphors or word pictures explaining what faithfulness looks like. And then in chapter 3, and we’ve been spending our last several weeks in chapter 3, he begins to talk to him about the coming apostasy or departure, how the church would begin to stand away from truth as the church age winds to a conclusion. That’s what we call apostasy, departure from known truth.
So Timothy, what are you supposed to do in your role as a shepherd as the church is apostatizing? Paul explains the apostasy, it’s evil, verses 1-7 and it’s examples, verses 8-9, and then he moved into the antidote. It’s not so much how to stop the apostasy, you don’t get the impression that this can be stopped. What you can control, though, is how you react to it. So Paul says here’s the antidote, number 1, I want you Timothy, as you have known me for twenty years, to imitate my life, ministry and character. So Paul, in verses 10-13, as he’s describing the apostasy highlights things from his own ministry, character and difficulties that no doubt Timothy knew very well, having had a close mentor relationship with Paul. As I went through difficult times and you saw me go through them, Timothy, I want you to imitate me in some very practical ways.
Then beginning in chapter 3, verse 14, and this is such a marvelous section, it goes all the way through chapter 4, verses 8, he tells him to focus on the Scriptures. And it’s one of the most extended and strongest exhortation we have in the Bible for the role of the Bible in the life of the local church. Timothy, you are to preach the Word of God and he gives nine reasons for preaching the Word of God. A couple of them, three of them we’ve already covered, number 4 we’re going to move on into today, but “preach the Word” because the Word had an impact on me Paul says, verse 14. You saw how it changed me.
Number 2, preach the word because “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the” what? “the Word of God. [Romans 10:17] It’s the Word that God uses to convict the lost sinner of their need for Christ to be saved. For it’s the Scriptures that make us wise unto salvation. [“And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus,” 2 Timothy 3:15, KJV]
Number 3, and this is where we were last week, preach the Word because of its divine origin. You see, the Scriptures, Timothy, are what we call God-breathed. And this is what we would call the inspiration of the Scripture and we spent last Sunday talking about that and what that means. In other words, when you teach and preach the Bible you are not giving man’s thoughts, you’re in the realm of God’s thoughts. And God promises to bless His thoughts. God does not promise to bless a man; He does not promise to bless a method; He does not promise to bless a movement. What He promises to bless is His truth. So wherever His truth goes and wherever it’s unshackled and allowed to do what it wants to do in the lives and the hearts of God’s people, a blessing of some sort naturally follows.
And that takes us into the second part of verse 16 which is where we’re going to spend our time today. The fourth reason to preach the Word of God is its impact on progressive sanctification. Notice verse 16, let me re-read it: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction and for training in righteousness.”
Paul here is no longer dealing with the subject of justification; he’s dealing with the subject of sanctification. And if you’ve been tracking with our ministry for any length of time this is a chart we frequently use to highlight the three tenses of salvation. First there is justification, that’s where we are saved from sin’s penalty at the point of personal faith in Christ. It’s a one-time event that happens to a person the moment they trust in the Savior. And we’ve already learned from verse 15 that the Scriptures play a pivotal role in our justification. The Scriptures, in fact, are the ones that tell us or the things that tell us that we need to be justified because these are the Scriptures that make us wise unto salvation.
Now after you become a Christian you’ll notice the Bible doesn’t just leave you alone; it moves you into the second phase of your salvation called practical sanctification, which unlike justification which happens in an instant, sanctification is a process that we are all in and it’s a process that we continue on into until our dying day as long as we are in these physical bodies where we are gradually being delivered from sin’s power and our lives begin to reflect the moral qualities of Jesus Christ Himself. This is God’s agenda for every single child of God. He doesn’t want them simply to be justified and have their fire insurance paid up to they won’t go to hell, as important as that is, He wants them to grow in the Christian life. That’s what progressive sanctification is about. Most of the New Testament is written to help people in that second phase of salvation.
