The Sacred Scriptures
November 9th, 1958 @ 7:30 PM
2 Timothy 3:14-17
THE SACRED SCRIPTURES
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2 Timothy 3:14-17
11-9-58 7:30 p.m.
We turn now to 2 Timothy, the third chapter of 2 Timothy. We read from the fourteenth verse to the end; one, two, three, four verses, 2 Timothy 3:14 to17. Are we ready? All of us read it together, 2 Timothy 3:14 to the end:
But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;
And that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
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, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
[2 Timothy 3:14-17]
Now Paul had written of the times that were then pressing upon his age, and speaking of those times as they prolonged themselves, extended themselves, into the future:
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come . . .
Evil men and impostors, goētes, impostors shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.
But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;
That from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
For every Scripture, all of it, is given by inspiration of God, is God-breathed . . .
[2 Timothy 3:1, 13-16]
Paul says that in that day and in our day these times shall be repeated. They shall be duplicated. It is a saying that history repeats itself. It does. You have the same humanity. You have the same dereliction. You have the same iniquity and wickedness. You have the same devil who stirs up the evil in men. And it will continue until Satan is chained [Revelation 20:1-3].
Now the same remedy that Paul wrote of then is the same remedy that we are to apply today. A physician does that. There is a specific for pneumonia, and when this patient has pneumonia, the physician will so prescribe, and when the next patient. So it is with the great word and commandment of the apostle. There is a remedy for this day, this age, “When evil men and impostors wax worse and worse” [2 Timothy 3:13].
In a world of villainy, and rascality, and denial, and infidelity, and unbelief, there is a thing that the apostle speaks of, and it is this. We are to continue in the things which we have learned and which we have been assured of, which things were taught us from childhood out of the holy, God-breathed Scriptures [2 Timothy 3:14-16]. Paul’s remedy is clear and specific and decisive. The remedy lies in the propagation, in the sowing of the seed of the Word of God [2 Timothy 1:5, 3:15].
The only thing that can dispel the darkness of the night is the noontide. It is a vain and false dream to hope that human learning will cast out human learning, that Satan will cast out Satan. We must look for the sun rising in the Son of God! And that is our specific and that is our remedy for the woes of the world. We are to lift up the cross. We are to lift up the brazen serpent [Numbers 21:8-9, John 3:14]. We are to teach the Word of the Holy Scriptures [2 Timothy 4:2].
We cannot make men believe. We cannot convert men against their will, but we can say the truth. We can preach the gospel [2 Timothy 4:1-2]. We can present the Word of God, and that is what Paul says: “In these last days perilous times shall come. Evil men and impostors shall wax worse and worse” [2 Timothy 3:1, 13], but this is our way of salvation, “To continue in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of” [2 Timothy 3:14].
Now let us look at the instruction that he says that Timothy had been taught. First, he says, he received it from a brephos, a brephos. Now, a child to us is not quite a brephos. A brephos is an infant. Timothy was not taught beginning in youth or in older childhood, but he was taught as he rose as a child out of infancy itself [2 Timothy 3:14-15].
I read this week of a great Christian English nobleman who was a stalwart for God. And the man said that he learned the godly way of life from a Christian nurse, the woman who was hired to bring him up as a baby, take care of him as a child. And reading further, he said that nurse died when he was seven years of age. All of the good of his life, he had learned from this godly woman before he was seven years of age.
In these 8:15 o’clock services, we are following the life of Moses. How long did Moses’ mother have that child to nurse before she brought him to be the son of Pharaoh’s daughter? I do not know. The Bible does not say, but it was not long. When she weaned the child, and had taken care of him as an infant, she presented him to be Pharaoh’s daughter’s own son [Exodus 2:1-10]. But in those beginning years, that mother had sowed in the soul of that boy, a babe, an religion from which he never departed.
We are of the opinion that small children are not able to grasp the great fundamental truths of the message of Christ. We are therein mistaken. The time to sow the seed of the Word of God is in the days of the brephos, “From an infant, from a child, thou hast known the Holy Scriptures” [2 Timothy 3:15]. May I parenthesize here to speak a word about our stewardship program? Just because we are facing it, that I mention it at all.
You take a little boy or a little girl, and you’re going to the fair, or you’re going to town on Saturday. And here’s a quarter for candy. And here’s another quarter for ice cream and chewing gum. And here’s thirty-five cents or fifty cents to go to the picture show. And here’s altogether a dollar.
And the little child goes down to the town, out there to the midway and spends his dollar, riding the Ferris wheel, riding the merry-go-round, buying chewing gum and popcorn and soda pop and having a big time. You do that on Saturday. And the next morning, that same little boy, that same little girl, is dressed up and is brought down here to church. And you put in that child’s hand, a small penny or a nickel. You don’t need to say anything. You don’t need to expatiate. You don’t need to rationalize. You don’t need to extenuate. You don’t need to comment. You don’t need to say anything. The child has already learned that peanuts, and popcorn, and soda pop, and chewing gum, and merry-go-rounds are big business! That’s a dollar! But the church of the living God is very small—that’s a nickel or a penny.
