Why Preach the Bible? Part 1
4-10-16 2 Timothy 3:14-15a Lesson 26
Good morning everybody, if we could take our Bibles and open them to the book of 2 Timothy chapter 3 and verse 14, maybe making it through part of verse 16 today. The title of our message this morning is Why Preach the Bible? Part 1. I guess you guys think I might have a lot to say on this or something. Why Preach the Bible? Part 1.
Well, here we are in the book of 2 Timothy. If you’re visiting with us for the very first time we’ve been working our way through 2 Timothy, which is really a book about completing the task, as Paul writes to a young struggling pastor who is thinking of quitting. Paul writes this book at the very end of his life to encourage Timothy to endure in his calling.
Chapter 1 is really a generic call to faithfulness in the ministry. Chapter 2 are ten metaphors, or word pictures, explaining what endurance looks like. We went through all ten of these fairly carefully. And then you get to chapter 3 and the subject matter changes into a prediction about something that you hardly hear about today, although we see evidence of it all around us; the prediction of the last days apostasy of the church.
Apostasy as we have defined it is a departure from known truth. It’s not something that happens in the world because they’d have no truth from which to depart. It’s a specific prediction, rather, that Paul makes for the church as the church age winds to its conclusion. The church will sort of have a tendency to run off the rails, if you will. It’s fidelity to the truth will be compromised. And Paul never tells Timothy it can be avoided, rather he tells him what to do in the midst of it. So he describes this apostasy, verses 1-9 with its evil, verses 1-7; and its examples, he gives a couple of examples from the Old Testament, verses 8-9. And it’s interesting that Paul doesn’t just say the world or the church is going to go to hell in a handbasket; he tells Timothy what to do as it goes to hell in a handbasket.
And the first thing he tells Timothy to do, verses 10-13 is imitate Paul’s character in nine ways. Here’s some things to imitate in my ministry, verses 10; my character, verse 10, and then last week you recall he says I want you to imitate me, Timothy, as you watch me go through difficulties. So there was a two decade relationship between Paul and Timothy. Paul, of course, went through hard times; Timothy saw him in the midst of these hard times. And he says I want you to respond as you have seen me respond when I went through hard times because, Timothy, hard times are coming for you and for the church.
Now that’s a section that we completed last week and now what he moves into is… and hence the title Why Preach the Bible? The second thing Timothy is to do in the midst of this apostasy is he is to cling to and proclaim the… really the only barometer of truth that God ever gave to the world and that’s the Scripture. The Scripture will become progressively denied, discarded, as we move into the apostasy of the church and Timothy, what I want you to do in the midst of the apostasy is I don’t want you to follow the pattern of everybody else, I want you to gravitate towards the truth, because if you should ever lose sight of the truth you lose your vantage point for living.
You lose your compass, it’s like trying to fly an airplane without a compass. That’s what it’s like trying to live the spiritual life without being hemmed in by the barometer, or the compass, of God’s truth. And of all of the sections in the Bible that I think are most relevant to today I would have to put this, perhaps, at the very top because we are living amongst a generation, we are living in a climate where the truth of God, even within His own Church is being marginalized, if not jettisoned altogether.
Slipping over, just for a minute over to 2 Timothy, one chapter to the right, chapter 4, verse 2, a verse we won’t be getting to today but I just want to make a brief comment about it, Paul is going to tell Timothy to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season.” Now notice this expression, “in season and out of season.” Another way of saying that is when it’s in vogue, when it’s not in vogue; when it’s popular, when it’s not popular. In other words, truth and the love for truth is going to go through times when truth is very, very popular and it’s going to go through times, even in the life of the church where truth is very, very unpopular. Timothy, you are not to adjust your ministry based on the popularity of what you’re saying. You’re to preach the truth whether people are embracing it or whether people are rejecting it.
And I believe, very strongly as I’ve been preparing these messages that we are living in the time when the truth of God is no longer in season but it is very much out of season. You find yourself, as you embrace the truth, really going, fighting uphill, if you will, doing against the grain. And so these words that Paul gives to Timothy are so pertinent for the time period in which we live.
Now let me give you some examples and I’m not trying to give you these examples to harangue against certain people but I’m trying to give you a flavor for the spiritual climate that we find ourselves in in the 21st century, in the year 2016. I’m trying to establish the pertinence, the need and the relevance for this particular section of Scripture that we are now entering. We have something called the Emergent Church and here’s an Emergent Church writer, Doug Paget, and he writes that “At Solomon’s porch” which is the name of his church, “sermons are not primarily about extracting truth from the Bible to apply to people’s lives.” [Doug Pagitt, cited in Oakland, 41-42]
Now my philosophy of ministry is the exact opposite of that; that’s exactly what I’m trying to do. “So our sermons are not lessens that precisely define belief so much, rather they are stories that welcome our hopes, our ideas and our participation.”
