Maintaining Spiritual Traction in a Shifting Culture
Last Days Survival Guide, Part 2
2 Timothy 3:14-4:4
Bruce A. Hess
We are glad you are here today; we want you to open up your Bibles, please, and turn in them to 2 Timothy, chapter number 3. If you don’t have a Bible, there should be one under a chair in front of you and you could take that Bible and turn in the back part to page 166, and you would be at 2 Timothy, chapter 3.
We live in a generation where there is an increasing focus, heightened awareness, on physical health. More and more people are being concerned about what they ingest physically. So, we have all kinds of interesting terms that you find at grocery stores. Terms like “All Natural,” “Organic,” we are looking for “Cage Free” and “Range Free” food, “Antibiotic Free,” food that is “Non-GMO” non genetic modified food. That is where our generation is. Our generation is to be commended because our physical health is very important.
But we also live in a generation when there is decreasing focus, diminishing awareness of our spiritual health. There is less and less concern in the generation in which we live, for what we ingest spiritually. There is just a lot of mental junk food out there. So much of what is on television, so much of what is in the movies, that we are filling our brains and our minds with. It is really just junk food. In the generation in which we live right now, the levels of understanding of Biblical doctrine and theology are dropping precipitously right now.
There are increasing amounts of teaching out there that involve artificial elements. Artificial elements like humanism. Humanism basically just teaches that it is all about us.
Artificial elements like universalism, it doesn’t really make any difference what religion you follow or what god, they’re all really talking about the same thing. In fact, men and women, I believe we live in an era of Biblical malnutrition.
I heard someone say, when it comes to Bible messages; I can only listen for fifteen to twenty minutes. Really? Really? When someone is thinking that way, we must wonder how much do they fully embrace what Jesus had to say in Matthew 4:4, when He said, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
The Word of God is essential to our spiritual survival especially in the last days, when things will go from bad to worse. We’ve been talking about how to survive the last days, a Last Days Survival Guide and we pointed out last time that we can survive the last days if four different things happen.
Number one is, if we learn from consistent, godly examples. We need to be focused on and learning from consistent, godly examples. We saw that last time and today we are going to look at, we can survive the last days, if we nourish our life and others with Scripture. We see that from chapter 3, verse 14 to chapter 4, verse 4.
I want you to know, I am extremely excited. I have jam-packed things to talk about. We went long in the first service. Part of that was because we just have so much to cover here and it is life-altering stuff. It is life-changing stuff. I want to read, I am going to begin in verse 13, because it sets a little context. I am going to read down through chapter 4 and verse 4. I invite you to follow along in your Bible as I am reading.
Verse 13 says, “But evil men and imposters will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 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. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom; preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.”
I have put together an outline of these verses we have before us today and it breaks out this way. First of all, we are going to look at verses 14 and 15, at the call to adhere to truth. It is a call that comes to all of us.
Then, we are going to look at verses 16 and 17 at the innate value of Scripture.
Thirdly, we are going to look at the mandate to preach the Word, in verses 1-4 of chapter 4. It begins with a solemn charge in the first two verses and then it talks about the coming drift, in verses 3 and 4.
So, that is where we are going. We’ve got a lot of stuff to cover today. So, let’s begin by looking at the call to adhere to truth. We read through verse 13 because it just sets up the background behind which he wants to now share some principals with us. Remember evil men and imposters, this is talking about the last days, will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. That is what is going to be going on in the culture, he says.
Then, he turns around and he addresses us and he says in verse 14, “You, however,” we’ve talked about last time, this is just two little words in the original language, “su de”, s-u d-e. It means, “But, you,” by way of contrast. He says, “You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned.”
The word here that is translated, ‘continue,’ simply is the word that means ‘to abide’ in something, to remain in something, to stay immersed in something. Why do you think it was necessary for him to say that? Why does he have to say to followers of Jesus, “Continue in the things that you have learned?” Why is that necessary? I believe it is because Paul understood that there is this natural tendency to drift from Scripture. There is just this temptation, naturally, that we all have to be attracted to something that is really new and something that is cool and something that is really popular. But, there is this natural tendency to drift from Scripture.
