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The Work of the Word Part 2


Written by: MacArthur Jr., John    Posted on: 04/10/2003

Category: Sermons

Source: CCN

GC 55-19  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ";The Work of the Word";  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; Part 2  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; 2 Timothy 3:16b-17  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; In these days we are studying together 2 Timothy chapter 3 and we're looking at verses 15 to 17. We have been going  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; through 2 Timothy for a number of months and we've stopped to rest a while, if you will, at verses 15 to 17 and dig a bit  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; more deeply into their truths. And I thought this morning that it would be fitting again for us to continue our study and try as  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; we can in the brief time we have to dig a little bit deeply into the elements that we are calling the work of the Word.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; Let me read our text to you, beginning in verse 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. All Scripture is inspired by God and  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness that the man of God may be adequate,  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; equipped for every good work.";  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; There is no other place in the New Testament where the work of the Word is so concisely spoken of. And we have been  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; noting that there are five things that the Word of God does. It provides salvation, according to verse 15...in verse 16,  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; teaching, reproof, correction and training. And we're looking at these things which we have titled the work of the Word.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; Now let me just say by way of introduction that this text more than any other New Testament text and paralleled probably  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; only by Psalm 19 and Psalm 119 in the Old Testament affirms the absolute sufficiency of Scripture...the absolute sufficiency  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; of Scripture when it comes to making provision for all spiritual needs. I have affirmed in our study some years ago now on  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; Psalm 19 that the Word of God is absolutely sufficient for everything pertaining to spiritual life. And that is in essence what  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; this text says. Scripture is able to make the man of God perfect, thoroughly furnished, as the Authorized said, unto all good  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; works. Scripture is sufficient. It does not need any help. That is why Jude tells us to earnestly contend for the once for all  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; delivered to the saints faith. That Scripture which was once at one point in time delivered to the saints, the once for all  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; delivered to the saints faith, Jude 3. We must fight for that. We must contend for that because anyone who comes along with  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; a false belief system will do one of two things, twist, pervert, attack the Scripture or...and sometimes they do both...add to  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; the Scripture. You can usually tell a false religious system by the fact that it comes up with new and novel interpretations of  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; Scripture and also adds to Scripture, as if the Scripture in itself was not adequate, was not sufficient.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; For example, the Mormons have decided that the Scripture is not able to stand on its own and they want to add the Book of  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; Mormon and the Doctrines and Covenants and things like that. Christian Science wants to add Science and Health and Key  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; to the Scriptures. And all the various cults add to Scripture the writings of the leaders of the various cults. Even the  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; contemporary Charismatic Movement today is basically built on additional revelation. Jesus is speaking to people, you hear  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; folks say that the Lord told them this, the Lord told them that, God told them this, the Lord spoke to them and said such and  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; such. False systems of belief and cults usually have writings and revelations in addition to Scripture. And the underlying  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; assumption is that Scripture in and of itself is not adequate, is not adequate.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; There are, however, even within the mainstream of traditional and historical Christianity those people who question the  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; truthfulness of Scripture. For example, a poll of Protestant clergymen recently was conducted by sociologist Jeffrey Hayden.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; He surveyed 10,000 clergymen of whom 7,441 replied. The questions he asked them were questions like this, for example:  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; Do you accept Jesus' physical resurrection as a fact? Fifty-one percent of Methodists said no. Thirty-five percent of United  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; Presbyterian said no. Thirty percent of Episcopalians said no. Thirty-three percent of American Baptist said no. Thirteen  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; percent of American Lutheran said no. And seven percent of Missouri Synod Lutheran said no. When asked if they believed  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; that the Scriptures are the inspired and inerrant Word of God, 87 percent of Methodists said no. Ninety-five percent of  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; Episcopalians said no. Eighty-two percent of Presbyterians said no. Sixty-seven percent of American Baptists said no.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; Seventy-seven percent of American Lutherans said no. And 24 percent of the Missouri Synod Lutherans said no.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; Now if you have within the traditional mainstream of American Protestantism such disbelief in the authority of Scripture, is it  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; any wonder why people are so susceptible to other cults and other systems of belief who add to the Bible, who twist and  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; pervert the Bible or, I suppose, who in some cases ignore it all together? The Bible always has been under attack and that's  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; why Jude says to earnestly contend for it. We have to contend against the cults that want to add their own revelation to it.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; We have to contend, in a sense, against even the Charismatics who want to add new revelation. We have to contend against  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; those liberal people within the framework of Christian tradition who want to deny the authenticity of Scripture. We're ever  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; and always fighting to hold on to the authority of the Word of God. And Jude says we have to earnestly fight for it. It isn't  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; going to be an easy thing because the faith once for all delivered to the saints is under attack. The enemy ever and always  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; attacks the Word of God. And so here we are again time after time after time defending the Word of God, showing why it is  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; to be believed.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; Now here in this text before us we have one of the great defenses of scriptural authority. The statement in verse 16, ";All  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; Scripture is God-breathed"; is a tremendously profound statement. It is not the word of man, it is the Word of God. It was  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; breathed out by God.