You have to understand something that from this pulpit we are actually trying to precisely define belief because what we think is what you believe about that subject determines where you spend eternity. But you see, these churches, particularly what’s called the Emergent Church, they don’t have that philosophy of ministry at all.
Another quote from Dan Kimball, an Emergent Church writer, he’s talking about his teaching philosophy. “It isn’t about clever apologetics or careful exegetical or expository preaching… Emerging generations” and when he mentions emerging generations he’s primarily talking about the 20 somethings, a group that we call the Millennials, “Emerging generations are hungering to experience God in worship.” [Dan Kimball, The Emerging Church, 116]
So you see a lot of what I would call the either/or fallacy in these writers. They think if you’re too much into doctrine you’re ignoring devotion. Whoever said we had to make a choice between the two? It’s the fallacy of the excluded middle; it’s not either or, it’s both and. And if you don’t have careful exegetical or expository preaching you have no basis to evaluate and experience when it comes your direction because what we discover in the Scripture is that God is the author of experiences; so is Lucifer or Satan and the fallen angelic realm. Islam, Mormonism, many false religions I could narrate for you came into existence because somebody, whether it be Mohammed or Joseph Smith, had some kind of experience. The experience was real, but how do you determine if the experience you are receiving is of God, or of Satan, or of the flesh? The only thing that helps you in something like that is careful exegetical or expository preaching because God will not act inconsistently with what He has revealed in His Word.
But you’ll notice the different shift that’s happening in many of these emergent churches. Leonard Sweet, an Emergent Church writer says this: “A spiritual Tsunami has hit postmodern culture. The wave will build without breaking for decades to come. The wave is this: people want to know about God. They want less to know about God … they want new experiences, especially the new experiences of the divine.” [Leonard Sweet, Soul Tsunami, 420]
Another Emergent Church writer, very popular individual, if you want to Barnes and Noble Bookstore you could find all his books prominently displayed in the religion section; tragically even in the Christian section. He writes, in a book called Generous Orthodoxy his philosophy of ministry is “something beyond a belief system or doctrinal array, or even a practice. I mean an attitude– an attitude towards God and our neighbor and our mission that is passionate.” [Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, 117-18]
And you hear this a lot from people, don’t give me doctrine, don’t give me Scripture, don’t give me theology, give me passion. Well let me just say this, what are you going to be passionate about? I’m all for passion. What are you going to be passionate about is contingent upon what God has revealed in His Word.
Let me tell you something; the prophets of Baal were very passionate, when you study the contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal. In fact, they were so passionate that they were actually slashing themselves, cutting themselves trying to invoke fire from heaven but they were passionate about something that is wrong. And they could have known better had they consulted the pages of God’s Word. But if all you’re about is passion and authenticity at the expense of truth you end up being passionate about the very wrong things, don’t we. But it’s very interesting how people are trying to sever experience from truth constantly in these citations.
Here are some buzzwords that float around quite a bit today. “Don’t give me doctrine, just give me Jesus.” Question: how do you know which Jesus it is you’re worshipping? Is it the Jesus or Arianism, which is what the Jehovah’s Witnesses teach, Jesus is a created being. Is it the Jesus of Mormonism which teaches that Jesus is just the spirit brother of Lucifer? Is it the Jesus of the New Age Movement which says Jesus is just one of many ascended masters. Or is it the Jesus of the Bible who said “I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me.” Which Jesus is it? The only way you could ascertain that and discern it and determine it is by consulting God’s Word and being familiar with truth.
“What really matters is Christ not creed.” The sayings go on. “Devotion is important and not doctrine.” “What counts is our behavior, and not our belief.” That last one deserves some comment. Behavior is determined by beliefs. What it is you are doing as a Christian, whether it be evangelism, holy living, you can’t have those things unless something is formed in the mind first called a belief system. And yet people today, for whatever reason, are throwing out theology, doctrine, Scripture, they just want to be relevant, authentic, devoted. It’s a frightening time that we find ourselves in.
Probably the runaway best seller, at least of the 1990’s, maybe also today, actually into the year 2000, is a book called The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. I can’t tell you how many pastors and churches and elder boards that I was familiar with in the Dallas area that were totally devoting themselves, not to Romans, not to Ephesians, not to Galatians, but to Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life. Let me give you a few quotes from that book. “God won’t ask you about your religious background or doctrinal views.” These are direct quotes. “Jesus said our love for each other – not our doctrinal beliefs – is our greatest witness to the world.” Once again a comment is necessary. If I’m really going to love people I have to have a doctrinal basis for that. I have to understand God’s love for me and my willingness to dispense that to others. But if you cut truth from the equation there’s no framework for loving other people.
