1 Timothy 3:14-15 “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you have learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”
People who are new to the idea of celebrating the Reformation have sometimes gotten the idea that it is “Lutherans are better than everybody else” Sunday. No doubt we have been guilty of giving that impression. But the Reformation is not for patting ourselves on the back. Members of our church will be saved by grace alone, just like everybody else.
No, the Reformation grew out of a much more important concern. We remember the Reformation to make sure that we never give up that concern. Do you believe that Jesus loves you? Are you sure he loves you? Martin Luther grew up unable to answer with an unqualified “yes” from what he had learned in his church. He learned to answer with a resounding “yes” from the words of Holy Scripture.
Paul’s young friend Timothy shared this same conviction gained from the same place. Paul points out that Timothy did not merely learn the Scriptures. To him this book and what it teaches were more than answers for a test, or information about people from a faraway time and place.
Timothy had become convinced of these things. He had certainty. He knew that there is such a thing as objective truth, that this truth can be known, and that this truth was known to Timothy himself.
This was not because Timothy was arrogant. Some today believe that all certainty is proud presumption. With all the competing ideas about what is true, no one can be sure of anything. Because we don’t want to be thought of as proud or arrogant, we may be tempted to believe it would be better if we were not too sure of what we believe, either.
But what comfort can a person find in something that has no certainty? What peace can be had from what is unclear or unknown? Aren’t we often filled with more fear by the things which are unknown? Isn’t it true, at least very often, that people would rather know that they have a disease than live in uncertainty about what is wrong with them? How much more necessary it is to be certain when it comes to our salvation and eternal life! “Faith,” the author of Hebrews tells us, “is being sure of what we hope for…” Doubt and uncertainty are the opposite of faith. If, like Timothy, we are going to continue in our Bible-based beliefs, we need to be convinced they are true.
Those Scriptures do the convincing through the saving promises they make. “…how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” Holy Scriptures make us wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. They assure me Jesus can be trusted. They tell me not only that someone has to die to pay for my sins. They tell me that in Jesus God died to pay for them. They tell me not only that I cannot save myself with all my good works, sincere intentions, or tear-filled prayers. They tell me Jesus lived the sincere life of good works which does. They promise that God connects me with Jesus life and death in Baptism. They assure me Jesus still shares and distributes the benefits of his saving work in his Holy Supper.
These are not just doctrines I am told I must fight to defend. They are beautiful truths, life-giving truths, comforting truths, empowering truths I want to believe. They assure me that, yes, Jesus loves me. And in doing so they fill me with saving faith. I am convinced, because the Bible tells me so.