For the week commencing 2 June 2019
Notes for next Sunday’s sermon on 2 Timothy 3:10-17 – Dear Timothy… all scripture is God-breathed
Our Term 2 series takes us through Paul’s second letter to Timothy. Here is the outline:
05 May … Do not be ashamed of Jesus 2 Tim 1:1-8
12 May … Jesus has destroyed death 2 Tim 1:9-18
19 May … be strong in Jesus’ grace 2 Tim 2:1-13
26 May … God approves 2 Tim 2:14-26
02 June … there will be terrible times 2 Tim 3:1-9
09 June … all Scripture is God-breathed 2 Tim 3:10-17
16 June … preach the word 2 Tim 4:1-8
23 June … the Lord stood at my side 2 Tim 4:9-22
DAY 1: Read 2 Timothy 3:10-13
(You may like to read this week’s passage – 2 Timothy 3:10-17- in its entirety each day this week).
In these verses, Paul is referring to the terrible persecution he received in three cities as he preached the gospel, in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, which you can read about in Acts 13 and 14. This persecution resulted in him being stoned almost to death, or possibly actually stoned to death, because the people of Lystra, after stoning him, dragged his dead body outside the city gates for the wild dogs to feed on. But the disciples gathered around him and prayed, and he got up and walked away. It’s an incredible story in Acts 14!
But this is only a very brief reference to Paul’s sufferings. In 1 Corinthians 11, he goes into much greater detail. He lists an horrific litany of torture and suffering that he endured because of his faith in Jesus. You might like to read through that list today. It includes receiving 39 lashes on FIVE separate occasions, being beaten with rods on THREE occasions, being stoned almost to death, being imprisoned “frequently”, as well as many other hardships too numerous to list here.
What is truly extraordinary, however, is that despite these terrible sufferings, Paul’s faith in God and his belief that the Bible is God’s inspired Word to mankind is utterly resolute. Despite all that has happened to him, his faith is stronger than ever. What about you? Have you endured hardship and suffering? Consider Paul, and don’t give up. Pray today, and ask God to give help you endure and remain faithful to the end.
DAY 2: Read 2 Timothy 3:14-15
These verses represent Paul’s exhortation to Timothy to hold onto his faith, despite hardship; to not give up when the going gets tough. Today we will focus on verse 14. Here Paul advises Timothy to consider the faithfulness of those who discipled him, and to emulate their endurance and faithfulness.
Christians aren’t meant to fly solo. We need each other to encourage and exhort one another. When things get tough, looking at the example of those who are older and wiser and more mature than us in the faith can be a great encouragement. Their faith, and their faithfulness, can be a source of strength and inspiration for us when we are struggling.
In Timothy’s case, it was his mother and grandmother who had discipled him and whom Paul was encouraging him to continue to look up to and emulate.
Are there people in this church that you can look to for strength and encouragement? People who have walked the journey for longer than you? Who have endured hardship for longer than you? Look to them. Talk to them. Ask them to pray for you and with you. Consider their faithfulness, and say to yourself, “If they can do it, so can I!”
DAY 3: Read 2 Timothy 3:14-15 again
Today we will look at verse 15. The second part of Paul’s exhortation to Timothy is to continue to immerse himself in the scriptures.
One of the things that can happen when life gets tough, is that we can stop praying and stop reading the Bible; those spiritual disciplines can fall by the wayside. But that’s the very time when we need to be reading God’s word more than ever! It is spiritual food! It feeds our spirit! It strengthens our faith!
It’s ironic isn’t it, that at the very time when we need our faith strengthened, when we are facing our greatest challenges, that’s often the time when we stop reading the Bible, when we stop feeding on God’s Word. And then we wonder why our faith grows weak!
Paul says to Timothy, and to us, now more than ever, feed on God’s Word, so that you will stay strong until the very end. How are you going reading God’s Word? Has it fallen by the wayside recently? Why not make a fresh commitment to reading God’s Word every day? These weekly notes are a great start. You might also consider joining a connect group. Some people also find following a systematic Bible reading plan is a helpful tool for developing a regular Bible reading habit.
DAY 4: Read 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Without a doubt, verse 16 is one of the jewels of the New Testament. It is a statement of great faith in the inspired nature of God’s Word. Despite all the torment that Paul has endured, he is still utterly convinced that the scriptures are God’s authoritative, unchanging, inspired message to mankind. In fact, Paul’s whole life is a testament to his willingness to die defending the truth of God’s Word.
I want you to notice the 4 things that Paul says the Bible does for us: it teaches us, rebukes us, corrects us, and trains us in righteousness.
- If the Christian life is like a path, then the Bible TEACHES us the right path to walk. It shows us the way God wants us to live, how we are to treat others, how we are to obey God.
- It also REBUKES us when we have strayed. It says, “Hey! You’ve left the path! That’s not how God wants you to live!” The Bible confronts us with our sin when we stray from God.
- Then it CORRECTS us. It says, “This is how you get back on the path. Stop doing what you’re doing and start doing this. This is how you get back on track.”
- Then it TRAINS US in righteousness. It gives us the wisdom and skills to stay on the path and not wander off again.
That’s what the Bible does for us. Of course, it can only do that effectively, if, (A) we read it, and (B) we give it the authority it deserves. And this is where we come to the crowning statement of Paul’s argument – and one of the most fundamental assertions of the New Testament. Paul says that all scripture is “theopneustos”, which means, “God-breathed”. He is saying that these words that we read in this book, have been breathed out by God himself. These words contain the authority and power of the living God. And when we read them, He speaks directly to us. Do you believe that?
There is extremely strong evidence for the divine inspiration of the Bible. Firstly, there is the evidence of the large number of fulfilled prophecies contained in the Bible: hundreds and hundreds of them, sometimes written centuries before their eventual fulfilment, by people who could not possible have foreseen, in human terms, the things that would eventually transpire. This is truly miraculous! Secondly, there is the evidence of changed lives. The Bible has transformed countless lives. It has changed mine. As I read it, I encounter the living God. He speaks to me. He teaches me. He rebukes me. He corrects me. He trains me. He transforms me. He changes my life from the inside out, through the power of His indwelling Spirit and the life changing power of His living Word.
What about you? Do you believe that the Bible is God’s inspired message to mankind, and to you personally? If you do, it should be evident in your commitment to reading it and living it out.
Resources: Exalting Jesus in 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus (Christ-centered Exposition Commentary) by David Platt
Commentary on 1-2 Timothy by Andreas J.Kostenberger, in the Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation series