2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
There are many ways God could try to get our noses into his Book every day. He could simply command us to read it, as Paul had earlier commanded Timothy to devote himself to the public reading of Scripture. He could warn us of the consequences of not reading it, as Jesus does in the parable of the sower and the seed. There he points out that those who don’t get their roots down into the word, who fail to get their life and faith thoroughly founded upon it, are in danger of losing their faith
But we Americans are practical, pragmatic people. If we are going to spend our time on something, we want to be sure it will be time well spent. In a way, the Lord condescends to just this concern when he assures us that all Scripture is useful. All of it, from cover to cover, is helpful for us. It has a place in our every-day lives.
That may not be obvious to us when we read or study some portions of it. Some parts may be hard to understand. Maybe you are one of those people who decided to read your Bible from cover to cover. You started in Genesis and ended in Exodus or Leviticus, because all of those laws and instructions about Old Testament worship and life were just too much.
Maybe you have noticed that some portions of Scripture deal with topics that don’t have much to do with your life right now.
That doesn’t mean these passages aren’t useful. They are simply preparing us for future situations. We all learned things in school that we didn’t see an immediate need for. Later we saw how practical they were. When I went to college to get ready for the seminary, I sometimes wondered why the curriculum was so heavy on the classics and led to a degree in liberal arts. It seemed to me that we should graduate with some sort of Bible degree. Now I see that in addition to the Biblical languages, they were trying to teach us to think for ourselves and use good judgment.
In a similar way, sometimes we have to wait to see when some part of Scripture will come in handy. In the meantime, Paul assures us that it is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.
That first term, teaching, is a very general term. It could refer to the entire body of information the Bible reveals.
But the next three terms deal with the Christian life of faith in a very logical order. God’s word is good for rebuking people. This word pictures bringing the evidence that convicts someone of wrongdoing. In other words, God’s word makes it clear to people when they have sinned.
With all the sin we have in our world, and in ourselves, one could conclude that this alone proves the Holy Scriptures useful. Unfortunately, our world not want to hear about its sin. Even many Christians don’t believe it is useful to be shown their sins, at least not after conversion. But how will we grow in our Christian faith and life if we won’t listen to what’s wrong in the first place?
After rebuking, God’s word is useful for correcting. This word speaks of a very evangelical, very loving correction. It is that kind of correction that restores a person to a willing heart and mind by leading him again to the foot of the cross to see all his sins laid on Jesus, so that in faith and love he resolves to do God’s will again.
Finally, God’s word trains us in righteousness. What does it mean to live as God’s forgiven people? How can I thank the Lord for all his goodness to me? How can I live my life so that more and more I look like the righteous person that God declares I already am for Jesus sake? The Scriptures are useful to train us in just how these questions can be answered.
Convicted. Restored. Trained in Righteousness. God’s word is not only useful for me. It makes me useful, “thoroughly equipped for every good work.” What could be more practical than that?