Rick Warren goes on and says: “Today many assume that spiritual maturity is measured by the amount of biblical information and doctrine you know.” [Purpose Driven Life 34, 124, 183] Now what you see with a lot of these quotes is what’s called a straw man argument. A straw man argument is a logical fallacy; a straw man argument is something where you misrepresent your opponents belief and then you tear down, not what you opponent actually says but this caricature, this straw man that you have created. And isn’t it interesting how easy a man of straw topples over because it’s not the real argument that people are making; you’re reacting to something that you have created. And people think that we, as a Bible based church, are teaching that spiritual maturity is determined by knowledge. We have said over and over again from this pulpit that it is not data in the mind that you use for spiritual maturity, it’s living consistently with that data. Knowledge must lead to wisdom. But let me tell you something, you can’t have wisdom, which is knowledge applied, until you first have what? Knowledge.
So what’s he’s doing there is he’s erecting this strawman that all we’re about is teaching knowledge and we don’t care how people live; that is a straw man or a mischaracterization or a misrepresentation of what it is we emphasize and teach.
Rick Warren goes on and he says, “The Bible is far more than a doctrinal guidebook.” He goes on and he says, “The last thing many believers need today is to go to another Bible Study. They already know far more than they are putting into practice.” Isn’t that an interesting quote, “The last thing” you should be doing is going to going to yet “another Bible Study.” I think that’s probably one of the first things you ought to be doing because Romans 12:2 tells us that our minds need to be renewed day by day. [Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”] How in the world is that supposed to happened unless you have a constant intake of God’s Word.
Now this last one is sort of humorous, I get a chuckle out of it myself, “My pastor has been in Daniel’s seventy weeks longer than Daniel was!” [Purpose Driven Life 186, 231; Purpose Driven Church 300] And we can all take a little laugh at that but I want you to see what’s beneath that comment. Don’t overdo it on this eschatology stuff! Don’t overdo it on prophecy! In fact, if you ever were to take the time to study Daniel’s magnificent prophecy of the Seventy Weeks you would walk away from that prophecy with absolute certitude that the Bible is God’s Word. And beyond that you would have a framework for interpreting future events. I think Daniel’s seventy weeks prophecy ought to be played up in the life of the local church and not played down.
A few more quotes if you’ll indulge me. In another work Rick Warren seems to marginalize in depth teaching when he recommends that a sermon series should never go beyond eight weeks, for fear that the congregation will lose interest. I guess he didn’t listen to our John series which went three years.
In an interview with David Kuo, Warren repeated his marginalization of an emphasis on truth, quote: “I am looking for a second reformation.” Warren says, “The reformation of the church 500 years ago was about belief. This one is going to be about behavior. The first one was about creeds. This one is going to be about deeds. It’s not going to be about what does the church believe, but about what is the church doing.” So you see the emphasis here is no longer on knowledge but activity.
And you have this in an awful lot of evangelical churches; you have what I would call a busy church, where people are out doing a lot of things and then when you actually probe why it is they’re supposedly doing what they’re doing you get some blank stares. Knowledge is never designed as a last step, it’s designed as a first step. But you can’t perform or act consistently and properly in the Christian life unless you first have knowledge.
Here’s another quote from mega church pastor Andy Stanley, some of you may know Charles Stanley, Andy Stanley is the son of legendary Pastor Charles Stanley. This comes from an interview in Christianity Today, a fairly recent statement. “Andy Stanley, the younger Stanley, was asked what do you think about preaching verse by verse messages through books of the Bible? He answered, [quote] “Guys that preach verse by verse through books of the Bible, that’s just cheating, and it’s cheating because that would be easy, first of all,” in a sense it is easy because I don’t have to pick my sermon topics, God picks them, the quote goes on, “that isn’t how you grow people. No one in the Scriptures modeled that; there is not one example of that.”
I beg to differ; if you were to study sometime the book of Nehemiah chapter 8, we may actually get into that chapter at some point in these messages, it’s a marvelous chapter about expository preaching and teaching in the life of God’s people. In fact, a revival broke out because of that model of expository preaching and teaching. In fact, I would say this: in the Old Testament there are numerous authentic revivals, but none of them ever take place unless God’s people return to God’s truth. There was a great revival in 2 Kings 22 that broke out in the days of Josiah and what precipitated that revival was a retrieval, if you will, of the neglected Law of God which had been hidden in the temple.
You get into the teachings of Christ and he says, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by” what? “every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” [Matthew 4:4] Acts 2:42, the early church devoted themselves to apostolic doctrine . [Acts 2:42, “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”] And finally on that list there I have there the chapters that we’re entering into now which is one of the most concentrated chapters in the Scripture speaking of the necessity of expository teaching and preaching line by line, verse by verse. [2 Timothy. 3:15–4:2]
I often wonder when I see one quote after another like this if we are not entering a new Dark Ages. The Dark Ages, when you study it in church history was a terrible time when the Bible was denied to your average person. The Bible was chained to the pulpits in most occasions; people were told the only people that could interpret the Bible were the priests. And in fact, most of the population was illiterate and they could not even read the Bible if they wanted to. And even beyond that, you have the priests wildly spiritualizing and allegorizing the Bible. And what kind of time period was that? That’s a time period that we call the Dark Ages.
