Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sacred Scriptures

Sacred Scriptures: 2 Timothy 3:15-17

1. There is a mystery to the mind of God; and a hiddenness to the heart of man.

There is a mystery to the mind of God, and a hiddenness to the heart of man. The chasm between these two seems insurmountable. Yet somehow, God reveals, and some men and women are regenerated. I would not say that there is a meeting of the minds, but there is the creation of children of God who share in the character and program, that is, the mind, of God.

2. God clearly desires that His Word finds its home in our hearts, that we might delight in Him; and love and glorify Him

God clearly desires that His Word finds its home in our hearts, that we might delight in Him; and love and glorify Him. And so He communicates. Somehow, the God who is spirit puts His truth into human thought-form and language. He speaks to Abraham, though how we do not know. He summons Moses from the burning bush. He pushes His poetry through the fingers of David using pen and paper. And then He sends His Son, Jesus, the incarnation of the character and purpose of God, so that we can hear, see and touch in human flesh what God is about. The manner and ministry of this Savior have been written down as well, so that today we hold in our hands and on our laps a written revelation of the mind of God in Old and New Testaments, which 2 Timothy 3:15,16 are holy writings able to make us wise to salvation and Scriptures that are able to qualify and equip us to do God’s bidding. We have a written Word that does not evaporate into the air, and that, though quickly forgotten, can be reviewed and relearned again and again.

3. God’s written Word is profitable and effective in bringing about life change.

When God’s Word hits not just our ears, but the hard surfaces of our hearts, we are changed. Nothing stays the same when penetrated by God’s Word. We become what we never could be – men and women of God. We do what we never even wanted to do – serve God. It is the inspired Word of God that is able to take a life and transform it into a tool for God’s use. And so we must clearly confess our need for exposure and acceptance of the Scriptures.

4. God’s holy Word is opposed by a multitude of profane communications.

But as we come to consider the context of 2 Timothy 3:15-17, we must recognize that there are many profane communications that stand in opposition to God’s holy Word. The contrasts are found readily in the surrounding text:

a. the profitable Word (3:16) opposed by deceivers and deceptions (3:13)

3:16 says God’s Word is profitable to improve a life, but 3:13 says that “evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” Now it’s easy to say, “Don’t be deceived.” But how do you know? By tracing the words of Scripture with your crooked finger, lest crooked hearts lead you away into lies!

b. a commitment to a pattern (3:10) opposed by cycles without change (3:7)

3:10 says that Timothy followed or tracked Paul’s “teaching, conduct, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions and sufferings.” The apostolic testimony, and the life that was in accordance with that testimony, served as a roadmap for Timothy’s life. But there were others (3:7) who were “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” They are not becoming more like Christ because they are not committed to “the standard of sound teaching” (1:13,14).

c. the word of truth (4:2,4) opposed by myths (4:4)

4:2 commands Timothy to “preach the Word.” This Word is called “the truth” in 4:4, from which some have turned aside. The verb “turn aside” is used elsewhere in the Pastorals with reference to fruitless discussion (1 Tim 1:6); Satan’s lies (1 Tim 5:15); and worldly and empty chatter and opposing arguments (ESV, irreverant babble and contradictions) (1 Tim 6:20). In this passage, we find that we are tempted to turn aside from the truth of Scripture to myths.

I will suggest some contemporary myths based on these previous three paragraphs.

1. The Myth in the Message - those whose message is not tied to the written Word and who espouse human-centered or humanistic messages (e.g., public school psychology; and leading popular public personalities, both secular and religious)

2. The Myth in the Messenger - those whose lives are not conformed to the pattern of sound teaching. Their lives are marked by areas of disobedienc, which either disqualifies from serving as a messenger, or at least should warn off those tempted to follow their teaching. If they are not even able to teach themselves, then why should we listen to them (e.g., non-suffering servants who live like kings; women preachers, including husband-wife pastoral teams; those who play to the camera)

3. The Myth in the Masses - those whose desires dictate what they hear (e.g., shopping for a message; searching for an experience)

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