Session 5 — Ligon Duncan
Note: Throughout the week, as we liveblog the general sessions, we will be using a time-stamp method. This will give readers an approximate sense of key statements that were made throughout the session, as well as allowing them to trace the flow of the argument. (Also, if readers want to listen to any key moments by downloading the audio, these time-stamps will make it easier to track down certain statements in the audio file.) However, what follows is not intended to be a full or exact transcript of what was said.
This evening’s session began with music performed by The Masters’ College Chorale. In the afternoon sessions, the singing was led by Keith and Kristyn Getty. The worship (both in song and in the Word) has been wonderful. It has been a rich day of instruction, encouragement, exhortation, and fellowship.
Tonight, Chris Hamilton — the chair of the elder board at Grace Church — made a special presentation in which he honored Pastor John for the completion of The MacArthur New Testament Commentary series.
Afterwards, Ligon Duncan came to open the Word of God for us.
8:10 Turn in your Bibles to 2 Timothy 3:14-17:
14 You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
Timothy already knows and believes these things. So why does Paul rehearse them? Paul reminds Timothy of this truth in order 1) to encourage Timothy to endure in his ministry, and 2) to help Timothy see how this truth applies to his life and to his ministry.
8:13 These are truths that you already know. Why would I preach on them? Because you need to be encouraged, in the midst of a world that assaults the integrity, authority, and infallibility of Scripture.
8:14 This world is not helping you believe these things. You need to be encouraged about these truths from the Word of truth.
8:16 As this world, with its toxic unbelief, assaults your soul, that happens in a couple of ways. One way is for you to lose confidence in the Word of God.
8:17 But there is another strategy that is more insidious: that you would lose your delight in the God of the Word. If you stop believing that the promises God has given in His Word are the greatest delights, then you are just one step away from walking away from this Word.
8:18 In verse 14, Paul tells Timothy to keep on believing. Don’t stop believing it.
The end of verse 14, Paul tells Timothy to remember who taught him the Scriptures.
8:19 In verse 15, Paul reminds Timothy that he has been acquainted with the “sacred writings” (the Old Testament).
8:20 In verse 15, Paul notes that Timothy’s Hebrew Bible teaches him the way of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ.
8:21 Verse 16, Paul tells Timothy what Scripture is.
At the end of verse 16, Paul tells Timothy what Scripture is for.
Verse 17, Paul tells Timothy what Scripture does.
8:23 The apostle Paul reminds Timothy what the Bible is, what it’s for, and what it does, in this context because he is exhorting him to live by the Book and minister by the Book.
8:24 And just as the Psalms never tell us to praise God without telling us why we ought to do that, so also Paul doesn’t just say to Timothy to live and preach by the Book, but he tells him why.
Four things immediately jump out from the passage:
1) Remember who you learned it from. Those godly women (your mother and grandmother) faithfully taught the Scriptures to you.
2) Paul points to what the Bible is — as a way of encouraging Timothy to preach it and live it.
3) Paul explains what the Bible is for — for reproof, correction, and training.
4) In chapter 4, he reminds Timothy who witnessed his ordination — namely, God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Tim. 4:1).
8:26 For all of those reasons, Timothy was to live by the Book and minister by the Book.
We live in a world where, for over 200 years, the primary assault on the Scriptures has come from people who call themselves Christians.
8:29 This passage recounts for us what Paul said about the Bible. In the end, we must choose if we will stand with Paul, with Moses, and ultimately with Jesus, or with our contemporaries.
Paul is saying nothing different about the Scriptures than what Jesus said.
8:30 Three things I want you to see from these verses:
1) What the Bible is.
Paul speaks about the nature of Scripture. “All Scripture is inspired.” In three Greek words, Paul sums up the doctrine of plenary, verbal inspiration.
8:32 Plenary: “All Scripture” — No theory of partial or selective inspiration can measure up to what he is asserting about the Word of God. There have always been people who say, “I believe the Bible, but I don’t believe that Jonah was swallowed by a big fish, etc.”
8:33 There are all sorts of arguments against the Bible today that say things like: “The Bible borrows from pagan cosmology,” or “The Bible makes historical mistakes.” Well, here is the apostle Paul saying, “No. All Scripture is God-breathed.”
8:34 Verbal: All “Scripture” is inspired. It is God-breathed.
8:36 This is not a dynamic view of inspiration, where the ideas are inspired. It is a verbal understanding, because the very words are inspired.
8:37 Inspired: It is “God breathed.” Paul, here, is likely referring to Jesus’ recitation of Moses’ words: “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'” (Matt. 4:4)
This is not a novel understanding of inspiration. Paul is reflecting truth he learned from Jesus.
8:39 Paul is encouraging Timothy in this regard because he is exhorting Timothy to base his life on this.
8:40 Paul here, in articulating plenary, verbal inspiration, has given us the reason we believe in inerrancy. We believe that the Bible is inerrant because we know that it is inspired.
By “inerrancy,” we mean to affirm its total truthfulness.
8:41 If it is from the mouth of the God who cannot lie, it will be totally true.
As you look at the doctrine of Scripture, it is vital that you pay attention to what the Bible says about revelation and inspiration, and to the claims that Scripture makes about itself.
8:43 2) What the Bible is for.
Paul here, at the end of verse 16, tells us what the Bible is for. Here, Paul makes a huge claim about the Bible. He does not merely say that it is relevant, but that it is “profitable.”
8:44 The Bible is not just relevant, it is more than that. The Bible is already more than relevant, it is profitable. It is profitable for four things.
8:45 a) Teaching — explaining God’s revealed truth
b) Reproof — warning against errors of belief and behavior
c) Correction — the positive side of warning; redirection for the erring brother
d) Training in Righteousness — discipleship and preparing the believer in righteousness
8:46 False teaching leads to endless speculation; but the truth leads to love and edification.
The Bible is the most profitable, the most beneficial, the most useful book in the world.
8:47 That’s why the Psalmist extols the wonders of God’s Word in Psalm 119.
3) What the Bible does.
The Bible shows us the way of life and godliness. It equips and prepares us for the Christian life.
The end of verse 15 indicates that the Scriptures are able to make a person wise for salvation through faith in Christ.
8:48 Verse 17 adds, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
Verse 15 is salvation. Verse 17 is sanctification.
The Bible sets out the way of salvation, so that we do not trust in our own works.
8:49 However, though we are not saved on the basis of our works, we are nonetheless saved unto good works.
Paul is making it clear (in v. 17) that the Bible is totally sufficient for the Christian life. It is able to equip us for faith and life; for godliness; for every good work.
8:50 Our job as ministers is not over until men and women have been conformed to Christ. That is the goal of Scriptural learning and doctrine. We must not rest until we see right doctrine, by God’s grace through the Spirit’s power, working itself out in a life of holy love.
When Paul says this, he is reiterating the words of Jesus in the Great Commission.
8:51 The Great Commission calls us to make disciples by teaching sinners to obey all that Christ has commanded. The Christian life must be lived and not only believed. We are called to both trust and obey.
8:52 You know that it is true that you won’t obey what you don’t believe. But it is also true that you won’t believe what you don’t obey. Heresy leads to ungodliness. But it also works the other way. Ungodliness leads to heresy.
8:53 Look at how many are willing to change their views of Scripture so that they might accommodate their own immorality. That is where the temptation can come for us. If your heart begins to love something more than the God of Scripture and the promises of the Word, you are one step away from denying the Scripture and walking away from the faith.
8:54 Oh, Brothers. Let us not simply hold to the Word in word. Let’s hold to the Word in what we love and how we live, and so stand against the wiles of the evil one.