“Scripture: Learn It, Love It, Live It” (2 Timothy 3:14 – 4:5)

Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost
October 17, 2010

“Scripture: Learn It, Love It, Live It” (2 Timothy 3:14 – 4:5)

Today we continue in our series of sermons on Paul’s letters to Timothy, this morning on the Epistle reading from 2 Timothy chapters 3 and 4. In this section, Paul commends Timothy–and I would commend all of us–to the word of God. More specifically, I commend you to the continued study of Scripture, to a firm faith in the word of God, and to the living out of the Bible’s teachings in the form of a righteous life. And so our theme this morning, “Scripture: Learn It, Love It, Live It.”

First of all, learn it. Learn what the Scripture says. Paul tells Timothy: “As for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings.”

Remember a couple of weeks ago, when we began this series, Paul was reminded of how Timothy’s grandmother, Lois, and his mother, Eunice, had passed the faith on down to him. How they did that was by teaching young Timothy the Holy Scriptures. Lois and Eunice were the ones from whom Timothy first learned what he has firmly believed.

And notice, Lois and Eunice didn’t wait until Timothy was old enough to make his own decisions. No, they started teaching him right away, “from childhood,” our text says. Literally, it says, “from a babe,” in other words, “from infancy.” That’s really the best time to start. As soon as that little baby is baptized, we should be raising the child in the faith, teaching him or her the abc’s of the faith. We should expect of the parents that they will bring their child to the services of God’s house, regularly, every week; that they teach their child the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer; that they place in his or her hands the Holy Scriptures; and that they provide for the child’s further instruction in the Christian faith, leading to the reception of the Sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood. All that and more is what it means to teach your child the sacred writings from infancy on up.

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a Lutheran grade school in Chicago from kindergarten on up. We studied the Bible every day in the classroom: “A Child’s Garden of Bible Stories”; “100 Bible Stories”; and “Advanced Bible History.” We memorized Bible verses, dozens of them. We learned and sang hymns out of the hymnal, in the classroom. We had weekly chapel in the church, singing the Order of Matins every Wednesday for nine years. We studied Luther’s Small Catechism for two years, with lots and lots of memory work. That was a great way, I’ve got to tell you, to be thoroughly well grounded in the word of God. That was Monday through Friday, and then on Sunday, of course, there was Sunday School and church. I tell you, we learned the Bible!

How well do our children know the Bible? How well do we? Are we teaching our children? Are we teaching them from infancy on up? Sad to say, the last 30 or 40 years is probably the most Biblically illiterate generation we’ve had in a long, long time–in America, sure, but even in the Lutheran church! We’ve not been doing our job as parents and as the church. How we need to repent of this most serious form of child neglect! Spiritual deprivation.

These are grievous sins against the Third and Fourth Commandments, namely, our failure to gladly hear and learn the word of God, and our failure to carry out the office of father and mother in their most important duty, which is, raising our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

But, dear friends, God is gracious. He forgives our sins, and he restores us and renews us. This is the very message of Scripture: the renewing, restoring, transforming grace of God in Christ. This is God’s word to you this morning. We all, collectively and individually, as parents, as church–I as a father myself and as your pastor–we all have failed in our responsibilities in this matter, to one degree or another. God be merciful to me, a sinner! And he is! The blood of Christ covers all your sins, including these ones. The Holy Spirit will pick you up and strengthen you to do better. God is faithful, and he will do it.

But now notice this also: The learning of sacred Scripture does not stop when we reach age 13 or 14. The Bible is not just for children. Paul writes to an adult Timothy, a now grown-up Timothy, and he says, “continue,” yes, “continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed.” A Christian disciple–that’s you–you are called to be a lifelong learner. I myself have been at this learning-the-Bible business heavy-duty for over 50 years now, from Christian grade school, through high school, college, seminary, and graduate school–from kindergarten to almost a Ph.D.–and I still don’t know the Bible as well as I would like. And I don’t believe it or live it as well as I should, either.

