Scripture is our personal trainer for life and godliness. The apostle Paul declared to his young protégé Timothy that the Scriptures are “breathed out by God” (2 Tim. 3:16), which is a more helpful translation than “inspired.” Rather than the writers of Scripture being inspired to write, it is the Holy Spirit who exhaled the mind of God in written form.
Since the Scriptures are breathed out by God, they are “profitable,” meaning they are useful and beneficial for life and godliness. Biblical instruction is “excellent and profitable for people” (Titus 3:8). The usefulness of the Scriptures is demonstrated by four of its life-training functions: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16–17).
Scripture Teaches Us What We Must Believe
First, the Scriptures teach what we are required to believe about God, ourselves, and the Redeemer. “Teaching” refers to doctrine, but never merely doctrine divorced from life. Paul’s exhortation to Timothy maintains this indispensable connection: “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching” (1 Tim. 4:16). We must take great care to pay attention to our lives as well as our theology. As a result, we will be able to teach the way of Christ not only in word but also by example.
Scripture Reproves Us When We Err
Second, the Scriptures convict us when we sin. They are beneficial in their “reproof” since they accurately point out when and where we have stepped off of God’s good path of obedience. As rebuke is necessary, there is no more effective tool than the Word of God. The Holy Spirit uses His own writings to reprove us and prompt us toward repentance. The personal one-another ministry of the Word occasionally requires this, one example being the occasion in which God required the apostle Paul to oppose Peter “to his face” because, by his hypocritical living, Peter was not “in step with the truth of the gospel” (see Gal. 2:11–14).
Scripture Directs Us Back to the Straight Course
Third, the Scriptures do not merely reprove us, they also freely offer the good news of how Jesus Christ changes our lives when we submit to Him. The word translated “correction” means “setting up straight.” God’s Word not only convicts and reproves our disobedience, it also teaches us how to get back on the right track so that we may become useful vessels fit for the Master. Another illustration of how the words of God may be used in a corrective manner is the ministry of Nathan to David (2 Sam. 12:1–15). The biblical text explains that “the Lord sent Nathan to David” for the purpose of reproving him for committing adultery with Bathsheba and murdering her husband. The Holy Spirit guided Nathan to choose his words carefully. As a result, Nathan told David a short story about a man who stole a poor man’s solitary lamb. Once David’s anger was kindled against the rich man’s sin and a longing for justice was ignited in his heart, Nathan declared, “You are the man!” (2 Sam. 12:7). In response to this heart-wrenching confrontation, David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord” (v. 13). Thus we see how the words of God, delivered to a fellow sinner, brought forth the fruit of reproof —correction and repentance.
Scripture Trains Us in Righteous Living
Fourth, the Scriptures are useful for “training,” for educating believers with Scripture. The purpose of this training ministry of the Word is for believers to be “[competent], equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:17). Synonyms of the New Testament says, “Artios [competent] refers not only to the presence of all the parts that are necessary for completeness but also to the further adaptation and aptitude of these parts for their designed purpose. Paul says that the man of God should be furnished with all that is necessary to carry out his appointed work (2 Timothy 3:17).” The Scriptures are adequate equipment for the work of teaching, reproving, correcting, and training — for the work of discipleship, which includes counseling. As we faithfully use the words of God to counsel one another, we are “equipped for every good work.”
This is the third of five posts which are brief excerpts/adaptations derived from the chapter that Steve Viars and I contributed to the Biblical Counseling Coalition’s book, Scripture and Counseling: God’s Word for Life in a Broken World, from Zondervan. Pastors, elders, counselors, small group leaders…anyone interested in growing in the personal ministry of the Word to one another would benefit greatly by reading this volume.
- Part 1: Sufficient for Life and Godliness
- Part 2: 10 Qualities of Scripture which Testify of its Ability to Transform Us from the Inside Out