Hannah speaks on Treasuring God’s Word at the Flagstaff Christian Fellowship retreat
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“I am really excited for the opportunity to teach on Treasuring God’s Word.
This is a subject that I am extremely passionate about, and I hope everyone here leaves feeling confident that God’s word is accurate, true, and capable to make us all complete and equipped for every good work.
Throughout this weekend retreat, I hope we can all find rest as we fellowship with one another, and I hope we all leave feeling blessed by God’s word.
God’s word is a treasure that surpasses all other worldly treasures. It is more profitable than all the gold in the world, because it makes us wise unto salvation in Jesus Christ.
This message is going to be a little more academic than the other messages because we will be exploring the history of the Bible, but my prayer is that we will all come to appreciate our Bibles more, and that we will have a greater urgency to pass on this treasure to the next generation.
Starting out, let’s open up our Bibles to 2 Timothy 3:14-17 and read it together
“14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom[a] you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God[b] may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
We are going to cover three major points.
The first point we are going to look at is What is Scripture?
The second point is How is God’s Word Treasure?
And lastly we will be looking at How do we Pass on this Treasure?
Starting with our first point, What is Scripture? Please read along with me starting in vs 14 through 15
“But, as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.”
In this letter, Paul is writing to Timothy. He is urging Timothy to continue in what he has learned and believed from his childhood. Paul reminds Timothy that he has been acquainted with the sacred writings.
In this context, Paul is referring to the OT as the NT had not yet been complied. And we see here that the Old testament is able to make Timothy wise unto salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
It is important that we first establish the parameters of scripture. More simply, What is God’s word?
We have something called the Christian Canon. Canon is a rule that provides direction, a standard against which to measure. The Christian Canon is a list of authoritative books that properly belong in the Bible.
This includes the 39 books of the OT and the 27 books in the NT that Christians believe God inspired and preserved as His Word for His people.
In Exodus 24:3-4;7 we see God command Moses to write down the revelation and covenant to His people, Israel. We find this written account of Moses contained in Genesis through Deuteronomy which is also known as the Torah or the law of God.
In Exodus 25:26 we see God command that His Word be preserved in the Ark of the covenant.
And since God’s word was preserved, no ruler or leader of Israel would have an excuse for not knowing or understanding the requirements of God.
After Moses, the major and minor prophets and the authors of the OT wisdom literature were also inspired by God and the people of Israel came to recognize that these writings were also part of the canon of scripture.
We know Jews alive during the time of Jesus, believed the canon extended to the 39 books we have in OT today because Jesus demonstrated in Luke 24:44-47 that he came so that the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the psalms would be fulfilled.
At the time of Jesus, referring to all the wisdom literature as the Psalms was common. So we know that all 39 books were believed to be inspired by God.
You may be thinking, so what? How do I know if the Bible is even accurate at all?
Well, The NT quotes the OT approx 300 times. And we just saw that Jesus himself affirms the 39 books of the OT as God’s word. The OT has always been accepted by the people of God as God’s word.
Again, we saw in 2 Tim 3:15 that Paul affirmed the sacred writings as well.
But can we prove that the NT is accurate about the claims it makes? And How do we know if it is also God’s word just like the OT?
Well, we know that the New Testament has more preserved manuscripts than any other text from antiquity.
There are over 5,700 fragments and complete copies of the New Testament in Greek.
There is a scoring system that is used by scholars to rate the accuracy of a book of antiquity. The NT has a rating of 99.99% accuracy. 99.99%!!
The only other book to even come close is Homer’s Iliad, which is a famous book, and it has a rating of 95%. You may be familiar with Plato and Socrates, they do not even come close to this level of accuracy when comparing the manuscripts that we have today.
However, people are quick to dismiss the Bible as an inaccurate book written by men, with precious truths removed, or even containing errors that make it more like a historical game of telephone rather than an accurate summary of events that occurred 2000 years ago.
