Focusing on the Word

Bible Book: 2 Timothy 
Subject: Word of God, The; Bible, The
Series: Sharpening the Focus of the Church
2 Timothy 3:13 – 4:4

Dr. Gene A. Getz is the Chairman Emeritus for the Center for Church Based Training based in Richardson, TX. He has been a church-planting pastor in the Dallas metro area since 1972, and he has served as an adjunct professor at Dallas Theological Seminary for many years. He is also the author of more than 60 books.

Gene Getz became involved in church planting and renewal at a very practical level when he began teaching at Dallas Theological Seminary in the late 60’s / early 70’s. And after exploring the subject for several years with his students, he wrote a book called Sharpening the Focus of the Church. In the book, he examines the church in a detailed way through the lens of scripture, through the lens of history, and through the lens of culture.

I want to borrow Dr. Getz’s title and use it as an over-arching theme for a series of sermons on…

“Sharpening the Focus of the Church”

There are so many churches today that are struggling. They’re struggling with methodology. They’re struggling with music. They’re struggling with millenials and how to keep them. They’re struggling with money. They’re struggling with members and ministers and a multitude of other things.

It’s been my observation that in the midst of all these struggles, some believers and churches have become “unfocused” so that we are not as attentive as we should be to Christ and His word. Some believers and churches have become “over-focused,” and we are unable to distract ourselves from painful memories or situations or emotions, or we are too fixated on particular issues or favorite doctrines rather than finding a balance in our Christian experience. We start majoring on minor things and allowing minor things to become major things.

Lest we should become unfocused or over-focused, I think we need to be refocused on certain aspects of church experience.

For example, I believe we need to sharpen our focus, and as churches, as believers, in every ministry within our churches, we need to …

Re-focus on The WORSHIP (Through Praying, Singing, etc.)
Re-focus on The WARMTH / WELCOME (Cultivating a genuine fellowship among the body as well as welcoming guests who come in)
Re-focus on The WITNESS (Through Outreach)
Re-focus on The WORLD (Through Missions)
Re-focus on The WILLINGNESS (To Serve, Give, etc.)

And this morning, I’d like to magnify the truth that we need to be...

Focusing on the WORD

(In Preaching, Teaching, and Discipleship)

During the 16th and 17th centuries, the protestant reformers began to focus on some critical points of doctrine and practice that differentiated them and divided them from Catholicism. They began to embrace and declare certain principles.

[Principles such as…]

Sola fide (“by faith alone”) that justification is received by faith alone, without any need for good works on the part of the individual.

Sola gratia (“by grace alone”) that salvation comes by divine grace or “unmerited favor” only, not as something merited by the sinner.

Solus Christus or Solo Christo (“Christ alone” or “through Christ alone”) that Christ is the only mediator between God and man, and that there is salvation through no other (… that salvation is “by Christ alone”).

Soli Deo gloria (“glory to God alone”) that all glory is due to God alone. God (not Mary the mother of Jesus, not saints, and not angels); God alone is worthy of glory and praise.

And one of the principles that they embraced and declared was…

Sola scriptura (“by Scripture alone”) Which meant that scripture must govern over any church traditions and interpretations. Any traditions or agendas should be subject to scripture. All church traditions, creeds, and teachings must be in unity with the teachings of scripture as the divinely inspired Word of God.

I’m convinced that churches today need to embrace that truth again. The Bible should occupy a place of preeminence that far exceeds Robert’s Rules of Order, or the church by-laws and constitution, or how grandma and grandpa did it. Simply put: the Bible should be our “only rule of faith and practice.”

In Paul’s final letter, in the context of warning Timothy about the difficult and wicked days ahead, he encouraged Timothy to keep looking to God’s Word. Paul emphasized to Timothy the importance of scripture.

And John MacArthur explains that “the holy scriptures” (the Greek phrase hieros grammata) mentioned in verse 15 were “the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament.” And then the word “scripture” (the Greek term Graphē) in verse 16 “was commonly used in the early church not only of the Old Testament but also of God’s newly revealed Word, in what came to be called the New Testament” (MacArthur New Testament Commentary).

As Paul talks about the scripture here, he shows us that…


(2 Timothy 3:15) … 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.

In looking at how the Word points us towards deliverance, I want to look at verses 13, 14, and 15 in reverse order. First, we see in verse 15 that…

A. The Way of SALVATION Is Found in the Word

(2 Timothy 3:15) 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.

