2 Timothy 3:16, 17: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; 17That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

Scripture, as the prime directive of Christianity, is often overtly if not subliminally viewed with skepticism.  This skepticism takes many forms – from the factual to observational.  Our question has to do with humanity; specifically, are there certitudes as well as uncertainties in Scripture regarding human characteristics, traits and relationships which prove historically and universally true?  If not – isn’t such evidence of Scripture’s irrelevance to modern man?  If so, how is such incorporated into one’s life and profession?   To determine the Biblical answers, we look to:

  • Historical Context: The Book of 2 Timothy was written by Paul in approximately A.D. 67, shortly before he was put to death.  Imprisoned in Rome yet again, the apostle Paul felt lonely and abandoned. Paul recognized that his earthly life was likely coming to an end soon. The Book of 2 Timothy is essentially Paul’s “last words.” Paul looked past his own circumstances to express concern for the churches and specifically for Timothy. Paul wanted to use his last words to encourage Timothy, and all other believers, to persevere in faith (2 Timothy 3:14), trust in the Word (2 Timothy 3:16, 17) and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 4:2).  Paul encourages Timothy to remain passionate for Christ and to remain firm in sound doctrine (2 Timothy 1:1-2, 13-14). Paul reminds Timothy to avoid ungodly beliefs and practices and to flee from anything unrighteous (2 Timothy 2:14-26). In the end times there will be both intense persecution and apostasy from the Christian faith (2 Timothy 3:1-17). Paul closes with an intense plea for believers to stand firm in the faith and to finish the race strong (2 Timothy 4:1-8).
  • Grammatical Usage: V 16: “inspiration” or “Theopneustos” in the Greek means, “God breathed”; “profitable” is “Ophelimos” meaning, “to increase in the sense of having an advantage”; “doctrine” is “Didaskalia” meaning, “teaching or instruction”; “reproof” or “Elegchos” meaning “a proof or proving (not a correction)”; “correction” is “Epanorthosis” meaning, “setting upright…specifically a reference to improvement of life and character”; “instruction” is ‘Paideia” meaning, “training not in the sense of imparting knowledge but chastening (see the lesson on Chastisement – Hebrews 12:6) or disciplining”; “righteousness” or “Dikaiosune” meaning, “integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking feeling, and acting according to God”; V. 17: “perfect” or “Artios” meaning, “fitted, complete (not morally perfect)”; “furnished” or “Exartizo” meaning, “to complete for a special purpose”; “good” or “Agathos” meaning, “honorable as in pleasing to God”; “works” or “Ergon” meaning, “every activity undertaken for Christ’s sake.”
  • Literal Application: All Scripture is breathed of God, giving the advantage to our understanding because of His supernatural revelation, proving Him true in all His assertions therefore improving ourselves personally and our lives corporately, training us through merciful chastisement in integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness and correct thinking that the disciple is prepared to complete the calling of God with honor in every activity undertaken for the sake of Jesus Christ.
  • Contextual Interpretation: Below are some evidences that the Bible is inspired (God-breathed) by God, as declared in 2 Timothy 3:16:

1) Fulfilled prophecy. God spoke to men telling them of things He would bring about in the future. Some of them have already occurred. Others have not. For example, there were more than 300 prophecies concerning Jesus Christ’s first coming 2,000 years ago. There is no doubt that these are prophecies from God because of manuscripts and scrolls dated before the birth of Christ. These were not written after the fact. They were written beforehand. Scientific dating proves this.

2) The unity of Scripture. The Bible was written by approximately 40 human authors over a period of approximately 1,600 years. These men were quite diverse. Moses, a political leader; Joshua, a military leader; David, a shepherd; Solomon, a king; Amos, a herdsman and fruit picker; Daniel, a prime minister; Matthew, a tax collector; Luke, a medical doctor; Paul, a rabbi; and Peter, a fisherman; among others. The Bible was also written under a variety of circumstances. It was written on 3 different continents, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Yet, the great themes of Scripture are maintained in all the writings. The Bible does not contradict itself. There is no way, apart from God the Holy Spirit supervising the writing of the Bible, that this could have been accomplished.

Contrast this with the Islamic Koran. It was compiled by one individual, Zaid bin Thabit, under the guidance of Mohammed’s father-in-law, Abu-Bekr. Then in A.D. 650, a group of Arab scholars produced a unified version and destroyed all variant copies to preserve the unity of the Koran. The Bible was unified from the time of its writing. The Koran had to be unified through the editing of men.

3) The Bible presents its heroes truthfully with all of their faults and weaknesses. It does not glorify men as other religions do about their heroes. When you read the Bible, you realize that the people it describes have problems and do wrong just as we do. What made them great was that they trusted in God. One example is David. David is described as “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). Yet, David committed adultery (2 Samuel 11:1-5) and murder (2 Samuel 11:14-26). This could have been left out of Scripture to hide these details of David’s life. But God included these things.

4) Archaeological findings support the history recorded in Scripture. Though many unbelieving people throughout history have tried to find archaeological evidence to disprove what is recorded in the Bible, they have failed. It is easy to say that Scripture is untrue. Proving it to be untrue is a different story. It has not been done. In fact, in the past the Bible contradicted the current “scientific” theories, only to be proven later to be in fact true. A good example is Isaiah 40:22, which declared that God “sits on the circle of the earth” long before scientists claimed the earth was flat.

