The Greenhouse - Word
The Greenhouse – Shaped by the Word
Text: 2 Timothy 3:1-17
Theme: The role of God’s Word in our lives
· We’re in the midst of our “Greenhouse series”, and we’re focusing on the environment around here for making disciples of Jesus. Just as the environment of a greenhouse is specially designed to grow plants all year round, so our church needs a healthy environment for growing people through all of the seasons of life.
· In response then to the great commandment which is to . . . “love God and love our neighbors”, we are looking at 6 foundational priorities for a healthy disciple-making church. 3 of these foundations help us love God and 3 will help us love our neighbors. We’ve begun the Greenhouse series with the 3 foundations to help us love God. 1) A call to intimacy – a call to a deeper walk “to know Christ”. 2) A call to live a life of prayer – to ongoing, daily conversation and communion with Christ. And now this morning, 3) A call to stay in the Word – a call to be continually shaped by the Word of God. Intimacy, prayer, the word of God – 3 foundations to help us love God.
· B.I.B.L.E. (Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth) I love the Scriptures. I remember as a young teen beginning to read and search them out for myself. I would sit in my room and read and study. They gave life to me. I learned so much about God – about myself. As a young person they changed my life. They (but more their Author) have changed me and are still changing me. It’s the Word that gives me joy and life! We need to be gripped by the truth that we need this Word to guide and shape us!
· Before we look at the role of God’s Word in our lives, let’s take a few minutes and look at the difference between the 2 ways of life revealed in this passage this morning. It’s obvious to me that as 2 Timothy 3 begins, there are two ways of living contrasted.
· In vs. 1-9 – THE WAY OF GODLESSNESS (the low road). A way marked by moral depravity, empty powerless “religion” and falsehood. (NIV list) Paul in the Pastoral Epistles like 1 & 2 Timothy goes after false teachers who were morally dangerous, who had infiltrated the Church and who were resisting the Truth just like in the case of Jannes and Jambres – the Egyptian magicians/ wizards who opposed and counterfeited Moses in Ex. 7-8. (read Message text).
· Then starting at vs. 10 – THE WAY OF GODLINESS (the high road). Now Paul makes it clear to Timothy – the godless way of life does not describe his way of life. Basically Paul is saying, “Hey Timothy, remember my mentoring, my teaching, my way of life, my faith, my steadiness, my love, my patience, my troubles and suffering, my persecution for righteousness. Don’t be naïve Timothy, these are difficult days and you are surrounded by moral chaos, but this is the way of Christ – the highroad and don’t forget it!”
· And then Paul reveals the way (for Timothy & for us) to stay on the “high road” of godliness, while surrounded by the godlessness of the last days. Here’s the guide – the written Word of God! (See vs. 14-15)
· “. . . Continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of” – the word “continue in” - men'-o; a primary verb; to stay , abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand.
· “Because you know those from whom you learned it, how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures” - You know me Timothy (your Spiritual father), your mother, your grandmother. (Look @ 2 Tim. 1:5)
· The Scriptures: “which are able to make you wise for salvation, through faith in Jesus Christ”. Salvation. The main theme, the central thrust of the entire Bible. The story of salvation. They are telling us the way to be saved! And then this powerful summery, capsulizing the role of God’s Word in our lives. 2 Timothy 3:16 – this is one to memorize!
· “All Scripture” - What did Paul mean by “all Scripture”? His meant his Scriptures, Timothy’s scriptures’, the Bible Jesus and these guys read, the Old Testament! Remember the New Testament hadn’t been written yet, in the way that we know it, and so this is a reference to the Hebrew Scriptures – what we call the Old Testament. Whenever a New Testament writer quoted Scripture it was from the Old Testament. Now we are so blessed! Now we have the “New” -- we have even more chapters of the story! But know this – the Bible is one story, it is one book, not two! The New, cannot be properly understood and interpreted without the Old, and the purpose of the Old is to point to the New – to Christ, who is the center of it all!!!