Child (1025) (brephos) means a babe or infant. So the idea is that Timothy (even though his father was Greek according to Acts 16:1,3) had been taught scripture from his infancy (as all Jewish children were). It was probably at the feet of his “grandmother Lois, and [his] mother Eunice” (mentioned in 2 Timothy 1:5) that Timothy was taught from the Old Testament and led to saving faith.

In Romans 10, Paul was talking about gospel preaching, and he said…

(Romans 10:17) So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

But here in 2 Timothy he tells us that God’s great salvation can be found even by looking at the Old Testament (“the holy scriptures”) through the lens of Christ Jesus.

Marvin Vincent in his Word Studies in the New Testament said that when Paul mentioned Timothy’s knowing “the holy scriptures”…

He means “the learning” acquired from Scripture by the rabbinic methods, according to which the Old Testament books were carefully searched for meanings hidden in each word and letter, and especially for messianic intimations. [To be made “wise unto salvation” suggests that he was given] understanding of that which lies behind the letter; to enable thee to detect in the Old Testament books various hidden allusions to Christ; to draw from the Old Testament the mystery of messianic salvation, and to interpret the Old Testament with Christ as the key. This gives significance to the following words, “through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” Jesus Christ was the key of Scripture, and through faith in him Scripture became a power unto salvation.

John MacArthur said…

This text shows that the Old Testament clearly gives the wisdom that leads to salvation. From Genesis through Malachi, that wisdom reveals the holiness, majesty, and lovingkindness of God and His gracious offer of forgiveness and redemption from sin for those who trust in Him

And having heard the Word of God, you can also experience salvation through faith in Christ Jesus!

Not only is the way of Salvation found in the Word, but…

B. The Way of STEADFASTNESS Is Found in the Word

(2 Timothy 3:14) But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;

Once a person is saved, they can “continue … in the things” they have learned.

Continue (3306) (Meno) means to abide or remain in the same place over a period of time. The present imperative calls for a constant, habitual way of life. Timothy is to be a “man of the Book.”


The USB (United Bible Societies) New Testament Handbook says that…

Continue is literally “remain,” “keep on,” “do not waver.” Firmly believed (“hast been assured of”) translates a verb that means “to come to believe something as true,” “to be convinced and certain of the truth of something.”

[Continue in the teaching and continue in the trusting!]

What does it mean to continue in what you have learned? It can be “continue to live according to,” “continue to be loyal to” (compare CEV “Keep on being faithful,” NABR “remain faithful,” TNT “you must be loyal”), “continue to believe,” “continue to make progress,” “hold on to,” “stand firm in” (compare REB “stand by,” NJB “you must keep to”).

Timothy should hold on to these truths because he knows that his teachers are reliable Christians and can therefore be trusted. The pronoun whom (in from whom you learned it) is plural, indicating that Paul was not only talking of himself but of others as well who played a part in the Christian education of Timothy, including Timothy’s own mother and grandmother, who are mentioned in 2 Timothy 1:5.

An alternative translation model for this verse is:

As for you, Timothy, you must continue to hold on faithfully to the things that people taught you and that you believe in. After all, you know who taught you these truths (or, doctrines).

But Timothy had learned, not just from Paul and not just from his mother and grandmother, but most importantly he had learned from God. In John 6:45, Jesus said…

It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. (John 6:45)

Not only is the way of Salvation and the way of Steadfastness found in the Word, but…

C. The Way of SEDUCERS Is Found in the Word

(2 Timothy 3:13) But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.

Paul was telling Timothy to stay true to the Word and to hold on to truth. But he also warned Timothy about those who would not be true to God’s Word, about those who would not hold on to truth.

Again, John MacArthur said…

Ponēros (evil) refers to malignant character or activity. … Impostors (“seducers”) translates goēs, which literally refers to one who wails or howls. Because sorcerers, wizards, and magicians commonly used wails in their incantations, the term was sometimes used to describe such people, and hence was used of any deceivers or impostors. If the Jannes and Jambres of verse 8 were among the magicians of Pharaoh’s court, impostors obviously could here carry the meaning of sorcerer. But Paul’s warning to Timothy applies to impostors of any sort who pervert God’s Word.

Such enemies of Christ will proceed from bad to worse. Paul does not specifically state whether the regression is internal or external, and it seems likely he was referring to both. As men themselves proceed from bad to worse, so does their influence on others.

Paul has already given assurance that there are limits to how effective these enemies of the faith can be. They “will not make further progress” (v. 9a), because their stupidity eventually becomes apparent to those who know the truth. “Their folly,” like that of Jannes and Jambres (v. 8), “will be obvious to all” (v. 9b). While they are deceiving others, and being deceived by their own wicked foolishness, the people of God will eventually expose them for what they are.