The spiritual gifts are designed to help the believer in that second phase of salvation and what we’re learning here, from verse 16, is the Scriptures play a pivotal role in the second phase of our salvation which is progressive sanctification. Did not Jesus pray the following prayer in John 17:17, “Sanctify” middle tense, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” Jesus specifically indicated that sanctification cannot and will not occur independent of God’s truth. Your progress in sanctification is dependent upon your exposure to the Word of God consistently and you obeying God’s Word under His power over and over again. It’s a process that simply will not happen in a person’s life independent or isolated from the Word of God.
Paul, in Acts 20:32 says this, this is at the end of his third missionary journey as he spoke to the spiritual leaders at Ephesus, he said, “And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” What exactly is it that’s going to build you up and give you an inheritance among those who are sanctified? Paul is very clear in Acts 20:32, it is the Word of God.
And so verse 16, then, becomes a tremendous description of the work that the Word seeks to do in the life of every child of God. And he mentions, looking at this by way of outline, something at the beginning profitable, and then he’ll move on and he’ll describe the fourfold impact of the Scripture on this process called progressive sanctification. So let’s take a look here and unpack these words one by one and that will be the content of our message this morning.
Notice again verse 16, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable” let’s focus just for a minute on this word “profitable.” The Greek is ōphelimos, profitable simply means beneficial, helpful, healthy, practical; it’s bringing something into your system of your spiritual life that is actually good for you. So the promise of the Scripture, as it does its work in the child of God is that once you avail yourself to the Scripture you are availing yourself to something that is good for you, something that will help us, something that is profitable.
The book of Isaiah, chapter 55, verses 10-11 says this: “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth, And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;  So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”
It will always accomplish what I desire, God says, and it will always accomplish the reason for which it was sent. This is what we would call the work of the Word, the profitable nature of the Word. It seeks to accomplish something in the life of every child of God, every time that it is taught or read.
The prophet Jeremiah, chapter 23 and verse 29 says, “‘Is not My word like fire?’ declares the LORD, ‘and like a hammer which shatters a rock?’” Our hearts in sin are like rocks that need to be broken, chiseled, unsettled by the Word of God. The Word of God does this very thing in our lives. That’s why when you go through the ministry of Jesus Christ right on down to his seven final statements on the cross, what was constantly coming out of Christ’s mouth over and over again was the Word of God.
In fact, in Luke 4:1-13 Jesus, in a temptation at the hands of Satan, was pushed the furthest degree a human being has ever been pushed in the area of temptation.
[Luke 4:1, “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness  for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He became hungry.  And the devil said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.’  And Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE.’  And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.  And the devil said to Him, ‘I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.  Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.’  Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD AND SERVE HIM ONLY.’  And he led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here;  for it is written, ‘HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU TO GUARD YOU,’  and, ‘ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP, SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.’  And Jesus answered and said to him, “It is said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.’ When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time.”]
And how does Jesus respond to each temptation? He responds with the expression, “It is written,” and then a citation of Scripture. In that exchange He quotes, “MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE. Deuteronomy 8:3. He quotes, “YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD AND SERVE HIM ONLY,” Deuteronomy 6:13. He quotes “YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST,” Deuteronomy 6:16.
What is so interesting to me about that is Jesus believed that the Scripture, even the book of Deuteronomy, was sufficient to sustain Him in the worst temptation a human being has ever gone through. Most Christians, I dare to say, have never even read the book of Deuteronomy. It’s just some big book that looks scary to us that’s near the front of our Bible somewhere. And yet Jesus had such a high view of that book He actually used that in His great contest with Satan.
These are all verses that you can use to show the profitable nature of the Word of God. Acts 20:32, a verse that I read to you a little earlier, it says, “And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to” to what, “to build you up….” Notice the Bible has an ability to do something for you. It’s able to produce qualities inside of us. That’s why Hebrews 4:12 describes the Word of God as living and active. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active” and we’ll be completing that verse a little later.
