I don’t know about you, but as the National Finals Rodeo draws near each year I get pretty excited. While it is incredible that “City that Never Sleeps” turns into a cow town virtually overnight the truly amazing thing to me is the concentrated cowboy power that shows up in the NFR arena. It is pretty hard not to be impressed by both the talent and the discipline that helped each contestant in their rise to the top!
One of the great things about the rodeo arena is that it is often a picture, in the physical, of what should be happening in our relationships with Christ in the spiritual. After we place our faith in Christ and as the Holy Spirit continues to sanctify and teach us we should be constantly striving toward having a “NFR caliber” walk with Jesus.
Paul, in his final charge to his young protégé Timothy, encouraged him with what I believe is the best outline for growing in your walk with the Lord. In 2 Timothy 3:14-17 Paul wrote:
“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. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (NIV)”
From this passage we learn several things. The first is that Timothy was a man who had a great knowledge of the Scriptures (even greater than that of his peers because of the ministry of his mother and grandmother) and that knowledge made him wise to the point where he received salvation through faith in Christ. This goes right along with what Paul taught in Romans 10:17 where he said, “...faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word of Christ (NIV).” Lesson #1: The Word Must Be Preached and Taught So That We Can Come to Faith!
The second thing we see from this passage is that all Scripture is God-breathed. Paul’s use of the term breath is no mistake. It is the same picture that we see in Genesis 2:7 where the Lord breathed the “breath of life” into the dust of the earth that became Adam. The Apostle Peter emphasized a similar concept by teaching that “prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 1:21 NIV).” The Word of God, both the Old and New Testaments, while written by human authors were given life by the Lord. Lesson #2: The Holy Bible Comes From the Lord and Not From Man!
The third thing we see is that the Word of God is useful for four things:
- The Word is Useful for Teaching. This is a pretty simple concept to apply. Based on its authority and exclusivity, as being divinely inspired, it is the first and last book that we should look to for guidance in our walk with the Lord and in our daily life. That does not mean that we should not seek other resources (like the many great books available at a Christian bookstore or the ever-growing websites that help us grow in our faith) but we should be always on our guard against spiritual junk food. Spiritual junk food is something that you read or hear that sounds good, and might even sound like it honors the Lord, but when you compare it with the Bible you see contradictions. Just like our NFR cowboys don’t get there eating Cheetos and Big Macs (at least not exclusively)...don’t settle for spiritual junk food! Study the Bible!
- The Word is Useful for Rebuking. Rebuking in the arena is where you are confronted with something you are doing wrong. For me, it usually sounds like: “Dude, what are you thinking?” It is the same with our study of the Word...we need to be taught what we are doing wrong and the Word is our basis for this. It usually comes in the form of a friend, spouse, pastor or, ultimately, the Holy Spirit’s conviction. Without a Biblical rebuke we will never grow in our relationship with the Lord. Receive a Godly rebuke!
- The Word is Useful for Correcting. Correction is essentially taking a rebuke and changing the problem based on the teaching of the Bible. Biblical correction is essential for a right relationship with Christ. Correct your mistakes!
- The Word is Useful for Training in Righteousness. Training in righteousness is taking the teaching of the Bible (in light of Godly rebuke and Biblical correction) and making it a habit. Forming a habit is what training is all about. My father, who was a police officer in Kansas City, constantly trained with his firearm. The point was so that when he needed his sidearm he could unholster, ready the weapon, and take aim all without thinking about it. He had done it so much it was just habit. The point...create Godly habits!
Paul closes this passage by saying that should you apply the God-breathed Word to your life in these four areas you might be “thoroughly equipped for every good work.” That’s a pretty bold statement. Do you want to be equipped for everything that the Lord wants for your life and relationship with him? If so, you need to study the Word, receive tough rebuke, change your behavior, and train to build Godly habits. In short, Lesson # 3: If Applied to Your Life, the Bible Gives Us Everything We Need to Live for Jesus!
My prayer, as you continue to study 2 Timothy 3 and the rest of the Scriptures you will realize, if you haven’t already, that the study and application of the Word of God is the most basic element of becoming a “NFR caliber Christian”. Study the Word daily; find a local church that lifts up the Word; and encourage your friends and family with the Word and you’ll see your relationship with Jesus grow exponentially!