The Dark Ages was a time where you would hear sayings like this: “When the coin in the coffer rings the soul from purgatory springs.” It’s what you call the sale of indulgences where the priests were making a fortune off the manipulated and ignorant people, telling them that they could get their relatives out of purgatory if they just paid the right price to the priest. And the masses were susceptible to that lie. Why is that? Because they were removed from the Bible. I wonder if we’re not re-entering this time period of the new Dark Ages. This time it will not be because of illiteracy or allegorism, it will be largely because we have imposed it upon ourselves by buying into an inaccurate and improper philosophy of ministry.
According to church management expert, Aubrey Malphurs, in a book entitled Planting Growing Churches for the 21st Century, this is what he says: “Preaching is only one of many ways to facilitate life change and it’s not necessarily the best method.”
And the reason I’m sharing these things with you is I hear this constantly from people, “I can’t find a church that teaches the Bible.” We get e-mails and calls here quite frequently where people say I live in such and such part of the country, can you recommend a church that actually teaches the Bible the way you folks do at Sugar Land Bible Church? And many times I can’t even come close to recommending a church in that area. And the reason is because the leadership of the church, aspiring ministers in the pastoral literature, are subjected to these types of quotes. Over and over again discouraging them from doing exactly the opposite of what Paul will tell Timothy to do in these chapters.
And what is Aubrey Malphurs preaching replacement? In another book that he authored he declares this, quote: “Most people can count on their hand the number of sermons that have accomplished significant changes in their lives. While preaching is most important and contributes to life change, small group activity best contributes to life changes and transformed lives.”
And you’re starting to hear this phrase used a lot more: “learning takes place in circles, not rows.” And what they’re saying is get away from the pulpit ministry, get away from expository preaching and get around in a little group and do what I like to call a pooling of ignorance where everybody in the group says well what does the verse mean to you? Well, to me it means such and such. And someone else says what does the verse mean to you? Well, to me it means such and such. And you go around a circle and everybody contributes the abundance of their own ignorance. And the fact of the matter is everybody leaves confused. Why? Because you don’t have someone trained as a leader who can go into the original languages, into context and derive the meaning. And so we have this mentality where learning takes place in circles rather than rows.
And I would be remiss to leave out Joel Osteen, wouldn’t I. Mega church pastor Joel Osteen recently pontificated to a Newsmax interviewer as to why his congregation at Lakewood Church has grown numerically. This is a direct quote from the interview. “One thing that we do – it’s not just at our church — but we try to make Christianity and faith relevant and practical.” Well, I’m in favor of that, let’s make it relevant and practical. The quote goes on, “Another part of it is that it is positive. I mean, there’s a lot of things beating people down already. I have found that most people feel guilty enough. They already know what they’re doing wrong. Not everybody but most. Our message is to try to make Christianity practical and relevant, how do I have a good attitude? How do I reach my destiny? If there is some times when we don’t change, and it’s just all about doctrine, and it’s just ‘I’m going to be beat down, I’m going to feel guilty’ then maybe that’s what pulls people away.”
Again, it is another strawman argument. The argument or the caricature that’s presented is if you are into doctrine and Bible teaching you’re interested in beating people down. You’re interested in making people feel guilty. May I just say to you that first of all, guilt is not the worst thing in the world. Guilt functions a lot like your pain nerves function. For example, I can have my hand on a hot stove and if I don’t have pain shooting through my body alerting me to the fact that my hand is on a hot stove, I could end up destroying my hand. So in that case, the pain becomes a friend and not an enemy.
Or, for example, I could be walking on a beach in bare feet and there could be broken glass beneath the surface. And if I don’t have pain shooting through my body telling me that there’s broken glass under the sand I will end up doing irreparable damage to my feet. The pain at that point becomes a friend and it tells me to stop doing whatever I am doing because what I am doing may end up destroying my feet, my body and my hand.
And we’re living in this culture today where people want to go to church and they don’t want to feel bad or they don’t want to feel guilty about anything. Let me tell you something; God loves you too much to see you destroy yourself in sin. He knows the horrible ramifications and consequences of sin and consequently God tries to dissuade you from sin and consequently the tool that he uses many times is guilt; guilt in that circumstance is not your enemy, guilt becomes your friend. And yet Joel Osteen is up talking to people saying we don’t want people to feel guilty.
Now I am not against guilt, however, I don’t want to leave people feeling guilty either. The strawman that’s created with this kind of quote is we are just interested in beating people down. No we’re not! We’re interested in people changing. We are interested in people transforming. And sometimes the way to a better life and the good news is to receive, first of all, some bad news. And so at the end of the day the end game is not to make people feel guilty and to beat people down; it is to set people free. We’re not interested in simply beating people down, we are interested in setting people free because Jesus said in John 8:32, what did He say there, let’s look at that just for a minute, notice this statement here, John 8:32, “and you will know the” what? “truth, and the truth will make you” what? “ free.” We’re not interested in beating people down; we’re not interested in guilt being an end in and of itself. What we are interested in is liberating people. And yet God is very clear in His Word that that cannot and will not happen independent of divine truth.