So what then is to be our posture towards the Word of God? As a child of God our natural posture is to take in the Word of God as much as we can take it in, as frequently as possible. The book of Joshua, chapter 1 verses 7-8, God says, “Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go.  This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it” how frequently? “day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.” Joshua, your success in the Promised Land is conditioned upon your relationship to the Scripture and on your willingness to intake the Scripture and on your willingness to meditate on the Scripture day and night; “day and night” is a description of repetition, regularity, consistency.
Psalm 1:2 talks about the righteous man, it says, “ His delight is in the law of the LORD and in His law he meditates” how frequently? “day and night.” There it is again.
Job 23:12 says, “I have not departed from the command of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” Job says as important as my breakfast is in the morning, my oatmeal, my cereal, my eggs and bacon, even more important than that is the intake of the Word of God; it’s more necessary than food itself Job says. Interesting!
Psalm 119:99-100 says this, “I have more insight than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation.  I understand more than the aged, Because I have observed Your precepts.” Isn’t it interesting that the writer of that Psalm, David, indicated that he was wiser than older people? See, a lot of people think wisdom only comes through experience. Not so! David says I actually have greater wisdom than older people. I actually have greater wisdom than even those who are in authority over me and teaching me. Why is that? Because I have meditated on Your Law and your testimonies.
Isn’t it interesting that simply by studying the Word of God and obeying the Word of God you can have more knowledge that the college professor with eight PhD’s after his name. You can have more wisdom and knowledge than even a person that’s far older in age than you chronologically.
This is what we would call the work of the Word revealing its profitable nature. Paul was challenged in Acts 17:11 by the Bereans and this is what it says in Acts 17:11, “Now these” that would be the Bereans, “were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness,” watch this, “examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” The Bereans are held out by Dr. Luke in the book of Acts as those who were more noble than other churches and other Christians. Why? Because they examined the Scriptures daily when they came in contact with Paul’s ministry, meditates on it day and night, examines the Scriptures daily, that’s why they were considered blessed and of a greater reputation than perhaps other churches.
1 Peter 2:2 says, “like newborn babies,” or babies, “long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation,” just like a child that’s a newborn wakes up in the middle of the night screaming their head off and they’re not interested in mom or dad coming in and having a philosophical conversation; they’re not interested in a theology lesson, they want to be fed. And so the newborn is singularly focused on the mother’s milk so that the child can grow correctly thereby. That is to be the posture of the child of God towards the Word of God. They are to be completely focused on the Word of God, they are to have a constant intake of the Word of God and if that is not happening in a person’s life then their developmental process is short-circuited.
2 Timothy 2:15, a verse we covered earlier in our series, Paul tells Timothy, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” We are to be workers of the Word, workmen or women of God’s Word. Why? For the simple reason that Paul references there in 2 Timothy 3:16, the Word of God is profitable, it is beneficial, it is healthy, it is like ingesting necessary vitamins and nutrients into one’s spiritual bloodstream.
Now as Paul moves on here in to verse 16, after describing the profitable nature of the Word of God he begins to specifically deal with the role that the Word of God seeks to play in our progressive sanctification, the middle tense of our salvation. So here he will talk about teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. I love the way Warren Wiersbe sums up the second half of verse 16. I love these older Bible teachers that can kind of capsulize the thought in a single sentence. And notice what Wiersbe says here: “They,” that’s the Scriptures, “are profitable,” we just got finished talking about profitable, “They are profitable for doctrine (what is right), for reproof (what is not right), for correction (how to get right), and for instruction in righteousness (how to stay right).” [Warren Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, 2:253]
Isn’t that great; in fact that’s so good I just ripped it off and stole it and that’s going to be our outline for today. Number 1, the Scripture is profitable for what? For teaching. This is what Warren Wiersbe calls “what is right,” doctrine, if you will. The Greek word for teaching here is a translation from the Greek noun, didaskalia, which simply means doctrine, body of truth, or teaching. What can the Scripture do for you as a gift from God into your life? It can show you what to build your life on. It can give you the proper body of teaching that is necessary to construct one’s life upon.