The way to teach the men and women is not when they’re men and women. It’s to teach them when they are children—”that from a brephos thou hast known the Holy Scriptures” [2 Timothy 3:15].
Before I leave that, may I say, here’s what you ought to do. When you make that pledge, you make a pledge for that child. And make it worthy, and give him the idea that God’s work is great work, big work, important work! Share what you give with that little fellow. Let him see you. Put it in his envelope. If he’s big enough, let him put it in, and sign his name, and how much it is, and bring it to God’s house. “From a brephos, from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures” [2 Timothy 3:15].
Now I want you to look again who taught this little fellow. Over here in the first chapter of this book of 2 Timothy, it says, “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois and in thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded in thee also” [2 Timothy 1:5]. Now we learn from the Book of Acts that his father was a heathen Greek [Acts 16:1], but he had a godly mother and a godly grandmother, and they taught that boy the Holy Scriptures [2 Timothy 1:5].
I think Lois and Eunice were fulfilling the purposes of God, as much so as Samuel when he judged Israel, and as Solomon when he built the temple. That little boy was led in the way of the Lord by his mother and his grandmother. And I wish I could speak about his father. All I know about him is the Bible says he was a Greek [Acts 16:1].
Don’t send those children; bring them. Sit down by their side. Read to them out of God’s Book. Get you a storybook of the Bible and teach them the great characters and the heroes of the faith. Let them grow up familiar with Moses, and Joseph, and Solomon, and David, and Daniel, and Paul, and Silas, and James and John, Simon Peter. “From a brephos, a child, thou hast known,” from the teaching and example of mother and grandmother, “the Holy Scriptures” [2 Timothy 3:15].
Now may I say the next and obvious thing? What was he taught? He was taught a great reverence for the Word of God. “From a brephos thou hast known the hiera grammata, the sacred, the Holy Scriptures.” That word hiera is used to refer to the temple where God lives and where God is worshipped. And that word “sacred” and “holy” is applied there to the Book of God, the Holy Scriptures [2 Timothy 3:15]. That little fellow was taught that this was God’s Word, and it was God’s Book.
The first time I went over there to Palestine it made a great impression upon me to visit the one part of the old city of Jerusalem that Israel has conquered and that lies in Israeli territory. It’s the little end of Mt. Zion on which King David is buried. When I was there the first time—they’ve changed it since—now it’s a tourist attraction—I thought when I went back again and looked at the change, how cheap. How cheap! To take a great shrine like that, and change it, like I’m going to describe, into a tourist attraction, a tourist attraction.
First time I was there, they had just conquered it, and it was one of the prize joys of the Israeli people. When I went there the first time, it was a synagogue. And every hour of the day, it was jammed and packed and filled with worshippers. When I was there, I’d say the first time, I watched them as they took the scroll of the prophets; they took the scroll of Moses, the Torah, the Law, and as they unrolled the scroll, those old rabbis—and they looked like pictures, their long beards, flowing over their robes, their long, uncut hair, those men of God who had given their lives to the study of the Holy Word—as they would read, they would kiss the sacred scroll. Then after they had read it, they carefully rolled it up and then kissed it from top to bottom and side to side. Then they placed it in the cylinder and they kissed the cylinder. Then they kissed the tassels. Then they carefully laid it back in the ark, just beyond the tomb of King David.
Now somebody may say, “That’s bibliolatry, that’s a fetish.” I don’t care what anybody says! It moves the soul to see men thus devoted to the Word of God. That’s exactly what he’s speaking of here: “that from a child thou hast known the hiera grammata, the holy, the sacred letters, the sacred words” [2 Timothy 3:15].
I just wonder why Paul chose this young man Timothy. Do you suppose there were other young men in that day who were advanced in Greek philosophy? Why, certainly! Paul himself grew up in a great university city. Do you suppose there were young men in that day who looked upon the Scriptures as being a stereotype form of teaching? I would deign to think so. But Paul chose this young man because from his childhood he knew the Word of God. “From a brephos thou hast known the hiera grammata. From an infant thou hast known the holy, sacred Scriptures” [2 Timothy 3:15].
That’s quite a contrast, Paul’s attitude toward it, to what we find in our modern and in this last day. Look how Paul refers to those Scriptures, “the Holy Scriptures.” And he says, “All Scripture, all of it, is given by inspiration of God” [2 Timothy 3:16]. Didn’t come by man; it came directly from the God-inspired, breathing Spirit of heaven. Man didn’t write it; just an instrument, just an amanuensis, just a secretary. But the thing was written by the Spirit of God, and all of it is God-inspired, God-breathed.
