The Greatness of Scriptures
2 Timothy 3:16-17
By Paul Robison

“Ever watched the 'Antiques Roadshow'?  It features everyday people who ask experts to determine the value of their family heirlooms.  'This bowl has been in my family for generations.  My grandmother brought it with her when she immigrated from Europe.'  The expert examines the glazing, the shape, the markings on the bottom and then pronounces its value.  'This is no ordinary bowl. It’s worth two thousand dollars!'  Makes you want to dig through your kitchen cabinets and find out if you have any ancient treasures hiding there.  Here’s some advice.  If your bowls say 'Rubbermaid' on the bottom, they are not ancient treasures.  You may not have valuable antiques in your cabinets, but many of you have an invaluable ancient treasure.  It’s probably [near] you right now.  Go ahead and pick it up—it’s your Bible.  It doesn’t matter if it’s paperback or leather bound, written in King James English or the language of the streets.  Your Bible is a priceless ancient treasure, and you should feel honored to possess it.  The word Bible is from the Greek word for ‘book’.  It was the common word for all written documents, but it soon came to refer to THE BOOK—or the Holy Scriptures.  What makes these Scriptures so special, so revered, [so great]?” (Scott Cody, sc.com).  The apostle Paul answers that question in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 where he underscores three concepts to show the Scriptures' greatness.
 
The Scriptures' greatness is first seen by their uniqueness.  Paul writes in verse 16: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.”  You probably know that literally this passage says: “All the Scriptures are breathed upon by God.”  One study Bible states: “God was actively involved in the revelation of His truth to the apostles and prophets, who wrote it down.  The author of the Bible is God Himself” (NSB).  Another study Bible adds: “Paul affirms God's active involvement in the writing of Scripture, an involvement so powerful and pervasive that what is written is the infallible and authoritative word of God” (NIVSB).  A third study Bible gives these ideas: Opponents stress portions of the Scriptures (like genealogies), but Paul stresses that all is authoritative.  He stresses that these writings are inspired by God. ... All eventually leads to righteousness (ESVSB).  One commentator explains: “To Paul there was a definite collection of writings which he regarded as 'sacred.'  The writings which Timothy had been taught were the Old Testament manuscripts kept in sacred trust in the synagogues where people gathered to hear men read publicly from God's word. ... From these sacred writings, Jesus, and His apostles, and other evangelists, preached” (Spain).  The Scriptures are unique because they are God's message for all mankind.  Look now for a moment at Gen. 2:7: “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.”  Now notice, here we have a God-breathed being, and in this passage, we have a God-breathed message.  All of the God-breathed beings need to hear that God-breathed message.  One is a perfect match for the other: “How shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?  And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?  And how shall they hear without a preacher? ... So then, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:14 & 17).  We have a God-designed message for God-designed beings that needs to be communicated and heard in order for others to come to know the Living God, and His Son, and His Spirit so that they too can be saved and have eternal life!  You know, there are many people right here in Prescott who don't know what these God-breathed Scriptures say.  That truth should disturb us.  Will we try to do anything to change that situation?   “A ship’s [captain] once challenged a chaplain with the question, 'How is it that you are always talking to my men about Jesus Christ?  Did you ever see Him?' 'No, I never did,' was the reply.  'Then how can you tell a man to trust in someone you have never seen?  I can’t see any sense in that.'  'Well,' replied the chaplain, 'when you head for a place of refuge in a storm, what sense is there in telling your men to let go the anchor when they cannot see the ground?  On what principle do you trust your ship and your life to ground that you have never seen and never can see?'  'Oh,' said the [captain], 'we go by our chart.'  'Exactly,' replied the chaplain, holding up his Bible, 'and I, too, go by a chart, and it is an [unmistaken] one, while yours is not.  It tells me of the only sure ground of my salvation, the atoning work of Jesus Christ upon the cross and from the grave.  My faith, like your anchor, takes hold of this unseen but real ground, and so rides out the storm of life in peace and safety'” (Ebie sc.com).  These Scriptures are a treasure because they are from an almighty, eternal, and living God!
 
