Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Bible Study: Essential to Spiritual Effectiveness

Bible Study: Essential to Spiritual Effectiveness

"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17 - New American Standard Bible - emphasis mine).

When I was in the army we were trained again and again and again in proper use of our equipment, fighting techniques, and the general duties of "soldiering". It never hit me as to how important all of that was until our nation went to war against Iraq in 1991. I knew there was a distinct possibility that I may be called into the fray. I remember thinking, This is it. Can I hold my own? I began to think about and review all that I had learned. Knowing I could be in serious danger in a matter of days I regretted having taken some of my training in a less than serious manner.

What about our spiritual training? If your spiritual life depended on you knowing the book of Deuteronomy, could you survive? Jesus did. When He was tempted in the wilderness He defeated Satan by properly trusting and applying Scripture...every verse He used was from Deuteronomy. Honestly, I don't think I would have been able to make it.

The apostle Paul tells Timothy that "All Scripture is...profitable". The word "all" has rich meaning; it indicates every part and the whole. I believe that! I believe EVERY word of the Bible. I even believe in the punctuation and the spaces between the words! That brings this question to mind though; What is it profitable for?

Paul lists four things, the first of which is that Scripture is profitable for "teaching" (doctrine). That means that Scripture is profitable in the structure of how you think. This is important! If we are not thinking correctly, we won't live correctly. What we believe and think determines how we behave and function. To know the word, and know it properly, is crucial to having effective, God-honoring lives.

The second thing that Paul says Scripture is profitable for is "reproof" (rebuke). This means that Scripture will tell us when we are off target, or, another way of saying this, when we are out of bounds. One writer said the word is like an umpire that yell "Out!" or "Safe!" or "Foul!". The Scripture identifies what is sin; what God wants for our lives; gives us standards for living.

The third word of profit Paul uses is "correction". Not only does God's word tell us what is out of bounds, it also tells us how to get back in. The word finds the junk that we've hidden in our mental and emotional closet and demands that we clean it up! Not only that, Scripture tells us exactly what it will take to get our mess straight.

The fourth is actually a phrase Paul uses; "training in righteousness". Not only does Scripture tell us what is wrong and how to fix it, it also tells us the right way to live. Scripture gets our heads straightened out, points out our sins, corrects our problems, and, having done all of that, gives us positive guidelines for life.

What's the goal? Good question...

The Holy Spirit, through Paul, gives us that answer; He says the goal is to make us "adequate, equipped for every good work". Scripture makes us like soldiers armed and ready for the battle of life and the rest of eternity.

Here is the committment God has led me to make...I WILL WORK TO BE READY! Unlike my military adventures I do NOT want to look back one day and KNOW that I am NOT prepared for imminent danger.

What can you do? TRAIN! Take Scripture seriously; realize its importance and recognize that we CANNOT be effective for ourselves or for the Lord while we are living life out of bounds. One last thing...instead of getting shipped off to Iraq I was shipped to South Korea where I served in relative peace. In life there is no reprise; our adversary, the devil, is liking a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). That means no let up...get armed, be ready, live effective.

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