The Bible’s claims of being from God should not be understood as arguing in a circle or by circular reasoning. The testimony of reliable witnesses – particularly of Jesus, but also of others such as Moses, Joshua, David, Daniel, and Nehemiah in the Old Testament, and John and Paul in the New Testament – affirm the authority and verbal inspiration of the Holy Scriptures. Consider the following passages: Exodus 14:1; 20:1; Leviticus 4:1; Numbers 4:1; Deuteronomy 4:2; 32:48; Isaiah 1:10, 24; Jeremiah 1:11; Jeremiah 11:1–3; Ezekiel 1:3; 1 Corinthians 14:37; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Peter 1:16–21; 1 John 4:6.

Also of interest are the writings of Josephus, an historian who recorded much of the history of Israel during the first century. In this he records some events which coincide with Scripture.

Considering the evidence given, we have no choice but to accept the Bible as being from God (2 Timothy 3:16).

  • Scriptural Comparison:  If 2 Timothy 3:16 is true, then Scripture should certainly speak to both the certitudes and incertitude’s of human existence which, in fact, it does:
  • Seven Things that are Uncertain:
  • Beauty
    • “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting….” – Proverbs 31:30
    • Men’s Promises
      • “Do not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation.” – Psalms 146:3
    • Riches
      • “When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings Like an eagle that flies toward the heavens.” – Proverbs 23:5
    • The Future
      • “Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth.” – Proverbs 27:1
    • Friendship
      • “Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.” – John 16:32
    • Life
      • “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” – James 4:14
    • Earthly Glory
  • Seven Comforting Certainties that Encourage the Believer:
  • Sure Promises
  • “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed.” – Isaiah 28:16
  • Sure Reward
    • “And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.” – Matthew 10:42
  • Assured Acceptance
  • “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” – John 6:37
  • Divine Love
    • For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38, 39
  • Assured Immortality
    • “For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” – 2 Corinthians 5:1
    • Eternal Anchorage
  • “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil…” – Hebrews 6:19
  • Seven Sobering Certainties that Face the Unrepentant Sinner:
  • Certainty of Exposure
  • “But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the LORD, and be sure your sin will find you out.” – Numbers 32:23
    • Certainty of Disappointment
  • “For their vine is from the vine of Sodom, And from the fields of Gomorrah; Their grapes are grapes of poison, Their clusters, bitter.” – Deuteronomy 32:23
    • Certainty of Leaving Earthly Possessions
  • “For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.” – 1 Timothy 6:7
    • Certainty of Death
  • “No man has authority to restrain the wind with the wind, or authority over the day of death; and there is no discharge in the time of war, and evil will not deliver those who practice it.” – Ecclesiastes 8:8
    • Certainty of Judgment
  • For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.” – Ecclesiastes 12:14
    • Certainty of Separation from the Righteous
  • “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.” – Matthew 25:31-33
    • Certainty of Banishment from the Divine Presence
  • “These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power…” – 2 Thessalonians 1:9

A critical point to the application of Scripture to the Christian’s life is found in Hebrews 5:14:

But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

Peter referred to young Christians as “newborn babes,” admonishing them to “long for the spiritual milk which is without guile, that ye may grow thereby unto salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). Paul used the same metaphor and extended it thus, “I fed you with milk, not with meat; for ye were not able to bear it; nay, not even now are ye able; for ye are yet carnal” (1 Cor. 3:2, 3).  The metaphor of children and full-grown men is also used in Ephesians 4:13,14 where Paul admonished his readers to attain the stature of “full-grown men” – no longer “children.”

From the passage it is plain that spiritual maturity is not simply a matter of time. Many who have been Christians many years may be in the condition of these Hebrew Christians. True spiritual growth is the result of prayer, study, meditation, faithfulness, diligence, exercise, and the successful struggle against temptations. The need for spiritual maturity is implicit in the confusion of the complex and sinful world in which people live. Matters of right and wrong do not always appear as checkerboard squares of black and white, there being many gray areas where the proper discovery of what is right and wrong can be a far more difficult matter. The great loss to the spiritual infant is that he may be misled, an eventuality that becomes certain unless he attains some degree of spiritual maturity.

The church needs full-grown people, people who are not blown about by every wind of doctrine, people who have triumphed over the flesh, people of deep and loving personality, able to comfort the weak and the discouraged and prepared to stand against all obstacles whatsoever. The pity of the present age of the church is seen in congregations of spiritual infants, uninstructed in the weightier things of the true faith, and indeed utterly ignorant of them, incapable of recognizing the most arrogant heresies, even those that deny the Lord, and still, after so many years, possessing only the most elementary knowledge of Christianity.

This is no less critical in the professional lives of Christians, especially those involved in any form of counseling.  The ability to understand the Scriptures in order to make the appropriate application requires discernment, wisdom, experience, personal integrity, knowledge and a commitment to uncompromised application. Conclusion: It is easy to get side-tracked in the Christian life. We have to keep our eyes on the prize—being rewarded in heaven by Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 4:8) which necessities righteous living on earth. We must strive to avoid both false doctrine and ungodly practices. This can only be accomplished by being grounded in our knowledge of God’s Word and firm in our refusal to accept anything that is unbiblical.  This, in turn, requires a personal commitment to the Word of God as our final authority in life confident that, because of the Word of God, we are equipped to deal with any situation or personal matter in a righteous and upright manner brining glory to Him and His sufficiency to others.