The Method of Sanctification: the Word (2 Tim. 3:14-17) Part 4 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 10 August 2017

If the law of God, which is the least favorite part of God's Word for many, is so profitable, how much more delightful and beneficial must be the rest of God's Word? How about this description of the blessed man in Ps. 1? Because "his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night," he is like "a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither…" (Ps. 1:2-3). If so, can we be satisfied with the most basic, minimal amount of the knowledge of God's Word?

Add to this what the Bible is about. It is ultimately God's self-revelation. That means, if we approach the biblical knowledge properly, the more we know about the Bible, the more we come to know God--who He is, what He has done, and what He will do because He loves us so much. So, what would you say--is it the case that the more we know God, the better it is? It's hard to imagine anything more profitable than knowing God in a saving manner as our heavenly Father. But God is abounding in His goodness. He offers us not only the privilege to know Him but also the blessing of becoming like Him. Maybe I can explain it like this. Imagine someone you really respect and adore extending his friendship to you. That would be an amazing privilege. Can anything be better than that? Yes, if he is willing to spend time with you and help you to share in all the qualities that you admire about him! This, so you don't have to just admire him from distance while he does his thing; you can stand with him on the stage, for example, and sing with him! How amazing that would be! That's what the Bible is for.

The Method of Sanctification: the Word (2 Tim. 3:14-17) Part 3 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 10 August 2017

The fact that God teaches us through the Bible shows us that we need to be taught. Why? Who needs teaching? Those who are ignorant. It's not that we are completely ignorant about what the Bible teaches, especially as Christians. It's just that none of us know everything God wants us to know (for our own good). Even the most knowledgeable among us must confess that he is ignorant of much of what God wants him to know. We all have so much more to learn from the Bible--about God and His ways, about ourselves and God's will for us, about what God has done for us and how we ought to live as His people.

There is a sense in which ignorance is bliss. There are many things in life, which are better not to know, especially the bitter experience of sin. But ignorance is no bliss when it comes to the useful and profitable kind of knowledge. Think about what your life would be like if you didn't know how to read or write, or how to use the computer. Much worse is the ignorance of God's Word. Insofar as Scripture contains the wisdom that leads us to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, our knowledge of Scripture determines our eternal destiny, whether in heave or in hell.

The Method of Sanctification: the Word (2 Tim. 3:14-17) Part 2 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 10 August 2017

Establishing this fact is important for what we are going to address next: the purpose of the Bible. According to today's passage, the purpose of the Bible is two-fold: 1) to make us wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus; 2) to equip the man of God for every good work through teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. (By the way, though we don't have time to demonstrate this, "the man of God" refers not only to a minister of God's Word but also to all Christians.) What gives the Bible the authority to speak on these weighty issues and to do so efficaciously? How can the Bible make us wise for salvation? How can it make us complete, equipped for every good work? Because it is the Word of God, our Maker and Redeemer! We can go to it and depend on it to accomplish its purpose.

When William Tyndale was in exile and Henry VIII extended clemency to him and urged him to return, Tyndale’s only condition was that the king would allow the Bible to be translated in England. If the king would, Tyndale would surrender himself immediately and receive whatever punishment the king had for him. Why? Because he believed that people’s lives would no longer be the same once they could read the word of God for themselves! That is how much Tyndale believed in the power of God's living Word! Not too long after that, Tyndale was captured and burned at the stake for trying to put the Bible into people's hands, as you do now!

The Method of Sanctification: the Word (2 Tim. 3:14-17) Part 1 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 07 August 2017

God's primary method of sanctification is His Word. Jesus said in His high priestly prayer, "Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth" (John 17:17). We have a further elaboration on this point, I believe, in today's famous passage on the Bible. Here, Paul affirms two things about the Bible: the nature of the Bible (v. 15) and the purpose of the Bible (vv. 16-17). We will spend a few moments on the first point and in the rest of the message address the second point since that deals more directly with our sanctification.

The first point Paul makes is about the nature of the Bible: "All Scripture is breathed out by God…" (v. 16). I just want to observe two things briefly: 1) the Bible is the very Word of God as it is breathed out by God; 2) all Scripture is the Word of God, both the Old and New Testaments. Some argue that Paul could not have meant the New Testament because it was not complete at that time. Is that necessarily true? For one, Peter regarded Paul's letters on par with the Scriptures: "There are some things in [all Paul's letters] that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures" (2 Pet. 3:16). Paul, too, recognized the scriptural authority of his own letters when he identified Himself as "an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God" (Eph. 1:1). An apostle was like today's special presidential envoys, who are sent out to conduct various tasks and businesses in the name and authority of the President. For Paul to write as an apostle of Christ was to write with the very authority of Christ. So, Paul's statement in today's passage applies not only to the Old Testament but also to the New Testament.

What is Sanctification?-4 (Eph. 4:11-16) Part 5 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 04 August 2017

Holiness is not something we develop in isolation as we read the Bible alone in our cubicle and pray alone in the prayer closet. We need to do that regularly with discipline. Our private devotion is indispensable to our sanctification. But the primary means of our sanctification is the means of grace dispensed in our public worship: the preaching of God's Word, the Sacraments, and prayer. The point I want to emphasize is the public nature of these means. Why public? At the basic level, it is because the public worship is when the ordinary officers, whom Christ gave to the church for the equipping of the saints, carry out their ministry officially. But there is another level: it is because the equipping of the saints is for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ. Insofar as the work of ministry is for building up the body of Christ, it is to be done in the context of the covenant community. Holiness is more than what we feel inside as individuals. Holiness is what we practice as members of the body of Christ--in the messiness of our relationship with one another as flawed, broken people--as we serve one another with the gifts God has given to us for His glory.

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