The Power of ScriptureJanuary 7, 2020
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
— 2 Timothy 3:16
When I was a small boy, every summer I attended the Vacation Bible School that was conducted at our church. I loved it so much! It was one of the highlights of my summertime. What wonderful memories I have of those times in my childhood! I’m so thankful that my parents loved me enough to make sure I took advantage of every opportunity to learn the Bible. That Vacation Bible School was a magnificent tool to help place God’s Word into the tender hearts of every child who participated each summer.
One of my favorite memories from Vacation Bible School was the moment when all of us children marched like soldiers into the main church auditorium and took our seats for the opening morning session each day. Once we were all in our places, the pastor stood in the pulpit, commanded us to stand, and led us in the morning Bible pledge. Every year at the beginning of each day of Vacation Bible School, we all lifted our voices and boldly proclaimed:
I pledge allegiance to the Bible, God’s Holy Word. I will make it a lamp unto my feet, a light unto my path, and I will hide its words in my heart that I might not sin against God.
*[If you started reading this from your email, begin reading here.]
Since that time, I admit that I’ve had to regularly renew my commitment to make God’s Word the center of my life. Although I am a pastor, Christian educator, author of Christian books, and a visible Christian leader, I must conquer the same struggles that others face, including the temptation to get so busy that I unintentionally neglect the daily reading of my Bible. Time and again, I’ve spoken to my flesh, commanding it to get back in line, and I’ve deliberately renewed my commitment to make God’s Word the center of my existence.
I even find myself inwardly repeating the simple pledge I made as a child at Vacation Bible School. That pledge made such an impact on my soul as a child that I still repeat it as I once again commit myself to the daily reading of the Bible. The words of that pledge remain deep inside me and continue to impact me even to this day.
What about you? Have you made a commitment to God to read your Bible every day? Is this an area in which you’ve been on again, off again? Would you like to become consistent and regular in reading God’s Word? If you’ll allow the Holy Spirit to help you, you can win this victory in your life. And even if you unintentionally skip your reading of the Bible for a few days, don’t let the devil condemn you. Ask for forgiveness and get back on schedule.
The truth is, there is nothing more powerful than the Word of God! It has the answer to every question you will ever ask, and it contains the power to meet every need in your life. The Word promises that if you will obey it, it will produce health for your body. In essence, it is the answer to every human need.
Conversely, when you neglect God’s Word and fail to include it in your daily life, that neglect will eventually affect every part of your life. The regular absence of God’s Word from your life will jeopardize your faith, steal your joy, produce an intolerance of others, and create putrid attitudes that disgust not only God and others, but you as well! In fact, ignoring the daily reading of your Bible will affect your ability to be spiritually productive and eventually make you spiritually infertile.
Paul wrote, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). In the May 2 Gem of Sparkling Gems 1, I share extensive insight about the word “inspiration” in this verse. If you have not read it, I strongly encourage you to study those pages because I believe it will richly bless you. But today let’s look at the benefits of God’s Word that the apostle Paul listed in Second Timothy 3:16. Once you really understand what the Word of God does for you every day when you take time to read it, you will find yourself getting more and more passionate about protecting your Bible reading time!
Paul wrote that the Bible is “…profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” Let’s look at each part of this verse so we can get the full benefit of what Paul was telling us. First, he stated that the Bible is “profitable for doctrine.” The word “profitable” is the Greek word opheilo. The meaning of this word includes the idea of something that is needful or obligatory, like a debt that is owed. It can be translated as the word indebted, and it refers to something that is mandatory, essential, or an absolute requirement. By using this word, Paul was telling us that God’s Word is not optional in our lives; it is mandatory, essential, and an absolute requirement for us.
Paul connected the word “profitable” to the word “doctrine,” which is the Greek word didaskalia, the word for doctrine used in the New Testament to denote those things that we affirm and believe to be true. Some Christians sneer at the mention of “doctrine,” thinking it to be stuffy or unimportant. But that kind of attitude reveals their ignorance regarding the importance of doctrine.
Doctrine is the foundation of what we believe. It impacts what we think. It affects our worldview. It determines what we believe is right and wrong. It guides us in life, determines our convictions and standards, and affects all of our actions and activities in life.
In short, we are the product of our doctrine. Therefore, it is mandatory, essential, obligatory, and an absolute requirement that our lives be based and built on the Bible and that we must see ourselves as indebted to it. It is also very important to point out that the word “profitable,” the Greek word opheilo, was originally a word used in connection with law. Just as laws must be obeyed and we are obligated to live by them, we as believers must live our lives with the Bible as our guidebook and our law for life, obeying it absolutely to the best of our ability. If we take this approach, the power of God’s Word will be released in our lives, causing us to profit in every realm of our existence!
Next, Paul wrote that the Word of God produces “reproof ” in our lives. The word “reproof ” in Greek is elegmos and is found nowhere else in the New Testament. In the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, the word elegmos is used for conviction. When God’s Word shines into our lives, its glorious and brilliant light is so strong that it exposes every dark area that remains in our souls and minds. As the light of the Word shines on our darkness and works in our hearts and minds, we are reproved, convicted, or censured by the Holy Spirit. As a result, we don’t remain in darkness! We are changed as our minds are renewed to think correctly. What a benefit the Word of God is to us!
