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Inspect, Expect, and Respect | 2 Timothy 3

How can we live with an eternal perspective to make the most of our brief time on earth? As we start the second half of 2 Timothy in our series The Last Word, John McGee shows us the importance of inspecting for predators, expecting persecution, and respecting God’s Word.

John McGeeMay 9, 2021

In This Series (11)
Finishing Well | 2 Timothy 4
Blake HolmesMay 16, 2021
Inspect, Expect, and Respect | 2 Timothy 3
John McGeeMay 9, 2021
The Lost Art of Argument | 2 Timothy 2:23-26
Blake HolmesApr 11, 2021
Being Useful for the Kingdom | 2 Timothy 2:20-22
Todd WagnerMar 28, 2021
Dealing with False Teachers | 2 Timothy 2:14-19
David LeventhalMar 21, 2021
Remembering Christ | 2 Timothy 2:7-13
Todd WagnerMar 14, 2021
Enduring Hardship | 2 Timothy 2:3-7
Todd WagnerMar 7, 2021
Defining Discipleship | 2 Timothy 2:1-2
Todd WagnerFeb 28, 2021
The Last Word: 2 Timothy 1:8-18
Todd WagnerFeb 21, 2021
The Last Word: Courage in the Cold
Todd WagnerFeb 14, 2021
2 Timothy 1:1-7
David LeventhalFeb 7, 2021

Summary

How can we live with an eternal perspective to make the most of our brief time on earth? As we start the second half of 2 Timothy in our series The Last Word, John McGee shows us the importance of inspecting for predators, expecting persecution, and respecting God’s Word.

Key Takeaways

  • Paul lived his life understanding that time on earth is short and eternity is long.
  • 2 Timothy 3 teaches us to: Inspect for predators; Expect persecution; and Respect God’s Word.
  • The people that Paul describes in 2 Timothy 3:1-9 were marked by loving themselves more than God.
  • Inspect for predators and be on the lookout for your own sin.
  • If we find ourselves either denying or defending our sin, we are headed for destruction.
  • We should dissociate from predators in ministry, and if someone ever uses Scripture, a promise, or closeness to God in exchange for something financially, emotionally, or sexually, let others know.
  • Everyone who follows God should be ready for persecution.
  • According to Open Doors, approximately 1 in 8 Christians is being persecuted around the world.
  • Just like the lazy river, our lives shouldn’t always “go with the flow” with ease. There should be parts that are hard, you should be moving against the flow, and people should be looking at you strangely at times.
  • Moms shape the church because moms shape kids, and moms shape nations because moms shape kids.
  • The Bible is “God-breathed”, which makes it unlike any other literature.
  • God directed the authors of the Bible to write His Word that is true and authoritative for both individuals and the church.

Discussing and Applying the Sermon

  • When you look at 2 Timothy 3:1-9, how can you identify yourself in the list of people we are to have nothing to do with? Where are you tempted to deny and/or defend these actions?
  • What are you doing to prepare yourself for persecution?
  • In what ways are you using Scripture to teach, rebuke/correct, and train others?

Other Mentioned or Recommended Resources

Good morning, Watermark. Moms, happy Mother's Day, again, for the fifteenth time today. We can't say it enough. We are grateful for you. We are really glad you're here. A couple of years ago, my oldest daughter Maddy and I were in Scotland. We were in the town of Edinburgh. We woke up early, got a cup of coffee, and hit the castle.

We were walking down the main street, because we were going to go see something I was really excited to see. I'd heard about this place. I didn't know if it was going to really be the way it had been portrayed to me, but I remember being really excited. So, we got there. We had to look around for a minute to find it. When we got there, this is what we saw. There's no way unless you have superhuman eyes you can tell, but it says, basically, "Here lies John Knox." It is John Knox's grave.

Who's John Knox? If you're not a church history nerd like me, you have no idea who that is. This guy was amazing. We had Luther in Germany, we had Calvin in Switzerland and France, and we had John Knox in Scotland, who was friends with Calvin and some of those guys. He really reformed the church. Our Puritan roots, in many respects, come from John Knox. This guy taught salvation by grace through faith, which the church was slipping from. He taught the Scriptures as authoritative. The guy was just doggone fierce.

Queen Mary was famous for saying she feared the prayers of Knox more than the armies of all of her enemies. Isn't that great? This guy was a stalwart. He's a hero. What you can't tell from that first picture is actually where his grave lies. If you zoom out a little bit, this is what you see. Isn't that amazing? He is buried under a parking lot. They pulled up his tombstone and just blacktopped all of it and left a little plaque there, so now somebody's Peugeot comes by every day and leaks oil on it.

