In the day and age when people love to read blog posts with titles like “3 Powerful reasons to change jobs” and “5 qualities to look for in your next boss,” we often try to limit God (and the Bible) to a numbered list. He started it with “The Six days of Creation” and “The Seven churches of Asia.”
In the case of the inspired Word of God – yes, the Holy Bible – its qualities and benefits are limitless. Would we expect less from the mouth of an eternal God?
In the case of 2 Timothy 3, however, we see an important passage that gives us four essentials we can only find in the Bible.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” (2 Timothy 3:16)
1. The Right Stuff
God’s Word is profitable for us in a number of ways. The first way listed in our key verse is “for doctrine.”
The list of “What we Believe” from your church’s website often gets considered the doctrine of your church. Doctrine includes those things but cannot be fully encompassed by those things. Doctrine is simply the teachings of truth.
What the Bible says is true (John 17:17). Those things taught by the Bible are truths directly from God.
Don’t be fooled by those who would say, “There’s no such thing as absolute truth.” God is true and every man – not so much (Romans 3:4).
Art is subjective; truth is not. Weather varies day to day; truth does not. All roads do not lead to Heaven. There is only one way – the right way – and it is through Jesus Christ (John 14:6).
2. Checklist of the Wrong Stuff
Knowing right from wrong isn’t always easy. After all, there weren’t televisions, books, night clubs or even tons of narcotics when the Bible was penned. Does that mean God doesn’t have something to say about these things? No.
God made people in His image. That means we have a brain that’s capable of thinking deep thoughts and inventing whole new worlds.
The principles for making right choices can be found in the Bible. God didn’t have to say, “Thou shalt not watch naked people cavorting around on television.” We know that God covered up man’s nakedness after the fall, and it should remain covered.
Many areas seem gray. God knows all the shades of gray, but His words are in black and white. If you find yourself straying into a gray area, it’s time to get back into God’s Word and seek His guidance.
3. GPS to the Right Stuff
If you’re like me, you think navigation systems are an invention of pure genius. No more getting lost when travelling to a new place. Living our new life in Christ comes with GPS – the Bible.
A glance in the Torah (first five books in the Bible), finds 613 commands given by God. 365 of them were negative – “thou shalt not” – and 248 were positive – “Love God.”
Let’s face it, as human beings we hear “don’t do such-and-such” and we’re longing to do such-and-such. I wonder if Eve felt the same way in the Garden of Eden. She stares at the fruit on the Tree of Knowledge. It looks gorgeous, and her mouth waters.
Sure, the Bible has plenty of dos and don’ts, but if we focused only on the positive commands, we could live a pretty straightforward life that pleased God.
For example, Romans 12:9-21 gives a list of commands. The word “not” appears six times in this lengthy list, but most of the commands are worded in a positive way. “Be kindly affectioned one to another” (v. 10) and “Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not” (v. 14).
When we mess up, God’s Word gives us directions for getting back on track. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
4. Pointers for Staying Right
Let’s continue on with the driving to a new place illustration. All it takes is one wrong turn and you could end up in a different state than where you intended. God knows we have a tendency to drift off course, so He provides a compass: His Word.
Most of us couldn’t list half the commandments given in the New Testament (let alone the entire canon of 66 books). This is why deciphering between right and wrong confuses us sometimes. On the road of life, we have no idea if we’ll need to turn left at the next crossroads. We need continual guidance.
The Bible provides this road map. Our responsibility is to study the map. Pore over it when we’re planning our future. Combine earnest study with serious prayer.
Our Heavenly Father doesn’t want us to flounder in the sea of life. He has given us everything we need for “life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glary and virtue” (2 Peter 1:4).
If you needed a reason to get serious about your Bible study, consider these four. They’re just the tip of the iceberg.