Paul went on to write that the Word of God brings “correction” into our lives. But wait — isn’t the word “reproof ” that is mentioned above the same as “correction”? What is the difference between these two words?
The word “correction” is actually very different from the word “reproof.” One reason it doesn’t seem so is that “correction” is a poor translation of the Greek word epanorthosis. This word is very difficult to translate, but the following is a serious attempt to convey its meaning. The word epanorthosis is actually a Greek triple compound composed of the words epei, an, and orthos. When epei and an are compounded, the new word means whenever, at any moment, or at any time. The third Greek word in this compound is orthos, which means straight, erect, upright, or level.
So let’s see what this triple compound word epanorthosis — “correction” — means in Second Timothy 3:16, where Paul used it in connection with the power of the Bible. The apostle was declaring that whenever, wherever, at any moment, or at any time a person makes the decision to build his life on the Word of God — and to allow its light to shine into the deepest parts of his being to expose the dark areas that need to be changed — that Word will release the power required for the necessary change. God’s Word will lift that person, even if he has been knocked flat on his back in life, and will set him back up on his feet again. This “correction” that comes from God’s Word will cause him once again to stand erect and upright, regardless of how long he has been down and out. The Word of God will release so much power in that person’s life that it will put him back on level ground!
Once it has put that person back on his feet, the Word of God will then become his “instruction in righteousness.” The word “instruction” in Greek is paideia, from the word pais, which is the Greek word for a child. The word paideia used in this verse means to train a child. In New Testament times, it simply meant to educate a child or to give a child everything necessary to prepare him for life. Hence, this word simply refers to child training or the process of getting a child ready for life so afterward he can be sent out fully equipped and successfully live as he was taught and trained to do. It was believed by the ancients that such child training was essential for success in life.
The word “righteousness” is dikaiosune, from the root word dikaios, which is the Greek word for that which is right or just. Although this word has a wide range of meanings in the New Testament, the form dikaiosune in this verse refers to right living or just living, and it epitomizes those who live by a righteous standard that results in upright living. When used in connection with the word “instruction,” the Greek word paideia, it tells us that when God’s Word is taken into our hearts and applied to our lives, it fully equips us to successfully live by a higher standard that leads to upright, godly, clean living.
When you put all of these word meanings together, an interpretive translation of Second Timothy 3:16 could read:
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is a mandatory, essential, and absolute requirement for those things we affirm and believe to be true. It brings reproof, conviction, and censure into our lives. It can take anyone — including those who have been knocked flat on their backs in life — and it can set them back up on their feet again, regardless of how long they have been down and out. The Word of God will make them once again stand erect and upright. It will put them back on level ground, fully equipping them to successfully live life by a higher standard that leads to upright, godly, clean living.”
When you see all the benefits of God’s Word, it is amazing that you would ever skip a day of reading the Bible! There is no other book in the world like the Bible. It literally has the power to change your life and put you on a path for success.
As you start this new year, let me encourage you to renew your commitment to read your Bible every day. With all the benefits you’ve read about today, why would you not include God’s Word in your daily schedule? Yes, I know that life gets busy, but it should never get too busy to exclude this wonderful Book that has the power to put you back on your feet and keep you on level ground!
If you’ve been on again, off again in reading the Bible every day, this year is your opportunity to break this sporadic pattern and become consistent in reading God’s Word every day. The Holy Spirit is your Helper, so ask Him to help you develop a daily habit of reading the Bible. It would be a good idea to make plans to read the entire Bible this year. I promise you that by the time you’ve completed that goal, the power in God’s Word will have made a huge change in how you think, in how you behave, and in the way you see life. You’ll be a much better person because you decided to make God’s Word a central part of your existence.
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, I am amazed at the power of Your Word and what it can do in the life of anyone who will read it, believe it, and apply it to his or her life. Every answer I need for life is in the Bible, whether it be for healing, deliverance, marriage, children, health, business, or success. Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us the Word of God. Please forgive me for the times I’ve let it sit on my shelf instead of reading it, meditating on it, and incorporating it into my life. This year I ask You to help me break the pattern of being on again, off again in reading my Bible. I thank You that by Your grace, I will become a consistent reader and applier of God’s Word to every part of my life!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I read my Bible every day. I do not skip days, forgetting to read it. God’s words are the very center of my existence, and I draw my strength from what I read in my Bible every day. It shines its glorious light into every dark part of my soul and renews my thinking to what God thinks. I receive the conviction God’s Word brings to areas of my life that are wrong. It picks me up, sets me back up on my feet, and keeps me on level ground. The Word of God prepares and equips me with everything I need to live a successful and godly life in this world.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Do you have a habit of reading your Bible every day? If yes, do you really ponder the truths you are reading so you can apply them to your life?
- If you were advising others about how to start reading their Bible every day, what advice would you give them? Do you have a specific plan to help you read through the Bible every year?
- Can you think of ways that your life has been changed because of God’s Word affecting the way you think? Take a few minutes and write down ten ways that your life has been changed or strengthened as a result of making God’s Word a daily part of your life.