Sermon series: God Speaks - part 3
Connection to unit theme
The God who spoke to reveal Himself and His ways promised a Savior, a promise He fulfilled through Jesus Christ. As we submit our lives to Christ in repentance and faith for salvation, we also submit to the authority of God's Word. We show our trust in God and His Word as we: 1) acknowledge that it is from Him; 2) allow God to transform our lives by it; and, 3) serve in His mission as He equips us to live our lives for His glory.
In today's lesson, the focus is on a major event in the life of Stephen. In Acts 7, we see the fruit of the Word of God in Stephen's life. He believed God's Word. He allowed God's Word to change him. And, he proclaimed God's Word boldly. In our passage from 2 Timothy 3, we will see that God's Word should cause the same effects in our lives.
I. We can trust God's Word to be true (v. 16a)
Paul uses the Greek word "theopneustos" ("God-breathed" or "God-exhaled") to describe the nature of Scripture, God's Word. This word is a "hapax legomenon," meaning it occurs only once in the entire Bible. God's Word, like God Himself, is unique. God is eternal and His Word stands forever (Isaiah 40:8). God does not change and His Word does not change. Because it comes from God (see 2 Peter 1:20-21), who Himself is truth, the Word of God is true.
As the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 states: "The Holy Bible was written by men who were divinely influenced . . . It is a perfect treasure of divine teaching. God is the author . . . Truth, without any mistakes, is its substance. For these reasons, all Scripture is completely true." Because we can trust the God of the Word to be true, we can trust the Word of God to be true as well. The words of men (even those that claim divine status – i.e. Book of Mormon, Qur'an) are just that - the words of men. We can trust that God, and, therefore, God's Word, is true.
Application: For every occurrence in our lives – big or small, positive or negative – there is no shortage of counsel available to us. Television hosts, radio personalities, friends, and family members all weigh in, giving us their perspective on what we should do or how we should respond. Do you demonstrate your trust in God by trusting that His Word is the one true source you can count on to direct you according His will and ways?
II. We can trust God's Word to affect our lives (v. 16b)
Paul says that God's Word is not only trustworthy, but is also "profitable." What kind of profit does God's Word bring? As Bible teacher and commentator Warren Wiersbe puts it: "[God's Word is] profitable for doctrine (what is right), for reproof (what is not right), for correction (how to get right), and for instruction in righteousness (how to stay right)."
It is not just part of the Word of God that is profitable, but rather all of it. We can be prone to focus only on the parts of Scripture that are familiar and/or comfortable to us. This passage should compel us to give ourselves to studying the whole of God's Word, knowing that God will use it to accomplish these purposes (doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness) in our lives. Ultimately, we know that God is working by the power of His Spirit, through His Word, to further conform us into the image of His Son.
Application: Do you read the Word of God simply for information? Or, do you read for life transformation, allowing God to use it to teach, correct, reprove, and instruct you? Is God's Word affecting your life? If not, would you ask God to help you read His Word toward that end?
III. We can trust God's Word to prepare us for mission (v. 17)
Paul says that the Word of God bringing about this "profit" in our lives serves a purpose. That purpose is to ensure that the "man of God" (and, by extension, the people of God) is both "complete" (some translations, "perfect") and "equipped." Both of these words – "complete" and "equipped" (meaning "lacking nothing that is needed") – carry the idea of being prepared for service or action (i.e. "every good work").
As followers of Christ, perhaps our greatest "good work" for which God equips us is to obey the command of Christ to "make disciples of all nations" (Matt. 28:18-20). This command encompasses everything from growing in our own walk with Christ, to proclaiming the message of Christ in our own community and to the ends of the earth. We seek to live as growing disciples ourselves as we make disciples of others, including sharing the Gospel and, for those who trust Christ, baptizing them and teaching them to observe all that Christ commanded. Because we trust God and believe that His Word is true, we not only allow His Word to work in our lives, we also take that Word to the ends of the earth, calling for others likewise to hear the Word of God and to submit to the God of the Word in repentance and faith in Christ.
Application: Wiersbe says: "The ultimate purpose [of the Word of God] is the equipping of the believers who read it. It is the Word of God that equips God's people to do the work of God." Have you simply been asking God to teach you from His Word, or are you asking God to equip you, by His Word, so that you can more effectively serve Him in His mission for His glory?
If you have never repented of your sin and trusted Christ as the only Savior and Lord, that is your greatest need. You will never fully submit to the Word of God if you do not first repent and trust the God of the Word. If you are a follower of Christ, will you today demonstrate your trust in God and His Word, not simply saying that you believe it is true, but also allowing God to transform your life by it, fully equipping you for serving faithfully in His mission for His glory?