So, my daughter and I were there, and we laughed. I had some pretty serious thoughts. Truly. I thought about the brevity of life. Psalm 90:12. Moses said, "Teach us to number our days aright, so we may gain a heart of wisdom." I want to live like life is short on this side of eternity, and John Knox did. I remembered Ecclesiastes 1:11: "No one remembers the former generations…" People are going to forget me. My great-grandkids will have no idea who I am.

I'm not the most important Christian in the country, so if they did pave over my grave, they wouldn't even do me the solid of putting a plaque there. They're just going to forget about me. I want to live not to make a name for myself or somehow create a tombstone people will come back and visit. I want to invest in things that matter, things that are eternal, like John Knox did.

What was most important to John, other than his Savior, was his church. He thought and taught about the church all the time. His very last prayer right before he died… He was on his deathbed, and he prayed, "God, grant true pastors for thy church." "God, give us true pastors. I want the church to continue. I'm going to be gone. Would you help the church continue and give it good leadership?" On his deathbed, which is a pretty good segue into 2 Timothy, chapter 3.

We know Paul is in prison, and these are his last thoughts to young Timothy, a pastor of a church. He knew he was going on, he was going to die soon. He had lived a life in worship to God. He wasn't trying to make a name for himself, and he said, "Timothy, here are some last things I need to tell you." These are really important things, and we're going to move quickly. We have been taking little chunks of Scripture. We're going to cover chapter 3 today and chapter 4 next week, and then we'll be done with this series on last words.

So, if you have your Bibles, open them to chapter 3. If I were going to break down this chapter into an outline, it would be three parts: to inspect for predators (verses 1-9), expect persecution (verses 12-13), and respect God's Word (verses 14-16). We also have a great little Mother's Day Easter egg here that I'll share with you. So, verse 1, Paul to Timothy: "But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days." "These are the days that are coming right after my death, Timothy, and also until Christ returns. There are some people you're going to need to look out for." Who are these people?

"People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people."

If I were going to summarize the vices there… This was pretty common during this time. You create a vice list and say, "Don't do that; do this." These are people who love themselves, and then these are the actions they take coming out of that. They love themselves, which we know, as Christians, is the exact opposite of the way we're supposed to conduct ourselves. Matthew 22:37. Jesus was asked, "What's the greatest commandment?" He said, "It's really easy. You love God. And the second most important commandment is that you love others."

You love God and you love others, and these people love themselves. They love themselves more than God and more than others, so they do things, we're going to see in a second, that are destructive to the church. So, we read this list. Paul is telling us to look out for them, but we always are supposed to see a list like this and look at ourselves, be introspective.

For me, as I was thinking about this list, it was ungratefulness that really popped. Coming out of this year, just dealing with all the chaos… I remember myself so many times going, "I can't wait to not wear a mask, to not get in a fight, to be able to hop on an airplane." I was forward-looking and not grateful for my family and some of the great things I had. I was thinking, "I could have been more grateful. I need to be more grateful."

There are so many sins here, but I'll call out one. It's Mother's Day. Students, if you caught it in verse 2, one of the things he says is going to characterize these people is that they're disobedient to their parents. It's Mother's Day. Obey your mom. If you are a believer and you say, "I follow Christ, and I want to obey him; I want to follow his commandments," part of that (we know it's one of the Ten Commandments) is that we obey our parents. It comes with a promise: it will go well with you.

I know some of their rules are stupid, but you'll get to be a parent and create your own stupid rules, and the cycle will continue. It's really fun. But while you're there, if they're not asking you to sin and it's not crazy, you obey them as an act of worship. Paul is not saying we need to… This whole idea of having nothing to do with such people doesn't mean we shut out anyone who's sinful, because we ourselves know that we're not sinless.

Paul himself (it gives me great comfort) in Romans 7 says sometimes he does things he doesn't want to do. He sins, and he fights it. He's not marked by it. He's not characterized by it. It doesn't mean we don't spend time with nonbelievers. That's part of the argument of 1 Corinthians 5. Paul says if we're going to try to spend time with only people who don't sin, we're going to have to exit this earth. We can't even spend time with ourselves.

So, that's not what he's talking about. Spend time with nonbelievers, people who act like nonbelievers. Don't be influenced by them. Serve them. Love them. He's talking about the church. He's talking about preserving the integrity of the church, but these would apply to you if they mark you or if you find yourself either denying or defending them.

