In Genesis, God spoke the world into existence; he did not get a set of tools out and begin crafting the universes as we know it, nor did he hire angels as labourers and send them out to build something. God simply spoke, and all that came to be because His words are active and powerful. There are no more powerful words than those spoken by God, for it was by His word that God acts.
Every time God speaks in the Bible, God is acting, creating, directing, ordaining. It was by his word that He created the world, by His word that he revealed himself to Moses as he declared “I am,” by his word that He works out His will in the world. God’s word has infinite power, and it is by His word that God makes himself known and works in the world today, and it would be by his word that God would walk among us.
That is the beauty of the Prologue of Johns Gospel (Chapter 1) where John presents Jesus as the eternal, preexistent and now incarnate word of God and that by this now incarnate word, God would both make himself known and bring about Salvation for all people who would hear and respond to his Word.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. (ESV) – John 1:1–2
The word of God has created, world-altering power; it is by it God creates and is made known, and it is why today Christians are called to be a people of the word and in the word. Why? because the word of God is still powerful and active, and it is by it we know the incarnate word and what it means to trust him and live for Him.
For the Disciple of Jesus, the Word of God is all-powerful and important because it is by the written word of God that we know the Living Word and that the Spirit of God bears effect in our lives. As a people of God, we are a people of God’s word, the Bible; we love it because it is by it we know God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit, and through it, God works. It is why every Sunday or Worship centres on the word of God, it should be why every day we turn to the written word of God to discern his will for our lives, and it is why this Bible Sunday, we celebrate and give thanks for the beauty and truth of all 66 books in the Bible because as Paul beautifully reminds us
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”1
2 Timothy 3:14 to 4:5
2 Timothy 3:14-17 NIV
14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 4:1-5 NIV
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his Kingdom, I give you this Charge: 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
1. Context of the Letters
Paul wrote this second letter to Timothy as he came near the end of his own life and ministry. There is a sense of a passing on of the baton, a handing over of the work that Christ has called him the Church to. He wants Timothy to know what’s of First Importance and to stick with it and make sure it is stuck with as the Kingdom goes on. Paul writes as he is in prison awaiting his own death, the reality reflecting the sombre tone of the letter, yet, as he reflects on his own situation, it causes him to look forward and think about the threats that will come against the Church in the times ahead. The things that Paul has faced are only a foretaste of the difficulties that are to come for the Church (3:1); thus, Timothy and those he leads must be on guard for the sake of the Gospel.
Paul has come to a true knowledge of God through faith in Jesus Christ, having lived passionately yet wrongly before his Damascus road experience since that moment Paul has lived to make known the saving truth of Jesus and has fought to make sure that truth remained untainted and untouched. For Paul, it is Jesus plus nothing; hence throughout all his letters, he has fought the curse of dangerous teachings, works-based Righteousness, pointless Obsessions with myths and many other things that Dilute the Gospel and the power of God.
In this second letter to Timothy, Paul seems to have a specific concern around growing influence around a specific ground of false teachers on the Church. How is Timothy deal with these things? By turning to the word of God, trusting in it and proclaiming it! Timothy is to defend the truth of God by the very words of God. The good news was made known by the word of God is defended by the same words, and those same words are to be used to instruct and equip the Church to defend against false teaching and to live out that faith that God has called them to; that is what we see in our passage this morning.
2. Continue Along the Road and Trust those who lead You ( 3:14-17)
Walking the Right Road
A few months after I had passed my driving test, I found myself heading for a concert in Dublin and driving roads I had never been on before; everything was fine on the way down because I had an old Sat Nav that brought us into the middle of the city. We got parked and enjoyed the evening; the problem was on the way back when I found myself being directed by a Sat Nav that was several years out of date in a city that had just changed a lot of roads to one-way streets. Every time we got to a turn, there was a sign telling me I could not make the turn – it was a stressful driving experience! To make matters worse, I was in the car with three friends who thought they knew Dublin because they had been in it once before, so every time the Sat Nav was telling me one direction, they were telling me another, but I did not trust them!