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; But then we're looking at this second statement, ";All Scripture is useful...useful, profitable,"; to produces these five things.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; According to verse 15 it can make you wise unto salvation and according to verse 16 it is profitable, or useful for doctrine,  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; reproof, correction and training and is the only thing needed and the only thing able to make the man of God perfect,  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; equipped for every good work.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; Now, beloved, that's another statement like Psalm 19 on the sufficiency of Scripture. What this says to us is the Scripture is  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; comprehensively sufficient to produce men of God for every good work. It knows no limitation. It has no weakness.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; Nothing is left out. Nothing can be added to it. Such an attempt, by the way, according to Revelation 22 winds up with a  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; warning, if you add anything to this, so shall be added to you the plagues that are written in it. The Bible is not to be  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; tampered with, it is not to be distorted, it is not to be corrupted, it is not to be manhandled for your own purposes and it is  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; not to be added to.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; Now let me say it as simply as I can. When it comes to spiritual life, when it comes to a person's relationship to God, the  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; Bible is all that is necessary for proper instruction to make the man of God complete and capable of every good work. It is  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; not the Bible plus anything. And that is why we are so committed to the systematic ongoing teaching of God's Word,  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; because of what it does.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; Now we've entitled these five things ";the work of the Word."; What does the Word do? First of all, remember in verse 15, it  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; is able to make you wise unto salvation. The Word has the power to save. The Word of Christ is that which is necessary for  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; salvation, Romans 10 says. It is the Word of God, 1 Peter 1, by which you are begotten again. It is the Word which brings  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; the gospel. It is the Word which in the power of the Holy Spirit brings new life. It is the Word which saves. And so last time  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; we said above all things we must be committed to the proclamation of God's Word to the lost, for the Word is able to make  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; them wise unto salvation.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; Secondly, and coming in to verse 16, he says it is useful for doctrine or for teaching. And I pointed out to you that here he  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; has in mind not the process of teaching but the content. It is profitable to give you the necessary body of divine truth to live a  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; godly life. That's what he's saying. The Bible provides for you what Paul calls to Timothy the deposit. It gives you the truth,  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; the deposit of truth to be guarded, 1 Timothy 6:20 and 21, 2 Timothy 1:13. It is God's revelation of truth. And it provides  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; for you the substance to be believed...doctrine, the body of content upon which...mark this carefully...every thought and  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; every action is to be built. Did you get that? The Bible provides for us the body of truth upon which every thought and every  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; action is to be built. So it is profitable for content. It gives us the truth. John 17:17, ";Thy Word is truth."; If you're looking for  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; a foundation to build your life on, it is this book. It provides the principles that are to operate in the life of every individual at  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; every point of need and demand, thought and action. It's comprehensive. Every single thing you will ever deal with in your  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; spiritual existence is covered one way or another in the Scripture, probably many more than just one time. It is replete with  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; instruction for life...life in the way that God has designed it.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; So, it is profitable and useful to provide for you the body of divine doctrine. And as I said last time, as you study the Word  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; of God and begin to accumulate its principles, you begin to build that strong foundation which then becomes the foundation  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; on which every thought and every action is built. Biblical ignorance is the grave tragedy of all tragedies in the church because  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; what you don't know you can't build your life on. So it ought to be then the pursuit of every believer to know the Word of  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; God, to as much as is possible master the Word of God.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; I remember when I was a student in seminary I came across a little book written by James M. Grey(?) who at that time was  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; the president of the Moody Bible Institute at the time he wrote the book, long since with the Lord. The title of the little book  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; was ";How to Master the Bible."; He titled it ";How to Master the English Bible."; And I got that little book and I devoured that  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; little book because I had a desire in my heart to master as much as was humanly possible the Bible, not so that I could walk  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; around saying I have all the facts, but so that I could have a foundation on which to build my life, so that there would never  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; come in my life any issue, any circumstance that I wouldn't be ready to handle because if the foundation was down and if all  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; the principles were there, I could draw on those principles. And in another metaphor it's like...it's like banking all the truth of  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; God, putting it in the bank and at any given point you can draw out what you need because it's banked, it's deposited, it's in  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; your account, in your heart and your soul and your mind. And the Scripture then is profitable as that body of doctrine on  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; which every action and every thought is to be built.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; Now let's come to the third thing and we'll go through those that remain this morning. The third work of the Word in verse  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; 16 is mentioned reproof...reproof. The word literally means to rebuke, to confront someone with a view toward convicting  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; them of misbehavior. It's to rebuke someone's misconduct or to rebuke false teaching, error, whatever. The Word that has  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; such a positive ministry, building foundation, also has a negative ministry of tearing things down. The Word is not just a  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; builder, it is something that rips and tears and shreds what deserves to be torn. The Bible has a rebuking ministry, a rebuking  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; effect.