(2 Tim 3:16-17) All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
These two verses are packed with a punch, aren’t they? They are not two simple verses. In fact, we have much to learn in them:
1. ALL Scripture is given by inspiration of God. Not just the Old Testament – not just the New Testament – but ALL! Also, if God wanted tradition to be part of His divine inspiration, this would have been the best place to have stated so. The Holy Spirit inspired man to pen His words. He had a purpose for each and every word to be documented in the exact place that He put them.
2. Scripture is useful to us for doctrine – (Tit 2:10) Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.Paul exhorts that we are to adorn the “doctrine of God our Saviour” – not magisterium – not tradition. The doctrine of God is His Holy Word!
3. Scripture is useful to us for reproof. Noah Webster’s definition of reproof is:
Blame cast; censure directed to a person
The Word will cast blame on us – the Word of God will censure us – in other words, it will lead us to realize that we are sinners in need of salvation. The Word will show us that although we deserve hell, Christ’s work on the cross, His death, burial and resurrection, has paid the penalty and we are no longer condemned if we repent and believe the Gospel!
4. Scripture is useful for correction. The Word shows us what we are doing wrong and what we should be doing. Just as we correct our children and teach them, so does the Word for the Christian.
5. Scripture is useful for teaching us righteousness. I love Noah’s definition here for righteousness:
1. Purity of heart and rectitude of life; conformity of heart and life to the divine law. Righteousness, as used in Scripture and theology, in which it is chiefly used, is nearly equivalent to holiness, comprehending holy principles and affections of heart, and conformity of life to the divine law. It includes all we call justice, honesty and virtue, with holy affections; in short, it is true religion.
Isn’t that good? Paul is not saying that we are righteous but that we are being taught how to live a godly life. True religion is not a specific “church name” but it is the condition of the heart – a heart that is born again of the Spirit of God (John 3:3).
6. Scripture is useful in making the Christian “perfect.” Paul is not saying that we will be sinless. Not at all. Noah Webster defines perfect as:
Fully informed; completely skilled; as men perfect in the use of arms; perfect in discipline.
The Word, then, makes the Christian fully informed – completely skilled – perfect in discipline. The Christian does not need the Word to be interpreted for him. This verse makes that quite clear. The Word is what works in the heart of man – the Holy Spirit teaches and makes clear what God wants us to learn – He teaches us all about God, about Jesus Christ, about Himself! If you were to leave your great-grandchildren a filmography about you and your ancestry, you would want to include as much about yourself as possible so your great-grandchildren would grow up knowing exactly who you were, right? You would not leave that to someone else to do for you – you would not delegate that task because you know that no one knows you better than yourself. God did the same for us! He is the ultimate Parent and left us with His Word to guide and direct us in who He is and how we can reach Him, through Christ Jesus.
7. Scripture is useful in making the Christian “completely, fully, wholly equipped unto good works.” This is not teaching salvation by works but it is teaching that after salvation we are able to be thoroughly equipped with the Word to do what is good: leading others to salvation – teaching others how to live godly lives. (Mat 28:19) Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Sadly, many churches teach that the Word is insufficient, incomplete or not preserved and also that it cannot be interpreted correctly by just anyone. This is not what 2 Timothy 3 teaches. So what does one do when God’s Word says one thing and one’s church says another?
For example, the catholic church’s Vatican II Council stated that “both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honoured with equal feelings of devotion and reverence”. Is that what God’s Word says? 2 Timothy 3 teaches otherwise. These two verses most certainly pack a punch – they support that Scriptures are in fact our final authority and they do not even paint tradition as part of the picture. 2 Tim 3 states that Scripture is inspired by God – not tradition; therefore, catholic tradition (or Jewish or any other tradition for that matter) is not inspired by God but is inspired by man.
Paul also taught us not to receive the words of men but to receive the Word of God! (1 Thess 2:13) For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe. So if your “religion” teaches you something that is not in the Bible, then it is the words of men, not of God. Also, it is the Word of God that can thoroughly (effectually) work in those that believe. The unbeliever will not understand the Word – the unbeliever will misinterpret the Word – the unbeliever will not bear the fruit of the Word. This verse says that the Word will, however, thoroughly work in those that believe. Traditions and man’s words cannot make this promise.
God’s Word was given to the Apostles to pen. Jude 3 tells us Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. Paul tells them that they need to earnestly contend for the faith (the Scriptures) which were delivered to them. These Scriptures are what we must fight for – not tradition. Paul does not encourage them to earnestly contend for tradition. It is evident that they had the Scriptures at the time of this writing and that the Scriptures included Paul’s writings.
I absolutely LOVE Rev. 22:18-19 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. If man’s words and tradition could be equal to or even used in conjunction with the Scriptures, these two verses would not have been worded in this manner! This is a sharp and severe punishment and, therefore, it is a serious matter to add or take away from the Scriptures. It is not a warning to be taken lightly because punishment is eternal damnation. These two verses make it quite clear that nothing more needs to be added to the Bible and nothing needs to be taken away. It is complete. The Holy Spirit wrote through the last living Apostle, John, the last book of the New Testament and said that no one was to add to it or take away from it! A final warning for all mankind in the final Book of the Bible.
I was reading an interesting article at David Cloud’s website on the history of the Holy Scriptures. One reference that stuck out was:
A list of New Testament Scriptures dating to the latter half of the second century was discovered in the Ambrosian Library in Milan, Italy, in 1740. This second-century list contains all of the 27 books of the New Testament canon (Hentz, p. 60).Thus the completed New Testament Scriptures were being circulated and accepted by God’s people under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Many of the modernistic textual scholars who write today about these early centuries deny, or totally overlook, the working of the Holy Spirit in the inspiration and canonicity of the New Testament. The Apostles were not left to their own devices to transcribe the record of Christ, nor were the early Christians left to their own devices to recognize which writings were Scripture (1 Thess. 2:13). The words of the New Testament are the words of the Lord Jesus Christ through divine inspiration, and the Lord’s sheep know the voice of their Good Shepherd and can discern His voice from false shepherds (John 10:4, 5, 27).
In closing, not only do we have God’s Word today but His Word packs punch – it provides conviction within its pages – it draws the sinner to his need of a Saviour – it teaches that there is no other God and no other Saviour than Jesus Christ. Is it any wonder that Satan is desperately trying to discredit the Bible? It is the only source for salvation! Why would God leave such an important matter as salvation in the hands of sinful man? He could not – He did not! Just as He left salvation in the hands of His Perfect Sinless Son, He left the task of penning His Holy Word in the hands of the Third Person of the Trinity, His Perfect Holy Spirit.
As God is perfect, so are His works – so is His Word, the Holy Scriptures. Nothing can be added – nothing can be taken away from perfection!