Paul begins this passage by using the metaphor of ‘journey’, presenting two us two roads on which to journey: the road of the world down which evildoers and impostors will walk (those who do not know the Lord will travel), a road that will go from bad to worse, and where deception will be the norm (3:13). Yet, that might be the road most will walk, a road of darkness and decay, but it is not the road that Timothy and the Church are walking or need to walk. No, Timothy is already journeying down the right road and has been for a long time; he is to trust the road he is walking because he trusts those who gave him directions to get to this point.
Timothy had been journeying down Gospel lane from infancy because his Mother and Grandmother had instructed him in the truths of the Holy Scriptures, then Paul had come along and helped him become wise to Salvation through Faith in Jesus Christ. Timothy’s Mother and Grandmother had sent Timothy on the right road by teaching the directions of the Lord, and Paul had shown him the beauty of the end destination through Faith in Jesus. There is no promise that this will be an easy journey, for just before our passage, Paul had spoken of his own difficulties walking the road as he reflected on all the “persecutions and sufferings that happened to me.” Indeed, even saying that they were to be expected! (10,12). Yet, will the journey will be hard; in the end, it will be beautiful and worth far more than anyone walking it could imagine.
What a challenge and encouragement to all of us here to both understand the importance of investing in the generations to come to form the moment possible, so that from infancy they can know the truths of Scripture, let it direct their lives to a knowledge of Salvation in Jesus Christ. Then as we invest in those around us so they can walk the Gospel road, we are aware of the reality of the journey but convinced by the worthiness of the journey because he who awaits our walks with us (11). The question for us to be real about is what road are we walking and to what directions might we be listening?
Keep Steadfast on the Journey
The danger with a long journey on the same road is that we can begin to wonder if we are going the right way; we might start to wonder if there is a quicker route, an easier route if we just turn off. Someone might tell us we are mad for going that way, and we being to listen to them doubting the confidence of the route that we have been on and the competence of those who gave us directions. Paul warned Timothy about this danger at the beginning of Chapter Three, as Paul commends him for standing firm and fighting against the dangerous false teachings that are seeping into the Church. Paul wants them to fight the misdirection from people who were meant to be on the same journey as them. Yet, were now trying to convince people of a better route to the same destination. Yet, Paul knew that there was ever only one way to communion with God, through faith in Jesus – and seeks to remind Timothy of this. Hence, he must trust the direction he has been given and keep moving forward while dealing with those who seek to misdirect people. Yet, waiting for their follow
Chapter three begins by painting a picture of those who walk the road of the world and then slides into a warning about a group of people worse than them – Misdirectors or false teachers. People who have the appearance of godliness but none of its power (3:5) are to be avoided because of the damage they do as they seek to capture those who are struggling in their journey of faith because they are distracted by “various passions.” These people are hard to spot because they have an appearance of always learning (the truths of God), yet they “never arrive to a knowledge of truth.” (3:7) Misdirectors and opposition will come, warns Paul – Moses faced them. We are to expect such things as we faithfully follow Jesus down Kingdom road, but we are not to lose heart because “such people will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all” (9). Yet, there is no waiting as Disciples for such folly to come to light; we must be active against such fools as we Keep the course. Timothy has shared the teachings and Faith of Paul as they aimed at the same thing – Jesus – and as that aim reminds true, there will be moments that the faith must be contented for. We are called to present the beauty of the Gospel against the ugliness of such assaults, so how should Timothy (and all faithful disciples) be content for the faith? Simple, by doing the same thing that he has been doing from infancy: rooting himself in the word of God.2
Timothy can be wise to the false teachings of the world because he has known the truth of the Bible and the truth north of the Gospel from infancy. He has grown up with them, loved them and been formed by them. His love and knowledge of Scripture allowed him to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. It is by the written word of God that we come to a Knowledge of the incarnate word of God, and it is by the written word of God that the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin and brings to effects the Grace of God in our lives. As we look to the incarnate Word of God and seek to know Him by the written word of God, the Holy Spirit works in us to make us more into his image so that as people look to us, they see Him. That was what Paul was so strong about his own example for Timothy (3:10-12) or to remember his Mother and Grandmother because as they lived, they became more like Jesus, and their lives became evidence for the beauty of the Gospel and power of the Bible to affect change in human lives.