In the United States virtually all of the seminaries in our culture were founded on a solid belief in Scripture, virtually all of them. But, historically, here is what happens because of the natural drift from Scripture, historically most of the seminaries within fifty years no longer held the solid belief in Scripture.
I am very proud of the school that I went to, Dallas Theological Seminary, which has now been 89 years since it was founded and it is still holding fast. But that is not the norm because of this natural tendency to drift from Scripture. It is the same thing with seminaries as it is also true of churches and it is actually even true of individual believers.
I shared last time how I am an eighth generation American on one side of our family. That first person who came, remember they had been in Germany and then they fled to France, then they came to the United States. That very first relative that I have, had brothers by the name of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. Tells you something of where they were coming from spiritually.
But here is what is interesting, because of this natural drift from Scripture, by the time you came down to our family, we did not learn about the Bible from our own relatives. We did not hear the gospel shared within our family group, there had to be other people who came along and shared with us what the gospel message is. Because there is this natural tendency, you see, to drift from Scripture. Every new generation has to ask the questions. All of the high school students have to ask the questions. My kids have to ask the questions. My grandkids have to ask the questions.
Here are the questions that every new generation has to answer, will we believe the Bible? Will we keep the gospel message a priority? Every generation has to ask those questions because of this natural tendency to drift from Scripture.
He says, “Continue in the things you have learned.” Notice, it is fascinating, in verse 15 he says to Timothy, this is part of Timothy’s family background, he says, “From childhood, Timothy, you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation.” From childhood he says, Timothy, you have known the sacred writings. The word ‘childhood’ really points to what we would call, in our day, toddlers.
We need to be teaching truth to our children as early as they can learn it. Many of you have been around for a long time and know that I often like to say that children are wet cement. You start teaching them when they are very, very wet and fresh and moldable. In fact, the Hebrew rabbis would begin to formally teach children at the age of five or six. What they would often do with those toddlers is, they would take their hand and they would have them dip their fingers in honey and then they would say, ‘Lick your fingers.’ Then, they would communicate this to them, ‘The Word of God is like honey, it is the best thing you will ever taste for your life.’
Which is interesting, when David is talking about the Word of God in Psalm 19:10 he says, the Word of Godis sweeter than honey. If you put together some of the verses in 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy, we realize that it was Timothy’s mother and grandmother who began to teach him the sacred writings in the home.
See, the legacy really begins in the home. I think it is a good thing for us to ask ourselves the question, what kind of legacy are we creating in our home? If you have kids still in your home or if you anticipate having kids in your home one day, what kind of a legacy are we going to create? What are we communicating, not just by way of what we say, but how we live? Are we communicating that the ultimate is about money, getting more money, and money, money, and financial success? Is that the ultimate that we communicate?
I mean, are we communicating that it is about getting stuff and more stuff and better stuff and the latest stuff and a whole bunch of stuff?
Are we communicating that the ultimate is about being popular, getting promoted in a certain way, getting control over people? I mean, what kind of spiritual legacy are we creating in our homes?
Or, is the spiritual legacy about this? This is the ultimate thing, knowing and honoring God. Again, we might be saying one thing but living an example that is different from that.
“From childhood you have known the sacred writings.” Notice he says, “They are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation.” The sacred writings of Scripture are the key to salvation. You see, the Bible reveals that we have a need for salvation, that all of us, every single one of us have sinned. Every single one of us has violated God’s standards.
Because of that, we are under judgment, the judgment of death, the judgment of God. We need a rescuer, the Bible teaches us that we cannot save ourselves, we cannot be good enough, we cannot stack up enough good works to rescue ourselves. The Bible teaches us that Jesus is the Rescuer. In fact, in Acts, chapter 4, verse 12, it says, “There is no one else” who can rescue us, there is only one person who is God, who came to the planet and died for all of us and took our penalty. There is no other name under heaven given to any human by whom we may be rescued.
See, there is this natural tendency to drift from truth and when we drift from truth it causes us to lose sight of the gospel message and it causes us to lose sight of the unique nature of the Bible and Scripture.