We must remember though, that God’s Word “is breathed out by him” And if they are the very words of God, he is able to protect them throughout history. Not only that, but the historical evidence is in favor of the NT.
If you consider yourself an intellectual and you affirm that Plato or Socrates or even Homer’s iliad are accurate documents, then you must also affirm that the Bible we have today is accurate.
And not only accurate, but the most accurate out of all books of antiquity. To reject the Bible is to reject all books of antiquity as false, and if you are unwilling to do that – you must embrace the historical reliability of the NT.
So now that we have established that the NT is accurate, how do we know that the NT is God’s Word?
The test that determined how we got the 66 books in the Bible that we have today include that
It had to be written by a recognized prophet or apostle (Isaiah/Paul) or one closely associated with a prophet or apostle (Timothy/Luke)
It had to be Truthful (Deut. 18:20-22 sets the guidelines for this)
It had to be Faithful to previously accepted canonical writings (this would include a book like Hebrews)
It had to be confirmed by Christ, a prophet or an apostle
And lastly, It had to be used and recognized by the Church
Just as a reminder the Old Testament has always been accepted as the Word of God by the people of God, and the New Testament was accepted completely A.D. 397. Keep in mind also that it took many years to compile the letters of the NT, but the New Testament has been used since the birth of the early Church.
It is also important to note that the Bible is self-authenticating.
Self-authenticating is any document that can be admitted into evidence at a trial without proof being submitted to support the claim that the document is what it appears to be.
Basically that means that the document is true, and you do not need external means to prove that it is true. It confirms its truthfulness without showing additional external proof.
An example from life would be a newspaper article. A newspaper article can be submitted as evidence in a court of law. The Newspaper is self authenticating, and does not need to be confirmed outside of itself. You know it is true because it says “New York Times” across the top. And so you can trust the content of the article because the document supports itself.
An example from the Bible would be looking to the OT to define who the Messiah is. Remember, the OT has always been affirmed as being the revelation of God to His people Israel.
Isaiah 53 was given to the people of God approx 700 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, and the oldest scroll of Isaiah in existence was apart of the discovery of the dead sea scrolls.
This scroll of Isaiah predates the birth of Jesus by approx 200 years. So we know that this prophecy was written long before the birth of Jesus Christ and therefore we can trust that the criteria for the Messiah was not determined after Jesus Christ’s death.
Just very quickly, I want you to turn to Isaiah chapters 52 and 53 for how God’s word is self authenticating. I don’t want us to get distracted by this text because it is not what we are focusing on, but it is just an example to show you how the OT confirms the NT authority.
Just for context, Isaiah 52 and 53 contain the prophecy of the coming Messiah.
So Isaiah 52:13 says that the Messiah will be high and lifted up. This is fulfilled in Jesus Christ because he was high and lifted up on the cross on Calvary.
Isaiah 53:4-7 and vs 9 says “Surely he has bore our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before it shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.” and vs 9 “And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.”
- These verses are again fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ had to die on the cross to atone for our sins. He carried our griefs and sorrow, and he was afflicted for us. He was pierced – literally in his hands, feet, and his side. Jesus did not speak as he was marched to calvary’s hill. And he was buried in the tomb of a wealthy man named Joseph of Arimathea.
This example is not exhaustive, and I would really encourage everyone to do a study on Isaiah 52 and 53 for a deeper appreciation of how the Bible confirms itself.
I would also encourage everyone to read John Ch 19, Cp 20, and Ch 21. Because these chapters contain additional examples of how the Bible is self-authenticating. When you read these chapters you will see that the OT is quoted to confirm that Jesus is fulfilling prophecy.
Just to bring more clarity, a self-authenticating canon is not just a canon that claims to have authority or simply bears internal evidence of authority but one that guides and determines how that authority is to be established. Basically, one can not authenticate the bible without appealing to the Bible.
Being God’s Word, the Bible is not just true but the standard for truth. It must be our ultimate authority. We cannot account for scripture as our supreme authority without using scripture.
