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09.23.18 How Scripture is Useful Psalm 119:65-72, 2 Tim 3:10-17 Sermon Summary

by on September 24, 2018

You wouldn’t think that a letter that is barely three pages long with only four chapters would be so rich with plot! But 2 Timothy is a suspense thriller based on the classic question of whether good will outlast evil. It has heroes and villains and an extraordinary number of named characters.

The villains are Phygelus, Hermogenes, Hymenaeus, Philetus, Demas, and Alexander the coppersmith. Their crimes are that they engage in profane chatter and senseless controversies, that they are quarrelsome, and most especially that they have abandoned Paul, presented to us as the author of the letter.

Paul is among the heroes, as is Lois, Eunice, Onesiphorus, and Mark. And maybe, if he perseveres and remains loyal, Timothy son of Eunice, grandson of Lois, and companion and student of Paul. Will Timothy join the heroes? Probably, if he does two things: Emulate good examples and listen to the wisdom of the Scriptures.

Paul lists the bad examples with the villains and their crimes. And he offers some good examples with the heroes. A common characteristic among the heroes is that, “all who want to live a godly life will be persecuted.”

Here we find two reasons to know and apply the Bible, one of our five faith practices: To pursue a godly life, and to endure persecutions.

The godly life is not the ordinary life. It is not the popular life or the status quo life. The godly life goes against the conventional, the convenient, and the comfortable. Here the human and divine diverge. The human life is self-interested; the godly life loves the other.

This is to say that the godly life is counter cultural, so culture will oppose it, and that could lead to persecution. Knowing and applying the Bible helps us discern how to live a godly life and gives us strength through persecution. For example, Paul writes in Romans 8:35 that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ, not even persecution.

We find two more reasons to know and apply the Bible within this passage from 2 Timothy. The first is that doing so provides instruction for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. The Bible is the context in which we know Jesus. In the biblical context, we discern that Jesus, aside from being a renegade Rabbi of sorts, is also Prophet, Priest, and King. In the context of the whole Bible, we know that Jesus is the Good Shepherd, that he is Spirit-filled, and that he is the Redeemer of creation.

And for Paul, the more deeply we know Jesus the more we experience salvation. And the more we know the Bible the better we can know Jesus.

The fourth benefit in this passage to knowing and applying the Bible is that it makes us proficient for good works. “Proficiency” here has the sense of “completion.” Knowing and applying the Bible helps us grow in holiness. It facilitates our sanctification to accompany the justification we have through Christ. In other words, it takes us back to godly living.

Is there a word from God for you in this letter to Timothy? You may not be a church pastor like Timothy, but you do pastor someone—encouraging them with words of grace. A whole congregation may not look to you for guidance, but someone does. You may not experience physical persecution, but you do make sacrifices.

Or maybe you think, “Nah, I’ve wandered too far. My life is kind of in shambles. God’s Word can never come to me.” But remember Psalm 119:67 which says, “I went astray and I was humbled, but now I keep your word, O God.”

Even being lost teaches us how to listen, because the voice who calls us in the wilderness is that of a shepherd who finds lost sheep. The shepherd who calls us prepares a table before us in the presence of our enemies, in the presence of our wayward culture, in the presence of our persecutors.

At this Lord’s Table we receive bread, but we receive grace also. For we live not by bread alone but by every Word that comes from God.

At this Lord’s Table, the Spirit unites us with Christ and speaks to us in the sacrament of bread and cup, and continues to speak to us to lead us to a godly life, strengthen us through our persecution, instruct us in the way of salvation, and complete Christ’s mission of redemption through our own good works.

Remembering Christ’s Words at this Table, and knowing and applying God’s Word from the Bible, we practice our faith until such time as we rest with Eunice, Lois, Paul, Timothy and all whom God has redeemed.

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