“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
I was speaking to a few trusted friends the other day about how some of us were dealing with the new reality of being sequestered at home—that is, excluding workers in healthcare and other essential fields that must be out in public. For them, we offer our prayers and sincerest gratitude. But for many of us, being housebound is the new normal.
On a good day, when I’m feeling optimistic about our future, my head is filled with all sorts of plans. Get a project or two done. Have that awesome quality time with the family. Take long walks with my wife. And, think about spiritual things. Pastor Mike recently shared an article by Karl Vaters about self-care steps for Christian leaders. One of the steps that greatly resonated with me was “Embrace Deeper Truths.” This relates to the fact that God is still God, and is greater than our current situation or any defeated feelings we may be experiencing. This made me immediately think about the sanctifying nature of God’s Word. After all, Jesus, in His high priestly prayer, uttered these Words to His Heavenly Father: Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. John 17:17
Now the idea of sanctification is the setting apart of something for a particular use. So believers are “set apart” for God and His purposes alone. Sanctification is accomplished by means of the truth, which, energized by the Holy Spirit, is the revelation that the Son gave as communicated through Holy Scripture.
Therefore, as Christians, we must look to the authoritative, infallible, inerrant Word of God. If we’re not drinking it in daily, then we miss out on its transforming work of setting us apart. (Sanctification is a process.) From the prophet Jeremiah, we get a sense of the necessity of the need for regular Scripture intake: Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts. Jeremiah 15:16.
Note the prophet says. “Your words”—meaning God’s Word. He also ate them, which suggests more than just reading! He absorbed them; he applied them; he obeyed them. They were vital for his very existence. They sustained him. They were all he needed.
I love how the apostle Paul writes not only about the inspiration of the Scriptures but of their absolute sufficiency for all of life. In 2 Timothy, the apostle was writing a final letter to his son in the faith, as he knew this would probably be his last opportunity to communicate with him or anyone else for that matter. It would be only a brief matter of time before he would face the executioner’s sword. In this wonderful description of the Holy Scriptures, Paul outlines what the Scriptures are useful for. I like to use the illustration of a path because many of us can relate to seeing life as a path. In fact, it’s probably one of the most common analogies out there. When we see our life as a path, we see a long (hopefully), sometimes winding stretch of road that usually leads to some destination. In fact, actress and comedian Lily Tomlin famously quipped, “The road to success is always under construction.” I couldn’t agree more. This leads me to use the path as a wonderful illustration of how the Word of God works in every believer.
In looking at Paul’s description, the first thing to note is “All Scripture.” That is, both the Old and New Testaments. “Breathed out” means that all Scripture is inspired by God in their original autographs— where He used the minds, vocabularies, and experiences of His chosen writers to produce His own perfect, infallible and inerrant Word. The next portion of the verse mentions what it is useful for— which is where our path illustration comes in to play.
- Teaching. This shows us the path, it gives us direction.
- Rebuking. Points out our error (sin), when we’ve fallen off the path.
- Correcting. Restoration to help us get back on the path.
- Training. This helps us stay on the path.
Note verse 17 shows that Scripture enables us to meet all the godly demands for righteous living. It is sufficient for all of life!
Here’s a few practical tips for your daily Scripture intake. Since the Bible is the
inspired Word of God, before you read each day, pray. Ask God to do what the
psalmist desired, Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your
law. Psalm 119:18. As you do this, the Holy Spirit will guide and illuminate the
Scriptures in you for a richer, deeper spiritual life.
There are three key ingredients for consistent success in Scripture intake:
- Find the time. Anything worthwhile takes time. If you set out with the intention that you will make time in God’s Word a priority, it will happen— but you must make the time!
- Find a good Bible-reading plan. Those who try to just open the Bible randomly, even with the best of intentions, will soon fall away without some type of reading plan. Go to our website.
- Meditate each time you read. Take a word or phrase to think deeply about during or after your time in the Word. Ask God what he wants you to take away from it.
As you “shelter in place,” do not let your sanctification stay in place! Use this time to allow the Word of Truth to grow, as God reveals more and more as you commit to taking in His Word.
For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock. Psalm 27:5
Pastor Joe Garofalo