Just like there is no authority above God, God is the only one who can establish his authority. Nothing else can establish God’s authority or that would make that thing above God. The same is true for scripture, there is no greater written authority for how we should live and who God is.
Nothing can establish the Bible’s authority apart from the Bible which comes from God. Jesus Christ, who is God in the flesh, has told us the bible comes from the highest Authority – God himself.
This is why looking to the OT first, and then comparing the NT is a very good test. The two Testaments are cohesive, and they fit together.
The bible was written by over 40 different authors that span over 1500 years. Written in three different languages, on three different continents, and yet the bible reads like one book. It tells one story from start to finish about Jesus Christ coming to redeem His people.
The bible is true, and you can confirm its truthfulness by looking throughout the pages of scripture and using scripture to authenticate itself.
So since we have established that the bible is a historically accurate book that is self authenticating and the only authority which we are to live by – what does God’s word say about itself?
Looking back to the text we are working with 2 Timothy 3:14-17
It tells us that God’s word is profitable, good for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. And scripture makes the Christian complete, and equipped for every good work.
This brings us to our second point, How is God’s word treasure?
The letter of 2 Timothy was written by Paul to Timothy. Sinclair Fergusen says of this letter “it was written to Timothy, but not exclusively for Tim. A distinction that’s true for all NT letters. Not written to you, but written for you.”
And because God’s word is breathed out and profitable, we know that we can gain wisdom from this text that applies to us today. If this text was a treasure for Tim, then it is also a treasure for us.
First, we need to define the word profitable.
What does it mean for something to be profitable?
The Greek word used in this passage means helpful or serviceable. Something that is profitable is advantageous. It means to heap up, accumulate or benefit.
In our american vocabulary we would describe something as profitable if it is worth something of value. Something is profitable if it brings us a return on our services or products. It gives us something more than we had, and we gain from something that is profitable.
Since the theme is treasuring God’s word we are going to enter the mighty cavern of God’s word that contains many jewels, but we are mining four specific profitable jewels.
These Jewels are advantageous to our spiritual well being when we engage with God’s word, and these jewels heap up eternal treasure in our hearts that moth and rust cannot destroy.
Just like a miner goes searching for treasure deep within the caverns, so we also will enter into God’s word seeking to gain spiritual treasure.
The Caverns of God’s word are endless in spiritual value, and can be explored for a whole lifetime without acquiring all there is to gain from it.
When a miner enters deep caverns hoping to find treasure, he is engaged in the difficult work of bringing these treasures out from the rock wall.
So is the spiritual walk of all of us here. The Christian life is one of mining out the treasures of God’s word together, and then profiting when we have applied the spiritual treasure to our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit.
So what are the four jewels?
These Jewels point to the even greater overall treasure that is the entire counsel of God. These four individual jewels point us to the cavern where they can be found and show us riches that surpass all other riches. For this specific message the Cavern is the Whole Word of God, and the jewels give us greater understanding of the Cavern. So while these four jewels aren’t the only jewels, they do show us how the whole cavern is of spiritual benefit to us.
So what is the first treasure that we discover in 2 Timothy 3:15-16 as we explore the deep caverns of God’s word?
Teaching. Teaching is the first great treasure that we discover. This specific word used means instruction.
Instruction is something that tells us how to live, how to behave, what to believe, and how to engage with the world.
Instruction is normally given by the hand of a teacher, someone who knows something more than we do. Someone who walks alongside us and reveals mysteries or truths that we did not know existed.
When we were children we would learn basic concepts such as language, math, history, and science. Without an instructor, teacher, or book to guide us – we would not be instructed in these areas.
The same is true for the truth about God. A theological term that coincides with instruction is the word Doctrine. Doctrine is a set of beliefs taught and held by the Church. We see repeatedly throughout Scripture that sound doctrine is important. Scripture reveals to us how to be saved, how to grow in holiness, and who God is.
It teaches us about the history of Israel, and shows how the overarching metanarrative points to Jesus Christ.
