14 You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
I had a revelation not too long ago about this passage. I’m not sure if I wrote about it already but here it is. Too often I used to look at verses 16 and 17 as a sort of “authorization” to use scripture to reveal to others God’s truth. In other words, I would use it to prove others wrong in their thinking or theology. While it can be used in this way, as we read Paul’s words here, it doesn’t seem to be his point. The teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness is not for others, but for ourselves.
Paul reminds Timothy of the Scriptures that he grew up learning. These are the Jewish teachings, laws, and prophetic writings we find in the Old Testament. Jesus came to be the epitome of it all and Paul is pointing out that Timothy is a good student of the ancient texts and because he is so, he understands the salvation of Jesus Christ.
At the time Paul wrote this, there was no New Testament. There were only the stories and experiences of others and the power of the Holy Spirit flowing through the church body. Some people have a problem with the idea of the bible being “God breathed” or “inspired by God”. How different is it than someone writing sports commentary? Now before some of you start getting ticked off by me comparing the bible to the sports section in a newspaper, just try to follow me here.
We have people all over the world that are experts in various subjects. We inundate ourselves with political commentary, sports writers, and financial counselors who have spent their entire lives studying their perspective subjects of interest and then we listen to them. Certainly, we have free reign to criticize or disagree with them (as we Americans typically do), but we can’t help give at least a little credence to what they are saying. My thought here is of a sportscaster who is talking through a game on television. Most of them not only study the sport, it’s statistics, and it’s history, but have actually played it for a period of time. These people aren’t just students of the subject, but practitioners. It’s safe to say they have an idea of what they are talking about. The Apostle Paul was a “Pharisee of all Pharisees”. He was the most knowledgeable of the Scriptures, of Jewish history, and he applied it to the letter. There was one thing he was missing though: the love of God.
Once infused with the Holy Spirit, Paul realized that he was utilizing his knowledge counter intuitively to what God designed it to be. How do we respect a sportscaster during a live game? All of their experience and study goes towards the current game they are commenting on. Do we trust what they say? We might desire to research some of what they say, but in the moment, we believe it because of what they have been through and who they are. Paul is that person in regards to God the father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. The knowledge of Paul combined with his experience in utilizing it and his relationship with God makes him the expert. His writings are a reflection of these things; in other words, his letters are inspired by his interaction with God. Just like a sports commentator’s words are inspired by the combination of his experience and knowledge in the subject and what he is witnessing right now.
So how do you view the bible today? Is it a challenge to believe that it is the Word of God? I’ve struggled with it myself and the most convincing factor I have discovered is in its application. You can read and study and examine the words of the bible your entire life, but if you do not dare to apply it, you will never know its truthfulness and its power. We cannot truthfully say that the bible is not the word of God until we try it out for ourselves. Paul mentions Timothy being convinced of the truthfulness of the Scriptures. He is convinced because he puts it to use and it keeps working. How do you truly know an umbrella will keep you dry unless you use it in the rain? How will you know your brakes will stop your car unless you get it up to speed and step on the pedal? How will you know God is real unless you trust in Him and see if He will follow through?
How can you trust in Him? Read His Word and He will tell you.