So I’m glad that many of you, likewise, are not content to stop growing in the faith. For our little church, we have an above-average percentage of folks attending Bible class. We have a good number of you even taking our two-year “Read through the Bible” class. This is good. This is healthy. I invite the rest of you also, as you are able, to join us in Bible class, where you can increase your understanding of God’s word.

I’d also like to see us start up a Sunday School class for our youngsters–a small number, I know, but if we can just get our kids here regularly on Sunday mornings, we can and should do this. Please let me know when you’re ready to start. And let me give you some materials to help you teach the Bible in your home.

So our first point this morning is to learn it, learn the sacred Scripture. The second point follows after it, which is, love it. Yes, love what the Scripture says! Why? Because it is God’s wonderful word of his amazing love for you! We see this in our text: After reminding Timothy of how from infancy he has known the sacred writings, Paul then adds, “which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” There it is! That’s the reason we so love the word of God. It is God’s means of salvation. It gives us what we need to know to have saving faith in Christ.

Salvation in Christ is the heart and soul of sacred Scripture. This is its main message, from Genesis to Revelation. “All Scripture,” Old Testament and New, points us to Christ, presents our Savior before our eyes, so that we can take hold of him by faith. Jesus himself spoke this way about the Scriptures. In John 5, he says, “these are the Scriptures that testify about me.” And in Luke 24, the risen Christ opens the minds of his disciples to understand the Scriptures and he says to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations.” The Bible is about the dying and rising Christ, and the repentance and forgiveness we are called to in him.

Do you hear this message? Has your mind been opened to see and understand? This Savior is for you! He died on the cross for you, suffering in your place, the Son of God did, so that you would have forgiveness in him. This Jesus then rose from the dead, conquering the grave for you and opening up the kingdom of God and eternal life for you to enter in. Is there anything more wonderful than this? No, I don’t think so! Scripture testifies to this Savior and this salvation. The Bible’s teachings will deepen your faith, strengthen it, as you learn them more and more and take them to heart. You will be well equipped to face whatever is coming your way, whatever trials or difficulties, and you will be in this for the long haul. This is why we treasure and love the sacred Scriptures.

And there’s more: “All Scripture is breathed out by God,” Paul declares. This is the doctrine of verbal inspiration in its clearest stating. “Breathed out by God”–“theopneustos” is the Greek word, “God-breathed,” “divinely inspired.” The Bible is utterly true, from cover to cover. God put the words he wanted written in there, causing the prophets and apostles to write exactly what they did. The Bible is the word of God in the words of men. The Holy Spirit is the ultimate author. And so you can rely on Holy Scripture, for it is completely trustworthy. “How firm a foundation, O saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in his excellent word!” Yes, we have even more reason to love this saving, Christ-bearing, Holy Spirit-inspired word of God.

Learn it. Love it. Now, third, live it. Live out what the Scripture says. Paul tells Timothy that all Scripture is profitable, “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” So, dear Christian, do you need to be taught the truth? Scripture is here to teach you. Do you need reproof, that is, do you need to have your doctrine straightened out, where you might be in error? Scripture will straighten out your theology. Do you need correction, to be brought back to the path of life where you have wandered off into sin? Scripture will correct you, calling you to repentance and restoring you to godly living. Do you need instruction for how to live as God’s child, in ways that are pleasing to him, helpful to your neighbor, and suitable for your various callings in life? Scripture will train you in righteousness, beginning with the righteousness we receive freely for Christ’s sake and then proceeding, as faith always does, into a life of good works, the righteousness that is actively lived out.

Holy Scripture is very practical and profitable for the daily life of the Christian, as you and I walk along this path where Christ is leading us. Holy Scripture, because it is the very word of God, gives us faith and hope and love for all the days of our life–and on into the eternal life that Scripture promises us, when Christ returns to judge the living and the dead.

“Scripture: Learn It, Love It, Live It.” We do and we will, by God’s grace–which is, after all, what the Scripture is all about.

Published in: on October 16, 2010 at 11:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
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