And how tragic it is to see people and even to see ourselves in so many circumstances living life without a fixed set of principles and boundaries defined by the Word of God. That’s a lot like trying to fly a plane with no compass or no navigation system. That’s how many people are, they’re just out reacting to things that happen in life, emotionally many times, but not viewing life through the fixed principles of God that only the Scripture can give.
I’m reminded of God’s warning through the prophet Hosea, chapter 4 and verse 6, God says, “My people are destroyed for lack of” what? “knowledge.” It’s interesting, he doesn’t say my people are destroyed because they’re not spiritually authentic. He doesn’t say my people are not destroyed for a lack of zeal, or energy, or activity. My people are simply “destroyed for a lack of knowledge.” They don’t know proper doctrine that only the Scripture can give to them and consequently they have nothing to build their lives on other than reactions to one’s circumstance after another in life.
And this is why Paul, in his ministry pattern, and this is what he is explaining to young Timothy, he patterned perpetual teaching of the Scripture. In fact, in Acts 20:18 this is what Paul said as he is dialing back on his relationship to the church at Ephesus. He says, “And when they had come to him, he said to them, ‘You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time,” and  “I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house.”
What is Paul doing here in ministry in Ephesus? He is focused on the Word of God. He says I didn’t hold back anything from you that I thought might benefit you and I taught you over and over, both publicly, we might refer to that as a pulpit ministry, and I taught you privately from house to house. Whether I was doing it publicly or whether I was doing it in the smaller group from house to house, I kept teaching over and over again the Scriptures because the Scriptures are profitable for doctrine. And this is why Paul would not compromise in this area of disseminating biblical truth. In fact, in 2 Corinthians 2:17 he says, “For we are not like many, peddling the word of God…” I don’t want to charge for the Word of God because I don’t want to peddle the word of God. I don’t want to make it sound as if you have to pay some kind of fee to receive from me what is spiritually beneficial.
Paul, in 2 Corinthians 4:2 says this: “But we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the Word of God.” What does it mean to adulterate the Word of God? Adultery is mixing two things that God does not want to go together. We think of sexual sin, we think of spiritual sin, Paul says I am not mixing the Word of God with anything. I will not, we might call it in modern day vernacular, watering down the Word of God, Paul says I will not adulterate the Word of God.
The principles of Freud and Young and Skinner may be very insightful; the principles of Charles Darwin may be very insightful. But I will not bring such teachings into my presentation of the Word of God because the Word of God itself is beneficial. I am not interested in mixing the Word of God with a bunch of manmade marketing management ideas, most of which come from Stephen Covey, and others. I am simply interested in teaching the unadulterated pure Word of God.
And if there is a goal of the devil, and I believe the devil has many goals, it is to destroy the teaching ministry of the church. The moment you respond to the call of God as a Bible teacher you can expect all hell to break loose on your life because Satan will throw every monkey wrench into the equation that he could possibly throw because his goal is to derail the teaching of the Word of God, because the devil, at least he understands the beneficial nature of the Scripture.
In Acts 5:28 the Sadducees… now why do we call them the Sadducees? Because they are always sad you see. They only believed in the first five books of Moses, nothing else. They didn’t believe in angels, they didn’t believe in a resurrection, they are the ones that are persecuting the infant church in early Acts. And it’s interesting the first things the Sadducees did to the early church after abusing them is they said you are not to teach any more. See, the devil, right out of the gate, was trying to shut down the teaching ministry of the church. Acts 5:28 says, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in his name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your” doctrine, or “teaching.”
The Word of God has prospered, even though we as the Sadducees tried to stop it out of the gate. And it’s interesting to me that the devil is involved in that chapter, going back earlier in the chapter to what he put into the hearts of Ananias and Sapphira. I think the devil just kept on working in that chapter, no longer using believers as he did with Ananias and Sapphira but using unbelievers in the form of the Sadducees, all in an attempt to get the church away from its teaching ministry. Why would the devil do such a thing? Because he understands that the Word of God is profitable for teaching, or doctrine.
