During the sixteenth century in Europe, the Protestant Reformers fought a battle for the heart of Christianity. One of the key issues they contended for was that of authority. Who has the right to tell Christians what to do? The Roman Catholic Church claimed that the Church itself, according to Scripture and tradition, had supreme spiritual authority over all people. But the Reformers insisted on sola Scriptura—“Scripture alone”—as our chief, supreme, and ultimate authority. This was nothing short of a battle over the authority and sufficiency of the Word of God.
In dealing with the issue of sufficiency, it’s helpful to look at 2 Timothy 3:16, a key text in understanding the doctrine of Scripture. Not only does Paul declare, “All Scripture is inspired by God,” but he adds four modifiers, namely that Scripture is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” Let’s look at these.
“Scripture is sufficient to minister to every aspect of your life.”
First, he says that Scripture is profitable for teaching. This is instructive teaching for how every Christian is to think, believe, and live. How do we know what God desires for us to believe about the world, humanity, Jesus Christ, the gospel, government, the church, marriage, family, work, speech, leisure, and so on? The Bible instructs every believer on all matters of life and faith.
Next, Scripture is profitable for reproof. This has to do with rebuke that is designed to bring about repentance and a change of thinking or action. Often, we operate with wrong or misguided beliefs about our lives. Sometimes these beliefs are shaped by our sinful hearts; other times they’re produced out of sheer ignorance. Whatever the cause may be, the Bible seeks to attack our wrong presuppositions, exposing them for what they are. To use a biblical metaphor, the Bible shines a light into dark places in order to expose the things that are hidden (Eph. 5:13).
Scripture is also profitable for correction, which is the flip side of reproof—a positive exhortation, not just away from wrongdoing but toward doing what is right according to God’s standard. It’s one thing to discipline a rebellious child for doing the wrong thing, but nothing will ever change without further correcting them toward doing the right thing. The Bible does both.
Lastly, Scripture is profitable for training in righteousness. This is the application of biblical truth, the obedience of faith (Rom. 1:5). Jesus told His followers in the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19–20 that they should be teaching disciples to obey all that He had commanded. So much of the Bible (especially the New Testament) is instructive. Whether through direct instruction or through examination of the lives of persons, we are trained by God through His words to conform to His righteous standard.
What is the ultimate practical purpose? Paul continues in 2 Timothy 3:17, “so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” The goal of reading, studying, and applying the Scripture is that the believer would be built up, equipped, and matured for every good work that God has prepared for them to do (Eph. 2:10). In other words, Scripture is sufficient to minister to every aspect of your life. The Word of God can change you. But how?
 Matthew Barrett, God’s Word Alone: The Authority of Scripture (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2016), 23.
by Nate Pickowicz
Loving God means loving His Word. If you’re feeling distant from God, could it be because you’re ignoring His Word? But maybe you...
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