The amazing sufficiency of God's word
I remember taking a girl on a date that ended with my being overcome with embarrassment.
I was in college and didn't have much money. As the waiter came back to our table with my debit card, he said, "insufficient funds." As soon as I heard those words, a wave of scarlet humiliation blushed over my face.
And since that was more than 20 years ago, I cannot remember how she and I got out that predicament. Fortunately, that was only a date, but what about matters far more important, like life and life eternal? Do we have all we need?
God has given us everything we need in His word. Unlike my bank account, God's word is sufficient. It is sufficient to save and sanctify. It is sufficient to accomplish God's work in the world today, but how?
Let's look at 2 Timothy 3. Here, we recognize that the young and timid Pastor Timothy was facing hardship. "Difficult times" were coming (2 Tim 3:1), and were already present. Timothy would be faced with the most desperate of needs within the church he was pastoring, and the community they were evangelizing.
He was warned that "men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, [and] haters of good" (3:2-3). And sadly, this is only two verses of the list of rottenness.
To put it clearly, Timothy and the church faced grievous problems that were rooted in the hearts of men. Can you imagine gathering to worship Christ with people who fit the descriptions above? Can you imagine trying to evangelize these folks? How would you help them?
In this passage, God shows us how He helps people. The first thing God does is remind Timothy of his first love.
He says, "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" (3:15). It's as though He's saying, "Timothy, you already know how to go about doing God's work, remember the Bible, the word of God, which you've known since you were a kid … remember how it was adequate to convert you to Christ and sanctify you!"
The second thing we see is the application of this truth. Since the Bible was sufficient to give Timothy life in Christ, it was sufficient to give others life in Christ, too. So God clearly answers our question, teaching us that we have all that we need in the Bible. And He builds upon this foundation by commanding the pastor to "Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with great patience and instruction" (2 Tim 4:2).
The more you consider the truth of this passage, the more you'll realize how monumental this is for us. By God's word, God creates His people. It is always through the ministry of His word that God saves and sanctifies sinners like you and me.
This shouldn't surprise us, since God created the entire universe by His word (Genesis 1). From the beginning of the Bible to the end of the Bible, God creates his people by his word.
This same truth is in the prayer of the Psalmist, "Revive me according to your word" and "Revive me according to Your ordinances" (Psalm 119:149b, 156b).
Also in James we read, "Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and [all] that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls" (1:21).
Consider the man in Psalm 1. He feasts upon the word of God and the result is that "he will be like a tree [firmly] planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers (v 3).
See also Nehemiah 8-10, when God's people desperately needed revival and restoration, God sent the biggest revival recorded in the Bible because Ezra stood up in front of the God's people and read the Word of God, for hours.
Add to this the example of Peter, who in Acts chapter 2 boldly proclaimed God's Word, and God saved many souls that day. In fact, the entire book of Acts proves the sufficiency of God's Word. Throughout Acts, God's people proclaim God's Word, and God saves His elect people (Acts 13:47-49). It's incredible!
Consider the Word of God for your soul. It is through the word of God that God will save your soul and grow you in Christ. "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ" (Romans 10:17).
Be with a local church, where you can hear the preaching of the word every Sunday, be reading the word daily, and let God's word shape you into a humble and holy follower of the Lord Jesus.
Chris Cookston is the pastor of Prineville Community Church. He can be reached at 541-447-6315.