The Living Word
When we come to the Bible in Faith, it is as if it is alive and active before us because we come not alone but in the power of the Holy Spirit who opens our eyes and hearts to the wonder of God and works through the written word to bring to effect Grace in our lives. By the Holy Spirit, the written word becomes the very words of God, as if he was speaking to us. Hence the thrust of perhaps the most important and beautiful verse in the Bible pertaining to the necessity of Scripture in the life of the Disciple and Church because it is through the word of God (the Bible) that we come to a knowledge of God: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in Righteousness. (3:16)” All Scripture is as if God himself is speaking it. Thus it is eternally useful in matters concerning God. It is useful to keep us on the right roads, and it is useful to direct people away from those who might seek to misdirect them from the truth north of the Gospel. It is Scripture that brings us to a knowledge of Salvation, and it is a life rooted and shape day Scripture that keeps us on the road with Jesus: thus, it will be Scripture that will help us deal with those who seek to distract us from the things of the Kingdom. The word of God will help us discern who is a false teacher and lovely show people such things. Hence, not only is Scripture God-breathed, but it is useful in the essential matters of the faith:
- teaching: To Teach the truth of God and point to the hope of the Cross, the Gospel of Jesus until he comes again.
- rebuking: To confront those who would deny the beauty of the Gospel and confound those who would deny Christ.
- Correcting: In the sense of restoring something to its proper order, IE setting right false notions of God or what it means to follow Jesus.
- (and) training in righteousness:
It is by the Bible we know God, and it is by the Bible we will contend for the faith. Paul seems to infer here that the Bible is the antidote for the enemies of God; it will allow us to know the beauty of truth and be wise to the danger of those who in their folly seeks to add to the work of Christ or lead us down dangerous myths, it is the word of God that teaches us the truth of God and helps us rebuke those who oppose such things. Additionally, as the word teaches us these beautiful things so it will correct any ugliness that might seep into our faith. Beautifully, its correction is not only in matters of knowledge because as we dwell on the word, but the Holy Spirit also uses it to bring about changes in our lives as we are trained in Righteousness. It will be the word at God at work in us through the Holy Spirit that will make us ‘complete’ and ‘equipped for every good work, in the broad sense meaning everything that God is calling us to.
3. With Great Privilege Comes Great Responsibility (2 Tim. 4:1-5)
There are few things in our lives that are of great value to us and others. We all have possessions that have sentimental value to us, possessions that if we lost them, we would be devastated, but if we gave them to a stranger, they would probably end up in a dump because they have no economic value. Often anything that we have has value in the world since we are fearful of showing because it might get damaged or stolen; thus, we tend to put them in drawers and out of sight. The things that we own which have value we hide because to wear them, show them or let people know about them threatens their value. Our responsibility is to protect the value of possession because with the passage of time, its value increases!
Yet, that methodology and protection of value stand in contrast to how the Kingdom understands’ and practices value. There is only one thing of infinite value in the Kingdom – the Gospel of Jesus Christ, so great is its worth and rewards that no economic value can be put on it, yet so wonderful is its reach that it is not the possession of one person in the Kingdom of God but all. Furthermore, its value is in its equity that all receive it and enter the Kingdom by it. Yet it is this reach that makes this Gospel so infinitely valuable and beautiful because all may receive it, and all who do will benefit in riches beyond anything they could ever acquire in life or effort – sins forgiven, restored relationship with God and all the riches of heaven assured by the deposit and power of the Holy Spirit. So valuable is the Gospel and so rich its reward, so infinite its resources that we have no need to hold it to ourselves. Rather, we are compelled to share it and delight in doing so. Where the world hoards and hides things of value, in the Kingdom of God, there is only one thing of infinite value by which we all enter and live and of which we delight to share. With the great privilege of the Gospel comes a great responsibility – to make it known. The value of the Gospel is not ours to own or hoard, but it is ours to share because it’s too valuable to keep to ourselves. How do both know and make known the good news of Jesus? By the Word of God.