You know, it’s a strange thing, an unusual thing. When that Book was written, two thousand and four thousand years ago, that Book began to be written three, three thousand five hundred years ago, and it was concluded in its writing a little over nineteen hundred years ago, way back there in the story and in the history of civilization. Why is it that in our enlightened day and in this advanced age men do not write a better Bible? Why do they not? If this is a man-made book, and if it is written by the genius of men, why in our advanced age do we not produce a better Book and a better Bible?
Do you ever pause to think who these men were who wrote that Book? They belonged to a small, despised race. They lived in a hilly, mountainous country, no bigger than one of our, than one of our counties. They had access to no thing such as we have today; such as, they never had any airlines and steamships to carry them to the great centers of world civilizations. They had no great libraries to consult. They had not then the unlocking of nature’s door, of the rocks below and the stars above. They had no opportunities to share in the enlightenment of the glorious age in which we now enjoy.
And yet those people, relatively unenlightened, wrote this Book that I hold here in my hand. Why do we not write a better one today? Why do we not, for example, take the choicest graduates of all the great universities of the world, and with this little select and chosen group ferret out all the latest information in every center of learning under the sun?
Let them visit the capitals of the world. Let them consult the great libraries. Let them glean until they exhaust the fields of astronomy, and science, and biology, and botany, and literature, and geology, and let them acquaint themselves with the finest styles of art, and of expression, of oratory and literature. And then after they have exhausted every means of research, let them come together and write a Bible that is better than this. If this is written by men, we ought to write a better one after thousands of years of advance.
Why don’t they try? Do they not have the same confidence in their God that the prophets of Baal had in Baal? Why don’t they try? Surely they don’t believe that man is retrograding. Man is progressing, they say. We’re up from the beast, and we’ll soon be archangels by and by. Why don’t they produce a better Book? Why don’t they produce a better Christ, if this is not of God and if men wrote it?
I tell you verily, the most pathetic men in this world are the materialists, the evolutionists, the pseudoscientists. They are lost and grope in the dark like in a fog. They are pitiful to look at. They cry to their gods to answer by fire, and they appeal to inanimate matter till it is pathetic and pitiful! And they have a greater credulity to believe in blind force than we have to believe in God and our religious faith.
They tell us that blind, inerrant matter created all the things that we see today, including you and your mind and your soul, all of it adventitiously brought about by sheer accident, by blind force. My soul, where could a man summon enough faith to believe a doctrine like that? Yet they profess to believe it. They cry, “Night, night, darkness!” when the sun and its meridian strength is declaring that noonday is here.
Let’s go on. “That from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures” [2 Timothy 3:15], God-breathed, God-inspired. Look why God gave them to us; “That from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures—God-breathed, God-written, God-inspired—which are able to make thee wise unto salvation” [2 Timothy 3:15-16]. Scriptures don’t save us, but they make us wise unto salvation; wise unto salvation. I’m not saved because I know the Book. You’re not lost because you don’t know the Book.
There has to be a time where we accept Christ as Savior. There has to be. There is a time when the sun is not risen; there is a time when it is risen. It may be hard to say just that moment when it’s below the horizon, and just that moment when it is above the horizon, but there is a time when it is not risen, and there is a time when it is. So it is with a man’s salvation. There is a time when you did believe, though sometimes it is difficult for some to say just at the point; but it happened. Sunrise happens, or the sun wouldn’t be there. And you have believed, or you wouldn’t be saved.
The Scriptures don’t save us, but they make us wise unto salvation through faith [2 Timothy 3:15]. Faith takes the knowledge of the Word of God and makes us wise unto salvation. Faith doesn’t take man’s wisdom and make us wise unto salvation, but faith takes God’s wisdom, God’s Word, and leads us unto salvation. And then after we’re saved, it’s a great commitment in our lives to be wiser in the faith. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable . . . that the man of God may be perfect, may be mature, full-grown” [2 Timothy 3:16-17]. We are to continue in our study and knowledge of the Word of God, and we are to be thereby discerning Christians in doctrine, in instruction.
How many of our people—even Baptist people—how many of our Baptist people are utterly without wisdom in the Scriptures and utterly without knowledge in the ways and doctrines of the Lord? They are like Paul describes, blown hither and yon, “tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine” [Ephesians 4:14]. Sometimes they’re like he describes in this verse—in this chapter—”ever learning, never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” [2 Timothy 3:7].
You’ll see them there. You’ll see them over there. You’ll see them there. And they seem to be just about as much home there as they are here, as they are yonder. They have a spiritual appetite that can digest bricks as well as bread. They have a spiritual appetite that can enjoy soap as well as butter. They are spiritual ostriches that can swallow down anything and seemingly enjoy it. They’re just about as much home over there as they are over here.