Now I’ve finished with my quotes and so some of you are probably breathing a sigh of relief. I simply share those quotes to tell you how relevant and pertinent these chapters are in 2 Timothy. It’s almost as if the Holy Spirit, who is omniscient, knew we would arrive at this place in history and He’s telling pastors, in the midst of all of this apostasy, what to focus on and they are to focus on the Word of God. These chapters are so important because we are living amongst a generation of Christians and evangelicals that have largely lost confidence in the Scriptures. We really, by and large, don’t believe that the Scripture can do what it claims it will do when we let it have a proper place in our lives.
Notice 1 Timothy 4:13 just for a moment. Paul says in the first letter to Timothy, “Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.” Obviously Paul was not someone who had no confidence in the Scripture. He admonished young Timothy in the first letter that that is to be the focus of his attention. Paul says, in fact “Until I come” I want you to be devoted to not just the public reading of Scripture but to its exhortation and to its teaching.
Dan Wallace, a Greek professor in a very good quote that I appreciated very much, in an article he wrote called “Crisis of the Word: A message to Pastors or Would-be Pastors,” this is Dan Wallace’s analysis of 2 Timothy, which we know as a pastoral letter. Wallace says, “By my count, there are twenty-seven explicit commands given in the body of this letter. In 27 words Paul tells pastors what to focus on. You would have to be blind to miss the thrust of Paul’s instructions here, because eighteen of those commands–fully two-thirds–have to do with the ministry of the Word.” [Daniel Wallace, “Crisis of the Word: A Message to Pastors or Would-be Pastors,” Conservative Theological Journal 1, no. 2 (August 1997): 108.]
In this short book that we are going through, just four chapters, there are 27 commands that young Timothy, a pastor, is to fulfill, and two-thirds of those commands relate to the necessity of public preaching and teaching of the Word of God. Exactly the opposite direction of where the church growth movement wants to go. Exactly the opposite direction of where the emergent church wants to go. Paul is sending Timothy (and by extension us) in the opposite direction.
We might ask a very simple question today: Why have a Bible church? I mean, why do we do things the way that we do? Why is it that you are out there listening and I am up here preaching and teaching, having prepared myself all week to deliver something from God’s Word to you? Why do it that way? Why not just have kind of a call in environment, where people just kind of phone in or call in or write in questions? Why not just have a plethora of small groups meeting around this building? Why are we involved in this practice of public proclamation teaching and preaching of the Word of God? Is this not an outdated format?
Paul is going to answer that very strongly in the negative. It is not an outdated format! In fact, should the church ever jettison this format it will lose sight of the life of God. Why is that? Because Paul in these chapters is going to be very clear that when God’s Word is preached things happen. Things happen through the open preaching and teaching of the Word of God that in the life of the believer (and even in the unbeliever) will happen no other way.
Isaiah 55:10-11 makes this promise. Do you believe this promise: I believe it or I wouldn’t be up here doing what I am doing week after week. Isaiah 55:10-11 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, ad 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,” some translations say void, “Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”
Isaiah says just as rain comes down and contributes to agricultural prosperity and productivity, in the same way when the Word of God goes forth in clarity and accuracy it does something, first of all to unbelievers, but it also does something for the believer. It does not return empty, it does not return void. If I didn’t believe that promise, as apparently many evangelicals are just discarding a promise like that, I would have jettisoned this format a long time ago.
Jeremiah 23:29 says this: “‘Is not My word like fire?’ declares the LORD, ‘and like a hammer which shatters a rock?’” What is God’s Word like when it is actually unleashed? It’s like a hammer shattering a rock. I’ve been in churches where there is a very faithful proclamation of Scripture, hopefully like the church you’re in here, and I have left changed Sunday after Sunday after Sunday. I trust the same thing is happening in your life because when God’s Word is taught openly, boldly, courageously, and clearly it doesn’t matter what the studies say, it doesn’t matter what the gurus are pontificating. God’s Word has and does and always will change people. And that’s why these verses in 2 Timothy 3;14 and following become so instrumental.
All of that was just a little introduction, now we can get into the verses itself. But I went through that to show you the necessity of why it is we’re doing what we’re doing because most people today are confused about the whole thing.
What Paul does here is he gives, and we won’t go through all these today, we may get through one or two of them, or three of them if lucky, he goes through nine reasons why Timothy, as the apostasy grows, must continue on in the proclamation and the study of the Word of God. Now previously when you back up to verses 10-13 there’s a symmetry here because Paul has told Timothy to imitate Paul’s character in nine ways. What do you do Timothy as the apostasy comes? You imitate my character in nine ways. And then, beginning in verse 14 he says you need to continue on in public study, teaching, and proclamation of Scripture for nine reasons. Imitate my character in nine ways, and number 2, continue on with the Word of God because there are nine reasons why you must continue on in the Word of God.