Scripture teaches us that Jesus Christ lived the perfect life that we couldnt and wouldnt live, died the death we deserved, was buried, and raised from the dead after three days ascending into Heaven and is at the right and of our Father as our constant meditator.
We are commanded to respond to this gospel message with faith and repentance. The Bible expresses that if we do not know Jesus Christ, then we cannot be saved. This is the most essential doctrine that can be mined from the great cavern of Gods word, and all the other jewels point us back to Jesus Christ
The second jewel is Reproof.
Reproof is best understood as revealing to us what is error and what is sin. The bible teaches us what is wrong, and instructs us not to do it. Imagine you are on a boat, and you see rocks up ahead. You see that the direction you are going is wrong. So, what do you do?
Well, The third Jewel is Correction.
Correction follows reproof. To continue the analogy you see the rocks up ahead, and so you correct course. You change the direction you are going.
Correction means to straighten up, to rectify. Error is something that needs to be corrected in us. Sin is broken, it defiles, it is wicked, and it leads us astray.
The jewel of reproof is first used to show us our error and how we have gotten on the wrong track. Correction Is redirecting us, just like the boat is redirected away from the rocks.
Correction teaches us what is right to do and how to execute it, and more importantly the correct way to live is exhibited in the life of Jesus.
Again, Reproof shows us what is broken by revealing how we have gone astray, and correction makes what is broken, straight again by teaching us what is right.
I hope this contrast has helped you to understand the differences between reproof and correction, but just in case some of you aren’t fully understanding
I am going to give an example from my own life and how reproof and correction are paired together to teach the Christian.
I am actively struggling with the sin of bitterness towards another Christian ministry.
I thought I had overcome my sin, but found myself continuing to keep score for wrongs done.
I continually encounter the second Jewel of reproof, which shows me my error.
I am in sin because I am choosing bitterness, spitefulness, hatred, and anger.
I know these things are sin because God’s word tells me they are. The third Jewel has helped to show me love, forgiveness, and pursuit of the gospel is right. The Word show me to correct my sinful behavior.
First, I run to the gospel. I remind myself of what I have been taught, the good news.
Jesus died for me, saved me from myself, and has reconciled me to God. Jesus was perfectly obedient for me, and I am cleansed in him. Running to Christ gives me assurance that my salvation is secure, and thanksgiving overflows in my heart to help me to walk in obedience.
My sins are many, but God’s mercy is more.
Second, once I have reminded myself of what Jesus has done in the gospel, I repent.
I turn to Jesus and I ask for forgiveness and correction of my behavior. I can not say that I have overcome this sin issue in my life, in fact I wrote this portion only just a week ago, it is a daily battle and we as Christians will never obtain perfection in this life.
But you can see how first, I start with what scripture teaches me about the gospel. Then I see my error in the second jewel of reproof, and then with the help of the Holy Spirit I begin to correct my behavior as the Spirit shows me in the scriptures how I am to live.
God’s word has helped me to be more aware of my actions and words and I am able to correct what is broken.
The fourth Jewel is Training.
Training is a call to continue to walk in Christ-likeness. Training is applying the first three jewels, and repeating them over and over in your life.
Scripture first tells us how we are to be saved, and that is through faith in the gospel which is the life, death, burial, and resurrection of jesus. The gospel tells us of what Jesus has done for us on our behalf, and we believe in that.
After we are saved, we are being sanctified – or made holy. Teaching, Reproof, and correction all feed into our training.
We are being shaped by God’s word and we are working out our salvation with fear and trembling. God’s word is a powerful tool in the life of the believer and exercises our minds to be equipped to walk through these evil days.
When a woman of God searches through the caverns of God’s Word and leaves with these valuable treasures she begins to live by scripture.
As she applies the spiritual wisdom gained from these jewels she will become complete and equipped in every good work.
Scripture is used to make us mature and holy. It shows us the right way to go, it instructs us when we don’t know what to do, it gives us instructions of how to live, and in the pages of scripture we have everything we need for life and godliness.
