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Reading God’s Word May 31, 2008

Posted by flashbuzzer in Christianity.
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Occasionally I will post some notes from the Friday night on-campus Bible studies that I helped lead. Hopefully they will be edifying (and perhaps they will spark some insightful discussion).

This is the first post in a four-part series that I titled “Towards a Complete Christian Life.” By following the general principles outlined in all four posts, I feel that Christians can take an important step towards living “purpose-driven lives.”

The point of this post is to highlight the importance of reading God’s Word (i.e. the Bible) on a regular basis.

To start things off, let’s look at 2 Timothy 3:16-17. In this post I plan to examine this passage and glean some valuable insights from it.

In verse 16, we see the phrase “God-breathed.” One might ask, “what does that really mean?” It is important for us to remember that the entire Bible can be viewed as God’s Word (as I stated earlier). Specifically, for every word in the Bible, a) it was communicated by God directly to its writer or b) God, via the assistance of the Holy Spirit, inspired its writer to actually write it down.

We also see the word “teaching” in verse 16. In this case, “teaching” refers to basic Christian doctrine. Merriam-Webster defines “doctrine” as “a principle or position or the body of principles in a branch of knowledge or system of belief.” For example, one particularly profound statement of Christian doctrine can be found in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8. From reading Lee Strobel’s “The Case for Christ,” it turns out that this passage was an early church creed which arose not more than two decades after Christ’s death and resurrection.

Question 1: when you share the gospel, do you refer to the Bible?

In addition, we see the word “rebuking” in verse 16. This is nicely paired with “teaching” and refers to the correction of false doctrine. For example, if someone were to boldly proclaim a “Christian” message that contradicted anything in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, that person would be guilty of promulgating a heresy and would need to be rebuked. We see in 1 Timothy 1:3-5 that while false teachers need to be rebuked, we need to remember the general principle of “hating sin while loving the sinner.”

Question 2: have you had any experiences in terms of correcting false doctrine?

Next, we see the word “correcting” in verse 16. We can view “teaching” and “rebuking” as referring to Christian theory while “correcting” refers to Christian practice (“training in righteousness” and “equipped for every good work,” which appear later in the passage, also fall into the latter category). In particular, Paul tells us that the Bible is “useful” for convicting us of the sins that we commit in our daily lives, which occur when we fail to live righteously. For example, Ephesians 5:18 reminds us that drunkenness is forbidden in the Christian life.

Question 3: has the Bible ever convicted you of sin (either directly or indirectly)?

We then see the phrase “training in righteousness” in verse 16. As mentioned above, this refers to Christian practice; Paul tells us here that the Bible is “useful” for preparing us for living righteously while not committing the sins that require “correcting.” For example, we see in Luke 10:25-37, which is the classic Parable of the Good Samaritan, that righteous living involves helping those less fortunate than ourselves. On a related note, one can link the “theory” and “practice” aspects of verse 16 by viewing “training in righteousness” as preparing us to live out righteous doctrine in our daily lives.

Question 4: have you ever trained for something, and if so, was the training helpful?

Lastly, we see the phrase “equipped for every good work” in verse 17. One might ask why we need to be “equipped” to do God’s will in this world. From my personal experience, I can say that doing God’s will is equivalent to not obeying Satan’s wishes, and we need to be prepared to resist Satan. In particular, Satan is quite displeased when Christians serve God, and he tries every trick in the book to dissuade us from doing so. While serving God, I’ve had thoughts such as “should I be doing something more enjoyable” and “is this really going to make a difference in these people’s lives?” The word “equipped” also got me thinking about the famous Armor of God passage, which is Ephesians 6:10-18. In Ephesians 6:17 we see how God’s Word is a crucial aspect of being “equipped” to not only survive but to thrive for God in this world.

My next post on this topic will focus on cultivating a strong relationship with God.

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