If someone came to me and said, "John, we think you are prideful… Like, several of us think you're prideful," and I go, "No! That's not true…" I deny it, and I go, "You guys all see incorrectly," and I'm denying what they say. Or defending. "John, we think you are unforgiving," and I'll go, "No. You know what? I'm justified in this one, and I'm going to defend my unforgiving position." If you find yourself denying or defending your sin, you are headed for destruction, both for you and for God's church.

Verse 6. Paul keeps going. Why should we look out for these people? Because they do damage. "They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth." These are probably women who had no access to education, and they wanted to be close to God. These false prophets would come in and sell them a bill of goods and would take advantage of them. They did a lot of damage.

Verse 8: "Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses…" These were the magicians who appeared to have power during the struggle with Moses until God said, "Hey, I've had enough. Your two-bit players end here." "…so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone."

It's not hard to find some parallels today to some of these false prophets, some of these predators. I thought about bringing a clip today, but I didn't want to give these guys any airtime. It was a prosperity preacher. I'm sure you could Google it. I probably wouldn't, actually. He's standing on the tarmac as his second or third new plane is rolling down, and he is just drunk with excitement. He has kind of lost his mind.

He points at the camera and says, "Do you guys like this plane? Do you guys like this plane? Well, you should, because you bought it." And he starts laughing. Just like these false prophets had wormed their way in to get something, people are giving credit cards and routing numbers all day long to these predators. That's what they are. Have nothing to do with such men.

Predators aren't just there on TV. They can be anywhere in the church. That's why Paul wants us to get this. Friends, if anyone has ever used their position or twisted a verse to somehow promise or insinuate forgiveness of sins or closeness to God in exchange for something financially, emotionally, physically, or sexually, it's not okay. They're a predator, and you can't let that happen.

You need to raise your hand and let someone know. We need to look out for each other. There's no clever, pithy, feel-good quote or story here. What has happened in the church, what has been exposed in the church the last several years has been horrific. A lot of times it has been associated with the Catholic church, and, sure, it has happened there, but it has happened in all churches.

People, in part, are always accountable for their own sins, but the people of God have not paid attention, and they've not been on the lookout for these predators. They've not leaned in, asked the second question, raised their hand, reported, and were dogged about it, so people have had horrendous things done to them. Friends, we have to look out for these predators to protect ourselves, and when we do that, we protect the body of Christ.

Secondly, we need to expect persecution. Paul says in verse 10, talking to Timothy, "You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance…" "Hey, Timothy, these guys are about them. You know me. You've been close to me. You've been behind closed doors with me. You know my ministry was about and out of a love for God and love for others. You know that. Follow that example. Stay far away from these other predators."

Verse 11: "…persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch…" That's where he was driven from the area. "…Iconium…" Where they threatened to stone him. "…and Lystra…" Where they dragged him out, stoned him, and left him for dead. "You know about this, Timothy, and you know that I endured." "Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived."

"Timothy, let me be really, really clear. If you want to live a godly life, you are going to be persecuted, and not only you but your church, and you need to get them ready. You need to get all of the believers ready for persecution, because it's coming." And it did, and it will. Today, I don't imagine at your Mother's Day lunch 100 people are going to pick up rocks and throw them at you because of your faith. That's probably not going to happen…today, anyway.

But you'd better believe if you choose to live a godly life, there are going to be times when you're looked down upon, when you're ridiculed, shut down, shunned, passed over, or canceled because of your faith. The question is…Are you going to shrink back? Will I shrink back? Will we shrink back or flinch or will we follow Christ through that? He is our treasure. He's our prize. He's what we want more than being accepted. How are we going to do that? I've walked and just tried to recommit myself if it came to that. "God, I want to make sure I don't flinch."

I had a pastor friend who was getting ready for his sabbatical and turned in his plan. He didn't have a lot on his plan, but one of them was he wanted to get ready to go to jail. I said, "Hey, bro, what's coming out that I don't know about?" He said, "Here's what I think, John. I think in my lifetime, if I continue to preach all of God's Word, I'm going to run afoul of the law, and I'm going to have to make a choice.

Do I do that and suffer the consequences, including imprisonment, or do I shrink back? I just want to make sure, when that time comes, I'm ready." What would my story be? What would your story be? What would your story be if faced by persecution? I'd love for you to watch and be encouraged by a story from our body that speaks to just that.