Someone said that there is only one letter of difference between a Christian and a deceiver. The Christian loves the W-O-R-D, and the deceiver loves the W-O-R-L-D.

We should study the true Word of God so that we will recognize the counterfeit.

As Paul talks about the scripture here, he shows us that the Word is Pointing … towards Deliverance. But then he shows us that…


(2 Timothy 3:16–17)

As Guy King said, “The Holy Scriptures have a prominent place in the true development of our spiritual life from juvenility to maturity.”

A. The Word Is Profitable Because of Its INSPIRATION … It is the “God-Breathed” Book

(2 Timothy 3:16) All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

We see at once the SCOPE and the SOURCE of this inspiration. It is “all scripture” that is given by inspiration. And it is inspired “of God.”

Robert Morgan, pastor of The Donelson Fellowship in Nashville said…

The word “inspire” has, as its stem word, the term “spire,” which comes from the word “spirit” and conveys the idea of breathing. You might be familiar with the word “respire” and “expire.” If someone expires, they stop breathing. We talk about the respiratory system — the re-spire-a-tory system, having to do with our breathing. And so the early English translators used the word “in-spire-a-tion.” … The actual Greek word that Paul used is the compound word Theópneustos. This is the only time this word appears in the Bible. The first term in this compound word is theos, which means God. … And the second term is pneuma, which means spirit or breath. … So the word literally means God-breathed, or breathed out by God. … This book, the Bible, is composed of words that have been breathed out or spoken or given by God Himself. Now, notice the adjective, “All.” That means that every single word in the original texts has been breathed out by God. All Scriptures is given by inspiration of God. That is the essential nature and character of Scripture.

Hebrews 4:12 says “the word of God is quick.” In other words, it is alive. God has breathed life into it!

The Word is Profitable Because of its Inspiration. It is the “God Breathed” Book. But then too…

B. The Word Is Profitable Because of Its INSTRUCTION … It is the “Godly Beliefs” Book

(2 Timothy 3:16) All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

The Bible is instructive as it is the source of my CREED – it is profitable for doctrine

doctrine – Greek 1319. didaskalia, did-as-kal-ee'-ah; from G1320; instruction (the function or the information):-- learning, teaching. (It teaches us what to believe.)

The Bible is instructive as it is the source of my CONVICTION – it is profitable … for reproof

reproof – Greek 1650. elegchos, el'-eng-khos; from G1651; proof, conviction:--evidence, reproof. (It tells us our faults.)

The Bible is instructive as it is the source of my CORRECTION – it is profitable … for correction

correction – Greek 1882. epanorthosis, ep-an-or'-tho-sis; from a comp. of G1909 and G461; a straightening up again, i.e. (fig.) rectification (reformation):--correction. (Used only this one time)

The Bible is instructive as it is the source of my CATECHISM and my CHASTENING – for instruction in righteousness

instruction – Greek 3809. paideia, pahee-di'-ah; from G3811; tutorage; i.e. education or training; by impl. disciplinary correction:--chastening, chastisement, instruction, nurture.

The English clergyman, Guy King wrote that the Bible…

… takes the believer in hand and guides all his footsteps, from start to finish.

(i) [The Bible disciples and gives direction when it comes to the believer’s] FORWARD steps - “for doctrine.” That is, his teaching: how to go on, how to progress, how to get built up, in the Christian faith. He will never make very great strides in the spiritual life unless he gets plenty of Bible Doctrine into him.

(ii) [The Bible disciples and gives direction when it comes to the believer’s] FALSE steps - “for reproof.” The Scripture is ever a true and faithful friend, and will not hesitate to point out our faults. Where necessary, it will unsparingly rake the conscience. Alas, how often we need it, on account of commission and omission.

(iii) [The Bible disciples and gives direction when it comes to the believer’s] FALTERING steps - “for correction.” We shall here learn not only how we have gone wrong, but how we may get right. As Psalm 119:9 says, “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto, according to Thy Word.”

(iv) [The Bible disciples and gives direction when it comes to the believer’s] FIRST steps - “for instruction.” The word is the one that would be used for the training of a child. As we have already seen in Timothy’s case, so is it for every believer: he shall, through this Book, learn his first lessons “in righteousness,” in right living. For all these purposes is the Book highly “profitable.”

