2 Timothy 3:14-15
But continue you in the things which you have learned and have been assured of, knowing of whom you have learned them;…
The apostle here refers to the Old Testament Scriptures; showing that there was no want of conformity, but the reverse, between those Scriptures and the doctrines he bad preached. What advantage had the Jew? Chiefly that to him belonged the oracles of God. It was a great privilege which Timothy in his childhood had — that he could read, and did read, the holy writings: a great privilege, in like manner, it is, that the entire Bible, the canon in its complete state, with the superaddition of the New Testament, is given "to us and to our children, and to all that are afar off, and to as many as the Lord our God shall call."
I. THE HOLY WRITINGS. Will you mark the force and emphasis of the word? It is not the print; it is the "writings." The Scriptures then were not produced by types and blocks, by the modern mode of producing copies; each copy was written by the hand of man. But it is very delightful to reflect that the exact transcript, the pure and spotless copy of the things written down by the hand of Moses and David, and Isaiah, and John, and St. Paul have come down in their clearness and certainty to us. We know what the writings are to which St. Paul specifically and in this chapter exclusively refers. The Book of Genesis — the details of the fall, and the deluge, and the call of Abraham; Exodus — the emancipation from Egypt and the Decalogue; Leviticus — the laws and ordinances of the Levitical Church; Numbers — their movements and acts; Deuteronomy — a reiteration, or going over again; Joshua — the pictures of the conquest; Judges — the early difficulties and confusions; Samuel — the development of the regal character, the examples and achievements of Saul and David; and so on, through the historical books, to the Psalms and the prophets. In relation to all there we are certain that we have the exact copies, because the Jews preserved them with an unsurpassed care and vigilance, with an interest and a concern which amounted even to superstition. In addition to these, as I have said, we have as the holy writings the four Gospels, the facts of our Lord's life and death and resurrection — the Acts of the Apostles, the early triumph of the faith — the Epistles, opening doctrine, enforcing precepts, explaining ordinances — and to put the crown and diadem upon the head, as it were, of the entire person, the whole body of revelation, that great and marvellous book called the Revelation. Wonderful writings! An amazing richness and extent and vastness and variety and plenitude of truth and fact, of history and prophecy, of doctrine, of knowledge and of wisdom, opened and poured forth from these gushing fountains. But "holy writings." Mark that word: "holy," as emanating directly from God, as being the fruit and product of immediate and miraculous inspiration. And we have the strong affirmation, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." And in this sense, of an immediate dictation from Heaven, a Divine breathing from above, the afflatus of the Holy Ghost, the writers being full of the Holy Ghost — in this sense, as a communication from the infinite and uncreated Mind, as a product of the wisdom and intelligence of Heaven, I take the book to be "the holy writings," to have a style of its own, an authorship of its own, a permanence of its own. A holy book, as the product and emanation of the thrice holy God, and as having in all the parts and branches of it a holy tendency. It is a revelation of God; and God here makes Himself manifest as holy, in connection with the exhortation, "Be ye holy, for I am holy." In every part of it we see sin punished — virtue, obedience fostered; above all, in the great manifestation of Christ — in His sacrifice, sufferings, and death, that God "might be just and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus," we behold ineffable justice; and in the example of the Lord Jesus, which we are required to follow, putting our foot into His footprints, there is the same demand. It is a book marvellously adapted to the wants of a fallen and guilty world — preserving from presumption, on the one hand, and from despondency, on the other — that we sin not; but if we are overtaken by transgression, there is the sacrifice and the propitiation. And as actually producing holiness — as being the cause of this beautiful product, the root (if I may so say) of this sweet and lovely and Divine flower; for the "law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes." Men are good in proportion as they direct themselves to the study of the Scripture, and as they walk according to its rules. "I cannot tell," Jonathan Edwards says, "how it comes to pass, but so it is, that the more I read the Scriptures, and the more I familiarise myself with the Divine contents of the heavenly book, the more pure, the more peaceful, the more benevolent, and the more happy I find myself." Why, it is cause and effect. If you put yourself in contact with the cause, the effect will be sure to follow; and you may know that the men who are wise in the Scriptures, and who love the Scriptures, are in the same proportion and degree holy men. The Scriptures help them in their walk with God, in the maintenance and preservation of their piety, in its noblest, sweetest, most elevated and pure aspirations and desires. The Bible, the Holy Bible, is the source and fountain of the light and life and power of the Church.