· “God-breathed” – that is a good literal translation of the word used here. Inspired – breathed by God. This book is not magical; it is miraculous. The Bible is unique. Unique in continuity, unique in circulation, unique in translation, unique in survival (through time, persecution, criticism). The Bible is unique in its teaching (Its prophecy, its history, its personalities. The Bible is unique in its influence. “If every Bible in any city were destroyed, the Book could be restored in all its essential parts from the quotations of the shelves of the Public Library. There are works, covering almost all the great writers, devoted especially to showing how much the Bible has influenced them” (McAfee’s “The Greatest English Classic”).
· Good old “unknown” says it well again: "This Book is the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding; its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be [protected], practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler's map, the pilgrim's staff, the pilot's compass, the soldier's sword, and the Christian's character. Here paradise is restored, heaven opened, and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand subject, our good its design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. Follow its precepts and it will lead you to Calvary, to the empty tomb, to a resurrected life in Christ; yes, to glory itself, for eternity.
· Oh yes, all Scripture is God -breathed for a purpose (Buckle up now!) . . .
· “Teaching” – learning, instruction. (We’ve got to understand the spiritual battle we’re in around getting in and getting deeper in the Word. Our enemy does not want us taught! It’s a battle!
· “rebuking” - conviction
· “Correcting” - literally “to straighten up again”! I like that. It straightens us out!
· “training in righteousness” - implying disciplined correction & instruction
· “Equipping us for every good work/ acts! Deeds! ” - completely, fully equipped or trained! (When an apprentice is training, he or she will be like their master!!!)
· The Word of God shapes us, forms us, feeds us – helps us grow as people – helps us continue to mature in our relationships – with God and with each other.
· Important: You know there is a difference between “coming under” the Word, and “standing over it”. Many take the approach of “standing over” the Word. We can stand over it with criticism, skepticism, with our “higher” learning and understanding. This is what got the church in trouble historically during the period we call the “Enlightenment”. Before this period marked by the supremacy of human “Reason”, people generally could handle “revelation”. We could understand something as coming from God to us – His word revealed to us – from the Creator to the created -- to guide us, mold us, instruct us – to give us light! With the shift of the Enlightenment, we began to bring our “light” to the scriptures. Our wisdom and reason projected over them. The approach was no longer “top down” so to speak. It was from the bottom up. Instead of receiving the revelation of God, (properly interpreted of course), we began to tell each other (and God) what we think he meant. And soon, we were accused of making God in our own image!
· Well I think you can appreciate my approach. I want to stand under God’s Word. You see it shapes me, and I don’t shape it. It changes me, I don’t change it. A great question to ask yourself: “Am I being shaped by God’s Word, or do I try to “shape” it to fit my life or lifestyle. I would advise the former. To be shaped by God’s Word that is what we are called to. It’s alive folks! Let it shape you!!
· George Muller, the guy I referred to last week, a man known for his deep faith, confided. "The first 3 years after conversion, I neglected the Word of God. Since I began to search it diligently, the blessing has been wonderful. I have read the Bible through one hundred times and always with increasing delight!"
· John Bunyan, who wrote Pilgrim's Progress, advises: "Read the Bible, and read it again, and do not despair of help to understand something of the will and mind of God, though you think they are fast locked up from you. Neither trouble yourself, though you may not have commentaries and expositions; pray and read, and read and pray; for a little from God is better than a great deal from man."
· Martin Luther, gave us his approach to studying God’s Word when he wrote: I study my Bible like I gather apples. First, I shake the whole tree that the ripest may fall. Then I shake each limb, and when I have shaken each limb, I shake each branch and every twig. Then I look under every leaf. I search the Bible as a whole like shaking the whole tree. Then I shake every limb--study book after book. Then I shake every branch, giving attention to the chapters. Then I shake every twig, or a careful study of the paragraphs and sentences and words and their meanings.
· You start by searching the whole! I want to offer something to you. It’s what I call a one day, “jog” through the Bible. A thematic approach! In one day, with breaks and lunch, we will go from Genesis to Revelation together! This is obviously not, Bethel Intensive, it’s meant as a summery so you can grasp the “whole apple tree” so to speak, which will help make sense of the details. Saturday, March 4th from 9am to around 3pm. “A jog through the Bible”.
· So Bethel Community Church, lets be a people of the Book. A people of the Word. A people shaped by it, guided by it. But more than that -- A people who live by it! We’ll live by it because we love God. And as we know Him more, we’ll make Him known!