The Word is Profitable Because of its Inspiration. It is the “God Breathed” Book. And then the Word is Profitable Because of its Instruction. It is the “Godly Beliefs” Book. But then too…

C. The Word Is Profitable Because of Its IMPETUS … It is the “Good Behavior” Book

(2 Timothy 3:17) That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

It is the Impetus or Inducement of good works. The Word moves us towards good works.

The mention of “the man of God” here does not necessarily have to be confined to the idea of a preacher or pastor. But as the Baker New Testament Commentary says …

The man of God is the believer. Every believer, viewed as belonging to God, and as invested with the threefold office of prophet, priest, and king, is here given this title.

John Phillips said that…

God is not content simply with our knowing our Bibles. He wants us to incarnate its truths in our lives as well. Just as the Lord Jesus was the Word “made flesh” (John 1:14), we should be living epistles “known and read of all men” (2 Cor. 3:2). … The goal is to be “perfect [artios].” The Greek word means “complete, fitted.” The Word of God fully fits us, as it did Timothy, to accomplish God’s will. The Scriptures enable us to be “thoroughly furnished.” The Greek word can be rendered “fitted out.” We could say, then, that the Holy Scriptures provide us with a complete outfit, with all of the equipment we need to live lives that are characterized by good works.

Illustration: Our sons and others were fitted for tuxes so that they would be completely presentable to do their part.

As Paul talks about the scripture here, he shows us that the Word is Pointing … towards Deliverance. He shows us that the Word is Profitable … for Discipleship. And then he shows us that…


(2 Timothy 4:2) Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

A. Paul Mentioned the CONSTANCY of Our Preaching

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season

preach – Greek 2784. kerusso, kay-roos'-so; of uncert. affin.; to herald (as a public crier), especially divine truth (the gospel):--preach (-er), proclaim, publish.

instant – Greek 2186. ephistemi, ef-is'-tay-mee; from G1909 and G2476; to stand upon, i.e. be present (in various applications, friendly or otherwise, usually lit.):--assault, come (in, to, unto, upon), be at hand (instant), present, stand (before, by, over).

In his commentary on this verse, Albert Barnes explained the terms thusly…

[Be instant] The meaning here is, that he should be constant in this duty. Literally, “to stand by, or to stand fast by;” that is, he was to be pressing or urgent in the performance of this work. He was always to be at his post, and was to embrace every opportunity of making known the gospel. What Paul seems to have contemplated was not merely, that he should perform the duty at stated and regular times; but that he should press the matter as one who had the subject much at heart, and never lose an opportunity of making the gospel known.

[In season] ‎eukairoos‎. In good time; opportunely. The sense is, when it could be CONVENIENTLY done; when all things were favorable, and when there were no obstructions or hindrances.

[Out of season] ‎akairoos‎. This word does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. It is the opposite of the former, and means that a minister is to seek opportunities to preach the gospel even at such periods as might be inconvenient to himself, or when there might be hindrances and embarrassments, or when there was no stated appointment for preaching.

… [With all long-suffering] That is, with a patient and persevering spirit [even] if you are opposed;

He mentioned the Constancy in our preaching. And then…

B. Paul Mentioned the CONTENT in Our Preaching

reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine

reprove – Greek 1651. elegcho, el-eng'-kho; of uncert. affin.; to confute, admonish:--convict, convince, tell a fault, rebuke, reprove.

(From the Word, we confront people with sin and trust that the Holy Spirit convinces them of sin.)

rebuke – Greek 2008. epitimao, ep-ee-tee-mah'-o; from G1909 and G5091; to tax upon, i.e. censure or admonish; by implication forbid:--(straitly) charge, rebuke.

(From the Word, we reprimand the offenders and sinners and point them away from further sin.)

exhort – Greek 3870. parakaleo; to call near, i.e. invite, invoke (by imploration, hortation or consolation):--beseech, call for, (be of good) comfort, desire, (give) exhort (-ation), intreat, pray.

The Pulpit Commentary says of these terms…

‎Reprove – (used) generally with the idea of bringing the fault home to the offender.

Rebuke – a stronger word than (reprove)‎, implying more of authority and less of argument.

Exhort – sometimes the sense of “exhort,” and sometimes that of “comfort,” predominates.

Every way of strengthening and establishing souls in the fear and love of God is to be tried, and that with all long suffering and [doctrine].