[Video]

Virginia Prodan: I still had a mountain of work to do when a towering 6'10" man in a dark coat walked into my law office in Romania. Suddenly, he pulled a gun from his coat, pointed at me, screaming, "You have ignored all our warnings. I'm here to kill you." My heart raced as my assassin explained how he would carry out my execution.

I grew up in Communist Romania during the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu, who transformed Romania into a land of lies and a prison land where questioning the government could lead to jail, imprisonment for the rest of your life, or even death. That created in me an insecurity and also a passion to fight for truth and justice.

So, I went to law school. As a lawyer, I found success and had everything I wanted, but inside of me I was the poorest person in the world, still looking for the truth. A few years into practicing law, a former client came into my office. He always seemed to be joyful in a joyless land. We talked, and that day he invited me to his church. It was dangerous, but I went.

The pastor came, opened the Bible, and read John 14:6: "Jesus said, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. Nobody comes to the Father except through me.'" Then I realized I had been looking for the truth in the wrong place. Jesus is the Truth. That day, I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior and his divine call on my life to defend Christians persecuted by the Romanian government.

Soon, my legal work made me a target of the government who labeled me a traitor and an enemy of the state. I was often kidnapped, daily interrogated, beaten, tortured, and placed under house arrest, but in all of those circumstances, I never felt alone. Even in the interrogation rooms, I felt Christ was with me there.

So, in his power, I was able to tell my cruel interrogators about his love, saying, "I don't like what you're doing, but God loves you, and I choose to love you too." Shocked by my words and my appearance full of blood, they turned their heads away, crying. They did not know what to do with me. Finally, in desperation, the dictator sent an assassin to my office to kill me.

As my assassin arrived in my office and pointed his gun at me, I feared for my life, but I heard God's whisper: "Share the gospel with him." I started to share the gospel word by word from the Bible, and I watched my assassin melting under God's power. He put the gun on the table. His shoulders relaxed. He nodded several times, and at the end he accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior. I should be dead, but our unstoppable God had other plans.

A few years later, we as a family were exiled to America. After I learned English, I went for the second time to law school, now here in Dallas, Texas, and finally, I was able to practice law again, and I opened my own law firm. After practicing for years in America, I never expected to be confronted by anything or anyone from my former life in Romania until, one day, a 6'10" tall man with a tiny Romanian accent walked into my office.

I was surprised and soon alarmed. He started to ask questions about my life or my children's lives back in Romania. Noticing my panic, the man asked, "Do you recognize me, Virginia?" showing me his old Romanian Securitate ID. So, here in Dallas, Texas, I was face-to-face with my assassin again. Immediately, I started to pray, and finally I answered, "You have changed a lot." "Yes," he responded. "I'm older. My hair is almost white, and I don't kill people anymore."

He explained that after the revolution, he enrolled in the theological seminary in Bucharest, built a church, opened a Christian school, and did many, many other things to expand the gospel in the land that was so hostile to it before. He was here in Texas to visit his son, a pastor in this area, and to seek my legal advice, as the city had refused to allow his son and his congregation to build a church in that area.

My mind flashed back to the terrifying circumstances in Romania when I faced persecution, when my cruel interrogators beat me and pushed me into walls. They had no idea that when they pushed me into walls, they pushed me into the loving arms of God, and they were falling into his arms too. If the truth lives in us, lies cannot overpower us. If our souls are free, no power on earth can enslave us. If God gives us his victories, defeat is impossible. Our God is unstoppable. And, church, when we serve him, so are we.

[End of video]

John: I want to be more like that. Persecution isn't just something that happened formerly in Eastern Bloc countries. It's going on right now all around the world. These are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Open Doors estimates that one in eight Christians around the world are either being persecuted or harassed right now. If you don't know the organization Voice of the Martyrs, I would encourage you to go to persecution.com and see what is going on around the world for people who share the same faith as us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ are losing their lives right now in Africa, and believers all around the world are being harassed, detained, beaten. We need, at a minimum, to pray, and if God would lead you, something else. But it may come. It may come for us. We don't need to fear it. We know how the story ends. We are on the winning team. Jesus will win. That's how the story ends. It could be hard. If that happened… The church sometimes grows; sometimes it doesn't. It's always purified, and somehow God receives glory. We need to be ready.

But again, most of us probably are not going to experience that kind of persecution anytime soon. It's going to be a whole lot more like a lazy river. You guys know, dads specifically… Lazy river. It's the best of times, it's the worst of times. You hop in a lazy river, and you're going down just hoping… You put your sunglasses on hoping you can get a millisecond of sleep and just relax. All the while, the kids are splashing you and throwing balls at you and tipping you over, and then you hop back in and hope against hope you will get to sleep this time.

