The Profitable Word
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The Profitable Word

2 Timothy 3:16  (ID: 3053)

Like all ministers, Timothy was responsible for teaching God’s truth to his congregation. In this message by Alistair Begg, we learn how the apostle Paul directed Timothy to rely on the Scriptures alone when instructing others—the same principle Jesus used in His ministry. The Bible accomplishes its work in our lives as we trust in its authority as the inspired Word of God.

Series Containing This Sermon

The Work of the Word

Four Essential Attributes of Scripture 2 Timothy 3:16–17 Series ID: 27301

A Study in 2 Timothy, Volume 3

God’s Word for Godless Times 2 Timothy 3:1–4:5 Series ID: 15504

Sermon Transcript: Print

I invite you to turn with me to the Old Testament, to the prophecy of Jeremiah. Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah. Jeremiah 1:1:

“The words of Jeremiah, the son of Hilkiah, one of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, to whom the word of the Lord came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, and until the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah, the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the captivity of Jerusalem in the fifth month.

“Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.’

“Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.’ But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not say, “I am only a youth”; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.’

“Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me, ‘Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.’

“And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Jeremiah, what do you see?’ And I said, ‘I see an almond branch.’ Then the Lord said to me, ‘You[’ve] seen well, for I[’m] watching over my word to perform it.’

“The word of the Lord came to me a second time, saying, ‘What do you see?’ And I said, ‘I see a boiling pot, facing away from the north.’ Then the Lord said to me, ‘Out of the north disaster shall be let loose upon all the inhabitants of the land. For behold, I am calling all the tribes of the kingdoms of the north, declares the Lord, and they shall come, and every one shall set his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, against all its walls all around and against all the cities of Judah. And I will declare my judgments against them, for all their evil in forsaking me. They have made offerings to other gods and worshiped the works of their own hands. But you, dress yourself for work; arise, and say to them everything that I command you. Do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them. And I, behold, I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests, and the people of the land. They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the Lord, to deliver you.’”

Well, I invite you to turn now to the New Testament and to 2 Timothy chapter 3. And the verses to which I would like to draw your attention are the concluding verses of the chapter, verse 16 and 17: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

As we turn to the Word of the Lord, we turn first to the Lord of the Word and seek his help:

Gracious God, with our Bibles before us, we ask that the Holy Spirit will illumine our minds, our understanding, and challenge and change our wills and bring them into line with your truth. We earnestly cry, and we humbly plead in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Now, many of us have been studying 2 Timothy for some time. I think we’re perhaps wondering if we’ll ever get to the end of it, and our pace has certainly slowed. But that has been purposeful on my part, and I hope you understand. It’s very important for us to keep in mind as well, and by way of refresher for some and information for others, the overall context in which this letter is written: the context is that of Paul’s “departure,” as he puts it.

In chapter 4, he says, “The time [for] my departure has come.”[1] It’s a Greek word, analusis. It is representative of the ending of a voyage or bringing your boat back into harbor, the unyoking of an oxen. It’s a wonderful picture. It’s not a picture of trauma or of anxiety in any way. It’s simply informing Timothy that the day is about to dawn when he, Timothy, will no longer have direct physical access to Paul the apostle. That is, of course, one of the implications of death, isn’t it? Even though our loved ones are gathered into the presence of Jesus and we have reason to rejoice in that truth, the fact is that death is painful, and it’s sad, and you no longer are able to look across the table as you once did, or to call for advice, or to borrow money, or whatever it might be. And the time has radically changed.

Well, Paul is preparing Timothy, his young son in the faith, for the day when he will no longer be there. And if he is going to “discharge all the duties of [his] ministry,” to quote 4:5, at least to quote it in the NIV—in the ESV, which many of you will have in front of you, it simply reads “fulfill your ministry”—if Timothy is going to be able to fulfill the ministry as God intends, then it is, as Paul has pointed out in these verses, crucially important that he continues in what he has learned and in what he has “become convinced of.”[2]

The home life of Timothy had afforded him a wonderful privilege. We realize this when we read the opening chapter[3]—that he had a mother who had brought him up “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”[4] So from the time that he was a wee boy, Timothy was acquainted with the sacred writings. And not only was his mom in that respect an encouragement to him but also his grandmother, we’re told. And some of us this morning have occasion to be thankful along the same lines for the fact that in our infancy, before we even realized how important in the providence of God it would be, we enjoyed a similar kind of background.

