2 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.”
Sometimes people new to celebrating the Reformation have gotten the impression it is “We’re-better-than-everybody-else” Sunday. This is not a day for patting ourselves on the back just because we are Lutherans. 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 celebrate this day to help ensure that we never give it up. Do you believe Jesus loves you? Are you sure Jesus loves you? It was just these questions that Martin Luther grew up unable to answer from what he had learned in his church. It was just these questions that he learned to answer with a resounding “yes” from the words of God’s Holy Scriptures. We, too, will answer “yes” all our lives if we follow Paul’s encouragement and continue in the teachings we have learned from them.
Paul points out that Timothy did not merely learn the Scriptures. This book and what it teaches were more than answers he had learned for a test. It was more than information about people from a faraway time and place.
Timothy had also become convinced of these things. He had confidence. He had certainty. There is such a thing as objective truth, that truth can be known, and it was known to Timothy himself.
To be certain did not mean that Timothy was arrogant. There are those who believe that all certainty must be proud presumption. With all the competing ideas about what is true, the thought goes, no one can be sure of anything. And because we don’t want to be thought of as proud or arrogant, perhaps we are tempted to believe that it would somehow 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? Isn’t it true that we often are filled with more fear, and more anxiety, by the things which are unknown? Isn’t it true, at least very often, that people would even rather know that they have a disease rather than live in uncertainty about what is wrong with them?
How much more necessary it is that we can 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 the Scriptures we have learned, we need to be convinced that they are true.
Those Scriptures do the convincing themselves through the saving promises they make. They “are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” They teach me that Jesus can be trusted. They tell me not only that someone has to die to pay for my sins. They assure me that, in Jesus, God died to pay for my sins. They reveal not only my inability to save myself with all my good works, sincere intentions, and tear-filled prayers. They show me how Jesus lived the sincere life of good works which does.
These Scriptures promise that God connects me with Jesus life and death in Baptism. They explain to me that he 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.
On the basis of the Scriptures I know that, yes, Jesus loves me, and so they have filled me with saving faith. This wisdom is a certainty, not a possibility. Continue to learn its truths and be convinced by its power.