March 11, 2015

Studying What God Inspired

2 Timothy 3:14-17

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.

—  2 Timothy 3:16

The apostle Paul tells Timothy, a young pastor, that God expresses himself in Scripture to show us eternal life and teach us how to live with him today. The apostle wanted this young minister to know not only how he should follow Christ but also how to mentor others.

These verses reveal three essential truths: (1) Scripture—the Old Testament that Paul and Timothy knew and the New Testament we know today—reveals Christ and is God's message to us from his heart; (2) Scripture teaches us who God is, rebukes us for our sin, corrects us, and trains us in the right way to live; and (3) Scripture equips disciples to do the good works God has prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10).

But this good news comes with a caution. Richard J. Foster (Cele­bration of Discipline) writes, "We come to the Scripture to be changed." At this point we should hear echoes of Hebrews' warning: "sharp ­edges!" Trans­formation is never painless.

We'd like God to transform us instantaneously, but that's not the way it happens. He totally involves us in his project to make us his disciples. Like athletes who must stay in shape, studying God's Word requires daily discipline. Don't speed-read today's passage and message. God has personally expressed himself to give us eternal life through his Son and to tell us how to live righteously. Shouldn't we listen very carefully?

Lord God, tell us what we need to hear. And may we heed all that you say, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

About the author — Norman F. Brown

Chaplain Norman F. Brown graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, in 1969. He served aboard destroyers during the Vietnam conflict and ashore in San Diego, Calif., as an instructor. By then God had made clear his call to work in pastoral ministry, and Norman entered Calvin Theological Seminary, graduating in 1980. Chaplain Brown pastored churches during his ministry career but spent most of his time as a navy chaplain. During one assignment he served three years at Holy Loch, Scotland, where he and his wife, Ruth, encountered the Iona Community and their emphasis on spiritual disciplines. Chaplain and Mrs. Brown have three married children and nine grandchildren.

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