And as a result of that nurturing and through the ministry of the Word of God coming through the lips of the servant of God—namely, the apostle Paul—Timothy had become a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. He had become a believer. He had become a soldier in Christ’s army. And some of us, again, as a result of the kind of nurturing that we’ve enjoyed, learned to sing from an early age,

I’m too young to march with the infantry,
Ride with the cavalry, shoot with the artillery;
I’m too young to zoom o’er the enemy,
But I’m in the Lord’s army.

And I’m not sure when I sang that as a boy I really knew much of what I was saying, but I do know now that God does enlist people at all kinds of ages and stages. And when they live under the directive of the commanding officer and they pay careful attention to the standing orders, then he keeps them to the end. And Paul is saying to Timothy, now a young man, by this time probably in his thirties, that the settled convictions to which he had come when the light of the gospel dawned in his heart need to be followed and paid attention to. Earlier he says to him, “[I want you to] follow the pattern of … sound words that [I gave to you].” And then following that picture, he says, “[And I want you to] guard the good deposit [that was] entrusted to you.”[5]

You see, by the time you get to your thirties… And some of you are in your thirties—young folks in your thirties—or maybe in your twenties, younger even than that, and you say, “Well, I was here in the early days. I went to the Sunday school program and so on, and I came to believe in Jesus.” Let me just ask you: How are you doing in your midthirties? Are you prepared to acknowledge that there are temptations all around you to devalue the Bible because of the influence of a world that is syncretistic and pluralistic? That it is a challenge to hold the line? That there are temptations and dangers that beset you not only from outside of you but inside of you? That it is imperative that you, if you are a faithful follower of Jesus, that we together, then, make sure that we hold to “the pattern of sound words,” that we “guard” this “good deposit” that has been entrusted into our care?

Because, you see, the instruction that Paul is giving to Timothy I take to be instruction not only for Timothy in his role as a pastor but for Timothy in his role as a Christian. There is particular emphasis for his responsibilities, as we’ve been seeing and will see, but it’s not unique, at least not in this respect. So, if he’s going to be effective in holding the line, Paul has told him that he needs to be thoroughly convinced about the authority and the sufficiency of the Scriptures.

And Paul here is mentioning not only the Old Testament, as in “the sacred writings,” but also these bits and pieces of the New Testament that have begun to form. When Paul writes in 1 Timothy, he quotes from the Scriptures. In one verse, he quotes two pieces from the Scriptures: one is from the book of Deuteronomy, and the other is a quote from the Gospels. And he refers to it as quoting the Scriptures, giving us the immediate indication that the New Testament is there.[6] Paul and Peter referring to one another’s writings in the same regard.[7] We don’t need to go back there, but we need to recognize that when Paul speaks in this way, he is reminding Timothy that all of Scripture as we now have it in its enclosed canon of sixty-six books, “all [of] Scripture is God-breathed.”[8] “God-breathed.”

What is the significance of an Isaiah or of a Jeremiah? It’s not their personality. It’s not their ability. It is that they have become the mouthpiece of God.

Now, we said last time—and it’s good just to remind ourselves of this—that we go wrong if we think of Scripture as already existing and then, subsequently, God breathing into it a sense of inspiration. To think correctly, to think biblically, is to realize that Scripture itself is brought into existence by the breath of God. Scripture exists because God breathes in the same way that my words come to you now, as I speak, as a result of the flow of air across my vocal cords; you are now hearing what is going on in my mind, largely as a result of the words that I am conveying to you. And the Bible is exactly that: that God speaks, and the Word comes.

Now, Paul had the advantage of Timothy’s background, a background that not all of us share—a background, as we’ve said, in the Old Testament Scriptures. So he would be able to make these references in the awareness of the fact that Timothy would be putting two and two together in his mind; so that Timothy, for example, would be very, very clear of the many, many times in the Old Testament that the phrase comes, “The word of the Lord came.” “The word of the Lord came.” That’s why, incidentally, we read from Jeremiah this morning in the Old Testament reading. And if you have a moment, you could turn back there, ’cause I want just to reinforce this for us. What is the significance of an Isaiah or of a Jeremiah? It’s not their personality. It’s not their ability. It is that they have become the mouthpiece of God. They have become the mouthpiece of God. God speaks through them. And because it is God’s Word that is breathed out through them, they then have a message to convey, and they have a privilege to fulfill.