So, he begins with this call to adhere to truth, secondly now, he wants to go and examine the innate value of Scripture and we see it in verses 16 and 17. Before we get there, I want to just say this, that what our convictions are about the Bible, whatever those convictions may be, I can guarantee you that whatever our convictions are, whatever your convictions are about the Bible, they will imprint every arena of your life, of my life.
Have you ever thought this thought? I have had the thought, I can remember some times when I thought the thought and I was really wondering about God and what is His will and everything and I had this thought, ‘I wish God would just write it in the clouds.’ Anyone ever had that thought? I see some of you nodding. Yeah. That there would be this cloud-a-gram in the sky. God I just wish You would just write it right up there.
I like what Bryan Chapell said, ‘We think that life would be so much easier if God would just miraculously write His will on the clouds or speak in the thunder.’ He goes on to say this, ‘But, if He wrote in the clouds then the words would all blow away, and if He spoke in the thunder, then His voice would fade away. So, instead, God says, in essence, ‘Would you mind if I just wrote My words down for you so that you could have them wherever you go and whenever they are needed?’ Oh, I wish He would just write it in the sky. Do you know that a God-breathed book is a far greater miracle than some message in the sky?
As he wants to talk about the innate value of Scripture, he is going to talk about the total trustworthiness of Scripture. He is going to talk about the transforming power of Scripture.
We are going to look at three different things. In the first part of verse 16, we are going to look at its nature, Scripture’s nature.
Then, in the second part, its merit.
Then, thirdly, we are going to look at its aim, in verse 17.
We’ve got a lot to cover. This is great stuff! Let’s look at its nature, verse 16. It says, “All Scripture is inspired by God.” Many of you know that literally, in the original language it communicates this, all Scripture is God-breathed. If you go back to the book of Genesis, at the creation scene, you will see there that God breathed life into humanity and just like God breathed life into humanity, this is saying that God breathed life into a book.
I have a chart that is up that I want you to take a look at because sometimes there is a lot of confusion about some Bible terms, some terms of theology, when we talk about revelation, and then we talk about inspiration, and what does all of this mean?
You will notice that there are three boxes there. The first box is God’s message, the middle box is the human author, the third box is the written record.
When we talk about revelation, we are talking about God’s message coming to the human author. Revelation means that there is this closure where God discloses truth, there is this unveiling of truth and that is given to the human author. We call that revelation.
The second term is the term, inspiration. Inspiration refers to what happens from the point the human author gets the revelation to the point that is then turned into a written record, where the human author is recording or producing a record of what God had revealed to Him.
So, that is the difference in the terminology. So, God reveals truth to the human author and then Scripture is inspired by God. It is God-breathed. It is a process whereby God superintends what the human author records. In fact, it is summarized so well, this process of inspiration, in 2 Peter, chapter 1, verse 21, it says that no prophecy, in essence no revelation, ever had its origin in the will of man. It comes from God, who does the revealing to the human author. But here is the process of inspiration, men spoke from God, they got the message from God, as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
What is really interesting is, if you study the books of the Bible, particularly even in the New Testament, you will find out that God didn’t eliminate guy’s personalities. They write in their own style with their own vocabulary. You can actually study this and you will notice that Paul writes a certain way when he writes his letters, he uses certain vocabulary. Peter writes in a very different manner, John writes in a very different manner from both of them. It is not that they weren’t involved in the process, but that the Holy Spirit’s work of carrying them along as they wrote and recorded guarantees that what was written were God’s thoughts and they are trustworthy. As such, they are reliable expressions of God’s mind and heart and will.
All Scripture is inspired by God, it is God-breathed. That is why Jesus says in John 17:17, to the Father, “Your word is truth.”
I love what Paul said to the believers from Thessalonica in his first letter, chapter 2, verse 13, when he says to those people, “You accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which performs its work in you.” That is the whole idea. It is God-breathed communication.
That is why, again, when David is celebrating in Psalm 19, the word of God. Psalm 19 is one of my top two favorite psalms. In verses 7-9, it says, regarding the sacred writings, they are perfect, they are sure, they are right, they are pure, they are true, they are righteous altogether, he says.
