Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.13 But evil people and impostors will flourish. They will deceive others and will themselves be deceived.
14 But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you.15 You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus.16 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.17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. 2 Timothy 3:12-17 (my emphasis)
All Scriptures are useful and inspired by God. That is a comforting, wonderful statement. It keeps me going back to this book from God day after day with anticipation and expectation that He is going to speak His words into my heart. And He does. But reading Scripture is not picking and choosing what I will believe and what I won’t. And there is where the Scriptures really become a learning tool.
I am extraordinarily blessed to be married to a man who has spent most of his life studying the Scriptures. He would tell you this is not necessarily an entirely good thing. He has a gift for learning languages (many of them!) and so he reads the Bible in Hebrew and Greek like I read it in English. He worships God as he studies the Scriptures. But he also came out of seminary a non-believer. He knew so much about God that the relationship was rung out dry as a desert. Today, it is so awesome to just talk with him about God’s Words. I learn so much about history and read familiar passages that become new and powerful with knowing who the people group were and how they functioned as a society and how God interacted with His children.
I have learned that no one verse in the Bible stands by itself. It is connected to the whole. Like the passage above.
Too often I would take a single verse like #16 above and it becomes so familiar and means I should enjoy the poetry of Psalm 23 and the poetry of the genealogies. (Say, what??!!) Paul is speaking to a young man that he has mentored for some years. Paul knows that his time with Timothy is growing short, so he begins to push Timothy into some Scripture that will not be easy to hear. There are Scriptures that aren’t easy for me to hear. I share some of the troubling ones with my paraphrase:
Everyone who wants to live a godly like, be a disciple not just a believer, is going to be persecuted. 2 Timothy 3:12
Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it will only be a single grain. But if it dies, it will bring much fruit. John 12:24
I am the door through which you enter to be saved forever. I come so that you may have this abundant life. John 10:9-10
All three of those passages are wonderful, feel good Scriptures until I take them in context and realize that Jesus and Paul are lovingly and passionately telling me, a disciple, that walking in the steps of Jesus are not for the faint or easily discouraged. There will be persecution as my brothers and sisters in the Middle East and Asia and Africa know. God gave His Son so that I might live. If it is God’s plan that I would die, whether through direct persecution or that my life be a testament to the courage and strength that God gives to those with cancer and other maladies, who am I to argue about His plan?
God is looking from Genesis, His time with Adam and Eve, to the eternal moment when He brings His children to their eternal home. We see this as thousands of years. God sees it as only moments when compared to the eternity that He has planned for us.
Let us draw near to God, my sisters and brothers. Let us set our time with God in prayer and study as the #1 priority in our lives. Let us learn the sweet songs of love and compassion as well as the difficult tenants of a true warrior. We’ve read the final chapter. We know how the story will end. It will be a forever abundant life with our Father God. Forever? I don’t even know what that means – but I’m learning.
Thy Word written and sung by Amy Grant