Look at Jeremiah and what it says here: “Now the word of the Lord”—verse 4—“came to Jeremiah, saying, ‘Jeremiah, what a surprise to run into you! You’re a fine fellow, and I see you’ve been doing very well, and having watched you for a while, I’ve decided that you might fulfill the role of a prophet for me.’” No. “[Jeremiah,] before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.”

Now, that has got to just make Jeremiah think a little bit, right? But it’s also true of you. Before you were formed in the womb, God knew you. You are not a cosmic chemical accident. You are not a collection of molecules held in suspension. Every single individual within earshot of my words was put together in their mother’s womb according to the divine purpose of God. And therefore, what he says of Jeremiah he is able to say of everyone: “Before you were formed in the womb, I knew you.” Because God is an omniscient God. “And before you were born I consecrated you; [and] I appointed you a prophet to the nations”—“before you knew any of this.” “Before [your] infant heart conceived from whom [these mercies] flowed,”[9] to quote the hymn writer, “I,” says God, “had planned and purposed this for you.” God has plans and purposes for those whom he has made. He has plans and purposes for you. They’re not the plans of the prophetic ministry of the Old Testament or the apostolic responsibilities of the New Testament, but they are nevertheless plans.

“I know the plans I have for you, [says] the Lord.”[10] He plans for his people as an entity and plans for us as individuals. That’s what transforms the routine activities of life. That’s what makes Monday possible. That’s what allows you to go to school and sit in all those boring classes as well as in all the wonderfully encouraging and fun classes, of which there are many. But that’s what allows us to go through the routine, because we remind ourselves, “God knew me. God made me. God has plans for me.” And in Jeremiah’s case: “I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” “Well, that ought to be enough. Let me get at it.” No. “Then I said…” Now, what is Jeremiah going say about this program? “Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do[n’t] [even] know how to speak, … I am only a youth.’”

God doesn’t say, “Oh yeah, you know how to speak, and you’re not only a youth.” He doesn’t know how to speak, and he is only a youth. God says, “Do[n’t] say, ‘I[’m] only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. [And you don’t need to] be afraid of them [when you do].”

That’s tremendously encouraging, because he obviously did not really want to sign up for the responsibility of going before the kings and the officials and the authorities of the world and declaring to them, “This is the word of the Lord.” But that was his responsibility; that was his privilege. “The word of the Lord came to me, and I said…” And “then the Lord put out his hand”—verse 9—“and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me, ‘Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.’” “My words,” “your mouth.” This is the doctrine of inspiration. “My words,” God’s words, in the mouth of a mere man. God’s words, finally here in God’s book.

How can our tiny little minds know the mind of God? We can’t know the mind of God. Goodness gracious, half of us don’t even understand how a tape recorder works. We can hardly balance our checkbooks. Somebody mentioned the Milky Way, and we thought it was candy. We haven’t got a clue about the solar system. When we apply ourselves at our greatest level, we’re still scratching in the universe. But no, you see, God’s mind is conveyed through God’s breath, which is revealed in God’s Word, which is why we call the Bible “God’s Word”—because it is God’s Word. So that what we know of God we don’t know in the way in which we do empirical investigation in the realm of science. We don’t know God by way of investigation. He’s beyond the realm of our intuitive radar. But he has come across the boundary that exists between us, finally in his Son and here, as we’re learning, in his Word.

God’s mind is conveyed in speech. Makes sense, doesn’t it? I mean, how else would we know what God was thinking unless he told us? Where has he told us? In his Word.

Listen to how Calvin puts it: “The Scriptures obtain full authority among believers only when men regard them as having sprung from heaven, as if there the living words of God were heard.”[11] Do you see what he’s saying here? He’s not saying that Scripture only has authority if you believe it. He’s saying Scriptures obtain “full authority among believers.” In other words, the authoritative impact of the Bible on a life or in a church will only be realized when that individual, when those believers in that church, receive the Bible as the very “living words of God”—as if God was speaking in the ramparts of heaven, and what he was saying in the ramparts of heaven were then being written down by Jeremiah, or being written by Ezekiel, or being written by Paul as he writes the letter of 2 Timothy.