Inevitably, something like this happens. "Hey, Dad, I lost my goggles." "Okay, buddy. Well, where did you put them?" They look up the lazy river and go, "Way up there on the ledge." It's like, "Come on, man." So, you begin your trudge against the flow. As you do, you're sweating, and everyone else is just enjoying their ride down there. They're raising a glass to you. "Hey, buddy." Some will say something funny, and of course, there's the wisenheimer who's like, "Hey, dude, it's a whole lot easier if you go this way." No kidding, Einstein.

It would be really, really easy to hop on your tube and take it wherever it takes you. You have to do nothing but just be lazy. For a lot of us, that's the way our faith is. There really is no difference. There's nothing hard about our faith because we don't stand out in any way that would cause us to be persecuted or maligned or looked down upon or canceled. If that's the case, if there's no one in your life who goes, "You're a little weird" or who would snicker behind your back some derogatory phrase or term or insinuate something about your intelligence, then it should give you pause. Those who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

We're to make sure we inspect for predators, that we expect persecution, and that we respect God's Word. Verse 14: "But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus."

So, Mother's Day Easter egg. We know in 2 Timothy 1:5 that Timothy learned the Scriptures from his mom, Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois. He didn't go to seminary. He didn't have a stack of books or any Bible software. He spent time with his mom and his grandmother, and they taught him the Scriptures. Here he is now… They didn't know at the time. He was just a snotty-nosed kid who messed things up and probably spilled his milk, just like all of the other kids, but they built into him, and here he is years later a pillar of the New Testament church. They had no idea.

Moms, you shape the church because you shape children. To the extent that you've done that for your children, I know they would tell you thanks. We would tell you thanks corporately, because we're the beneficiaries of the investment you've made in your kids. If you haven't made spiritual investments into your kids, it's not too late. It's not too late to pick up God's Word and begin to study it, begin to pray it for your kids or your grandkids and share what it is you're learning and how you're trying to obey it. It's not too late. Moms, you have incredible power. Grandmothers, you have incredible power.

A few years ago, I was in Louisiana, and we were taking a tour. We were going to the battle site of 1812, which is pretty unimpressive if you've been there, candidly, but this part was cool. We heard about all the history of Louisiana and New Orleans. I remembered this part, that the French were the first Europeans to settle in Louisiana, so that's why you have all this French influence. What I'd forgotten was the last 40 years before the Louisiana Purchase, it was actually controlled by the Spanish…40 years…which should be enough to supplant all of that, change the culture, change the language, the customs.

The tour guide had probably gotten this question a thousand times. "Why is it way more French than Spanish?" Pause for dramatic effect. "Do you know why there's no Spanish influence in Louisiana?" No. I was thinking it. He goes, "No Spanish mothers." He said what happened was when the French came, they brought their whole families, including moms, and it was the moms who passed on the culture. They passed on the ways, the food, the religion.

When the Spanish took over, they thought, "You know what? This place is a little too wild and a little too crazy for women, so let's not send them there." They didn't have the moms to pass on the customs, the food, the religion, the ethos. That's why it's French and not Spanish. Moms, literally, you shape nations because you shape children. Thank you. Thank you for all you've done, the ways you've sacrificed. Jermaine had a list of adjectives here. We could go on.

Thanks for keeping us alive. Thanks for feeding us, making us wear our seat belt, brushing our teeth, going to bed on time, doing our homework, picking up our stuff. Thanks for believing in us. Thanks for telling us we had what it takes. We're grateful. You play an important role in God's kingdom. So do you, grandmothers. We're living a whole lot longer these days, and you have a lot more to offer than I think you think. Be engaged.

If this is not your story, if you want children and don't have children, ladies, I would still look to be a Lois and a Eunice to someone else. This body is filled with people who have been impacted by women who are not their biological moms. Moms, thank you, and thank you, Christian moms, for teaching us the Scripture.

Verse 16: "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." Paul says this Scripture, the Bible as we know it, is breathed by God. He creates a new word and says, "This isn't anywhere else because it's not like anything else." These are the literal words of God.

Peter says the authors were moved along by the Holy Spirit. God had something to say. He said it through men who wrote it down, sometimes in their own syntax with their own personalities. He wanted to speak to mankind, and he wanted it preserved, and he used the Scriptures to do that. It is God's Word.