There is a second thing that the Word of God will do in your personal growth in Christ. Number 2, it will reprove you, reproof. Again, notice 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is God breathed,” inspired, “and profitable for teaching” here comes the second word, number 2, “for reproof.” Using Warren Wiersbe’s phraseology, now we’re dealing with reproof, what is not right; doctrine, what is right, here’s what you build your life on. But reproof is pointing out what is not right. The Greek word for reproof is elegmos. What does that mean? It means a rebuke. The Word of God exposes sin in the believer’s life and in the believer’s heart. There is nothing that will bring that to the surface, which is painful to happen, there is nothing that will more quickly reveal those things to us, there is nothing that will more quickly bring those things to the surface than a perpetual teaching of the Word of God.
There’s a reason this book is called a sword. Ephesians 6:17 says, “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” Hebrews 4:12, I read to you the first part of the verse earlier, what does the whole verse say: “For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged” what? “sword,” what do you do with a sword? You cut, you jab, you cause pain. The verse goes on and says, “piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” The word for “sword” is machaira, it’s the same word used to describe an actual physical sword. And this is what the Word of God will do, through the preaching and teaching ministry of the church; this is what the Word of God will do for you as you study it and read it for yourself.
It will reprove and if you want an example of this look at Acts 2:37 sometime because in the book of Acts, chapter 2, Peter just gave a beautiful expositional teaching. [Acts 2:37, “Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brethren, what shall we do?’”] He stood in front of a bunch of Jews that weren’t saved and he proved that the Holy Spirit that’s been sent is sent from Jesus, who was seated at the right hand of the Father, he uses Joel 2 to prove that. He proves that Jesus rose from the dead; he uses Psalm 16 to prove that. He proves that Jesus is the heir to David’s throne who will one day sit on David’s throne. He uses Psalm 132 to prove that. And then he kind of wraps up the whole thing by saying that Jesus is now at the right hand of the Father and he uses Psalm 110 to prove that. Joel 2, Psalm 16, Psalm 132, Psalm 110, I mean, a tremendous exposition of the Scriptures.
And what was the reaction when people heard this? Acts 2:37 says, “Now when they heard this they were pierced to the heart.” Why use the analogy of piercing? Because the word is a sharp sword, it exposes, it jabs, it injures by design, it reveals sinful conduct and sinful motivations in both believers and unbelievers. In fact, the crowd that heard Peter preach that tremendous expositional teaching, citing those four areas of the Old Testament, the only thing they could respond is what shall we do? I mean, they were so cut deeply at what Peter shared and it was not Peter’s oratorical pizazz that accomplished this, it was the work of the Word.
It’s the very thing that Paul says here, that “the Word of God is profitable for reproof,” and how we need to be reproved today because our hearts are sinful, are they not. In fact, my heart is so sinful that it actually contaminates how I think many times. That’s why the book of Proverbs says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding,” [Proverbs 3:5] Why would the Bible tell me not to lean on my own understanding? Because your understanding and the way we see things is warped because of sin. And this is why we need the mind renewed through the intake of the Word of God.
Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” There are things that you will look at as a lost human being that look good and they look right, but they’re not because the problem is the way you’re looking at it and your mind needs to be corrected by the Word of God, given the sinful mind.
And we must be in an environment where we are being corrected regularly by the Word of God; as the Word of God goes forth the great promise that Paul gives here in 2 Timothy 3:16 is the Word of God will do this, it will correct. And I honestly believe that this is the reason why the local church is abandoning the teaching ministry. And it’s why people will flock to an environment that tells them anything spiritual other than truth, because it’s a painful experience to be corrected by anyone, let alone God who knows the hearts of men and women.
John 3:20, Jesus says, “For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” The posture of the natural man, the posture of the believer that is steeped in sin is they don’t want the light. They don’t like the light. The Word of God, as we’ll see in a moment, is light, it is a lamp unto our feet.
And because of the cutting, penetrating, influence of the Word of God the natural tendency of people is to avoid the Word of God. This is why Paul will write to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:3-4, later in our series we’ll be reading these verses, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,  and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” Give me something spiritual but don’t make it too biblical because if you make it too biblical it’s going to cut too deeply.
