The last words of a dying man are like gold. It is very riveting and compelling. It is always inspiring, especially if the person who dies is famous. The lasts words of a dying man often tell us who they are. When Sir Isaac Newton died, he humbly said, "I don’t know what I may seem to the world. But as to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore and diverting myself now and then in finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than the ordinary, while the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.” His last few words tell us about his heart. His heart was for the discovery of science. What about the apostle Paul? What do his last few words tell us about his heart? In 2 Timothy chapter 3 verses 16-17, Paul revealed to Timothy three characteristics of the Scriptures that enable us to preach the word of God with confidence.
The Inspiration of Scripture
In verse 16, Paul states, “All Scripture is inspired by God.” Some of you might think of inspiration in terms of motivation. Many scholars have brought this understanding of inspiration into this text and concluded that the writers were inspired by God to write the Scriptures. We must not think of inspiration the way the world thinks when it says, “Shakespeare was certainly an inspired writer.”
Dr. B.B. Warfield once pointed out so eloquently, the real meaning of inspiration in 2 Timothy chapter 2 verse 16. The concept of inspiration in 2 Timothy chapter 2 verse 16 has nothing to do with how God communicated his information to us through human writers, but rather the emphasis in this text is on the source of that information. Paul insists that all Scripture is breathed-out by God, and he is saying that God is the ultimate origin of the Scriptures. Paul uses the Greek term “theopneustos” here (meaning “God-breathed) to assure Timothy that the Scripture is, in fact, from God.
Why did Paul tell Timothy about the doctrine of inspiration? Paul declared the doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture to Timothy because of the existence of evil forces that spread their false doctrine through false teachers.
The Profitability of Scripture
The second characteristic of the Scriptures is profitability. In other words, the Scriptures are not only inspired by God, but are also profitable (2 Timothy chapter 3 verse 16). The Greek word “profitable” means “helping, aiding, useful, serviceable, and beneficial.” It provides something that a "man of God" needs to attain a particular goal.
There are four things that the Scriptures are useful for:
4. Training in righteousness
What is the purpose of the profitability or usefulness of Scripture? Verse 17 states, that it is so that the man of God may be complete and equipped for every good work. This leads to the third characteristic of Scripture: The sufficiency of Scripture.
The Sufficiency of Scripture
The Scripture is sufficient to train and equip every man of God for every ministry. The Scripture is profitable because of this purpose: to train and equip men of God for ministry. Also, in 2 Peter chapter 1 verse 3, Peter writes, “His divine power has granted us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to his glory and excellence.” God has given to us all things we need for life and godliness in the Scriptures.
Warren Wiersbe wrote, “The purpose of Bible study is not just to understand doctrines or to defend the faith, as important as they are. The ultimate purpose is to equip the believers who read it. It is the word of God that equips God’s people to do God’s work.” In other words, the word of God is sufficient to train you, equip you, and mold you so that you will be suitable and efficient for every ministry task.
Paul tells us three characteristics of the Scripture: Inspiration, usefulness, and sufficiency. The question is, "What are we going to do about it?". What is Paul's purpose in telling us these characteristics? In 1 Timothy chapter 4 verses 1-2, Paul writes, “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word.”
The purpose of knowing the characteristics of the Scripture is to empower us to preach it with readiness and do what God has called us to do, which is to proclaim the gospel to all the nations. The Scriptures are the Word of God, and have been breathed out by God. It is useful to teach you, rebuke you, correct you, train you, so that you, being a man of God, may be complete, useful, and equipped for every given task, including preaching the word.
Dat Nguyen is a student at the Master’s Seminary and a member of Grace Community Church in Los Angeles, California. His desire is to be a faithful minister of the Word of God. He loves playing basketball and watching movies.