Are you thoroughly equipped?
Across the Pastor’s Desk by Shawn Stafford
As the new school year approaches, parents have received back-to-school supply lists sent by teachers. These also have been posted in the back-to-school sections of stores. Posts on Facebook have addressed the questions, “Why are back-to-school lists so long and specific?” “What’s with the three dozen glue sticks?” A short answer to such questions would be that teachers want to be sure that each student is “thoroughly equipped” to take part in class.
What is the most important item on your “back-to-school” list? While this item is absent from most back-to-school lists unless your child goes to a private Christian school, 2 Timothy 3 tells us that if we have the Bible, we are “thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17).
What is it about the Bible that makes it so important that if we have the Bible we are “thoroughly equipped for every good work”? There are some today who say that the Bible is just another book made by fallible human beings. They say we can pick and choose what we want to accept or reject from the Bible. They say the Bible contains mistakes, especially in matters of science and history. Is this so? Not only can it be demonstrated that the criticisms leveled against the Bible have no basis, but the Bible testifies of its own truthfulness.
Paul wrote to Timothy that “all Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16).
This means that the Bible has been “breathed out” by God’s Holy Spirit, word for word.
We call this miracle “inspiration.” This includes “all Scripture,” not just parts of it. The Bible doesn’t merely contain God’s Word. The Bible is God’s Word. Why did God give us the Bible? Our lesson tells us that “all Scripture” is useful. How are we to use Scripture? How is it useful to us and used by God?
First of all, it is useful for teaching. The Bible is the source for all teaching and preaching in the church. Nothing is to be taught in the church that is not taught in Scripture. The Bible contains many teachings. The main two teachings of the Bible are law and Gospel. The law tells us what we are to do and not to do and that we are sinners.
We find the law summarized in the Ten Commandments. The Gospel tells us of our Savior from sin, Jesus Christ, who won for us the forgiveness of sin by his life, death and resurrection. The teaching of salvation by faith in Christ alone apart from the works of the law is the main teaching of Scripture.
Secondly, the Bible is useful for rebuking. Rebuking means that God’s Word shows us our sin. There are many views of morality today. Some doubt that we can definitively know what right and wrong are. Yet the Bible says what is right and wrong in the Ten Commandments. These are an objective standard of right and wrong because they are from God himself. Through the means of Scripture, our sins are revealed, as the Word is read, preached and applied to our lives.
Not only does the Bible rebuke our sin, it also is useful for correcting. That is, it restores those who have fallen into sin. The Gospel tells us of our Savior who died for our sins. It tells us that through faith in him, our sins are forgiven. The Gospel also gives us power to live a God-pleasing life, walking in the way of his commands, out of thankfulness for his free salvation in Christ.
Finally, the Bible is “useful” for “training in righteousness.” The Bible shows us where true righteousness is found, in Jesus Christ. By faith, his righteousness is credited to our account. The Bible says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Prov. 22:6) God’s Word trains us, teaching us of Jesus, who is “the Way, the Truth and the Life,” the “Only Way to the Father.” Through faith, we follow him on the way that leads us eternal life. Since we have the Bible, we need no other guidebook for life. We need no other source of teaching in the Church. We have all we need, “that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17).
Shawn Stafford is pastor at Hartland and Manchester Lutheran churches.