If you were to select a single passage from the Bible that defined the purpose of the Bible, what would you choose?
How about 2 Timothy 3:16-17? “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (ESV)
It’s hard to go wrong with that choice! But let’s scroll back two verses: “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:14-15)
Over the next few weeks, I want to continue our New Year theme of looking at the purpose and benefit of studying the word of God.
The Bible Reveals and Rescues
The apostle Paul tells Timothy that “the sacred writings [God’s word] are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (Parentheses and emphasis mine)
Without the Bible, there would be no narrative of redemption, no clear gospel message, no knowledge of the attributes and plan of God, and no knowledge of sin and God’s offer of forgiveness.
No other tool is more central to God’s work of redemptive rescue than the word of God, empowered by the Spirit of God. Without the Bible, we would be hopelessly lost, without God, and without hope in this terribly fallen world.
But there is so much more. God’s work of salvation is not done. “But as for you continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed.” He is still at work in your heart, exposing remaining sin, convicting you of what is wrong, and enabling you by grace to live in brand-new ways.
The word of God is essential not only for justifying grace but also for sanctifying grace. When Jesus prays his high priestly prayer in John 17, he asks the Father to “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (v. 17).
If you are serious about growing in grace as a single person, as a student, as a professional, as a mom or dad, as a husband or wife, in your job, as a friend or a neighbor or a member of the body of Christ, then you should be committed to regular study of God’s word.
If you are concerned about a life of thought and desire that is pleasing to your Lord, then you should live in God’s word.
If you feel defeated by secret sins, you should run to God in confession, but you should also run to his word. If you struggle with anger as a parent or too much conflict in your marriage, you should run to God for help, but as you do, also run to his primary tool of help—his word.
If fear oppresses and discouragement overwhelms, you may need to seek help from others, but you also need the counsel and encouragement of God’s word. If you seem to lack meaning and purpose, it is the word of God that will, again and again, give you a reason to get up in the morning and a purpose worth living for.
God used his word to save you, he is now using his word to continue to rescue you and grow you, and he will continue to save you through his word until that work is complete and you are on the other side.
Paul David Tripp
1. What else does the Bible say about itself? Find other passages or verses like 2 Timothy 3:16-17. How do these impact the way you see and interact with the word of God?
2. Have you been acquainted with “the sacred writings” since childhood? If so, how did this help to shape the Christian that you are today? Who can you thank for their investment in you from an early age? Then, make a point to thank that person (or people) in the coming days.
3. Even if you don’t have children, how can you share the wisdom found in Scripture with young people? How can you be intentional in teaching the Bible to the next generation?
4. Find verses like Psalm 78:2-4. “I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.” How can this practically shape how you talk about the Bible with young people?
5. How has the Bible been a tool of sanctifying grace in your heart recently? Where has it exposed remaining sin and convicted you of what is wrong? How does Scripture equip you to live in brand-new ways? Be specific in your application.