One might ask: “Alright, Paul claims that these Scriptures are from God, but is there any other proof about the Bible's inspiration?”  Oh yes, there is much proof.  Let's look now at just three examples of inspiration from the Old Testament.  First, let's read Exodus 32:15-16: “And Moses turned and went down from the mountain, and the two tablets of Testimony were in his hand [these are the tablets with the 10 commandments written on them].  The tablets were written on both sides; on the one side and on the other they were written.  Now the tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God engraved on the tablets.”  These tablets were the handiwork of God.  The very words and even the shape of the Hebrew letters were His responsibility.  Could these tablets possibly contain any errors when they are the product of God?  With the same care and precision, God transmitted other Scriptures as well.  Now look at Psa. 19:7-10: “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the statues of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.  More to be desired are they than gold, Yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.”  Now if the law of God is perfect, how can there be any errors in it?  If the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous, how can there be any falsehood in His Word?  Now look at Jeremiah 36:2ff where God commands Jeremiah: “Take a scroll of a book and write on it all the words that I have spoken to you against Israel, against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spoke to you, from the days of Josiah even to this day.  It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the adversities which I purpose to bring upon them, that everyone may turn from his evil way, that I may forgive their iniquity and sin.”  Jeremiah gets his scribe, Baruch, to write down the words, and then Baruch reads the scroll at the temple.  The princes of Judah hear about this, and they ask Baruch to read the scroll to them.  Finally, the scroll was read before the king himself.  Notice his response in verse 23: “And it happened, when Jehudi had read three or four columns, that the king cut it with scribe's knife and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the scroll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth.”  The king made light God's Word and destroyed it.  How did God react to such disgraceful behavior?  Look at verse 30: “Therefore thus says the Lord concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah: He shall have no one to sit on the throne of David, and his dead body shall be cast out to the heat of the day and the frost of the night.”  “This king who rose up and dared to burn the scroll which contained the Word of the Living God [was] cut off in judgment.  The body of that king [was] exposed to the elements.  The [inspired] Word of God cannot be destroyed, and woe to the man who ties” (Custer)!
 
Let's look now at just three examples from the New Testament.  First, look at John 12:48: “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him―the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.  For I have not spoken on My own authority, but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak.”  You are going to be judged on the basis of how you have received Jesus' teachings.  Doesn't this imply that His teachings have been recorded accurately?  Jesus says that His teachings are authoritative because God gave them to Him, and God could only give Jesus the truth, and no falsehood whatsoever.  Christ's teachings will be your standard, and there are no errors in them!  Now look at Acts 20:32 where Paul says the following to the elders from Ephesus: “So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”  Paul entrusts these men to God, but notice also that he entrusts them to the word of God's grace.  Where had they heard the word of God's grace?  From Paul himself.  Now if that message that he had shared and left with them contained errors and falsehoods, how could it build them up and give them an inheritance (Custer)?  Paul obviously regarded His preaching and teaching as the unmistakable word of God's grace!  Now look at 1 John 4:5-6: “They are of the world.  Therefore they speak as the world, and the world hears them.  We are of God.  He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us.  By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”  False teachers were spreading heresies when John wrote these words.  John says in essence: “Their message is worldly, but our message is divine.  Their message manifests the spirit of error, but our message presents the spirit of truth!”  “For John, it is impossible to have the slightest error in the truth” (Custer).  Now notice, if Jesus' teachings are true, then we must accept the Gospels.  If Paul's teachings are God's Word, then all his letters must be accepted as God's Word.  If John's speaks only the truth, then the other letters in the New Testament convey the truth as well.  Yes, both the Old and New Testaments are the inspired word of God and the original manuscripts were made under the Holy Spirit's guidance!  Now let's listen to reading from Psa. 119:33-40.
 