It is by the word of God that we know God and his truth, hence Pauls previous reminder to Timothy that through the scriptures, he came to a knowledge of Salvation. Translation: it was through the Scriptures that the Holy Spirit revealed to you the most valuable possession in the world – the Gospel, because all of Scripture is God beached and useful! Yet, as the Scripture is used to know God and make Him known so it can also be misused by those opposed to God to work against God. Hence that picture of those who “have the appearance of godliness but deny its power” and always appear to be learning but never arrive at a knowledge of the truth. (3:5,7) Why? Because the Scriptures, like everything, are only used to serve the benefit of self, hence the conceited image of abusive power in verse six where it seems the Scriptures are used to exert undue influence over vulnerable members of the Church and society. Such things stand in contrast to the ethic of the Kingdom and are to be opposed as the Disciple roots themselves in the Scripture so the Holy Spirit will use it to shape them and make them ready for every good work, works that will oppose such evil.
It is by the Word of God that we come to know God through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and by the word of God that we are shaped into the image of Christ for the sake of Christ. This is an extension of the Gospels beauty and value that it works in us and then through us. Yet, with such a knowledge of Salvation found by the individual through the Scriptures, it seems to come to a responsibility in the wider context. At the end of Chapter three (3:14-17), Paul seemed to be addressing the Scriptures value, power and effect to Timothy in the individual sense of his leadership, that the Bible as the very breath of God is effectual in all matters of Faith: As Chapter four begins the usefulness and responsibility of one who knows the Scriptures and uses them in life seem to widen as Paul charges Timothy to use the Scriptures to known Christ and make him known.
A Responsibility with Eternal Significance (4:1-2)
-Paul’s point to Timothy is simple and clear: as a Disciple possession of God’s Word comes with a responsibility; a responsibility of which we are accountable to God for hence the encouragement of the preceding verses now gives reason for Paul to remind Timothy of the stewardship that comes with the gift of the Gospel. Paul uses the imagery of Christ as Judge and the coming of his Kingdom to highlight the urgency of the task and the person to whom Timothy and all disciples are responsible. The Gospel is good news because Christ will come again to claim us for himself, yet, there is an urgency to share the word of God for that very reason – to give people a chance to hear of the Saving Work of Jesus and respond to it through faith while there is still time.
Timothy, as one who has come to a knowledge of Salvation through the Scriptures and an elder in the Church, is one who will be specifically accountable for this Charge. Hence, the strength of Pauls language, he issues not so much a charge in a general sense but a command with force in the presence of God and Jesus Christ who will come again as Judge. All who minister the word of God do so under the omniscient divine Scrutiny of Jesus Christ. The word of God is the very means by which we know God and his will for our lives and the Church: to handle it and teach it is a serious thing, something that Timothy must be aware of as he leads people along the right road and seeks to call people off that dangerous road. Jesus will come again both to receive that which he has claimed by his blood, to judge and to establish the fullness of his heavenly Kingdom, thus, because of this Timothy (and all who handle the Word in any way) are to be Mindful of the task to which they have been called. Timothy is to be reading for his Primary task of preaching the word, literally to herald the coming of God so that people can hear of the Hope of the Gospel and are ready for that moment of Christ’s return.
Timothy has been reminded of his journey with and growing up in Scriptures, its power and Sufficiency for the knowledge of Salvation, and how the Holy Spirit will use it to work in the believer to make him ready for the works of Righteousness. To preach is the good work that Timothy is being called to and readied for – the preaching of Gods word in every season and situation. Where the soil is favourable – preach the word; where the soil is hard – preach the word! Ours is the task to do, and God has the responsibility to bring it to fruition. The Charge of preaching is further spelt out through Pauls listing of five imperative verbs:
- Being Reading in Season and Out: There should be no time in life, no season in which the minister of the word and the disciple of Jesus Christ is not ready to handle and present Gods word, and its primary message: The Gospel of Jesus, not as an evangelistic presentation but the broad sense of the entire corpus of Scripture which calls the unbeliever to repent and the believer to continue to trust in, be shaped by and live out the Ethic of Jesus.