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; In chapter 4 of 2 Timothy, just a few verses after the text we're in, it says preach the Word, be ready in season and out of  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; season, reprove, rebuke, exhort. And that's a negative ministry in a sense. That's calling people back from error. And the  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; Word of God has that effect, it has that ministry. In fact, Archbishop Trench(?) writing about this particular word here,  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; elegmos says it is to rebuke another with such effectual wielding of the victorious arm of the truth so as to bring him not  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; always to a confession, yet at least to a conviction of his sin. And the idea here is that the Word convicts of sin. Yes, the  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; Word builds a foundation of truth but that also is accompanied by the work of conviction. As you listen to the Word of God,  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; as you read the Word of God, as you study deeply the things of God it begins to cut away the sin in your life. The first  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; rebuking work of the Word then is toward the sin in the life of a person, of a believer. It will work on you that way.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; Let me show you a text to support that thought. Hebrews 4, a familiar verse but perhaps not fully understood. Hebrews 4:12  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; and here the writer refers to the Word of God in terms that we're used to, the Word of God is alive and powerful and  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; sharper than any two-edged sword. Most Sunday school kids memorize Hebrews 4:12 and rightly so. But let's look a little  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; more deeply into it. The Word of God is alive, it is living and it is powerful, or active, sharper than any two-edged sword.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; Now we're going to see the Word as a weapon. It's definitely pictured as a weapon. It then says piercing deep down into a  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; person's soul, spirit, joints, marrow. Now the picture here is very vivid. The Word is like a huge sword which is just driven  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; to the core of a person's being, slices right through and judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart. The Word of God  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; then is like a sword that cuts. It cuts deeply. And most every one of us as Christians have been cut by the Word, haven't  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; we? We've been ripped open by the Word. We came to church on a given Sunday feeling pretty good about ourselves and  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; went away feeling terrible about ourselves. We were laid bare. We were cut open by the Word. We came thinking  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; everything was in order and we heard a message that showed everything wasn't in order. And when we were confronted  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; with the Word of God that morning we realized we came short of that and our sin was exposed and we were cut up. That's  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; why, you see, a Bible preaching, Bible teaching church will never be a haven for sinners. They're not going to pile in because  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; they don't want to get split open every week. They don't want to get cut up. Why? John 3, those who want to hold on to  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; their sins stay away because they don't come to the light, He says in verse 20, lest their deeds should be reproved, rebuked.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; They don't want to be exposed to the cutting power of the Word of God.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; And by the way, that's a good indicator in your life. Even if you're a believer you find yourself wanting to stay away from the  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; Lord's people, wanting to stay away from the services of the church, wanting to stay away from the teaching of the Word. It  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; may be because you don't want to get cut open. You're harboring some sin in your heart.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; Now let's follow along in verse 12, the Word is alive, it's active, it's sharp, it cuts deeply and reveals the thoughts and  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; intentions of the heart. Verse 13, ";And there is no creature hidden from His sight but all things are open and laid bare to the  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; eyes of Him with whom we have to do."; God takes His Word, cuts deep into your heart, lays you open, you're flayed, as it  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; were, right before God's eyes. And nothing is hidden, He sees every single thing about you. We are open to the eyes of  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; Him.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; He uses a most interesting term in the Greek which was also used among the soldiers. Let me give you a little idea of how it  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; was used. It was used to describe a criminal who had to lift his face and face the crowd as he was marched to his  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; punishment. And the way they did that was quite interesting. A soldier held a dagger right at the chin with it just barely  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; piercing the skin. The point of that dagger was held to force the criminal to hold his head high and his face so that every one  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; could see him as he was paraded to his punishment.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; Now you see when you turn on the television set some criminal going like this...and holding his hands over his head and  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; ducking under his coat because he doesn't want to be seen by the television cameras. There's a certain amount of shame and  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; guilt. They knew that but they wanted the criminal to have to face the whole wide world and the whole community to see his  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; face so they rammed a little dagger up under his chin and made him walk with his chin up and were he to lower his chin, he  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; would have pierced himself right through. And in a very real sense he is saying that's exactly what the Word of God does, it  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; jams its pierced point right up under your chin and it makes you face the reality and it makes God able to see exactly what  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; you look like. It reveals you to Him. You are open before Him. You can't hide a thing. That's what the Word will do. The  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; Word is a reprover. The Word is a rebuker. The Word is a convicter of sin. It sifts, it analyzes, it reveals emotions, attitudes  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; and thoughts.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; And you've experienced that. As you sit down and read through God's Word and you read about something...you may be  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; reading about love and saying to yourself, ";I don't love enough, I have such a lack of love."; You may be reading about  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; bitterness and say, ";That's me, I have such bitterness in my heart."; You may be reading about hatred and you realize your  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; heart is filled with that. You may be reading about pride and you say to yourself that's me, that's me, that's cutting me wide  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; open and that's right obvious before God and now even before my own eyes. That's the Word, that's the work of the Word.  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; Let me tell you something, beloved, you ought to thank God just as much for the reproving work of the Word as for the  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; doctrinal part of it, right? You ought to be just as eager to be reproved by the Word as you are to be instructed by the  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; Word. You ought to be just as eager to have your sin exposed as you are to have some great truth

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