Now, why is he, why is Paul, reinforcing this? You said, “That’s a long detour.” It is, really; I apologize. But anyway, let’s get back to 2 Timothy. Why is he saying this? Is he teaching him the doctrine of inspiration? No. No, he’s not. He’s actually teaching him not so much about how the Bible is the Bible—how the Word of God is the Word of God—as about the utility of the Word of God. In other words, “You need to know, Timothy, that all Scripture is breathed out by God.” That’s number one. That’s its authority. And secondly, it’s “profitable,” or useful, or beneficial. And the utility of the Scriptures, if we can put it in that way, is directly related to the authority. If they have no inherent authority, then what’s the point of sitting around paying attention to them? The only basis for saying, “This Bible must teach me what it means to be a husband, what it means to be a father, what it means to be single, how to live as a widow, how to handle my finances,” all of these practical things—the only reason that there is any basis for that at all lies in its authority. It is God-breathed. Therefore, it is profitable for these things.

In other words, he’s saying to Timothy, “This is the pastor’s toolbox,” if you like—that “this is the tool that you need to use in order to fulfill the ministry to which you’ve been called.” He’s going to say at the end of 17 that when these things take place, then a result is that “the man of God” will be thoroughly “equipped,” will be “complete” and ready “for every good work.” But that doesn’t happen in a vacuum. And there is a process involved in it, and the tool that’s involved, he says, is the Word of God.

Last week, I had the privilege of visiting the Ronald Reagan Ranch, which is up just beyond on the Santa Ynez Valley—not the museum that you go to when you see Air Force One, but the ranch where he and Nancy lived. And what an immense experience it was. I’ll tell you about it at another time. But I had always seen these photographs of him cutting down trees and clearing brush and using these chainsaws. And so I was so keen to get into the garage and see if they were there. And they were there. There was the baby one, the mommy-bear one, the daddy-bear one. And he had a running battle with the Secret Service, who told him, “Mr. President, you cannot use chainsaws, because we don’t want to lose you.” And he told them, “I am the president of the United States. I’m using my chainsaw.”

A funny anecdote was that he also had a chipper that he would put the branches into. And they told him, “You cannot use the chipper. If that thing sucks you in there, we can’t go…” And so they agreed that he could use it as long as a Secret Service man stood with his hand holding on the back of his pants, and then he put the stuff in the chipper. But I could see the evidence of his handiwork, and then I could see the tools that were used to achieve that.

The analogy works on multiple levels, doesn’t it? But let me say this to you: you go into a church where there is—forget the numbers now; let’s just talk about a genuine sense of the presence of God, a genuine interest in reaching out with the Word of God, a genuine awareness of the praise of God, and so on: I can guarantee you that in there, there will be somebody, there will be people, who are absolutely convinced that the tool that is necessary for the instilling of this from children to your dotage is actually in the teaching of the Word of God, teaching the Bible with clarity and with relevance so that unbelievers will be converted and so on. And the reason for it is because of where it comes from.

If we can change metaphors, let’s change and use a metaphor that Paul would never have used—namely, that Timothy needs to see to it that he allows the clubhead to do the work. He allows the clubhead to do the work—so that somehow or another, that clubhead has got to get back to square. Whatever happens up here, you’ve got to get it back to square. And the great temptation is to think that by manhandling it and doing all kinds of things, you can increase its effectiveness, and anyone who tries to teach you golf at all will tell you, say, “Quit trying to hit the ball, and swing the club.” And then they will always say, “And let the clubhead do the work.”

There’s a big, big difference, isn’t there, between somebody who uses the Bible as a trampoline in teaching it and just jumps up and down on it a little bit, and people go, “Wow! Did you see how many times he did a flip there this morning? It’s amazing what he’s able to do with that!” That should never be an encouragement to a pastor. The youngest child ought to be able to go out from a service like this and say, “It seems that the pastor wants us to know that the Bible is absolutely sufficient for everything that we will ever need to live a life that pleases God.”

