Second Timothy 3:16–17 calls us to handle the truths of Scripture in a way that results in a constant pattern of personal self-examination that leads to honest and humble confession, which produces a commitment to repentance, resulting in a life of increasing spiritual maturity and joyful obedience. Not just your thinking is being changed, but every area of your life is being brought into greater and greater conformity to the will of the one who created you and recreated you in Christ Jesus.
The Word is a Gift of Grace
The doctrines of the word of God were not intended just to lay claim on your brain, but also to capture your heart and transform the way you live. Those doctrines are meant to turn you inside out and your world upside down. Biblical doctrine is much more than an outline you give confessional assent to. Doctrine is something you live in even the smallest and most mundane moments of your life. Biblical doctrine is meant to transform your identity, alter your relationships, and reshape your finances. It’s meant to change the way you think and talk, how you approach your job, how you conduct yourself in time of leisure, how you act in your marriage, and the things you do as a parent. It’s meant to change the way you think about your past, interpret the present, and view the future.
The doctrines of the word of God are a beautiful gift to us from a God of amazing grace. They are not burdensome, life-constricting beliefs. No, they impart new life and new freedom. They quiet your soul and give courage to your heart. They make you wiser than you had the natural potential to be, and they replace your complaining heart with one that worships with joy. God unfolds these mysteries to you because he loves you. He is the giver of life, and every doctrine in his word plants seeds of life in your heart. And as those seeds take root and grow, you too grow and change.
God isn’t just after your mind; he’s after your heart. And he’s not just after your heart; he’s after everything that makes up you. His truths (doctrines) are the ecosystem in which the garden of personal transformation grows.
No passage captures this better than 2 Timothy 3:16–17: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” This passage is so important for understanding how the truths (doctrines) of Scripture are meant to function in our lives. It gives us not only four ways that Scripture (and each of its doctrines) is meant to function in our lives but, more importantly, it provides a process by which Scripture is meant to function. Here are the four steps in the process.
1. Teaching: The Standard.
The truths of the Bible are God’s ultimate standard. They establish for us who God is, who we are, what our lives were designed to be, what is true and what is not, why we do the things we do, how change takes place, what in the world has gone wrong, and how in the world it will ever get corrected.