Saturday, August 6, 2011

Why Study the Bible?

photo by Jan Tito on Flickr
Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), Stilleven met bijbel, 1885,
Still life with bible

I remember when I first started reading the Bible back in middle and high school. It was complicated for me at times to understand what I was reading. I asked God in prayer to help me understand what I was reading. Sometimes I did understand and other times I didn’t.

I specifically remember reading 2 Timothy. In 2 Timothy 3: 14-15, Paul is writing to young Timothy and was instructing and encouraging him in his faith. Paul, in chapter 3 verses 14-15, says to Timothy: “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

Paul was reminding Timothy of all that he had learned and how he had grown in his faith. Most importantly, he was reminded of how he had learned through the scriptures of God’s salvation. It was in that salvation found in scripture, Paul asserted, that Timothy was made wise through his faith in Jesus.

As a high school student, I didn’t quite understand all of this and the verses that followed in 2 Timothy 3: 16-17 really threw me off. Here Paul tells Timothy that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3: 16–17).”

What was Paul saying here? At first, and in my ignorance, I thought he was saying that it was profitable to correct scripture. This was probably due to the fact that as a teenager I thought the world revolved around me. This was the exact opposite of what Paul was saying to Timothy. Paul was actually telling Timothy that the scriptures are profitable for correcting him. This is also what these verses were saying to me and this is what they are telling us today.

As I look forward to teaching Bible to high school students in Haiti, I can’t help but look back on my own youthful understandings and misunderstandings of scripture. My hope is to learn even more about God’s word and to handle it and teach it rightly by God’s grace and by His Holy Spirit. Hopefully I can teach these basic concepts that Paul was teaching his young student about the Bible.

Here is some of what I hope to teach students about the Bible, what I hope is reinforced in me, and what Paul wanted Timothy to know about scripture in 2 Timothy 3: 14-17:
  1. The Bible helps us learn of our salvation and ensures us of our salvation
  2. The Bible makes us wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ
  3. God has given us the Bible so that we can hear from Him
  4. The Bible is profitable for doctrine (or a set of guiding principles)
  5. The Bible is profitable for reproof (or warning)
  6. The Bible is profitable for correction (God will make improvements on us)
  7. The Bible is profitable for instruction in righteousness (or right or moral living)
  8. The Bible ensures that a person is complete (or whole; integrated)
  9. The Bible helps to totally equip a person for every good work (preparation)

The New King James Version. 1982 (2 Ti 3:14–17). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

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