- Reprove: Paul reminds Timothy that a subset of preaching is correction. As Timothy contends for the Gospel, he must be willing to identify and confront error, heresy and folly. The same scriptures that reveal the truth of God at times will be used to confront error and sharpen the churches understanding of the Gospel and keep people solid in the faith.
- Rebuke: To rebuke is to warn. The teacher of the word was he points to the beauty of Christ will also warn people about their reality without him, or the course of their life and decisions. This may happen naturally as the Gospel is proclaimed, or it may be in a more intimate setting when required, but as the word corrects error, it will also warn people about the folly of their choices.
- Exhort: With a sense of urgency and comfort proclaim the good news of Jesus. As one teaches the truth of the Word, they must urgently beckon people to respond to the incarnate word – Jesus. For he is our Hope and comfort. Part of preaching the word is a constant desire to summon people to the word written and incarnate.
- Patience and Instruction: To preach is no easy task; hence as Paul calls Timothy to it he reminds him that it will require patience and bearing as people are never going to be easy, especially with something as profound as the Gospel that offers so much in response to nothing, yet demands so much in a response of gratitude and worship. Bear with them; Timothy begs Paul because it will be with it. Paul is one who suffered much for the sake of Christ, knowing that he did not have to because of Grace, yet, he ought to because of the Hope that was offered. As Timothys’ patience was to be great, so too was his teaching and instruction. Paul calls Timothy to be patient as he instructs people in the way of Christ (all of the above)
Ears that Will Not Hear (3)
Paul’s earlier promise that the false teachers and those who seek to misdirect people from the way of the Gospel would never prevail. He believed this because he knew and rested in the Sovereign rule of God. Paul knew that which God begins, he will see through: The Cross will lead to the Kingdom. Yet, such confidence and trust in Gods sovereignty do not allow for complacency in the life of those who follow Jesus; while we wait, we must act for the same ends. The task has been laid out for Timothy; he must preach the word and beckon people to the Cross in every circumstance; now Paul outlines the reason why – because a time is coming when not only will people be threatened by errors and untruths, they will choose it because it is more comfortable to their ears.
Paul further warns Timothy that a time is coming where people will no longer put up with “Sound Doctrine.” The ears of humanity will not want “wholesome teaching” because such truths are beyond us, and as such, they demand something from us. The Gospel is good news precisely because it offers a solution to a problem outside the individual, yet, it is precisely that reason that the Gospel is offensive to the ears of the world; its Hope is its offence because it tells us we cannot save ourselves only God can. Thus, Paul commends Timothy to declare the truth while it can be heard (in season) and even when it cannot (out of season). We live in an Era best summed up by that chorus of Bon Jovi who cried: “It is my life.” Paul warned Timothy that there would come a time when people would gather around them teachers who fit their own desires and scratch the itches of their ears; today, as I look at the Church and the world, I would say that time has come, we have been living in for as long as memory stretched and we will live in it until Christ returns. Today all one needs to do is Scan Youtube to find a “Christian Preacher” whose message requires little of us and affirms everything we want to be, the promise and benefit of Jesus without sacrifice or repentance. It is the consumerisation of the Church as we gather around those who suit or passionates and desires, and rather than lose ourselves in the beauty of the Gospel, we lose ourselves in the folly of Myths and misdirection (4). What is Timothy (and all Disciples) to do in such a situation? Simple the same thing they have always done: teach the word and direct people under the light of the Gospel (5).
Continue That To Which you Have Been Called (5)
While those who walk in the way of the world lose themselves in folly and myths, heeding the words of misdirects and folly because it promises them everything at the cost of nothing Paul command to Timothy is simple – Keep on going. Sadly, the inference of Pauls prophetic insight here is that as the Churches grows, the error of the flesh will seep into her, people will bear the vestiges of Discipleship of Christ, but only for the benefit of self (false teachers), they will have the appearance of learning but never arrive at a knowledge of the truth; the appearance of godliness but lacking its power.
What are our ears hearing?
Thus, there will be an onus on the individual disciple to discern the teaching they are sitting under: to ponder the questions: “What word is being preached? Who’s the truth is being taught?” We are called to discern and act upon the teaching we hear, either promoting orthodox Christian teachings like Paul and Timothy or removing ourselves from the fast teachings that sound too good to be true.
