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 may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
That is a remarkable phrase: “every good work”! Everything good that God expects us to do, the Scriptures equip us to do. That is an amazing claim. How does it work? How does the Bible equip us for “every good work”?
It’s not by supplying specific lists that cover all possible situations. Thinking that way would be a mistake in two ways. It would be a mistake because there are hundreds of specific situations we are in that the Bible does not specifically address. There were no TVs, computers, cars, phones, birth control pills, Prozac, genetic engineering, respirators, bullets, bombs in Jesus’s day. The Bible does not equip us for every good deed by telling us the specific choice to make for every new situation.
The other reason it would be a mistake to think that way is that it leads straight to legalism — doing things because of outward conformity to a demand in the hope that performance will win approval. That is not Christian morality. Good works are done from a heart that treasures God and his help, and from a heart that loves to display the glory of Christ, else the good works are not good, no matter how they conform to external expectations.
The Scripture, day after day, reveals to us the greatness and the beauty and the power and the wisdom and the mercy of all that God is for us in Christ so that by the power of the Spirit we find our joy in him, and the ways of sin become distasteful — indeed ugly and repugnant. Yes the Bible gives us many specifics as pointers how to live. But most deeply the way the Bible equips us for every good work is by changing what we find satisfaction in so that our obedience comes from within freely, not by coercion from without. It does this when we read it and meditate on it and memorize it and meditate over it every day.
In this text God commands us not to be spiritual fatalists. The word for long here is very simply the word desire — it’s a command to desire.
What this means is that if you feel stuck because you don’t have the kind of spiritual desires that you should, this text says, You do not need to be stuck!It says, Get them! Get the desires you don’t have. If you don’t desire the milk of the Word, start desiring it!
Now, that is amazing. A command to desire! A command to feel longings we do not feel. A command to feel desires we do not have. Is anything more contrary to spiritual fatalism than that? Fatalism says, I can’t just create desires. If they’re not there, they’re not there. If I don’t feel things the way the psalmists seem to feel things when they say, “;As a deer pants for the flowing streams so my soul pants for you, O God’ (Psalm 42:1) — if I don’t feel that way toward God, then that’s that. I just don’t. I’m not like the psalmists. That’s the dangerous voice of spiritual fatalism.
But God says, Desire the pure milk of the word! Now before you raise all kinds of objections, like, How can you command me to have a desire? What can I do to obey a command like that? How do I just produce a desire? You may as well tell a lame man to walk.
Can you imagine such a thing — commanding a lame man to walk? Who could do such a thing? We know. Let us ask God to create in us the miracle of longing for his word.
The point of these verses is this: Because the Scriptures are the Word of God — the communication and revelation of the living God — they have effects on us that are better than the effects of anything else we can read or study or watch or listen to.
God understands you better than anyone else. He knows how people get to be the way they are and how they are affected by their surroundings. God understands society perfectly. God knows all facts about how the world works. God knows the future and how everything will come out in the end. God is wiser than any wise writer. God is more caring than any counselor. God is more creative than any artist. It simply stands to reason that what God says will be more useful to us than what anyone else in the universe has to say. Not to sit at his feet and soak our minds with his wisdom is sheer craziness
May God increase your confidence that the Bible is his very word! And may that persuade you that by meditating on it and following it there is great reward — greater than much fine gold. And may you discover every day the benefits of life and wisdom and joy!
All of us who have been born again are hungry to be encouraged by the Scriptures. Therefore we are often impatient with the need to be instructed by them. We would often rather have the fruit without laboring in the vineyard.
So the first lesson in this passage is that the Bible is for instruction. Literally: for teaching. We must be willing to learn what the Scriptures teach if we expect to be encouraged by its truth rather than reflections of our own ideas and desires.
When the teaching of the Scriptures is properly understood, it produces steadfastness and encouragement. Steadfastness means endurance. It’s what you have to have to keep on going in a path of obedience when you feel miserable and when you meet all kinds of opposition.
Where does endurance come from? It comes from the Scriptures.
This is exceedingly practical! Again and again the Scriptures gives you God’s perspective on things, and that biblical perspective will make a hard situation endurable. The Scriptures are given to us for our encouragement and our endurance in hard times.
If you want to have staying power, if you want to endure to the end in the path of costly obedience, then turn off the distractions and meditate on the word of God.
Never reduce Christianity to a matter of demands and resolutions and willpower. It is a matter of what we love, what we delight in, what tastes good to us.
When Jesus came into the world humanity was split according to what they loved. The light came into the world and men loved darkness rather than light (John 3:19). The righteous and the wicked are separated by what they delight in—the revelation of God or the way of the world.
But someone may ask: How can I come to delight in the Word of God? My answer would be twofold: 1) pray for new taste buds on the tongue of your heart; 2) meditate on the staggering promises of God to his people.
The same psalmist who said How sweet are your words to my taste (Psalm 119:103), said earlier, Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of your law (Psalm 119:18). He prayed because to have holy taste buds on the tongue of the heart is a gift of God. No man naturally hungers for and delights in Gods wisdom. Ask God to work this miracle in your life.
The Holy Spirit is the divine author of all Scripture. If this doctrine is true — and it is — then the implications are so profound and far-reaching that every part of our lives should be affected.
Because Holy Spirit is the author of Scripture, it is true (Psalm 119:142) and altogether reliable (Hebrews 6:18).
It is powerful, working its purpose in our hearts (1 Thessalonians 2:13) and not returning empty to the One who sent it (Isaiah 55:10–11).
It is pure, like silver refined in a furnace seven times (Psalm 12:6).
It is sanctifying (John 17:17).
It gives life (Psalm 119:37, 50, 93, 107; John 6:63; Matthew 4:4).
It makes wise (Psalm 19:7; 119:99–100).
It gives joy (Psalm 19:8; 119:16, 92, 111, 143, 174) and promises great reward (Psalm 19:11).
It gives strength to the weak (Psalm 119:28) and comfort to the distraught (Psalm 119:76) and guidance to the perplexed (Psalm 119:105) and salvation to the lost (Psalm 119:155; 2 Timothy 3:15).
The wisdom of God in Scripture is inexhaustible.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
This passage teaches that when you read Scripture, what you are reading does not merely come from a man but also from God. The Bible is the writing of many different men. But it is also far more than that. Yes, men spoke. They spoke with their own language and style. But Peter mentions two other dimensions of their speaking.
First, they spoke from God. What they have to say is not merely from their own limited perspective. They are not the origin of the truth they speak; they are the channel. The truth is God’s truth. Their meaning is God’s meaning.
Second, not only is what they spoke from God, but how they spoke it is controlled by the Holy Spirit. Men, moved by the Holy Spirit, spoke from God. God did not simply reveal truth to the writers of Scripture and then depart in hopes that they might communicate it accurately. Peter says that in the very communicating of it they were carried by the Holy Spirit. The making of the Bible was not left to merely human skills of communication; the Holy Spirit himself carried the process to completion.