The book of Amos, chapter 8 and verse 11, Amos says this: “‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘When I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, But rather for hearing the words of the LORD.  People will stagger from sea to sea. And from the north even to the east; they will go to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, But they will not find it.”
Why don’t they find it? A lot of times they don’t want to find it because I’ll tell you something, you can empty a church out by boldly teaching the Word of God, not because you’re trying to be mean or nasty, it’s the nature of the Word. The Word of God is designed this way; it’s designed as a sword to cut or to penetrate deeply. And so we want to stay away from the Word of God. It’s kind of like staying away from the dentist, staying away from the doctor. You know there’s something physically wrong with you but you won’t go to the doctor. Why won’t you go? Because you know the doctor is going to prescribe something for you. And it could mean a cutting or an incision of your skin, an operation or surgery of some kind and so rather than dealing with the root of the problem it’s just easier to stay away from the doctor as long as you can.
And so consequently people will stay away from church. They’ll gravitate towards a church that won’t tell them the truth, but a church that will tell them the truth they’ll stay away from that. Is there somebody else I can talk to, is there something else I can hear, maybe I can just come late and leave early so I can have a little bit of fellowship time with my family. Maybe I’ll just come after the service is over so I can kind of keep up with my acquaintances and friends but I really don’t want to go into the main service because I know if I go into the main service I know what’s going to happen so I stay away from it. And yet that’s the nature of the Word, it not only teaches but it corrects and it reproves.
There is a fourth way that the Word of God contributes to our growth in Christ. Back to 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is profitable for teaching, for reproof,” notice this next expression, “for correction.” Using Warren Wiersbe’s phraseology, correction deals with how to get right, reproof is what is not right, and correction is how to get right. [Warren Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, 2:253]
The Greek word here is epanorthōsis which deals not with the issue of cutting, that’s what reproof is; it deals with the issue of mending. It deals with the issue of correcting. In other words, the Bible will come alongside of you and it will tell you this: Here’s not what to do, and we feel bad about it because many times we’re going down that same road. But isn’t it great that the Bible doesn’t just leave us cut and bleeding? It says here’s what to do that’s right. That’s what is bound up in this word “correction.” Yes, it’s painful to go to the doctor, to get the bad news, to go through the operation but isn’t it great when the stitching happens and is behind us and we begin to heal?
You know, I had a medical issue, you all remember, about a year or so ago. Had I not gone into the doctor, gone through the surgery that I had to go through I would still be suffering from that exact same medical issue. And there are surgical removals that God seeks to do in our lives spiritually. But because we don’t want to expose ourselves to the cutting process we just go on and on and on and on in the Christian life, limping around, because God doesn’t want us to limp around, He wants to come in and do surgery to put us on the path of recovery, to put us on the path of healing, but because we don’t want to experience the cutting we would just rather stay sick.
We need to expose ourselves to the Word of God because it doesn’t simply tell us what is not right, it tells us how to get right. It tells us what to do. This is why Psalm 119:105 says this: “Your word is a” what? “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” How far would you get in life in darkness at a campout, like our men’s group for example, with no lamps, with no light, with no guidance. You would just be stumbling around, groping in the dark and yet the Word of God comes along and functions as that light or that lamp which can get us on the right path.
It can also keep us away from sin, if we take it seriously. Psalm 119:9-11 says this: “How can a young man keep his way pure?” I think that’s such a great question. In this age of pornographic addictions, in this age of online pornography, in this age of friendships being kindled on lying which leads to affairs, in this age where we are living at the lowest common denominator of morality, in this age where even watching commercials is inappropriate, sexual innuendos everywhere. How can a young man keep his way pure? The answer is, “By keeping it according to
Your word.  With all my heart I have sought You; Do not let me wander from Your commandments.  Your word” Psalm 119 verse 11, “Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.”
David says there are times I wanted to sin but I didn’t because of the dominance of the Word of God in my life it told me what to stay away from. It didn’t just rebuke me when I got out of line, it put me on the right road to correction.