So we are entering a section now that the systematic theologians would call Bibliology, “ology”of course means what? Study of, Biblios means book. Bibliology has to do with what does the Bible claim about itself. What does the Bible say about the Bible? There are many different branches of systematic theology. Wednesday nights we’re working our way through Soteriology, which is the doctrine of what? Salvation. Eschatology, another branch of systematic theology, the doctrine of the end. Pneumatology, the doctrine of the Spirit. Christology, the doctrine of Christ.
Anthropology, the doctrine of man. Protology the doctrine of the beginning. Here we’re moving into Bibliology, what does the Bible say about itself. And the reason people’s philosophies of ministry are being compromised today is because they have a very low level of Bibliology. And so we’re going to try to raise the bar and see exactly what it is the Bible has to say about this subject.
Nine reasons why Timothy is to continue on with the Word of God as a pastor in the midst of apostasy. Number 1, verse 14, the first reason is because the Word of God actually had an impact on Paul. Take a look, if you will, at verse 14 of chapter 3, Paul writes, “You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them.” Paul tells Timothy here you’ve learned from me, backing up to verses 10-13, nine items. You have “become convinced of” these things, in fact, you have become confident of these things. These are the things that people will lose confidence in, in the midst of the apostasy, but you, by contrast, have become confident in these things, and I want you to continue on in these things. And beyond that I want you to continue on in these things because you learned these things from me.
Now that requires us to know a little something about Paul. Who was this man, Paul, when he was Saul? Well, most of us that know the biblical story know that Paul was a man, when he was Saul, who was not a promoter of Christianity at all but he was, in fact, a great persecutor of Christianity. And in fact, going back to 1 Timothy 1:13 Paul says this: “even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief.” You see, everybody has some kind of background that they’re ashamed of. Even in this room, if we were to go around and share our backgrounds we would be somewhat embarrassed by our backgrounds.
But if anybody had reason to be embarrassed by his background it was Paul. He was, number 1, a blasphemer, number 2, a persecutor, and number 3, a violent aggressor. And in fact he was so violent in his aggression that it was Saul, before he became Paul, that presided over the first execution in the church age, the execution of a man named Stephen. In fact, it was Saul who was holding the garments of the various unbelieving Jews as they were pummeling Stephen with rocks, one of the first Christians.
And Paul changed. He was converted. What changed him? Notice verse 15 and notice the conjunction “and” that follows verse 14 The conjunction “and” in verse 15 is connecting verse 15 back to verse 14 because what does he start talking about in verse 15? The Scriptures. The “sacred writings.” What changed Paul? Certainly it was a vision from the Lord, that had a huge effect on Paul, obviously, Acts 9, but he is revealing something else that changed him away from being a blasphemer, a persecutor and a violent aggressor. It was the Word of God that changed him. It was the Word of God that impacted him. It was the Word of God that altered the course of my behavior, and Timothy, I want you to understand something, that this book has the power to change. It has the power to transform a person’s character; it has the power to transform a person’s soul. And Timothy, I am a textbook example of it.
The first reason you ought to preach and teach the Word of God, the first reason out of nine reasons is number 1, the impact that the Scripture had on this man, Paul, not only in terms of his conversion but his continued growth, as we will see.
The second reason Timothy is to continue on with the Scripture is because of the impact that this book has on salvation. Notice verse 15 as Paul is communicating to Timothy, verse 15, “and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings,” now question: what are “the sacred writings”? The “sacred writings” are the Scriptures. The “sacred writings” that Timothy was weaned on from infancy, specifically relate to the Old Testament because when Timothy was but an infant the New Testament had not yet been written and was just, in fact, coming into existence. When Paul writes these words the New Testament canon was on the trajectory of being completed, but most people believe that when Paul points Timothy back to the sacred writings he is pointing him back to the Old Testament and he’s saying Timothy, I want you to remember something.
What is he supposed to remember? Verse 15, “and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings. You see, Timothy had a heritage; it was a glorious heritage because Acts 16:1 says this, “Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. And a disciple was there, named Timothy,” watch this, “the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek.” We often marvel at how Timothy became what he became in God, how he came to Christ and became a servant of Christ being a great asset to Paul on his missionary journeys, how Timothy was actually installed by the apostle himself over this monumental work called the church at Ephesus.
And we look at the end game; this is what Timothy became. But how did it begin? The secret is really not a secret, it’s given right there, that he had been made “known the sacred writings” which would be the Old Testament, from infancy. Now who was it that taught Timothy truth from infancy? 2 Timothy 1:5, earlier in our book gives the answer. Paul says, you might recall, “For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.”