Over the years there have been people who have come along, and they look at the person of Jesus and they would say this, ‘Jesus is a good man. He wasn’t God, but He was a good man.’ We’ve developed a little way of responding to that, which is called ‘liar, lunatic, or Lord.’ It basically says this, you cannot just say that Jesus was a good man, it is not an option that is available because He, over and over again claimed to be God.
So, one option you can have is to call Him a liar, that He just lied about that. Another option is, you could call Him a lunatic, someone who is just mentally, completely crazy, because He went around claiming that He was God. Or, you would have to chose that He was God, who He claimed to be, but you don’t have the choice of saying He was just a good man. He either was a liar, He was a lunatic, or He was the Lord God Himself.
In much the same way, there are people who come along and they look at the Bible and they say, ‘The Bible is a good book, there are a lot of good things in this book, but it is a human book, a human book, but it is a good book.’ We don’t have that option, men and women, we can’t choose that. The reason why is, more than 3,000 times in this book, it says, “Thus says the Lord God.” It says that what is written in here is the Word of God, the truth of God. It is the breath of God. So, we can’t say it is a human book, no, either it is lying when it claims to be the Word of God or there is some kind of lunacy involved in all of that or it is reality. It can’t just be a human, good book. That is its nature.
The second thing we want to look at is its merit and we see that in verse 16, the latter part. Notice what it says there, “All Scripture is inspired by God (it is God-breathed) and profitable for…” four things.
It is profitable for teaching. In other words, it tells us what is right. It is profitable for reproof. It alerts us to when we are deviating from God’s way. Deviating from God’s truth. It is profitable for teaching; it tells us what is right. It is profitable for reproof; it tells us what is not right. It is profitable for correction. I like the way the New Living Translations puts it, it says ‘It straightens us out.’ It tells us how to return to the proper path. It is profitable for teaching; it tells us what is right. For reproof, it tells us what is not right. For correction, it tells us how to get it right. Then, he says it is profitable for training in righteousness, it will guide us into maturity, it will help us to build character, it will help us to develop Christ likeness.
It is profitable for teaching; it tells us what is right. For reproof, what is not right. For correction, how to get it right. It is profitable for training in righteousness, it will help us to stay right.
It is the spiritual milk that refreshes us, it is the spiritual meat that strengthens us. Again, David just rejoices in the Word of God, the sacred writings, he says, “It restores the soul,” in Psalm 19. “It makes wise the simple, it rejoices the heart, it enlightens the eyes.” We learn of things we never knew.
The Word of God is truly organic. It is better than all-natural; it is all-supernatural. There are no artificial or harmful additives found here. In fact, the Bible gives us the spiritual vitamins and spiritual nutrients that we need. When we’ve been not partaking of the Word of God, you may not notice that right away, but it becomes noticeable over time, the same way if you are taking in vitamins and nutrients and you’re not eating what you should be eating, you may not feel it right away, but boy, eventually it will show up. When we take in the Word of God, it is giving us the vitamins and the nutrients we need. Even though we may not feel this instant jolt, it is still doing that.
Jeremiah said to God in Jeremiah 15:16, “Your words (God) were found and I ate them, (I took them in) and Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart.” Unbelievable stuff. It is unbelievable stuff.
We are looking at its nature, its merit. The third thing we want to see is its aim, there in verse 17. You notice it begins with the phrase, “So that” This is the aim of it all, “So that the man of God may be adequate.”
Sometimes in our English translations we use a word in English that I think is outdated and this is an example of one of those words, that the person of God may be ‘adequate.’ The connotation of that word in our culture today is like barely sufficient. That is not what it meant originally in English, but that is sort of the way we view it today. I like the way the NIV translates it, it uses the word ‘thoroughly.’ The man of God may be thoroughly complete, thoroughly sufficient. That the woman of God would be thoroughly proficient, that we would have all the essential tools we needed. That we would be equipped for, completely outfitted for every good work. The New Living Translation says, ‘For every good thing God wants us to do.’
