17 May 2012
Teaching for Eternity
In 2 Timothy 3:14-17, Paul writes to Timothy:
You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
I have recently been thinking about these verses, and they strike a chord of reminder in me in several ways. Paul was writing to encourage Timothy concerning many matters, including rekindling his gift of shepherding the church, holding fast to right doctrine, being strong to work hard like a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer. He warns him of false teachers and their teaching and the certainty of persecution. Then, these words: “You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of…”
By the end of this passage, we clearly see Paul speaks of Scripture. We often hear verses 16-17 taught, but we don’t always make the appropriate connection with application. Paul is giving Timothy exhortation that it is Scripture which provides the solution to all these difficulties he faces. If he will stick with the Scriptures, Timothy will be protected, in a sense, from all these threats of hardship. For, God’s Word is sufficient for right doctrine, for correcting error and directing to right practice, and for teaching righteous living. Scripture equips God’s servants with all they need to progress.
We must be committed to the Word of God. These are words which are appropriate for all people. Scripture is sufficient for our needs. It is the tool the Lord uses for the heart-changing work He is doing. If you desire to know what to believe, turn to Scripture. If you desire to know how to live and how not to live, turn to Scripture. If you desire to know the life that is pleasing to the Lord and is capable of glorifying Him, you must turn to Scripture. Human wisdom is neither enough, nor fundamentally correct in dealing with these matters. It is the Word of God which changes lives.
I see four priorities we can glean from these two verses:
1. Teach for conviction – “continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of”
Timothy learned God’s Word and grew convictions about its truth and sufficiency. It was the convictions to this truth which would give him strength and power and diligence and endurance for faithful service in the church. Teaching Scripture to children will result in no less in their lives.
2. Teach by example – “knowing from whom you have learned them”
Paul told Timothy to keep in mind those of whom he learned these things. His early teachers’ lives supported the things they taught. It was not merely words they instructed him with, but their lives. The example of the teacher is as important as the lesson he declares.
3. Teach early – “that from childhood”
Childhood refers to more than just the youthful years. The word points even to the age of infancy. Though Timothy did not likely remember everything he learned as an infant, his training began early, so that it could be said of him that all his life he was immersed in the Scriptures. There is benefit even with the faithful servants who care for the bed babies to speak and elaborate on Scripture in the hearing of those children. Don’t underestimate the power of God’s Word.
4. Teach Scripture – “the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus”
Our business should be about training children—who begin life separated from God—with the only tool that will work to bridge that sin-induced gap. Only the Word of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, is potent to accomplish these things. We waste time if Scripture is not our subject matter.
Parents, persevere in the difficulties of daily life, looking forward to the days when your instruction becomes apparent in your family. It could be a long time, but God’s Word will not be without effect.
Teachers, stand strong in your servant position. Stick with the Word. Do not be ashamed to teach the only things that will make an eternal difference in the lives of your students. That is valuable lesson content.