You’ll notice that I’ve quoted a couple of verses there out of Psalm 119. Did you know that Psalm 119 is the longest, not only Psalm in the Psalter, it’s the longest book of the Bible, spanning about 176 verses. It’s what we call a Torah Psalm; a Torah Psalm is a psalm magnifying Torah, Torah means Law; Law would be the first five books of the Bible called by the Jews Torah, sometimes called Pentateuch, meaning five. And Psalm 119 is a tremendous exposition going 176 verses of the virtues of the benefits of the positive impact that studying Torah will do in the life of a person and a human being. If you ever want an expanded treatment on the work of the Word, the benefits of the Word, the power of the Word, I would challenge you to read and study Psalm 119.
You might be interested to know that Psalm 119 is an acrostic; every line begins with a letter, in order, of Hebrew alphabet. First letter, it gives you eight lines, all of those lines begin with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Then it will move to the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet and it will give you eight more lines. The third letter of the Hebrew alphabet, eight more lines, all the way through 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. You all know that 22 times 8 is 176; 176 verses. There’s a reason there’s 176 verses; as you move through the different letters of the Hebrew alphabet, verse through 22, 8 lines per letter. And what is the whole thing about when you get to the end? It’s an extolling and a remembrance of Torah, the Law of God.
Why don’t you study this week Psalm 119? And actually you can draw this out into three weeks; as you go through eight lines per day. Eight lines per day stretched that out over 22 days and see if that doesn’t change your attitude towards the Word of God, what the Word of God seeks to do, what the Word of God wants to accomplish. What does the Word of God do? It gives us enough data to build our lives upon what is right, then it comes alongside and reproves us through rebuke by telling us what is not right. And then the Word of God doesn’t just leave us cut, hurt and bleeding but it mends us and puts us on the right path. The work of the Word, what the Word does in progressive sanctification.
There’s one more here, and with this we are finished. It will train us in righteousness. “All Scripture,” verse 16, “is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction,” the last phrase there is “for training in righteousness.” Going back to Warren Wiersbe’s phraseology, “training in righteousness” is how to stay right. All right, you’ve been cut open and you’re bleeding but now you’re mending because you’re on the right path. How do you stay on the right path? That’s what this expressing, “training in righteousness” does. The word for training here is paidea, it is the identical word that’s used over in Ephesians 6 and verse 4 related to the training of children.
You might recall that verse; Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Word of God.” That’s the exact same expression “training” in Greek. What does the Word of God do for us? It prepares one for spiritual adulthood. It prepares one for spiritual maturity. Now isn’t maturity a great thing, because as you become mature you get more privileges. Now that I’m pushing 50 I no longer have to call mom and dad and say what’s my curfew. Adulthood brings forth emancipation; adulthood brings forth privileges, and there are so many privileges with being an adult. God wants us to become spiritual adults. He wants us to put on the big boy pants. He wants us to stop sucking our thumbs. You know a child sucking their thumb at an early age, 2-3 years old is sort of cute, isn’t it. It’s not cute any more when the child is 16. It’s not fun anymore; the cuteness sort of leaves.
And you see, that’s where many of us are in the spiritual life. We should have grown up a long time ago but we wander around in infancy, not enjoying the emancipation and privileges of adulthood for the simple reason that the Word of God has a negligible, if any, role in our lives. We would rather occupy ourselves with anything, youtube videos, movies, entertainment, anything other than the Scripture, which is always difficult when God calls you to be a Bible teacher. How do you get a bunch of people to listen to something they don’t want to hear? That’s a challenge isn’t it. We naturally stay away from the Word of God because of its cutting influence but once it’s done its work, WOW, what a benefit.
Didn’t he tell us at the beginning of this verse that the Word of God is profitable? You see, are there really spiritual infants in the church? Paul says there are, in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3, “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people, but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.” You see that expression “babes in Christ”? That clearly communicates that you can be an infant “in Christ.”  I fed you with milk and not solid food; for until now you are not able to receive it and even now you’re still not able,  for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife and divisions among you, are you not carnal, are you not acting lie mere men.” You should have grown up a long time ago, Paul says.
