by Doug Smith
My first job was as a tour guide in a show cave. While my primary assignment was taking tourists on an hour-long expedition over paved walkways, through illuminated underground passages, occasionally I was offered the opportunity to venture off the beaten path with my co-workers and the owners of the cave.
One time I began walking just past the underground creek on an area that appeared to be solid. I soon found out that the rock, which appeared thick and solid, was only about an inch thick. It cracked under my weight and I found myself sliding through some mud (thankfully it was not very high!).
I’m afraid that many people – especially people who have been exposed to the truth – are standing on shaky ground in regard to their beliefs about God’s revelation to us in the Bible. 2 Timothy 3 warns us that perilous times would come filled with dangerous false teachers. We are in unstable times, and we need somewhere safe to stand. The unshakeable truth of God’s holy Book is that place.
WE SHOULD HAVE CONFIDENCE IN THE TRUTH OF THIS BOOK
In verse 15, the Holy Spirit, through the pen of the apostle Paul, reminds us that the Bible is a holy book. From childhood, Timothy had known the Holy Scriptures, or sacred writings. These writings are special – different from other writings. They also testify to Jesus, as they are able to make us wise to salvation in Christ. (And keep in mind, the Scripture Timothy had what Christians today call the Old Testament, which told of Christ.)
Paul goes on to speak of “all Scripture” (verse 16). Not just portions of it. Not just certain books. All Scripture. We now haveall Scripture in the form of 66 books. The Old Testament is composed of 39 books originally written in Hebrew (with some in Aramaic) and the New Testament is made up of 27 books originally written in Greek. We then read that all Scripture is “given by inspiration of God” or, God-breathed. Second Peter 1:19-21 described Scripture as the result of God’s Spirit moving holy men of God. To describe it, as popular science personality Bill Nye did, as “a 3,000 year old book translated into American English” is to misunderstand the history and nature of Scripture, which, as Matt Slick at carm.org described it, is “a collection of 66 books written by about 40 authors, in three different languages, on three different continents, over approximately 1600 years” (but which is remarkably unified in its message!).
The source of Scripture is God Himself. This is where the term “plenary, verbal inspiration” comes from (meaning the full text of all Scripture comes from God). Since God is the Author of Scripture, the One who breathed it out, and since He is Truth, and since He is the ultimate Authority, this Book has no errors, and this Book has authority – the right to tell us what we should believe and do.
The Scriptures not only come from God, but they are useful for us. Doctrine (teaching), reproof, correction, instruction (training) in righteousness are the four things listed (2 Timothy 3:16). We profit from Scripture when we let God teach us, point out wrong in our lives, correct us, and train us to follow Him. Verse 17 says they are sufficient for the man of God (and those he ministers to) to be equipped for every good work (they help us with the reason God saved us, cf. Ephesians 2:8-10).
WE SHOULD CONTINUE IN THE TRUTH OF THIS BOOK
Timothy had a godly upbringing. Paul begins the book commending the faith of Timothy, a faith that had dwelt in his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice. They had taught him well, and he was to continue “in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them,” even “from childhood” (2 Timothy 3:14-15). Similarly, many Christians have had the blessing of a godly upbringing. Yet some seek to throw off the things they have been taught as they leave home to pursue a college education or a career or ungodly friendships or pastimes. This is to leave a firm foundation for shifting sands. Let us not forsake or despise a godly heritage, but value it and continue in it.
Timothy also had a godly example in the apostle Paul. He fully knew Paul’s “doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience…what persecutions I endured” and God’s deliverance of him. While “evil men and seducers” would “wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived,” Timothy was to remember that “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” and that he was to continue in what he had learned. While we may or may not have a godly heritage from our childhood, we can find godly examples today – pastors, evangelists, missionaries, fellow Christian who are committed to the Lord – and we can follow in their footsteps as they follow Christ, as we seek to stand firmly on the unshakeable truth of God’s Word. As Jesus said “to those Jews which believed on him, ‘If ye continue in My word, then are ye My disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’” (John 8:31-32).
WE SHOULD COMMUNICATE THE TRUTH OF THIS BOOK
Confidence and continuance in the Bible must also give way to communication of it. It is not merely for ourselves that God gave us this Book, but so that we might spread its message. Paul told Timothy, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:1-2). God will hold us accountable for what we do with the Book of which He is the ultimate Author.
Timothy was to communicate the Word through his preaching (verse 2). He was to do the work of an evangelist, spreading the message, and completing the ministry to which God had called him (verse 5). Today, we must still proclaim what God has said, whether it’s popular or not. Paul wrote, “be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine” (verse 2). We can share personally as well as publicly, and we can support others who are doing so, by listening, encouraging, and giving so the Word of God can continue to spread.
Not everyone will welcome the message of this Book, but we must communicate God’s Word even in the face of opposition. We have been warned: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine [healthy teaching]; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (verses 3-4). This is exactly what is happening today. Whether it is the fable of having our best life now, or the false teaching that God wants us all to be financially rich, or the myth of present life coming into existence by evolution from lower life forms, many want to have their ears tickled and not be challenged with healthy teaching. They would rather eat junk food and even poison in place of taking the medicine and healthy food that God’s Word gives. Nonetheless, we must still speak the truth.
We are in dangerous times and so must “watch” and “endure afflictions.” Speaking the truth can get us in trouble. It may result in an “F” on an assignment, or dismissal from a class. It may cause us to lose a job. It may make us the objects of ridicule or false accusation, as Elijah was called the troubler of Israel by the wicked king Ahab, who was the real problem by virtue of departing from the true God (1 Kings 18:17-18). We may be called “intolerant” or “Bibliolators” (accusing us of worshiping a book instead of God). It may even prompt some to physically attack or kill us. Regardless of the reaction, our responsibility before the Author of this Book, to Whom we are accountable, is to “preach the Word.”
Christian, do not forsake the unshakeable truth of God’s Word for the shaky ground of philosophies, worldviews, and lifestyles that contradict what the Author of truth has spoken. Place your confidence in God and the truth He has revealed. Continue in it. Communicate it. Then sleep soundly at night, since you trust the Author and are on a firm foundation.