Wise for Salvation

It’s a formula. May not look like it at first glance, but it is. We might not like to think that formulas should have a part in the Christian life, but sometimes they do. And, as Paul get’s ready to finish the good fight and leave the battlefield; as he prepares to receive the prize having finished the race, he reminds his son in the faith, Timothy, of the sufficiency of the Scriptures. And, of the formula.

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 Christ Jesus. 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.

(2Timothy 3:14-17 ESV)

Chewing on 2Timothy 3:15 this morning.

It’s one of those “shadow verses.” Maybe not lesser known, necessarily, but probably lesser noticed, frequently, as it lies in the shade of 2Timothy 3:16, that mega-verse which declares “All Scripture is God breathed . . . ”

And what caught me is the formula. Do you see it?

The Sacred Writings + Faith in Christ Jesus = Wise for Salvation

Literally, at the time Paul wrote this, the sacred writings, or as other translations render it, the holy Scriptures, refer to what we now call the Old Testament. Take those God-breathed writings, Paul says, add faith in Christ Jesus, and you have the understanding of God’s plan of salvation.

Jesus, having been foretold and foreshadowed in the writings of Moses and the Prophets (Lk. 24:27), is the key to unlocking the door. He is the filter through which the mystery of God’s redemptive plan is manifest. Take the Scriptures, apply faith in Christ Jesus, and, through the illuminating agency of the Holy Spirit, you have wisdom concerning salvation.

To be sure, Paul, in referring to the role the Scriptures played in Timothy’s childhood, was referring specifically to making wise as to the attainment of salvation. But, given that salvation is not a once-and-done life event–for, not only were we saved in the past from sin’s penalty, but we are being saved in the present from sin’s power and, will be saved at some future day from sin’s presence–the sacred writings, through faith in Christ, are able to make us wise also for the working out of our salvation (Php. 2:12-13). Thus they are “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.”

So, to be “wise unto salvation” (KJV)–our salvation past, our salvation present, and our salvation to come–we still need to be acquainted with the sacred writings–and ALL the sacred writings, both Old and New Testament–and anchor them to what we believe concerning the Person and the Work of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

If we don’t do that regularly, if we neglect to do it frequently, then, I fear, we just become dumb unto salvation. (I guess “unwise unto salvation” would be the nicer way to phrase it).

Without intentionally feeding on the Word of God, without really believing what we say we believe about the Son of God, we’re going to sub-optimize the gift that is ours through redemption. The abundant life Jesus came to give (Jn. 10:10) will be, at best, the so-so life. The paths He has promised to direct (Prov. 3:5-6) won’t be found. The power that He has said would be available won’t be present (Matt. 22:29). The peace that He has promised (Php. 4:7) won’t be realized.

It’s not rocket science. But, it is looking to me like a formula.

The Sacred Writings + Faith in Christ Jesus = Wise for Salvation

O Father, help us to hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matt. 5:6). Give us a taste that we might see the Lord is good (Ps. 34:8). Feed us through Your Word. Fuel our faith in Your Son through Your Spirit. And make us wise for salvation.

By Your grace. For Your glory.

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