And the issue here is you folks never got saved. That is such a misreading of that passage. Paul never says your problem is you never got saved? He calls them babes in Christ. The problem is they never got to a point where they could intake solid food. They thrived on milk but rejected the meat and consequently spent the majority of their lives in Christ, not enjoying the privileges or the emancipation of adulthood because the Word of God trains us in righteousness.
Paul divides the world up into four categories: first you’ve got unbelievers, people that need the gospel. Secondly, within the category of believers you have three kinds, as you study 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 you’ll see Paul describing all things. First of all there’s the carnal believer or the fleshly believer, or the believer that just goes back to the sin nature over and over again. They don’t understand their resources in Christ, they don’t know to live for Christ. The only thing they know how to do is do what they’ve always done, cater to the sin nature, and they spend their life in Christ in the state of infancy in arrested development, like you would see with the person with mental retardation or Downs Syndrome.
When you look at somebody with Downs Syndrome it’s always tragic because they never reach their potential. And may I just say to you that the church of Jesus Christ is filled with spiritual Downs Syndrome. It is filled with people that never reach their potential because they never had a proper posture or attitude towards God’s Word. There’s the infant Paul says. Now I used to think that was just the new Christian but I don’t think that’s true anymore because Paul says “by this time.” It’s not the 2 year old, 3 year old sucking their thumb; it’s the16 year old.
And then the last category there is the people that will bless your sox off, not the perfect believer, not the sinless believer, but the believer who sins less because they are actually growing in the realm of progressive sanctification. What makes someone an unbeliever? They never responded to the gospel through the Word of God. What makes someone carnal? They never responded to progressive sanctification as given in the Word of God. What makes someone an infant? They never responded in progressive sanctification to the intake of God’s Word. What puts someone in that last category, the spiritual category? They have a posture towards the Word of God, or they want to hear it, they want to listen to it, they want to read it, they want to honor it, and most importantly they want to obey it. They submit themselves to this ripping, tearing, cutting process and they’ve grown beyond it because the Word of God is not just there to tear them down; it’s there to put them on the right path.
The application here is pretty simple, isn’t it? Which one of these are you? Which one am I? Ephesians 4:14 says, “As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;” no longer a child. You know, it’s interesting, children believe anything you tell them. You could tell them the moon is made of Swiss cheese and they’d believe it.
You know, there’s a lot of Christians like that? They believe everything they’re told as long as the person telling them is doing it from a position of spiritual authority behind a pulpit, on radio, on television; they just absorb everything. But isn’t it interesting that when you bring your child home from the hospital and she or he is crawling on the ground everything they see they put in their mouth. But if the child is ten years old, sixteen years old, still crawling on the ground, still sucking their thumb, still putting everything they hear or everything they see into their mouth, you’ve got a major developmental issue.
Paul is telling us put on the big boy pants; it’s time to grow up. And your response to the Word of God is its dealing with us in the realm of pragmatic and practical sanctification is the single thing that Jesus uses to grow us up. What did He say with the verse we started with? “Sanctify them in Thy” what? Word, “Thy Word is truth.” Will the Word of God help you in the middle tense of your salvation? You’d bet, it’s profitable. And it, if allowed, will have a fourfold impact on us through teaching, giving us a body of knowledge to build our lives upon, reprove; telling us what we’re not doing right. Correcting us, putting us on the right path and then training us in righteousness, preparing us for spiritual adulthood.
Warren Wiersbe, again, in closing says, “They are profitable” the Scriptures for doctrine (what is right), for reproof (what is not right), for correction (how to get right), and for instruction in righteousness (how to stay right).” [Warren Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, 2:253]
Shall we pray; Father, we are grateful for this verse and what it reveals concerning our need to grow in You. Make us a flock and a congregation here at Sugar Land Bible Church that wants to allow the Word to do its work, not just in hearing, but in delicate surgery and in doing. We ask that You will do this great work in our lives. We’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus name, and God’s people said….