All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV).
These are two of the most famous verses in the New Testament. They’re a common-sense exposition of a basic truth: The entire Bible is the Word of God. All of it. Not just the meek and mild Jesus parts: all of it.
We of the Christian faith find it easy to ignore the Old Testament. It’s almost as easy for us to ignore the OT as it is to ignore all hymns before year 2000. Some of the Old Testament is brutal history. And we don’t like explaining that the same God who smote the Philistines is the same God who died for our sins, who loved the little children, who forgives us anything. Yep: same triune God; same Jesus; same Father and Spirit. We can only understand this if we read that Old Testament instead of selectively ignoring it, which many of our churches do (including my own).
The Word of God is a tool for us to live. We can (and should) use it for teaching, rebuking, correcting, training, praising, thanking, repenting and living in every way possible. Paul identifies only four specific behaviors (teaching and the other three) in order to make a point (that they are especially useful in encouraging righteousness). Yet the bigger point is that ALL SCRIPTURE IS GOD-BREATHED AND IS USEFUL…SO THAT THE SERVANT OF GOD MAY BE THOROUGHLY EQUIPPED FOR EVERY GOOD WORK.
Every good work. Witnessing and teaching. Pouring concrete. Preaching sermons. Welding I-beams. Configuring software. Raising kids. You name it: every good work we can conceive of is made possible when we are equipped with the peace from God’s word that transcends all understanding.
Mind you, Paul’s foremost concern for Timothy was spiritual work of the church body. Yet his point almost certainly meant every good work that we could do. And then consider this: God teaches and places us where He does to prepare us for those works. My friend, Phil, recently preached about David and Goliath, and one of the points he made was how God prepared David years ahead of time to fight Goliath. Over time, our God developed David’s skills with bravery, simple weapons, and faith most of all. Stepping out to battle the tall Philistine was the result of much quiet preparation, not just a teenager’s faithful bravado.
In the same way, God uses our work, our lives, to prepare us for things He has for us to do, both now and later. Every work, then, can be a work for the Lord. All of them. No wonder these verses are famous. All of the Bible is God-breathed and for our use.
For further reading: Philippians 4:7, 2 Peter 1:20, Romans 4:23-24, 1 Timothy 6:11, 2 Timothy 4:1.
Lord, all of Your word is useful and holy. Thank You for it!