This is important. The sacred writings, the Bible, have been given to us, not merely to add to our knowledge base, where we store it up here [Bruce points to head], not just to allow us to maybe out-argue people about truth, but to be lived out. Do you see that? So that we would live out Godly character, we would do what God has called us to do and how He has called us to live. We would do that before God and before people.
So, we are talking about a Last Days Survival Guide and if we are going to survive in the last days, one of the things we must do is, nourish our life and others with Scripture. We have looked at this call to adhere to truth, we’ve looked at the innate value of Scripture. Now we want to look at the mandate to preach the Word.
You will notice in those first four verses of chapter 4, it involves two things. First of all, a solemn charge in verses 1 and 2, and then the coming drift in verses 3 and 4. I am going to take it in reverse order, I am going to start with the coming drift. It helps us to understand the solemn charge.
In verses 3 to 4, there are five future tenses that are used to describe this natural drift from truth. Look at verse 3. It says, “For the time…” here comes the first future tense, “will come.” There is going to be a time, it is that word for ‘season,’ that word for ‘era.’ There is going to be an era that will come and it is going to have two stages. Stage number one is in the next phrase. “When they will not…” that is that second future tense, “endure sound doctrine.”
I believe the people that are being described here even include some people in the church community at large. “The time will come when they (these people) will not endure sound doctrine.” It means they won’t put up with it. The New Living Translation says they will no longer listen to sound doctrine. Literally, in the original, it means ‘healthy teaching.’ The word doctrine just is a word for teaching. There is a time coming when they will not put up with sound doctrine, when they are going to say, ‘Wait a minute, that is just too much Bible, that is just too much theology, that is just too much doctrine. I don’t want to hear that kind of stuff,’ is what they are going to say. ‘I don’t want to hear about sin. I don’t want to hear about repentance, I don’t want to hear about judgment and hell. I don’t want to hear about holiness and how much I should be seeking to be holy before God. I don’t want to hear about discipline coming to my life from the Lord.’
There is a time coming when they won’t put up with that stuff anymore. They will take a buffet approach to Scripture, a pick and choose. I will listen to that, but I don’t want any of this. I don’t want any of that, but okay this is alright with me.
That leads to stage two, in the middle of the verse. “But wanting to have their ears tickled,” it is a figure of speech that means ‘entertained’ or ‘being intrigued.’ “They will, (future tense number three), accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires.” It is an interesting word picture, it means they will start to heap them up, they will start to pile them up, they will start to stack them up. Teachers according to their own desires, who will suit their own desires, where it will be less about God and more about me.
The Message translates it here, ‘People will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food,’ where they begin to desire feel good talks, we want feel good talks. We want positive thinking in these talks, we could put it this way, spiritual pep rally [a gathering of people designed to stir up excitement and positive feelings] sermons, just kind of stir us up and get us kind of excited, in general. You know, talks where there is eloquent speaking and gripping, cool stories. By the way, I love eloquent speaking and I love gripping, cool stories, but what it is saying is that is the only thing we want. The Voice translates it this way, ‘They will surround themselves with teachers who approve their lifestyles and tell them what they want to hear.’
Now, I want to name a name. This is going on in our culture right now and I want to name a name, just like Paul names a name. You can look in this book and seven times, seven times, he mentions a name and I want to name a name of someone who is doing this very thing right now. That name is the name of the smiling preacher, Joel Osteen.
Many times Joel Osteen, very, very popular, probably the biggest church in America, but many times over he has said, ‘I don’t want to preach about sin, I don’t want to preach about hell, I don’t want to preach about God’s wrath, I don’t want to preach negative sermons. I just want to be positive. I don’t want to reprove anybody; I don’t want to rebuke anybody. I just want messages that just uplift everybody, make them feel good. I don’t want to convict anybody about anything.’
We’ve already got people doing this and it is going to go from bad to worse. Where does it all lead? Well, look at verse 4. We have the fourth future tense, “They will turn away their ears from the truth,” they will turn from the truth. That is the only way that people can ever embrace prosperity teaching. God wants everybody wealthy and a hundred percent healthy. The only way that you can every embrace that is if you turn away from the rest of what the Bible teaches. That’s the only way that you can do it.