Timothy had not just a Jewish and godly believing mother, but what we can gather he also had a Jewish and godly believing grandmother. And the two of them were like a tag team on Timothy, when he was young and didn’t know any better, and they teamed up on him and they taught him the Scripture over and over and over and over again and as a youth the Scripture was planted into this young man’s heart. And when it came time for his conversion and his ministry assignment, the ground was already laid and you can credit mom and grandma for that.
And they were Jewish, Acts 16:1 says that his mother was Jewish. And what are devout Jews supposed to do? The answer is in the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 6, verses 6-7, it’s called the great Hebrew Shema, which means listen. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 says, “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.” Watch this,  “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” What is being highlighted there is all the moments of the day, rising up, laying down, sitting down, walking, talking. And what the Jewish family was supposed to do is throughout the course of the day to use life experiences to inculcate into the young Scriptural principle after Scriptural principle after Scriptural principle. This is why Timothy grew into the man he became because seeds were planted very early on in his life.
The book of Joshua, chapter 4 and verses 19-24, God says to Joshua, you saw Joshua how I dried up the Jordan, and you miraculously crossed into the Promised Land. I want you to set up some stones in the middle of that area that I dried up. Why do that? Here comes the answer: ‘When you children,” Joshua 4:21, “ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’  Then you shall inform your children, saying, ‘Israel crossed this Jordan on dry ground.’  For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the LORD your God had done to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed;” I want you to set up these rocks as a memorial because the time is going to come when you’re going to have children and your children are going to say Daddy, Momma, where did these rocks come from. And the Holy Spirit opens the door and says now is your opportunity to explain to them the heritage of the sons of Israel. Now is your opportunity to explain to them how the Lord did a miracle here and dried up the Jordan. And how forty years earlier He actually dried up the Red Sea and performed miracle after miracle after miracle allowing us to enter the Promised Land.
And if the question is never asked and the story is not told to the young a generation will arise that we see in the book of Judges, that has forgotten God and forgotten what the Lord has done for Israel. But notice how this knowledge was to pass generational lines, not through a pastor, not through a priest, not through a youth program, not through a Christian school, not through Christian television, not through Christian radio, not even through Christian writing. I’m in favor of all those ministries, but it’s very clear that the knowledge was to pass because the children are going to ask their fathers what these rocks mean, and the fathers are obligated to pass this knowledge on to their descendants.
That’s Judaism; this is an outworking of the Hebrew Shema, this is why Timothy became what he became. His dad probably was an unbeliever, but let me tell you something, grandma and momma picked up the slack. And they inculcated into Timothy truth from infancy. And that’s why the book of Proverbs, chapter 22 and verse 6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, for when he is old he will not depart from it.” One of those great principles and maxims of life, all things being equal, there are always little exceptions we can point out here and there, but all things being equal here’s how life works: Train up your children when they’re young and when they are older they will stay on the right path.
You see, church, youth programs, Christian seminaries, Christian schools, Christian literature, the only thing it has the ability to do is to reinforce what is happening in the home because if it is not happening in the home you are shutting off the God-ordained channel by which spiritual truth is to be disseminated to the next generation. And people say well, isn’t that brainwashing? I mean, aren’t you brainwashing these kids where they can’t even think for themselves. Let me tell you something: how come no one asks that of the world? Don’t you think the world system is trying to brainwash those kids? Don’t you think the devil himself is trying to get them to think one way? Well now is your opportunity as a parent to get them the whole picture because the world is going to start working on them very, very fast.
And people say well, how early do you start? I mean, do you wait till a child can talk? Do you wait till a child can write? Do you wait until a child knows the alphabet? Do you wait until a child can communicate? And what does the Bible say, going back to verse 15, “and that from” what? “childhood” or infancy, “you have known the sacred writings.” Have you ever done a word study on that word infancy? It is the Greek word brephos, brephos is used in Luke 2:12 of the baby Jesus, wrapped in clothes and lying in a manger. That is an infant that is very newly born. [Luke 2:12, “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”]
And in fact, when you continue to study this word brephos it speaks of the unborn child in the womb of his or her mother, Luke 1:41 says, “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby” brephos, “leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.” How early do you start? The Bible says from infancy, which goes back to a newborn and it goes back to a pre-born. I recommend this, speaking Scripture to kids before they are even born yet, at least they can’t talk back yet, right. From infancy! The Bible knows we’re so wrapped up in this abortion issue we think life starts after/of the birth, the Bible knows no such distinction. That is a totally manmade distinction. Infancy is what is taking place in the life of the womb of the mother and Timothy, I want you to understand something, that you have a heritage. When you were newly born or perhaps pre-born grandmother and mother were instilling into you truth and the Word of God; that’s why you are what you are.