Staying True in a World of Misdirection
What must the teacher of the word do in a world of whispers and falsehoods? Where the background noise can seem so great, we might ponder if the truth that we hold dear, the Gospel of Christ, will ever be heard? Simple, what we have always done – hold fast to Jesus and proclaim the beauty of what he has done for us: use the written word to point to the Incarnate Word. Paul calls Timothy to be of “sober-mind” as translated by the ESV because the original word literally means to “to abstain from wine,” yet here it has a. broader reference, which the NIV captures when it writes: “Keep your head in all situations” (4:5 NIV). Timothy must keep his head clear and focused on the task in every situation and embrace the hardship that will come with such a counter-cultural call as a validation that he is following the way of Christ that conforms not to the world but confront its and carry on doing what he was called to do the work of an Evangelist and the duties of his ministry. As JB Philips puts it in his paraphrase: “Go on steadily preaching the Gospel and carry out to the full the commission that God gave you.” To all who seek to understand the Word of God in the power of the Spirit to rest in the truth of God and the Gospel, that which is Timothy’s call is also ours, we are to confront the myths, misdirection and folly of the world by the way in which we came to know the beauty of the Gospel of Grace. So today, in whatever situation we find ourselves in, let us remember that as we endure so, Christ endures and that such trials are a mark of orthodoxy and God’s presence, let us know that we are never alone in the task that God has called us to as God by his Spirit equips us and makes the world both alive to us and through us and let us carry on the world of Evangelism and fulfil the ministry that God has called us all to. A charge for all Disciples who love the word of God because it lets us know the incarnate word and who want others to know the Hope that is ours. Where God has placed us let him use us in the power of his Spirit.
3. Conclusion: As we have Heard so we must speak
There is so much truth and pondering in so few words, truths that deserve weeks of unpacking in our lives and the life and rhythm of the Church. Truths that challenge us to the core as we ponder the road we are walking on and the directions we are listening to, yet, more beautifully truths that remind us to ponder at the marvel of Grace and the beauty of the Cross. These truths are universal as they remind us of the necessity of the Word of God in the life of the disciple, its use for both the individual and the body of Christ, and its revelation – a knowledge of Salvation. Yet, while these truths and the letter contextual to the specific season it was written for, there is something for us to take from the universality of Gods truth to apply to our own Discipleship and involvement with the Church.
A Place of For All Generations
One of the first things for us to consider is how we approach and understand the Gathered Church. Do we consider it as something to meet our needs, or do we remember that we come not solely for ourselves but to Worship from God and hear from his word and that the Church exists for the benefit of all – especially those who do not belong? If the Gospel is proclaimed, the word faithfully preached, and everything is God honouring and exalting, then we have little to complain about: our preferences and desires are secondary to the sovereign purpose and commission of Church – to glorify God and to help people come to know him and grow in their Discipleship. Thus, as we remember that Church exists not for us but for all living in pursuit of Christ, we live to a people who work that all will enjoy and benefit from Sunday. Lois and Eunice, and Paul invested in Timothy so that one day he would invest in those who came after him. This is to be our model; we serve, love and suffer so that the generations of believers will come into a healthy Church, inherit it and pass it on. We work hard in each generation to contextual the Gospel, Teaching, Worship and rhythm without compromise so that it might be heard and passed on. We live to model the faith we received so that those who grow up in it learn by osmosis healthy faith, and they pass it on to those who come after them. We invest so that that can have a knowledge of Salvation even if it means Church looks or feels like something we don’t like, and when we see the Gospel bear fruit, we delight at our discomfort.