I talked to one of our finest members this morning. After I had preached certain such, and that certain one and such—well, I’m not going to tell you. Anyway, they are very much at home in kind of like a ritual church. All I got to say is, “If you are at home and like a certain ritual church, you don’t know the Word of God! You don’t!”
I can’t help but remember something James McKinley said. Bless his heart, he’s in glory now, but he told something here that I remembered, and some of you remember it. There was a great, great, mighty church of God, and as the time passed and the days multiplied, they had a rank modernist for a preacher, and that destroys any church. So Dr. McKinley said one of the members of that church came to him and said, “Dr. McKinley, what shall I do? That great church has turned itself to rank infidelity and liberal modernism. What shall I do?”
And Dr. McKinley said, “Why, I’ll tell you what I’d do. I’d quit it. I’d find me a church that preached the gospel of the Son of God and believed the Book. That’s what I’d do.”
“Oh,” she said, “Dr. McKinley, I could not do that. I could not do that. Why,” she said, “I go to that church and I sit in that pew. That’s the pew where my grandfather sat. That’s the pew where my grandmother sat. That’s the pew where my father sat. That’s the pew where my mother sat. And that’s the pew where I have sat all these years. I could not forsake my pew!”
And he said, “Pew!”
And she said to him, “Dr. McKinley, what did you say?”
He said, “I said, ‘Pew!’”
I don’t deny that sentiment is precious. I don’t deny that memories are things that we treasure in our hearts, and they make us what we are. I know. But I am just avowing to you that what we are seeking is not people who can just spiritually digest anything, no matter what is said, no matter what the preacher believes, no matter what the church stands for, no matter what the doctrine! There ought to be in us a great spirit of discernment. This thing is the truth of God. I read it here in the Book! And that is error, and that is error, and this is error, and this is not according to the Word. Oh, for a people who would want just one thing: is it written in the Book? That’s the way Jesus answered the tempter in the wilderness. “It is written! “It is written!” “It is written!” [Matthew 4:4, 7, 10].
When you read these apostles, they are quoting the Old Testament all the time. We ought to be that way about the apostles and the missionaries and the evangelists that God sent to write with a pen of iron and a point of a diamond, engraving it forever on our hearts, the immutable, unchanging Word of God; “It is written.” “From a child thou has known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is practical and profitable for doctrine—that you might know the truth—for instruction—that you might know the Lord—that the man of God may be grown up, mature, thoroughly committed to every good work” [2 Timothy 3:15-17].
We must quit, should have a long time ago! While we sing this song, tonight, somebody give his heart to the Lord. Somebody put his life in the church. While we sing this song, would you come and stand by me? If you’re in the balcony, these stairwells at the front, on either side, or at the back, on either side, would you come down those stairwells and here to the front, and stand by me? If you are here on this lower floor, into the aisle and here to the front, would you come and stand by me? “I give you my hand, pastor; tonight I give my heart to God, to follow Him, to be taught of Him, to enroll in His school, to sit as His feet. Here I am!” A family of you, to put your life in the church, or one somebody you, while we prayerfully, earnestly sing this appeal, on the first stanza, into the aisle or down the stairwell, will you come and give me your hand? While all of us stand and sing the song.
THE SACRED SCRIPTURES
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2 Timothy 3:14-17
A. History repeats itself (2 Timothy 3:1, 13)
1. Same humanity, same dereliction, same iniquity
B. Let us use the same remedy – sowing the seed of the Word of God(2 Timothy 3:14-16)
1. Lift up the cross, teaching the Scriptures (Numbers 21:9, John 3:14)II. The instruction of Timothy
A. “From a babe” – brephos, “infant”
1. He was taught as he rose as a child out of infancy
a. Christian English nobleman – he learned godly way of life from his nurse, who died when he was seven
b. Moses’ mother taught him in his infancy (Exodus 2:5-10)
2. Our stewardship program – teaching the children
B. His instructors – his godly mother and grandmother(2 Timothy 1:5, Acts 16:1)
C. What he was taught
1. Great reverence for the Word of God
a. Rabbis reading and kissing sacred scrolls at tomb of David
b. Such a different attitude from what we find in our modern day
i. Why have we not written a more “advanced” Bible?
ii. Most pathetic men are the materialists, evolutionists and pseudoscientistsIII. This knowledge was quickened by saving faith
A. Scriptures do not save us, but able to make us wise unto salvation
B. There has to be a time where we accept Christ as Savior
C. We are to continue in our study and knowledge of the Word
1. Many of our people are without knowledge in ways and doctrines of the Lord (Ephesians 4:14, 2 Timothy 3:7)
a. Dr. McKinley asked, “My church turned to infidelity and liberal modernism, what shall I do?”
D. The true believer’s great reason for his faith – “It is written”
1. Christ in his temptation (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10)