Sermon on 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5
Text: 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.
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.
Most of the things that we use to measure are not always exact. The ruler may have slightly rounded edges. When we fill a measuring cup, sometimes it is a littler fuller than others. There are times when we think we can trust a way to measure, but it proves false. The scale might not be zeroed out. The different size tires put off the odometer. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had something that we could measure with and we could count on the fact that it is precise and true? There is something that meets these criteria and that is the Word of God. This morning we are encouraged to HOLD TRUE TO THE WORD. 1. It Is The Fountain Of Our Faith. 2. It Is The Foundation Of Our Faith.
As Timothy faced those people who were promoting their false teachings and ideas, he needed encouragement to stand true to the Word of God. Paul had been speaking about these false teachers. Then, he offers this contrast in verse 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.” Timothy was to continue in what he had learned, namely the truths of God’s Word.
As one reason for holding true, Paul says, “You know those from whom you learned it.” (Verse 14) Yes, Paul was speaking about himself, but he was also speaking about Timothy’s mother and grandmother. (2 Timothy 1:5) Paul writes, “From infancy you have known the holy Scriptures.” (Verse 15) Lois and Eunice had seen to it that Timothy knew about God and his love for Timothy. Lois and Eunice had told Timothy about the coming Messiah, who would save the world. The Apostle Paul had revealed to Timothy who that Savior was during his second Missionary Journey. Paul reminds Timothy that the people who taught him God’s Word did not have a hidden agenda. They were not out to get something from Timothy. They were simply sharing their faith.
Ultimately, however, what made Timothy’s learning so reliable was not the people who taught him, but the fact that it came from holy Scriptures. These Scriptures were what was important. Again, Paul says, “From infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (Verse 15) The Holy Spirit had worked through these Scriptures to create faith in the heart of Timothy, a faith which believed in Jesus as Savior. This faith began already at the time of Timothy’s childhood and continued to grow.
At this time, we thank our God for faithful parents, pastors and teachers who loved us so much that they shared the Gospel message with us. These people taught us the truths of God’s Word. They pointed us to our Savior. Through the washing of Holy Baptism, we became the children of God. Through their words, their teaching, the Holy Spirit strengthened that faith. For the child of God, the Bible is the fountain in which we quench our spiritual thirst.
We all know how important water is in our daily lives. Our bodies would die a slow, agonizing death, if deprived of water. We need to drink water to live. None of us would ever think about drinking only once a week and calling that good enough. This is also true with our exposure to God’s Word. We need to be in constant contact with God’s Word. If we deprive our faith of God’s Word, it will shrivel up and die. That is why Paul also encourages us, “Continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of.” (Verse 14)
If we have been working hard, especially in the hot sun, we know how good it feels to sit down and take a long drink of water. We feel the soothing coolness as the water goes down our throats. I think that we all have experienced the refreshing feeling that comes with that experience. The same is true when we have been working at something hard in our lives. Sometimes, we feel the heat of problems, worries or troubles. Sit down and experience the cooling, refreshing feeling of drinking deeply from God’s Word. It is the fountain of our faith. It refreshes us and keeps us going.
The Holy Scriptures are not only the fountain of our faith. They are also the foundation of our faith. When called upon to defend our faith, the Holy Scriptures are the sure foundation that does not crumble, even under the harshest of attacks.
Why can we count on the Scriptures as our sure foundation? The Apostle reminds us of this: “All Scripture is God-breathed.” (16) Here Paul is speaking of the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures. It is interesting to note that no other ancient religious writings speak of being inspired by God. Paul is not borrowing the concept from pagan or philosophical resources. Paul does not try to explain the process of inspiration. Nor does he present arguments to show that the Bible is inspired. He simply affirms the truth.
What exactly is meant by inspiration? The Apostle Peter in his Second Epistle gives us a definition, “Prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:21) Peter states that the prophets and apostles did not simply sit down one day and write down their musings. Rather, God gave them the very words that they were to use. Though there may be different vocabularies and styles of the various writers, the message, indeed the very words, came from God himself. What a great comfort to know this! Though men may lie and get things wrong, God does not. Since this is God’s Word, you can count on it. You can be sure that Jesus Christ came to the world to pay for your sins, that you stand forgiven and that at the end of time, you will be in heaven.
These God-inspired Scriptures are ultimately useful for us. Paul writes that they are “Useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (Verses 16&17) The Bible is useful for the growth of those who know them and believe them. They stand to correct and rebuke when we are wrong, and they direct us in what God would have us do, how we are to live our lives. As the psalmist says, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” (Psalm 119:105) All of God’s Word, both its condemnation of our sins and the promise of forgiveness in Christ, is important to our lives. May we continue to build our lives on the foundation of God’s Word.
God’s Word is also the place where we can take our stand when others attack our faith. Paul writes in verses 3&4, “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. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” There are many myths that people turn away from God’s Word for. Yet, they think that they are true. Just to name a few examples, we think of evolution – man’s attempts to explain the beginnings of our world without God. Yet, we know from the Bible that God created all things. Another myth that people sometimes follow is astrology or horoscopes, thinking that, somehow, the alignment of the stars and planets can foretell their future. The Bible teaches us that the stars are not responsible for our future. God has our future in his hands. The Bible clearly condemns these ideas. The Bible also condemns the idea that we add anything to Scriptures, putting our teachings on the same level, such as the Roman Catholic Church has done with its doctrine of purgatory, praying to the saints and especially salvation by works. The Bible also tells us that we are not to subtract from what it teaches, as if somehow we can pick and choose what we want to believe. A good example of this is the Jesus Seminar, which was founded in 1985, with so-called scholars who looked at the four Gospels and tried to decide what Jesus really said and did and what was added later.
The reason that people turn aside to these myths is, as Paul writes, that they have “itching ears.” (Verse 3) Paul is referring to the idea that people want to hear something that is new, interesting, mentally challenging or logical. Maybe we, at times, also have itching ears, tired of hearing the same thing over and over again. We find ourselves wishing that we could hear something different, something new and interesting. We need to be very careful about that type of thinking. When we search for something else, the devil will be more than happy to provide what our itching ears want to hear. He is glad when we focus our attention on something other than God’s Word.
Rather, if we wish to read or hear something different, there are many sections of the Bible that we can read and study. There are sixty-six books in the Bible, where God speaks to us. Sometimes, it’s good to read something that is not the old familiar stories, because God has something to say to us there, as well. Yet, we also go back to the old familiar stories, because we can continue to learn things there, as well. Sometimes, we read an account one time and that same account another time and it affects us differently both times. That is because we may be at a different stage in our lives. Our emotions are not the same every day. The same message may comfort me one day when I am sad and cause me to rejoice in my Savior’s love another day. There is one thing for sure. God’s Word stands secure. We can place our hopes in it. There is no other book like it, and that is because it is God’s Word. It is the foundation on which our faith rests, because in it my Savior is revealed to me. Through it, the Holy Spirit creates and strengthens my faith.
With that in mind, then, let us encourage one another in our dealings with God’s Word to hold true to the word. There are many temptations to deviate from the truth. Remember that it is both the fountain and the foundation of our faith. We pray that the Lord would allow us to continue to hold that in its truth and purity and that he would continue to strengthen our faith through the Word. Amen.
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