“They will turn away from truth and will,” (fifth future tense) “turn aside to myths.” What do we mean by that? What are myths? ‘There is no hell, there’s no lake of fire, God is not going to judge anybody, He is just the God of love.’
Or things like evolution. ‘You know the world just happened. It just happened. You know, you go from being a snail until eventually you’re a human being, it just happens.’
Or reincarnation. ‘Hey, you don’t need to worry about it, you’re going to get a second shot, a second go around. So, you messed up this life, just come back the next time and do it better.’
Or things like universalism, you know, that is really what is infecting us today. ‘Bruce, that is your truth. Bruce, that is your opinion. I mean, it is all the same gods, who cares if they have different names?’
Or how about this one? I think this is happening a lot today, “Holiness, being very careful about the life choices I make in order to honor God? That is kind of an optional thing. I mean God is the God of grace, I don’t have to worry about any discipline.’ It becomes an anything goes scenario.
Because, you see, of this future potential issue, the coming drift, we now come to the solemn charge in verses 1 and 2. Hang in there with me, this is good stuff. Look at what he has to say in verse 1. In fact, just let your eyes settle on verse 1 for a minute. “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom.” You almost get the sense that is coming out of the Supreme Court of Heaven. It is coming out of the very throne room of God.
He says, “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus,” and he adds electricity to the charge by talking about Jesus’ future judgment, about Jesus’ appearing, His second coming, and about Jesus’ kingdom. Jesus, who is going to judge the living and the dead, which is going to include us because according to what it says in 2 Corinthians 5:10, we are going to be judged for the deeds we have done as we have served Jesus.
And, by His appearing, His glorious appearing, the great appearing of our God and Savior, His second coming, and by His kingdom, remember the kingdom is the focal end of all of history. In fact, in the book of Revelation, chapter 11, verse 15, it talks about the day when it says, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” It is getting our attention, there are some important things to be communicated here.
Then, it brings us down to verses 2, where we have five rapid fire commands that are given, “preach the word, be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” These are commands that are being given to Timothy. I think they are commands for pastors, I think they are commands for spiritual leaders, but I think they are commands for all of us.
You know, we learn from 1 Peter 2:9 that we are all royal priests. So, this is really for all of us. The first command, preach the word. It is a language of what they would do in that day when a herald would proclaim the king’s message, we are to preach and to teach the Bible, God’s truth.
Second command, be ready in season and out of season. It is a military term, it was used of being always on duty, always at your post. When it says in season and out of season that means not just when it is convenient, but even when it is inconvenient. We could translate it this way, ‘Not occasionally, but continually.’
The third command, reprove. It means to persuade and to challenge people. We don’t hold back. You reprove, you are not a flatterer or a people pleaser.
The fourth command, rebuke. It means to warn people about consequences. By the way, when we talk about preaching and reproving and rebuking, Ephesians 4:15 is still in our Bibles, where it says we are to speak truth in love. How we do it is very important.
And then, the fifth command is exhort. It means to encourage other people to make spiritual progress and to encourage them when they are making progress. ‘You’re doing a good job.’ We are to do that, it says, with great patience and instruction. That word, patience, is the word that means to be patient with people, to be long fused. Because when we are building truth into them, when we are preaching and teaching and reproving and rebuking and exhorting them, we are delivering spiritual vitamins to them and sometimes it takes time for those seeds to sprout.
But, the charge is clear, men and women. Charles Haddon Spurgeon said this, ‘Sermons should have real teaching in them and their doctrine should be solid, substantial and abundant. We do not enter the pulpit to talk for talk’s sake. We have instructions to convey importance to the last doctrine and we cannot afford to utter pretty nothings.’
In the Psalms, when the psalmist is teaching, a lot of times you come to a break in the psalm and there is this word, ‘Selah,’ S-e-l-a-h. What it means is, just pause, reflect, let what has been said sink in a little bit. I think that is really where we are. Everything we have looked at, we should just, Selah a minute. Let it sink in a little bit.
