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 Timothy 3:16-17
The New Living Translation makes these verses sound more like daily conversation:
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16 NLT)
When Paul wrote to Timothy, he had already written a letter to the church at Ephesus, in which he said, “We are [God’s] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10 ESV).
- In the letter to the Ephesians, what did Paul say was the purpose for which God recreated us in Christ Jesus?
- Paul sent Timothy to the church at Ephesus, and he wrote 2 Timothy as guidance for Timothy’s work there. What did he tell Timothy was the necessary way to learn how to live out God’s purpose?
- If Scripture is inspired by God, what part of it can we safely ignore?
- If God has inspired Scripture to help every Christian, why would he want to make it hard to understand? In other words, when you are reading Scripture, is it safe for you follow the plain meaning, or do you need a code book to understand it?
- What did Paul say Scripture does for us?
- Jesus said that our natural food is every word that comes from the mouth of God. (Read Matthew 4:4) How often do you need to eat? How often do you need to nourish yourself from the Word of God?
By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at Amazon.com. Watch for the release of Thrive! Live Christian in a Hostile World, planned for release in the winter of 2016.
Image: Open Bible
By Wnorbutas (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0
being rich in mercy,
because of the great love with which he loved us,
even when we were dead in our trespasses,
made us alive together with Christ
—by grace you have been saved—
and raised us up with him
and seated us with him
in the heavenly places
in Christ Jesus,
in the coming ages
he might show
the immeasurable riches of his grace
in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:4-7
- Paul wrote these words to a troubled church. It was a great church, birthed in fire, a fire that burned books of magic spells and potions associated with the culture of idolatry in Ephesus. If someone like Paul came to your town and stirred a lot of people to receive Christ, what would be the major thing citizens would abandon or throw away as they came to faith? To ask the same question a different way, what do you believe most people in your town cry for when they feel hopeless?
- Do you know people who fixate on angels more than they fixate on Jesus? How did it happen? Why do they have so much more faith in angels than in Jesus?
- In the town where you live, do most people claim to go to church on Sunday or not? What do people in your town do if they are not in church on Sunday? Do these things fill up their lives and push Christ out? Or was Christ ever in their hearts?
- Do you observe any hint that people in your town who do not serve Christ believe that they are sinful? If people do not think they are sinful, or as Paul said it, “dead in their trespasses,” what would make them think they need Jesus?
By grace you have been saved through faith,
and this is not your own doing;
it is the gift of God,
not a result of works,
so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
- Do you personally know anyone who believes that he does not need God, or any god? What does that person say is the foundation of his personal strength? Does that person consider that there is anything in his life which he would die for? In different words, is there anything he would die rather than give up?
- Are you saved? What were you saved from? How did it happen that you became saved?
We are his workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand,
that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10
- You may have heard someone say, “I hope this one counts for good stuff, because last time I think I made God mad.” What would you tell someone who said such a thing?
- Since we now know that good works don’t buy heaven, what is the point of doing good works at all?
- Imagine you had hired someone to be your right hand while you worked as a teacher and personal mentor to a dozen people over the course of a weekend retreat. You were scheduled for thirty minutes to eat some food at 8PM on Saturday evening after teaching and consulting nonstop since noon. If your assistant inexplicably brought you a beef taco and chips after you had specifically ordered chicken, would you feel entitled to complain, or would it be proper to eat it without any unpleasantness? Would it be a good work to refuse to abuse your assistant, or would it be leadership to teach him what a big error he had made? What exactly is a good work?
We know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. Galatians 2:16
In order to understand this text fully, you need to read the context:
11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
- You have probably heard people say things such as, “I hope this good deed will make up to God for some of the bad things I used to do.” Or they say, “I think God owes me something after all the things I have put up with.” They are expressing the belief that their behavior determines God’s attitude toward them. What does this verse say in response to such ideas?
- Almost everyone has at some time or other done something that feels so good that it deserves God’s favor. When did you feel that way? What does this verse say to your feeling?
- Have you ever broken one of the Ten Commandments? Did you do it on purpose fully recognizing you were doing wrong, or did you do it thinking the situation completely justified your behavior? If the situation seemed to justify the behavior, why was the behavior wrong? Is God unreasonable? Would it be better to think as secularists think, that the situation, not some dusty old law, determines what is right and wrong?
- If you can’t earn heaven by your behavior, why should you behave?
- In Ephesians 6:16, Paul wrote, “Take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” How can you use your faith in Christ as a shield against evil?