Complete means that we do not need to seek out extra special revelation or subjective experiences. All that is contained in the caverns of God’s word is the only treasure that is profitable to make us “wise unto salvation.”
God’s word instructs and gives us the practical “How to” to live. It equips us for the practical application of our faith.
It instructs us how to serve, give, and obey. God’s word doesn’t just tell us what to do, it also gives us the ability to do it.
We are told that God’s word is alive, active, sharper than a double edged sword. And if you are a Christian you have the Holy Spirit indwelling in you. God’s word, and the Holy Spirit work in your life equipping you to do good works.
We see how glorious these treasures are and how these treasures make us complete and equipped.
So now we come to our last point
How do we pass on this treasure so that others may grow and come to know God?
In Vs. 14-15. We see that the word was passed down to Timothy, but who passed the scriptures on to timothy?
Who taught him about the Messiah who saves?
2 Tim 1:5 says “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.”
We see that Tim grandmother and mother taught him the Holy Scriptures and these scriptures made him wise for salvation.
Of course, in the context of this verse we know that the OT scriptures are being referenced. This was before the NT writings had been compiled.
But, It is interesting to see that the OT brings salvation through Jesus Christ, and this shows us that all of scripture is cohesive and leading up to the climax of the New Covenant being established.
There is only one way to be saved, and that is through faith in Jesus Christ. Which means Tim was instructed by his mother and grandmother to believe in the Messiah, and recognize his coming.
We know that God’s word is treasure and when we as believers store up in our hearts this treasure we acquire a wealth that can be passed down.
Commonly wealth is passed to children or grandchildren. This is called an inheritance.
But, this inheritance we have as Christians is not just for our children, but for the whole world. Act 2:39 tells us “ For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
This message of redemption is to be spread to all people, all throughout the world – in our homes, in our workplaces, in our friend groups, and globally if you are a missionary. We are called to make God known, and spread the wealth that we have mined from God’s word.
Everyone in this room has a different function and place in society. Some of us are mothers, wives, single women, widows, daughters, sisters, aunts, or grandmothers. We all have a wide variety of skills, jobs, and resources at our disposal.
But, we are all instructed to “make disciples.” Making disciples is the passing on of the gospel and God’s word to the next generation.
Very practically from the text, we see that mothers and grandmothers are to pass on the scriptures to their children and grandchildren.
But, not everyone is a mother or grandmother, and we see that God also commands singles, those who do not have children, and even christian children to make disciples. We are all called to the same thing, to proclaim the gospel and pass on this treasure.
Last week I received a very providential table talk in the mail. If you aren’t familiar with table talk it is a Reformed devotional that is compiled by Ligonier Ministries. This Table talk was called “from generation to generation”
It is filled with short convicting devotionals about how there is a generational gap between the older generation and the younger generation.
We have a crisis in the Church that the older generation is not passing on their wealth of biblical knowledge to the younger generation, and the younger generations are not seeking out this biblical wisdom because of pride and thinking they have it figured out.
Knowing that there is a chasm between the generations should stir us to action and love for one another.
We all can benefit from one another, and should use our gifts for the edification of the Church. When we allow for these types of divides to occur no one is benefiting.
I have been thinking about this a lot in light of the passage and how I have had very little discipleship in my life. I was raised in a Christian home, my parents did pass on the word to me, but in Church I was never brought under the wing of an older woman. I was never really mentored one on one, and no one really took the time to sit down and explain the scriptures to me.
I can only speak as a younger woman, but I also met with an older woman recently who expressed that it is hard being older. It is far more isolating, and I can empathize that it must be difficult to be pushed away by the younger generation. We are all guilty. And we can only fix the chasm by walking towards one another and not away.
This is an encouragement to everyone in this room.
Older women, do not neglect the passing on of God’s word to younger women and children in your churches. And if you are younger, spend time with women who are not your age. Seek to learn from them, and seek to serve them.