One of my favorite moments that has ever happened on this platform… John Piper is a pastor and author. He sat here, and it was a Q&A session. Someone asked, "How do you hear the voice of God?" In a way that only John Piper can do, with kind of a snarky prophetic tone, he picked up his Bible and said, "Open your Bible. Do you want to hear the voice of God? Open your Bible and read it out loud. That is the voice and Word of God." And he closed his Bible and put it down, and no one said anything for a while.

He's right. It's the Word of God. It's useful for all kinds of things. I'd love to talk about doctrines and a whole lot of other things. Paul just says, "There are a few things here it's useful for." I thought this week, among all of the different ways I could take this passage, how I've been really, really grateful for others in my life who have known the Scriptures and how I've been a beneficiary of their knowledge, their love, their study of the Scriptures.

Thinking first about teaching, which is really to help us understand what's right, helping us grasp Scriptures. When I was 15 years old, I moved to a new city, to a new school. First day of school, I sit down in biology class next to my friend Travis Moffatt. Travis was someone whose parents had taught him the Word of God, and he'd studied it himself. I had a lot of questions. God was just chasing me down, and I was filled with questions.

Travis had answers, and they came from the Scriptures. I would continue to ask him, "But how good do you have to be to get to God?" He would say, "John, it's not what you do; it's what Christ has done." He'd open to verses like Ephesians 2:8-9 and show me that it was by grace I could be saved through faith, not by works. I was so grateful for Travis and the way he taught me, the way he was ready. I trusted Christ not too long afterward.

Rebuking and correcting. It's probably talking about doctrine here, making sure we understand doctrine correctly. When I was in college, I worked at a camp. It was a Christian camp, and I actually was reading this passage, and rather than it being a comfort to me, it really, really unsettled me.

"All Scripture is God-breathed," Paul says. So, I'm thinking, "He's probably talking about the Old Testament, maybe about the words of Jesus. That makes sense to me. They were actually Jesus' words. But he's not talking about his own writings. Right? He's not saying that. He's not saying, 'This thing I write you is actually Scripture,' which now poses a serious problem to me, because I've literally banked my eternity on the writings of Paul. If this isn't Scripture, I'm in big trouble." I was really unsettled.

I talked to a friend and went to bed. I woke up the next morning and went, "I'm literally at a fork in the road here. This is all true or it's not. I'm all in or I'm not." That same college kid… He was from Baylor University of all places. (That was not a derogatory statement.) He said, "Hey, John…" It's ironic that we were looking at 2 Timothy 3:16. He said, "I thought of a verse last night I wanted to share with you."

It was 2 Peter 3:16, which says this. Peter is talking about Paul. In verse 16 he says, "[Paul's] letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures…" He said, "John, Peter understood that Paul's writings were Scripture and they were authoritative, as did the early church." It literally saved my faith. I'm all in. Among other things, that passage and others that people have shared with me.

They've trained. They've rebuked. They've corrected. They've trained me in righteousness. My wife has kept me from so many stupid decisions because of her knowledge of God's Word. I've been so grateful for the ways my brothers and sisters in Christ know God's Word, and it has made me want to know it more and share it more broadly.

So, if you don't know God's Word as you should or you would like to, I'd commend to you to take the next wise step. Jointhejourney.com is our reading through the Scriptures. Another thing that has been really helpful to a lot of people is The Bible Recap. You can find out about that online. Then I would always commend to you a class here we have called Equipped Disciple. If you want to know God's Word, know how to study it, know how to pray it, know how to share it, I couldn't commend it more highly to you.

I hope we're a people who know God's Word and share it for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness so we can all be built up, but I hope also we're a congregation, we're a people that encourages each other with Scripture. We share the promises and character of God in a way that keeps us grounded, centered, and going. Those are the people I want to run with, and that's the church I think we can build.

If we will look out, inspect for predators, if we will make sure we are expecting persecution and live in light of eternity, and we have a deep respect for God's Word, we, I think, as a church, will give much glory and honor to God in this city and around the world, and there will be 15-year-old students with questions who will get to come to faith because of the way this body knows God's Word. I think we'll really, really like our church, and it'll be Sunday, and we'll be excited to gather together. Let's pray.

Father, thank you for your Word. Thank you that it helps us understand the warnings, the things we need to look out for, the predators we need to make sure don't infiltrate this place and make sure we don't become. Thank you that you are enough and if we suffered, if we were persecuted, it would be worth it, because even if we lost our life or lost respect, we would have you and we would be good. Father, thank you for our Word. May we be people who not only respect it but know it, love it, share it, and live it out. Father, we pray these things in your Son's name, amen.