All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
–2 Timothy 3:16-17
Paul’s time on earth is coming to an end, and he is writing the last words that the Holy Spirit will pen through him. The words are addressed to his beloved brother in Christ, the younger Timothy, whom he has mentored and continues to mentor in ministry. His last instruction reminds Timothy of what will be most important to his ministry after Paul is gone: proclaiming the word of God. The exhortation is preceded by the two verses here, which you may have committed to memory. The words of those two verses are worthy of a closer look.
“All Scripture” — Every part of the written word of God is included in this statement. Even the parts that differ with the traditions we have been taught by men. Even the parts that we would rather not agree with because they convict us in areas we want God to leave alone. Even the parts that exhort us to do things we’re afraid or unwilling to do. All of the written words of God are included, and all are to be revered and obeyed.
“is God-breathed” or “given by God’s inspiration” — These words are not merely the sanctified words of men. Not a single verse of the Bible originated in the mind of a human. The Scriptures are the Word of the Lord Most High.
“and is useful” or “profitable” — You’re not wasting your time when you’re getting to know God’s word. Every passage is valuable and will be put to good use in your life for the glory of the Author in heaven.
“for teaching” or “doctrine” — These words are the source of truth that will teach you, so that no falsehood can mislead you.
“rebuking” or “reproof” — The Scriptures will show you the error of your ways, thoughts, words, and deeds. The only way a Christian can persist in willful sin is to ignore the Word, because the Word reproves us.
“correcting” — The Word doesn’t stop at telling us what’s wrong, but redirects us to what is right, setting our feet back on the right path when we have strayed.
“and training (or instruction) in righteousness” — These beautiful, living, powerful words don’t just teach us the right and wrong way to live, but teach us and train us in HOW to achieve and live holy lives.
“so that” — All of the above valuable traits of the Bible are intended for a reason. God had a plan in mind when He authored His word. A purpose it would fulfill in our lives after we trust Jesus and are indwelled by His Spirit:
“the man of God may be thoroughly equipped” — Fully, completely equipped. Nothing is lacking in the equipping power of the Bible for any task in the Christian life. Everything necessary for successful Christianity, evangelism, and church life and growth is in the Book. (But how often we make the mistake of turning to other sources, people, seminars, tapes, and books, when we should just open God’s Word and search it diligently until an answer to our dilemma is found.) “for every” — That’s all-inclusive; God will not call you to accomplish any task for which the Word is not a sufficient source of strength, enlightenment, and guidance.
“good” — These works done by the man of God in response to the Word are not bad and not useless, and not worthless or temporal, and not pointless or in vain; they are good, productive, fruitful, lasting.
“work” — Our response as children of God to the word of God is not to remain passive, but to work in accordance with His will. There is a job to do. His glory and His salvation are to be proclaimed before all the peoples of the earth. The end result of our reading the Word and being equipped is that we will no longer sit back and leave the work to others, but engage in it ourselves, joining Him in accomplishing the works He has foreordained for us.
Brothers and sisters, He has provided everything we need in that Book of books that sits too-frequently-unopened on the shelf or desk or the seat of a car. We don’t have to live the fruitless life that results from remaining busy with lesser things than hearing the voice of God. Go right now, and pick up your Bible. Open it, and start reading. Make that a habit that you unconditionally require yourself to practice in your daily life. Learn God’s word well and obey it. Then you will prosper in everything He has called you and equipped you to do.