Now, the key to this, he says, is in teaching, reproving, correcting, and training in righteousness. It’s so wonderfully basic, isn’t it? It’s wonderfully basic. That’s why years ago, in 2000, we decided to call our pastors’ conference, when we launched it, Basics 2000. People said, “Well, it’s… What are you going to do?” “Well,” we said, “we’re going to do the basics. We’re going to suggest to the people who come that you can teach the Bible by teaching the Bible.” They said, “That’s pretty basic.” That’s exactly right, yeah. We’re going to say, “You can teach the Bible by teaching the Bible.” And then they said, “Well, what are you going to do in 2001?” We said, “Well, we’ll call it Basics 2001.” And now we’re anticipating Basics 2015.

Now, in all the time that we have been doing these conferences called Basics, there have been all kinds of new ideas, concepts, strategies, innovations—lots of things to unsettle me or my colleagues or to suggest to us, “You know, there’s a far more effective way of doing this. There’s far more significance in this. Do you know how many people are doing that? Have you ever considered this?” and so on. Now, it’s not that all of these things are unhelpful, and certainly not all wrong. But there’s a wonderful simplicity in coming to the conviction that Paul desires for Timothy to come to—namely, that at the end of the day, the pastor needs to be convinced that Scripture is entirely sufficient because it is the God-ordained tool for every aspect of ministry.

The Bible is absolutely sufficient for everything that we will ever need to live a life that pleases God.

And if one is convinced of that, then you can teach it. And if you have a teacher who is convinced of that, then you can learn from it. But if that conviction is lost—if there is a loss of conviction, as I said last week, concerning the truth and the relevance and the power of a sufficient, authoritative Bible—then the whole thing is over. It is only a matter of time before it becomes apparent.

Now, Jesus was the Priest who came to bear our punishment and die for our sins, he is the King who comes to subdue our rebellion and to reign, but he is also the Prophet who came to teach us. To teach us. And when we read the Gospels, we’re immediately confronted by the fact that Jesus is actually a teacher and a preacher. We ought not to miss that. Mark’s Gospel begins in this way. As Jesus is among the people, he heals a man with an unclean spirit and so on. And then it says, “And they were all amazed,” and that “they questioned among themselves, saying, ‘What is this? A new teaching with authority! …’ And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout … the … region.”[12]

“Early in the morning,” Mark goes on to tell us, “while it was still dark,” the disciples came and found him, and they announced to him, “Everyone is looking for you.”[13] “It’s off to a terrific start, Jesus, this thing that you’re doing.” And so they said, “Everyone is looking for you.” “And he said to them, ‘Let[’s] go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, [because] that is why I came out.’”[14] He said, “I didn’t come to do this. I came to do this. I came to teach.” Remember, he said in John, as we saw last time, he says, “The words that the Father gave me I gave to you. I came out to take the very word of God. The word of the Lord came to me,” says Jesus, “and I conveyed that word.” And so when you read the Gospels, you find the same thing. “And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them.”[15]

The Sermon on the Mount begins, “And he went up onto a mountainside, and he gathered the people to him, and he opened his mouth and began to teach them, saying, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit.’”[16] You say, “Well, you don’t have to be a genius to work this out.” I’m not suggesting that you do. All I’m saying is that what Paul urges upon Timothy is in keeping with the pattern of Jesus. And if somebody sells you on an idea about the Bible or about some area of doctrine, ask yourself this question before you buy it: How does this work in the life of Jesus? Take, for example, the doctrine of providence. I have to give talks this week in New Jersey on the doctrine of providence. Haven’t done them yet, but I’m just… They’re in my mind, now that I mention them. But what about the doctrine of providence? How does it work in the life of Jesus? ’Cause if it doesn’t work in the life of Jesus, it doesn’t work. And so when we think in terms of the responsibility of teaching and we take and we apply it to Jesus, we realize this is exactly what Jesus did.