I personally suffered a great deal from lack of discipleship, and I have always been in Church. It is only by the grace of God I have the capacity to be a teacher today at a young age.
I did not know or understand the depth of what is contained in the Bible when I was a child and teenager. I went through high school and my early adult life floundering.
Much of what I know I have acquired through the faithful preaching of God’s word from the pulpit, reading the bible, books, and the internet. None of these things are bad, but I have had very little discipleship with women one on one.
I have fallen into many pits along the way because I did not have a voice of Christian maturity walking alongside me and showing me in scripture what to believe and how I was to live.
I would open my bible and see the treasures of scripture, but no one to really come alongside me and explain how to apply the treasure to my life.
I really struggled, and my Christian walk has been really hard because of the lack of genuine discipleship in my life.
Because of my own pride I have only reached out a handful of times to older women to walk alongside me.
I was afraid of rejection, and I was afraid that older women wouldn’t have anything to offer me.
I know it would have helped me immensely to be served by the older generation, and I know that the younger generation is hungry for the body to help them understand the scriptures. Not only that, but the older generation can also benefit from the youth!
God made our churches intergenerational for a reason and we all have so much to learn from one another!
So if you are younger, seek out women who are older than you. You do not know everything, and you have much to learn. I have a lot to learn!
The past couple of years God has blessed me with a couple of older women who have been instrumental in some of my growth in becoming a more mature christian woman.
If it were not for one very influential older woman of God who took the time to explain very difficult concepts and doctrines, I would still be stuck in a lot of murky waters. I praise God that I had the courage to ask for help, and I am so thankful that I was not turned away.
The jewels shine brighter because I have someone to help me shine them and expose them from the rock wall.
Discipleship is the pickaxe that we take to the wall. Together hand in hand we help one another and encourage one another to press on in the difficult work.
We are not solo Christians wandering the caverns of God’s word alone trying to understand the jewels alone.
The whole universal Church stands with us in the cavern, and we help one another stand on shoulders and work together to bring out God’s truth together.
Anita is going to dive deep into this topic tomorrow, but I just want you to remember that we have centuries of Church history before us to help us understand scripture, our pastors and elders, and other Christians in our Churches.
If you are struggling to understand God’s word, ask someone who is further along in their walk to pass it on to you.
Passing on this treasure is so important.
We need to be intentional about passing on God’s word, not only in our local churches, but also with our families, friends, and those who we work with. We can do God’s work and pass on his word in the ordinary.
This includes passing on God’s word to believers and unbelievers.
If you are feeling distressed and worried that you are not passing on the Word – look to Jesus. Rest in what he accomplished for you, ask him for small opportunities in which you can speak the truth in love to others. Please do not be hard on yourself, but ask the Lord to help you to follow his commands.
And I want to encourage everyone here, you do not a Masters in Divinity, a well crafted argument, or even great knowledge of all the doctrines in scripture when passing on God’s word.
People are not saved by the work we put in. They are not saved because we know a lot about a certain topic. They are not saved because we are skilled in apologetics. They are not saved because we are nice, or because we are good at hospitality. They are not saved by anything we do.
They are saved by the power of God alone. We are told the gospel is the power of God unto salvation.
Know the gospel, know it deeply.
If you have not had a chance to read the whole bible from Gen- Rev do not condemn yourself or believe the lie that you can not pass on this treasure.
If you know the gospel, you can tell others – and that is what saves people. It doesn’t matter if you are 10 years old, or 90 years old. You can share the good news of Jesus Christ, and I encourage you to do so.
Allow Teaching, Reproof, correction, and training to work in your life through the scripture. Remember that it makes you complete and equipped for every good work! Learn to love God’s word, and pass it on!
And if you are not a Christian, I urge you to consider that God’s word is a treasure. Please come to me, or reach out to one of the women in this room. Ask them to show you in God’s word how you can be saved, ask them to pass on God’s word to you, and Lord willing you will be granted faith and repentance and also come to treasure God’s Word.”