Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Bible, Unabridged Edition

Under the covenant of grace, is there ever a reason to teach the law?  I will let Scripture answer that question.
All Scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.  2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV
I hope that pastors who refuse to teach the entire Word of God (including the Ten Commandments and the Law) are reading this.  Your refusal to teach the entire Word of God is bringing up incomplete Christians who are ill-equipped for any good work.   That Bible is absolutely clear on this matter. 

First of all, Paul begins with "All Scripture."  This is important.  Paul does not say some Scripture.  Paul does not say only the Scriptures that pertain to blessings and promises.  Paul does not say only Scriptures you like or you think are important.  Paul says "All Scripture."  Even more, when Paul wrote this, the only Scripture in existence was the Old Testament.  When Paul wrote this, he was referring to the Pentateuch, the historical books of the Old Testament, and the Prophets.  He was not referring to the Gospels or Epistles.  Not that those are not just as important to us as the Old Testament as they are Scripture, but God was still in the process of revealing that Scripture when this epistle was written.  When Paul wrote this to Timothy, he was referring to the Old Testament and he said that all of it should be considered.  To say that any part of any Scripture has no place in the church of today is to blatantly deny clear Scripture to the contrary. 

Now Paul will tell us what "All Scripture" is good for.  First, it is good for doctrine.  You can not teach solid Christian doctrine without using all of Scripture.  Every part of Scripture is something God wanted us to know.  You can not say that you are teaching good doctrine if you purposely do not teach all of Scripture, including the law.  Even the doctrine of grace requires teaching of the law.  This is not to say that you teach the law in that the law imparts grace, but you teach the law to show the necessity of grace.  You can not believe you are a sinner in need of a savior unless you really know you are a sinner.  All Scripture is profitable for doctrine. 

All Scripture is also good for reproof and correction.  We all need correction and while the world has its own ideas of right and wrong, only the Bible gives us God's truth of right and wrong.   The Bible is our guidepost.  It sets our limits and charts our course.  Everything we do should be tested in the light of Scripture.  You can not effectively live life as a child of God without using the Word to guide you.  The Holy Spirit will use the Word to lead us and guide us.  It is also our measure of discernment.  Bad and destructive theology come from twisting and taking the Word of God out of context.  That is another reason why teaching from the whole Word is so important.  Without the foundation of the Word of God in our hearts, we will have no definitive test to discern whether or not we should adhere to or avoid one of the many ideas that will come our way, even from the church. 

All Scripture is also profitable for instruction in righteousness.  I think we need to take a moment to pause here.  There are many who believe we can glean little to no moral instruction from the Old Testament.  Some people will judge the morality of an issue whether or not Jesus specifically addressed it.  This is especially true when it comes to homosexuality.  Others like to teach that teaching the law adds bondage to the Christian.  That is only true if you teach the law as a means to salvation.  Teaching the law, however, is profitable for teaching righteousness.   In fact, that is exactly what Paul was referring to when he wrote this epistle to Timothy.  Once again, remember there was no New Testament at this time.  The Word of God is profitable for teaching righteousness.  This also assumes that it is necessary to teach righteousness, that is righteous living.  We are not called to live righteously in order to be saved, but to live righteously under the power of the Holy Spirit as a result of our salvation. 

Now Paul tells us why it is necessary to teach the whole world of God for doctrine, correction, and righteousness.  That reason is "that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. "  The complete Word of God begets a man of God complete.  An incomplete Word of God begets an incomplete man of God.  Teaching the whole Word of God begets a man trained and prepared for every good work.  Teaching an incomplete Word of God begs a man untrained and ill-prepared for the work of God.  In fact, someone not trained in the Word of God may not even know that he or she has a responsibility to serve.  

Teachers must teach the entire Word of God.  Refusing to teach from the parts that one does not like or that conflicts with an incomplete doctrine only serves to lead Christians astray.  God designed us with a need to be taught and pastors are given the responsibility to rightly divide the entire Word of God from Moses through Revelation.  Incomplete Scripture leads to incomplete doctrine and usually leads to the extremes of legalism or licentiousness.  Incomplete Scripture leads to a lack of discernment to where Christians attach to destructive doctrine as heresies abound in the church.  Incomplete Scripture leads to a lack of righteous living, which leads to accepted sin and an impotent church incapable of being the light and salt they were called to be to a fallen world.  There is no such thing as obsolete when it comes to Scripture and all of it is appropriate in some way to today's church.  If there is a part of Scripture that disagrees with your doctrine, the problem is not the God-inspired Word of God but with the prideful rebellious man who thinks he knows better.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  John 1:1 NKJV

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