"Study It All"
Paul’s second letter to Timothy says, “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” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
From this passage we can observe several important points. First, that scripture originates from the Lord. Though He used human authors, the message comes from God Himself. Second, that scripture has multiple purposes. We can be taught, reproved, corrected, and trained by God’s word. Third, that the goal of the scriptures is to make us whole or “complete,” which will enable us to bear fruit in every situation.
If we look closely at this passage, there is a lesson that is sometimes overlooked. Paul didn’t merely say “scripture.” He said “All scripture.” The point is that all of God’s word came from Him, has a practical purpose, and will prepare us to do good works. But do we treat every part of the bible as if this is true?
Too often certain sections of God’s word get ignored. One reason for this is that some parts of the Bible are more difficult to understand. Peter even admits this about Paul’s letters (2 Pet. 3:15-17). But just because certain parts of scripture are challenging, it doesn’t mean we are justified in avoiding them. This is not to say that new converts to Christ should be expected to immediately tackle the most in-depth passages. The scriptures themselves claim that certain teachings are only discernable to those who are mature in the faith (1 Cor. 3:1-3; Heb. 5:12-14). But the fact remains that sections of God’s word continually go unread by mature Christians who are fully capable of studying them and discovering their meaning. We cannot allow our own lazy tendencies toward scripture to inhibit our knowledge of the Lord.
Another reason why some parts of the Bible are ignored is because they are emotionally upsetting. For example, some Christians only read verses about love and forgiveness, and therefore they never read passages concerning God’s wrath and punishment. Sadly, this practice has caused many people to avoid the much of the Old Testament. Even New Testament passages get avoided when they pertain to the subject of judgement and hell. Admittedly, certain scriptures will evoke feelings of comfort and joy while others will evoke fear and sorrow. But this is God’s intention. He meant for His word to make us feel a variety of emotions, all with the goal of drawing us closer to the image of Jesus. We cannot allow unpleasant emotions to inhibit our knowledge of the Lord.
A final reason why sections of scripture are commonly avoided is because they contain doctrine that some may think is tedious or even boring. This is not a respectful attitude to have toward God’s word, but unfortunately those feelings do occur. Many people become disinterested when they encounter the sections of scripture involving divorce, the qualifications of deacons, eating meat sacrificed to idols, or others like this. They would prefer to read more exciting passages and leave those other sections for the elders and evangelists to study. But the passages that contain doctrinal issues are extremely important for everyone to read and know. How else can we be confident that we are serving the Lord the way He instructed? How else can we defend our beliefs and actions to other people when they ask us why we do certain things? We cannot allow a disinterest in certain topics to inhibit our knowledge of the Lord.
God decided what He wants His people to know. When we choose to avoid sections of scripture, it becomes we ourselves who are deciding what we should or shouldn’t know. This is blasphemy, and we should flee from it.
Paul told Timothy that “the sacred writings…are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15). Paul also told the Romans that scripture provides encouragement and hope (Rom. 15:4). These descriptions make it clear that Bible study is an amazing gift from the Lord, meant to aid us in this life. We should seek to increase in our knowledge of the whole Bible, never taking for granted the wonderful opportunity to learn more about our God. In this way, we can be “complete, equipped for every good work.”