When I was little, we had a little saying that we would do using our hands. It would go like this,
Here is the church
Here is the steeple
Open the doors
And you see all the people
I read where someone has altered that some. It goes like this:
Here is the church
Here is the steeple
Open the truth
And God speaks to His people.
I know we’ve had a lot to say, but I want you to tune in for this, for just another moment, because this is amazing to me. When our teaching is true to His word, do you know what happens? Jesus comes through the Holy Spirit and ministers to people. When we speak the truth of Scripture, He speaks. It might be in the pulpit, it might be in Sunday school, it might be in Awana, it might be in your small group, it might be in your family room, it might be in a restaurant, it might be in the children’s bedroom. But, when we speak His truth, He speaks. It is awesome!
A Survival Guide for the Last Days means that we must nourish our life and others with Scripture. I knew I was going to go long, and I have and we are not going to be closing with a song today because of that. But I do want to just close with some life application.
This life application I want to share comes from chapter 3, verse 16. What is really cool about this is, it becomes a grid for us as we are studying the Bible. As we are studying certain verses, as we are seeking to nourish ourselves on the truth and to nourish others with the truth. You ought to write this down, and by the way, I am going to post this on The City [Wildwood’s online social media site]. It’s already posted on the webpage, along with follow up questions from this message, but this grid can help us on how to study the Bible.
We learn that Scripture is profitable for, number one, teaching. So, as we are looking at verses, we can ask the question, ‘What truths does God want me to know from these verses?’
Scripture is profitable for reproof. As we are studying some verses, we can ask the question, ‘Where am I off course in my attitudes or actions?’
Scripture is profitable for correction. As I am looking at these verses, what corrections need to be made to bring me or someone else that I know into spiritual balance?
Scripture is profitable for training in righteousness. How can these verses help me to build character? How do these verses help me to grow in Christ likeness?
Oh, man, do we have a magical book!
Let’s pray. Father, we just thank You today, again, for the Scripture and it is so critical to surviving, especially in the last days when things can go from bad to worse, we’ve got to nourish our self on Your truth and nourish other people. And, Father, we want to thank You today that we actually have this book that we can have in our hands because, most generations from the time of Jesus have not had that privilege. You revealed Your truth, but it just wasn’t available to people. They couldn’t carry it around in their hands, they couldn’t wear it on the side, if they are carrying their phone there and they have Bible apps on there. What an incredible thing. May we realize that the key to this church surviving, the key to our culture surviving, the key to us and our families surviving is that we nourish ourselves on the Word of God. Thank You for the privilege of having it, in our hands, and we thank You in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Questions for Reflection: (week 11)
–Share any contemporary examples you may be aware of where “spiritual junk food” is being taught. Why do you think many today (even in the Christian community) have negative feelings about bible teaching, doctrine and biblical theology?
–Historically the Bible has always been under incessant attack regarding its integrity and nature. Where does this attack originate and why is it so persistent?
–“Every new generation has to answer the questions, Will we believe the Bible? Will we keep the gospel a priority?” How can we help ensure that the spiritual baton is passed to those coming behind us?
–On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being the best) how would you rank yourself as to whether your biblical convictions are deep enough to withstand the strong current of our culture’s shift from Truth? What practical things could/should you do to add depth to your biblical understanding and convictions?
–Read and examine Proverbs 2:1-11. What do we learn about the effort needed to grasp God’s truth, and the benefits from doing it?
–It is an awesome privilege to not only possess the Word of God—to hold it in our hands–but also to have the opportunity to teach others God’s truth. Meditate some on the wonder of the reality that when we teach God’s Word (in Sunday school, in bible studies, in our homes) Jesus comes through the Holy Spirit to touch hearts and minister to people. Thank God for the privilege of being a tool in His hand!
Application Grid for Bible study from 2 Timothy 3:16: It is profitable for…
*Teaching – What truths does God want me to know?
*Reproof – Where am I off course in my attitudes /actions?
*Correction – What corrections need to be made to bring me into spiritual balance?
*Training in righteousness – How can this help me build character and grow in Christlikeness?