Now why is the Word of God to be instilled at such an early age? Let’s continue on with verse 15, “and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings,” primarily in context the Old Testament, “which” watch this, “which are able to give you the wisdom” sophia, the Greek word wisdom, “which are able to give you wisdom that leads to salvation.…” What he is saying is this: Timothy, you got saved because you recognized your need to be saved. You know, a lot of people aren’t saved because they don’t even recognize their need to be saved. And the reason they don’t recognize their need to be saved is they’re not exposed to the Word of God, because Paul is making it very clear here that it is the Word of God which makes us aware of our need for a relationship to God and to have our sins forgiven.
The Word of God is the instrument by which people are saved. Now this concept of the salvific power of God’s Word is taught from cover to cover in the Scripture. John 6:63 says this, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” It is the Word of God which creates life and gives life and makes people aware of their need for spiritual life.
That’s why Peter said in John 6:68, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of” what? “eternal life.” How do people get saved? It is “faith comes by hearing, hearing by the” what? “Word of Christ,” Romans 10:17. James 1:18 says, “In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.” 1 Peter 1:23 says this: “for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.”
Over and over again, Old Testament and New Testament, we discover that the Word of God is the tool that God uses to make people aware of their need for salvation in Jesus Christ. That is the whole point of the meaning there in verse 15 when he says, “and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation….”
Can you come to Christ by looking at the stars, the rocks, the trees? The only thing knowledge of creation does is to make you aware that you are accountable to God. Romans chapter 1. Rocks, trees, stars, sand, planets, sun, moon, creation in general has no capacity to lead someone to saving faith in Christ. The only way a person can be led to saving faith in Christ is through a knowledge of the Word of God. Do you remember what Jesus said to the rich man that was in hell? In Luke 16:27-31? “And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him” that would be Lazarus, “to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’  But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’  But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’  But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”
This man was in this place of torment and he didn’t want his family to end up there. And he said to the powers that be, God, Abraham, send someone back from the grave to warn them. And the answer is they have all the warning they need; the warning is found in Moses and the Prophets, which would be the Scripture, the sacred writings. If they’re not going to be persuaded by that miracle after miracle, even someone rising from the dead is not going to help them.
And this, of course, is the great tragedy in so many of those quotes that I shared earlier about churches moving away from the Word of God. Let me tell you something; if you move away from the Word of God and fill it with something else, like marketing, you can fill up a room with people. You can have a crowd of people but the actual number or born again Christians starts shrinking dramatically because “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.”
In fact, the church, the way it’s going in 21st century America likely will see its numbers, in terms of actually blood-bought saints, born again believers, likely cut in half by the next generation because God uses His Word and only His Word to awaken the sinner to their need for Jesus Christ. And Timothy, I want you to continue on with the Word because of this impact that it has on salvation. Timothy was converted very quickly in life because the seed had been planted, the heart was prepared to receive the gospel. And had grandmother and mother not done what they were called to do in God, you wonder how Timothy’s life would have been different, for the worse.
2 Timothy 3:15 “and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation,” well how is salvation accomplished? “through faith which is in Christ Jesus,” which we will be talking about next week. But this is a perfect opportunity as we talk about the need for salvation to offer salvation. See, this morning you’ve heard the Word of God, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”
There is no doubt some of you have heard and have been convicted by what has been said. We don’t just want to give you the bad news, we want to give you the good news. The good news is simply this: Jesus Christ stepped out of eternity into time to live a life in our place which we could never live, to pay a consequence for our sins which we could never pay. His resurrection from the dead makes us aware that He is who He claimed, who He said He was, and that His promises are true. And here’s His promise to you—His promise is if you will trust in what I’ve done for you then your sin debt is wiped clean and you are a child of God. It’s not something you do on your own, it’s something I’ve done for you and you receive it as a free gift. And in God there is only one way to receive a gift and that is by faith. Faith simply means to trust, to rely upon, to depend upon.
And perhaps the Holy Spirit has placed you under conviction our exhortation to you at Sugar Land Bible Church is to respond to the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit, to trust exclusively in Christ and what He has done for you for your eternity, for your salvation and for the safe keeping of your soul. It’s something you can do right now as I’m talking, it’s not necessary for you to walk an aisle, to join a church, to raise a hand. It’s a matter of privacy between you and the Lord—will you trust exclusively in the promises of Jesus Christ. You are no longer trusting in yourself, trusting in your good works, trusting in your religious system, trusting in your ability to do more good than bad, it’s you’re trusting totally in Christ. And that’s a condition of the heart, it’s a matter of privacy between you and the Lord where you trust Him. And if that’s something you have done or are doing then on the authority of the Word of God you have just altered your eternal destiny. If it’s something you need more information about then I’m available after the service to talk. Shall we pray.
Father, thank You for these chapters and how they speak to the time period that we live so aggressively and clearly. Help us, Father, to take counsel from this section of Scripture as we try to, the best we can stay with You and Your truth and Your exhortations in these last days, even as our core convictions many times are being challenged. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory as you do this great work in our midst. We ask these things in Jesus name, and God’s people said….