The Usefulness Of Doctrine (Part 3)

According to a 14 century idiom “the proof of the pudding is in the eating” makes reference to finding out if something is true by testing it. Timothy had been a keen observer of the effectual working of God in a few select lives. That in addition to his own, Paul, Lois, and Eunice were vivid reminders of gospel truth that formed the nucleus in each of them. Timothy had found solace and strength from these familiar testimonies that were so similar to his own. It may be that you know someone who remains committed to Christ and because of their godly heritage, you press on in the same manner holding to the same truth! Knowing truth and continuing in it is central to the text in 2 Timothy 3:11-15: know all about my teaching (v10), continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of (v14), you have known the holy Scriptures (v15). While positive proof had been aptly seen in the lives of those nearest and dearest to Timothy, in verse sixteen the focus pivots from a demonstration of the truth to a three point description of it. While the passage in 2 Timothy 3:11-15 clearly depicts for us the transforming power of the gospel, verse sixteen gives a threefold basis for the Bibles effectiveness: the Scriptures are inspired, useful, and purposeful. For the Bible student verse sixteen may well be the key verse for inspiration. Yet, many other texts do exist that can attest to this too. We should not lose sight of the fact that Timothy comes under fire and must face difficulties such as being under Nero’s reign, the growing pressures within his own congregation because of his youth, and his own timidness, and you have an instant formula for disaster. For Paul to strengthen Timothy’s faith, a great deal of traction is gained by teaching him how reliable, practical, and purposeful the Scriptures can be.

To begin, inspiration means “God breathed”. It is a heaven sent message preserved by God for His people so they can learn to live righteous lives. Every word in the Bible is from God and therefore completely trustworthy. To be fully convinced that something is true from cover to cover means you can fully rely on it. The Greek word for inspiration is found nowhere else in Scriptures. Up to this point in time, all of the Old Testament and most of the New Testament books had been written with the exception of 2 Peter, Hebrews, Jude, John, 1st, 2nd & 3rd John and Revelation. Verse 16 accords well with the prior testimonies of Paul, Lois, Eunice and Timothy not because their lives are infallible, but because the Word they followed is! Following God’s infallible Word is the sure means to godliness and as such it is an intensively useful book.

Much could be said here about the Bible being an immensely relevant book where we can learn all about God and the prospect of a personal relationship with Him. The Word brings its truths to bear on the sinner’s life through the Holy Spirit to draw the sinner into a right relationship with God, so that he may love Him. Recall how Christ provided the central aim for all the laws and the teaching of the Prophets when asked about which is the greatest of them. Christ summarized them by answering that we are to love God and to love one another. The Scriptures teach us how a proper relationship with both God and man is even possible. This is where the Scriptures are richly useful. Consider the fact that God uses His Word to teach, correct, rebuke, and train us in righteousness. We are always in His sights. So that means that whether history, Israel’s trek through the desert, the lineage portion in Matthew, the parables, genre of literature, even the old Mosaic code, are designed and synchronized with one thing in mind — to help us learn more about God and His Son that we may love and serve them. God is an incredibly wise and powerful Architect who designed everything to promote in us knowledge about Him. If we pay special attention and read Scripture through the lens of learning something more about our God, then as our understanding increases so should our love for Him.

It is strange how some suggests that teaching doctrine is not essential saying that it is not needed and has little impact on Christian living. Yet, in 2 Tim. 1:13 Timothy is commanded to keep to the pattern of sound teaching that he had learned from Paul. Undiluted doctrine is what will help establish sound practices and values. The Barna group surveyed Christian youths and learned that their ethics were often not in accord with Christian orthodoxy. What they discovered was that personal behavior had been affected by weak beliefs. Having a poor view of God, sin, and salvation often is the cause behind unethical practises. It is not surprising that Timothy was told to “Preach the Word” because “the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine” 2 Tim. 4:2-3. Good advice when you consider the times we live in and the need for our younger generation to be given a strong doctrinal foundation to backstop solid values of their own, so that when the time comes they too may be able to influence others as well.