The greatness of Scriptures is also seen in their function.  Notice now what Paul writes in the rest of verse 16: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness ...”  In this verse, we see four functions of the Scriptures: to teach, to reprove, to correct, and to instruct us about righteousness!  Let's look at each of these functions.  Concerning teaching, “[the Scriptures provide a knowledge of God that we can gain in no other way. ... We believe that God is working out His will in the world—that God created the world and that He will bring [this order to an end]. … [They teach that] God comes to the aid [of His people]. … [People] can [also] discover models [of various qualities] for their own lives [as they read about the lives of others.  We can learn God's will, His desires, and His insights.]  In a culture that looks with despair to the future, faithful people know from the Bible that the resurrection of Christ ensures the hopeful future that God has ordained. … [We learn about God's deeds on our behalf and about His demands for our lives]” (Thompson).  To reprove is to refute error and to rebuke sin.   The Scriptures provide] protection from half-truths and heresies that endanger the church.  Through the Scriptures, we hear a righteous Voice that often challenges our own sins and shortcomings.  Reproof often leads to repentance and renewal.  To correct is to expose errors and to set people on the right path.  The truth and light of Scriptures expose the darkness and wickedness in our own hearts.  The Scriptures are our compass which reveals to us if we are going in the wrong direction.  “God wants to restore our thinking, to transform our minds so we might live by the mind of Christ. The Bible will correct our false notions and mistaken understandings” (Cody).  Concerning training in righteousness, the Scriptures provide a constructive education in Christian living.  “Christians face extraordinary moral choices.  In the workplace, we face difficult ethical choices.  Such issues as abortion and homosexuality confront the church.  Advances in technology force moral choices about issues involving the environment, medical experimentation, and our treatment of the terminally ill.  While the Bible may not speak directly to every question, it shapes our values and influences our moral choices. The Bible challenges us to adopt [a] divine perspective in a world of competing claims and clashing values” (Thompson).  The Scriptures are profitable, beneficial, practical, or useful.  The Scriptures' functions change us always for the better, never for the worse!  The greatness of Scriptures is seen in their functions!  Now listen to our next reading from Psa. 119:97-104.
 
The greatness of the Scriptures is seen in its purposes.  Now notice verse 17: “that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  We see three purposes here.  First, the Scriptures are to complete or to mature us.  Peter admonishes us in 1 Peter 2:2: “As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word that you may grow thereby.”  God's Word is our milk, but it also helps led us towards meat.  Notice what is written in Hebrews 5:14: “But solid food [or meat] belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”  We become mature through learning how to discern what is good and what is evil, and one way that we develop our discernment is by reading the Scriptures.  The Scriptures help us to grow and mature.  Another purpose of the Scriptures is to equip us.  How can we provide encouragement to other Christians?  How can we refute the heresies of false teachers?  How can we convert unbelievers?  How can we really help others with their problems?  We must turn to the Scriptures!  God's Word can supply us with what we need to touch each of their lives!  Reading the Bible will help you to be a blessing to others.  A last purpose of the Scriptures is to transform.  We are equipped for every good work.  And where do those good works take place?  Out in the world, isn't it?  And isn't it through good works that Christians are able to overcome evil works?  You see, the Scriptures CAN and WILL make a difference right here in this city, as well as the rest of the world.  “In World War II, U. S. soldiers marched onto a Pacific Island as the Japanese retreated.  The natives there came out to greet the soldiers, carrying their Bibles with them, which some missionaries had translated before the war began.  When one of the locals approached one soldier, holding out his Bible, the soldier said, 'We’ve outgrown that sort of thing in America.'  The native said, 'You ought to be glad we haven’t.  If it weren’t for this Book, we would have already sliced, diced, boiled, and eaten you by now” (Cody)!  The greatness of Scriptures is seen in its purposes to mature, to equip, and to transform!
 
On the table side by side;
A Holy Bible and the TV Guide,
One is well-worn and cherished with pride,
(Not the Bible, but the TV Guide).
One is used daily to help folks decide,
No! It isn’t the Bible; it’s the TV Guide.
As pages are turned, what shall they see?
“Oh, what does matter?  Turn on the TV!”
The Word of God is seldom read,
Maybe a verse ere they fall into bed.
They’re exhausted and sleepy and tired as can be,
Not from reading the Bible, but from watching TV.
So, then back to the table, side by side,
Rest the Holy Bible and the TV Guide.
No time for prayer, no time for the Word;
And God’s message for mankind is rarely ever heard (Anonymous)!  
Someone made this good comment by in 1706: “O that we may love our Bibles more, and keep closer to them than ever!  And then shall we find the benefit and advantage designed thereby, and shall at last attain the happiness therein promised and assured to us” (M. Henry).  The Bible is powerful, but it is even more powerful when a person believes It, obeys It, and lives Its truths before others.  Is the Jesus of the New Testament your Lord?  Let His teachings transform you!  Don't turn a deaf ear yet another time!  Has the fire that you used to have for the Scriptures just about extinguished itself?  Let prayers stir up those embers into a blaze once again.  Don't ignore your priceless treasure any longer.  Follow the King of kings!