2 Timothy 3:10-17: Encouragement
August 15, 2019
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Paul has described for Timothy the true nature of humanity in these last days in which we live, and now he comes to encourage Timothy in the face of these difficulties in two transformative ways.
First of all, Paul reminds Timothy what he knew about Paul’s way of life. Timothy had seen Paul’s lifestyle up close, and he knew his teaching. He knew how much he had suffered for the gospel. And he had seen how God had rescued him. Therefore, Timothy should not be surprised when he faces difficulties, too. This is a great encouragement for us as well today. There is a certain kind of so-called Christian teaching which always emphasizes the positive and pretends that you can follow Jesus without any difficulties at all. How cruel is this teaching! For the only conclusion of the Christian when faced with inevitable challenges and opposition to their faith is that there must be something wrong with their Christianity, with their faith, with their holiness. If all good Christians are always prosperous, then if you are not prospering materially, the only logical conclusion is that you are not a good Christian. And so what is presented as uplifting and positive is really damaging and detrimental to the Christian life and to a Christian’s perseverance. How many Christians are there, I wonder, who turn tail and give up in the face of difficulties because deep down in the architecture of their spiritual worldview they have not understood that everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted? The only way to avoid persecution is either to be ungodly yourself or to avoid the ungodly themselves. Once we grasp that, we are given renewed courage and commitment to keep on going in the face of difficulties. Such difficulties, misunderstandings, and opposition are not a sign that we are not a good Christian; they are a sign that we are following Christ in the midst of a world that has antipathy to Christ – in other words, that we are following our calling to be in the world but not of the world.
Second, Paul reminds Timothy of the all-pervasive power and truth of the Scriptures. Timothy had known the Bible since he was young. He knew those who had taught him the Scriptures and how their lifestyles confirmed the truth of those Scriptures. He knew that the Scriptures made you wise for salvation in Christ Jesus. He knew that the Scriptures were the voice of God, that they were all breathed out by God and useful for everything that a man of God needed in order to be thoroughly equipped for every good work. How we also today need to be reminded of the power of the Bible. Perhaps never before have we had more access to Scriptures and less appreciation of the Scriptures. There is a Bible available for every home, often multiple copies, and a translation for every theory of interpretation. And yet, are we reading the Bible the way it was read when there was only one translation and when Bibles — single large family Bible version — were the prized possession of a family? We can blame the spread of technology, the visual age in which we live, and much else besides for our distractive tendencies, but we cannot blame the lack of access to Scriptures for most at least in the Western world. What is the answer? To learn again of the truthfulness of the inspiration of the Bible and the practical power of the Bible. We need to learn that it is God speaking and that that voice is deeply practical. If you doubt the truthfulness of Scripture, let me encourage you to try it. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Take God at his Word and see how your life is transformed. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and one proof of the truth of God’s Word is found in those who put it into practice.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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