The same thing is true as you go into the Acts of the Apostles. When the Ethiopian eunuch is coming back from Jerusalem, riding in his chariot and reading from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, and Philip is dispatched to run alongside him by the Holy Spirit, what is he dispatched to go and do? Yeah. He says to the fellow, “Do you understand what you are reading?” To which the man replies, “[No.] How can I, unless someone [teaches] me?”[17]

You see, some people that I meet seem to be living their Christian lives on their glands: “Well, I felt this, and I feel this, and I was feeling that, and I felt the… And I feel…” It’s like, man, oh man! And then I’m like, “I’m not having any of these feelings. I don’t even know if I’m a Christian.” And some of you feel that way. You’re like, “Whoa! I never… I didn’t get that going.” Be thankful! Be thankful! You’ve got everything that you need in this book. The question in the morning is not “Do I feel that God wants me to wear black shoes or brown shoes?” The question in the morning is “Am I going to wear shoes or not?” And I don’t need to look in the Bible to find out if there’s an answer there. Common sense says, “Probably a good idea”—unless you’re having a vacation on a beach, in which case it may be a different answer. Do you understand what I am saying? That the apostolic pattern is the very same. Paul is a teacher of the Bible. “Him we proclaim,” he says in Colossians 1, “warning everyone and teaching everyone.”[18]

So he says to Timothy, “Listen, Timothy, this book, this Bible that you have now, this Old Testament and these bits and pieces that are coming to you—this is what you need to do with them.” And it is a reminder. (And I need to stop.) It’s a reminder, isn’t it, that our minds matter? Our minds matter. That Christianity is a mind-engaging reality. That Christianity is not about “Disengage your faculties of intellect, and see if you can’t find God.” Christianity is not saying, “Look inside of yourselves,” like contemporary environmentalism and Buddhism says. Christianity is saying, “No, you’re going to have to think. And if you think about these things, this book will provide you the instruction that you need. It will teach you what you need to know about yourself and about God and about why God has done what he’s done.”

And that’s why Paul earlier has said to Timothy—having written to him only as far as about halfway through chapter 2, remember—he says, “Think about what I am saying, and the Lord will give you understanding.”[19] He gives the understanding, but we have to do the thinking. And one of the most tragic circumstances is to find a thoughtless, clueless professing Christian congregation. That’s why we need to pay attention.

Well, I was going to go on and give application to this teaching. We’ll leave that for later on—either tonight or later on. But we’ll stop, shall we?

O Lord, we want you to be our teacher. We don’t want to listen to the meanderings of a mere man. We want the Word of God to be light in our darkness. We want the Word of God to be help for us in our helplessness. We want the Word of God to be hope for us when there is no hope. And we pick it up, and we realize that that’s exactly what it says.

So come, Lord, into the darkness of our hearts, and shine the light of your truth. Come to those of us who feel ourselves hopeless and lacking in any kind of strength and ability, and show us how strength and might is found in you, the living God, and in no one and in nowhere else. Come, Lord, and convince us again this morning that every promise of your Word is reliable—we may take you at your word and find you absolutely true—so that when you invite us to turn from our sin and say that you will welcome us, that whoever comes to you will never be turned away,[20] then help us, Lord, to come to you. And when you make clear to us that the life of Christian living is a life that learns not only to say yes to your promises but to pay heed to your warnings, grant that we might do so.

Keep us, Lord, in your will, we pray, and reinforce for us the fact that we don’t worship the Bible; we worship the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the center and focus and apex of all of the biblical instruction. And it’s in his name we pray. Amen.

[1] 2 Timothy 4:6 (ESV).

[2] 2 Timothy 3:14 (NIV).

[3] See 2 Timothy 1:5.

[4] Ephesians 6:4 (KJV).

[5] 2 Timothy 1:13–14 (ESV).

[6] See 1 Timothy 5:18, quoting Deuteronomy 25:4 and Luke 10:7. See also Matthew 10:10.

[7] See 2 Peter 3:15–16.

[8] 2 Timothy 3:16 (NIV).

[9] Joseph Addison, “When All Thy Mercies, O My God” (1712).

[10] Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV).

[11] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, ed. John T. McNeill (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1960), 74.

[12] Mark 1:27 (ESV).

[13] Mark 1:35, 37 (ESV).

[14] Mark 1:38 (ESV).

[15] Mark 2:1–2 (ESV).

[16] Matthew 5:1–3 (paraphrased).

[17] Acts 8:30–31 (ESV).

[18] Colossians 1:28 (ESV).

[19] 2 Timothy 2:7 (paraphrased).

[20] See John 6:37.

Copyright © 2024, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.