The Power of A Word
When we think of action, we think of great deeds of Valour or might, some display of strength and power. We do not often think of actions as words, yet, in the Biblical narrative, the very first act of God is spoken – specifically, he speaks from nothing all that is: God created the world through the power of his spoken word. Then as we follow the great narrative of the Bible, we see constantly God who, as he speaks He acts: It was by his word that he would rescue the Israelites from their slavery, lead them through the wilderness and rebuke them by the prophets. There is always power in the word of God; thus, when the incarnate word came among us, the power of God’s word moved among us, then as he ascended, it is the Holy Spirit who works in us to make us more like the incarnate word by the conviction and direction of the written word, the Bible. God spoke thousands of years ago through the Mouth of prophets, and today he is still speaking this time through the written word, which the Holy Spirit makes alive to all who would come before Jesus in the confession of their sins and receiving of Grace. Gods Word is a powerful and creative today as any day, as the Holy Spirit uses the Bible to convict us of our sins, refine us into the image of Christ, or offer us wisdom and insight for life. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit uses the word of God to lead the Church in the mission and commission of the Kingdom of God but globally and contextually. Where we are today, God is speaking to us as individuals and families of faith by his word and through his Holy Spirit to teach us and empower us to live out the call of Jesus where we are. Let us remember that Gods word is always powerful and active. It is by the written word of God that we know the Son of God and of his saving faith; it is by the Bible that the Holy Spirit makes known the truths of God to use and what God is calling each of us to and us as a church to.
When God speaks He acts and he is still speaking today: When God speaks to us it necessities a response and he is speaking to each of us today; how will we respond?
The Word as Necessary for Life
It was by his word’s that God both sought to lead his chosen people to the promised land. It was then, by his words through the ministry of Prophets, Priests and Kings, that God sought to lead his people in what it meant to live for Him as his ambassadors on this earth. The word of God both saves His people and shapes them! Today, if we are Christ’s disciples today, it is by that same (written) word of God that we are led to Salvation and shaped into the image of the Son as we live for God. It is the Bible that brings about the effects of Grace in our lives as we are convinced of our need for Saving, convicted of our sin, and converted to the cause of Christ. The word of God is necessary for the life of Discipleship and in the Life of the Church; it is by it we know Gods’ will for our lives and the direction he wills us to walk both individually and collectively. Furthermore, it is by knowledge, love and rootedness in the word of God that we are able to discern, avoid and speak against those who seek to misdirect the Church and the world away from the beauty and power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Thus, as Christians, we boast in being a people of the Word because it is by the written word of God that we come to know God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Then it is by the written word of God that the beauty of the Gospel is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit, who then through the word makes us into the image of the Son. Hence the weight of the language and imagery used throughout our passage as Paul addresses Timothy and reminds him of that which saved him and that which he has been called to minister with and defend.
Timothy as a leader in the Church has a responsibility to make sure the word of God has its place at the centre and life of the Church, beautifully calling people to repentance as it highlights their sin and the folly of the way of the world as contrasted against the all-surpassing beauty and majesty of the Gospel of Jesus. Then as people respond to the Gospel of Christ as revealed through the written word and the preaching of the word Timothy is called to help them continue on the right road by helping them to understand the words and its directions for life in the Kingdom in the power of the Holy Spirit. The leaders in the local Church have a responsibility to make sure the word is preached so that people can come to a knowledge of Salvation and know what it means to live for Jesus today. Yet, as those who lead in the Church have a responsibility, so do those who gather: we are responsible for what we listen and submit to. To sit under the ministry of a false teacher and do nothing makes us as complicit in the sin by inaction as by the action of the one teacher. Thus, we must ponder what we are listening to and giving credence to by our presence. As the preacher must whole fast to the truth of Scripture, so we must hold fast to the truth being preached, being ready to act when an error is obvious. To listen is not an inactive action; we have responsibility for what we hear and to speak against misdirection. Finally, whoever we are, we must take the ministry of the word seriously if we are involved in it in any way: small groups, one to one conversations, and the general life of the Church. Today, let us be a people who know the word, love it and live by it in the power of the Holy Spirit.
- The duality of the responsibility in the Church, yes ministers are responsible for what is preached and held to a high standard, yet, we are not inactive in our listens. We have a responsibility for what we hear, and if we do not hold to account those misdirectors, is to be complicit in it.
- May we know it, seek to understand it, proclaim it in word and deed so that others too can know the power of God’s word and the beauty of the Gospel of the Incarnate Word. May we be of sober mind and ready in every season and circumstance to know Christ and make Him Known.