II. The Holy Scriptures are "ABLE TO MAKE US WISE UNTO SALVATION." "Are able." There is a power, then, affirmed respecting them. They are true, genuine. If put to the proof they will demonstrate their capacity. They are "able,"as supplying the information by the light of which we may be saved. It is said in the Old Testament — "As the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: so shall My Word be." It is said in the New Testament, "My Word is quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword." It is "able," as it brings the likeness of Christ into me, and is accompanied by the enlightenment, influence, and grace of the Spirit; for the Spirit who dictated and indited these heavenly communications abides in the Church, and diffuses His unction and grace upon the understandings and hearts of men, where by, in His light seeing light, they discern the meaning of the expressions and the principles, and are able to appropriate, apply, and bring them home. "Wise." Be upon your guard if any man is going to make you wise. The first thing the devil did was to persuade Eve that he could make her wise. Somebody arises with a new doctrine and a new interpretation — something which is to enlighten the eyes: be upon your guard, to say the least. Yet be "wise" in respect to the truth which is in Jesus; "wise" in respect to what is good — simple in respect to what is evil; in malice children — in understanding men. The Bible will make men "wise." Even the uneducated, what is called by Isaiah "the wayfaring man, though a fool," shall not err in the rudiments and elements, in the great salutary, refreshing, and saving principles. But if you want to be wise up to the full measure — to know the exact meaning of every book, the time of its being written, the purpose for which it was written, the literature associated with every book of the whole Bible, why, it is a vast range of knowledge, and it is marvellous how every kind and variety of knowledge can be made to bear upon the elucidation of the inspired books, so that they come out manifested and revealed in their own light and lustre, amid the unbounded and universal intelligence of men. But "wise unto salvation." If you know the holy writings, and are acquainted with the book, you can answer for yourselves the marvellous questions — "How am I to be saved? How is sin to be forgiven, transgression blotted out? How am I to regain the ancient position, and to be dealt with as though I had never sinned?" The holy writings furnish you with the answer. By being sprinkled from an evil conscience by the blood of the Immanuel, cleansed from all sin by the blood of the Son of God. Faith in Him brings home the light upon this subject. I can know nothing of all this, except by the holy writings. And this is the chief wisdom. You may be wise in the world to get money; you may be wise in philosophy and science, and deep in literature; you may be wise in frivolities and gaieties and fashions and adornments. What will your wisdom amount to? What is it in comparison with wisdom unto salvation?
III. It is "BY FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS." We are not directed by the apostle to exalt the holy writings against Christ, or Christ against the holy writings, as if there were any competition between the two. It is Christ as revealed in the holy writings. Yet it is not that we are "wise unto salvation" by faith in the holy writings, but by faith in Christ Jesus, the living Christ. The holy writings tell me that the anointed Saviour, the Son of God, has done the work, completed the great and wonderful achievement which the Bible ascribes to Him; and my soul by faith cordially accepts the testimony and reposes upon the truth.
IV. TIMOTHY WHEN A CHILD KNEW THIS. Ah! his mother taught him, and his grandmother — his mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois. Oh, sweet child! oh, beautiful teachers! How they taught him! and how he listened! For when Paul says, "From a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures," he means not merely the speculative and theoretical doctrines, but the experimental and practical had taken possession of his heart and enlightened his mind. Mothers! hear this. Early education, which is the most permanent in its effects, and the most influential upon character, depends mainly and chiefly upon the mother. Search into the Scriptures, then, and let it be said of you that you know them; that you have a measure of understanding, and that you take means perpetually for its improvement and advance. And those wire teach the children of others voluntarily are greatly to be commended. It is a service acceptable and well-pleasing to God.
Parallel VersesKJV: But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;