2 Timothy 3:14-17
14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them,
15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,
17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
I’m a “tool guy.” It goes back to my childhood and growing up working for my father, who built homes for a living. As I went off into the world, I always made sure I had plenty of good tools around, and I often worked with my hands. Because I never know what tool I might need, I always carry a multi-tool or a Swiss Army knife wherever I go – even to church. That’s why my late wife called me “Pastor Gadget.”
In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, the apostle gives his protegé instruction in how to deal with attacks on Christian teachings. Timothy had been raised in the faith, encouraged by his mother and grandmother, and had his own gifts of the Spirit stirred up by Paul’s laying on of hands. (2 Timothy 1:3-6) Timothy must have been a powerful evangelist for Paul to have entrusted him to continue his work in the churches of Asia Minor, and Paul’s trust in Timothy shows in his short letters. But at this point, Timothy seems to have needed some encouragement, and Paul knew just what to tell him: “Hold fast,” “be strong,” “be diligent,” and “Preach the word!”
In today’s verses, Paul grounds all those admonitions in a single idea – namely, “continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of.” (v.14) Paul knows that the temptation is to be carried away by the words of other teachers, to be swept up in the tides of disputes and mistaken doctrines, to be lost in the sea of ideas that float around about God and Christ. So Paul brings Timothy back to the foundation of his faith: “the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (v.15)
For believers of all ages, for people of all levels of Christian maturity, the Word of God is the ground floor of our faith. With a firm foundation on Christ Himself, the Holy Scriptures are the best place to start our journey of faith, and they are the place to which we should return whenever we feel we might stray from the truths we have been taught. Since “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” – literally “God-breathed” – then the Bible is the clear and unchanging voice of God in our midst. When it seems like we are bombarded by conflicting ideas, when we cannot seem to get a firm hold on our faith in times of stress or despair, when we come across sins in our lives we never knew we had, then Scripture is there to bring us back to the base.
The “man of God” who comes back to the Holy Scriptures is someone who will always have the right tool for the right job. Need to teach a new believer? Start with Scripture. Need to straighten someone out concerning doctrine? Go to Scripture. Need to admonish a fellow believer who has strayed? Use Scripture. Need understanding for a difficult task ahead? Follow Scripture. Need strength to face the day? Come to Scripture.
In today’s world where so many who call themselves “Christians” do not read nor try to understand God’s Word, it can be difficult to know what we ought to believe – and to know what to teach our children. We have to get back to the basics of the Bible itself, because without that, the rest just becomes chaos. The Word of God needs to be the one unfailing reference for all true believers, so that we may all be “thoroughly equipped” to do the good works God prepared in advance for us to do. Get back to the Bible, and start strapping on the tools of your faith. You never know what you might need.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Holy Bible, inspired by You and written in the tongues of men so that we might understand. Thank You, too, Lord God, for Your Holy Spirit, who lends us wisdom to understand Your Word. And thank You most of all, Precious Lord, for the life of Your Son, Christ Jesus. Teach me Your Word and Your will, Father God, and help me to teach others, too. Amen.