He mentioned the Constancy in our preaching and the Content in our preaching. But then…

C. Paul Mentioned the CONFLICT with Our Preaching

(2 Timothy 4:3-4) For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; {4} And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

Warren Wiersbe said…

Paul gave the responsibility – “preach the Word” (2 Timothy 4:2) – and he also gave the reason (2 Timothy 4:3-4). The time would come (and it has been here for a long time!) when most people would not want the “healthy doctrine” of the Word of God. They would have carnal desires for religious novelties. Because of their “itching ears” they would accumulate teachers who would satisfy their cravings for things that disagree with God’s truths. The fact that a preacher has a large congregation is not always a sign that he is preaching the truth. In fact, it may be evidence that he is tickling people’s “itching ears” and giving them what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear.

It is but a short step from “itching ears” to turning one’s ears away from the truth. Once people have rejected the truth, they turn to fables (myths). It is not likely that man-made fables will convict them of sin or make them want to repent! The result is a congregation of comfortable, professing Christians, listening to a comfortable, religious talk that contains no Bible doctrine.

The Word is Pointing … towards Deliverance.

The Word is Profitable … for Discipleship.

and …

The Word is Preached … in Declaration.

My friends, we need to be…

Focusing on the WORD

On January 29th (2015) of this past week, Todd Starnes with Fox News posted an article that began with these words…

Neal and Danette Childs knew they were in danger.

From their compound in Niger’s capital city (in West Africa) they could see three churches burning. The smoke was filling their home.

In a telephone conversation with Todd Starnes, Neal Childs said…

“We immediately started packing a trunk, putting in our valuables, our documents, and we loaded up the car. There were concerns our family would be targeted.”

… The Childs family had every reason to be alarmed. A rampaging mob was attacking Christian houses of worship, and Neal was the prominent leader of a Christian ministry in the mostly Muslim country.

… It was Jan. 16 and by the week’s end Muslims had set fire to at least 45 churches and looted the homes of a number of Christian ministers. Ten people were killed. Followers of Christ fled for the lives.

Starnes said…

The horrors of that weekend did not generate all that much press coverage. There were no solidarity marches for Niger’s tiny Christian community. There was no wall-to-wall cable news coverage. Nor could I find any mention of the burnings on the White House website.

But the story of what really happened during that terrifying weekend deserves to be told. And it needs to be heard.

Neal and Danette Childs have been Christian missionaries in Niger since 1998. Neal oversees Reaching Unreached Nations, a ministry of 36 churches across the country.

Two of those churches were destroyed. The mob also attacked the parsonages — leaving two ministers and their families homeless.

[Neal Childs said…] “Both of their houses were burned and completely looted. One of our pastors lost everything.”

That pastor has a pregnant wife and three children. They are now living with Neal and his family.

But something rather remarkable happened when the mob attacked the other pastor’s house.

“While the mob was burning the front of the house, his neighbors came in through the back and they hauled out clothes and everything they could get through the back window,” Neal said.

The Christian pastor’s neighbors are Muslim. “They helped to save the pastor’s property while the crazy mob was burning everything,” Neal said.

The following day Neal and his wife ventured outside to survey the ruins of the church house. [Neal Childs said…] “It was still smoking and warm with ashes. As we were looking through the rubble my wife came across the Bible.” The Bible was charred but not destroyed, and it caused a stirring in the hearts of the Christian couple. “It was an emotional moment as you see your church in ashes,” Neal said.

Danette took a photograph of that Bible, and it ended up in the hands of Franklin Graham, the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

Graham posted the photograph of the Bible on his Facebook page, along with a sobering thought. “Can you imagine the international outcry if this were the Koran?” he asked. “I read that,” Neal told me. “That would be huge if it had been a Koran.”

Could you imagine the international outcry if Christians had burned 45 mosques? But that’s not what happened in Niger. The Christian community did not retaliate. They did not respond with angry voices. “That’s because we are people of mercy and grace and faith,” Neal told me. “We don’t react in the flesh and we don’t react out of anger.”

Indeed, Christian leaders in Niger held a press conference and announced they forgave those who burned down their churches. “The church is recognizing this is something to be joyful over — the church and their faith have been proven,” Neal said. “Jesus said rejoice and be exceedingly glad when men persecute you, for great is your reward in heaven.”

The Muslim mobs may return, but that’s OK with Neal. “We are preaching the Gospel and living as an example before the people,” he said. “It was demonstrated in our response. It is not our nature to be aggressive or violent. We forgive those that attack.”

Good words spoken by a man with a deep and abiding faith in our Lord. And yet (Todd Starnes said), I still can’t seem to get over the image of that charred Bible found in the ashes of that church house. I’m reminded of a passage of Scripture from the Old Testament.

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”

“The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” (Isaiah 40:8)

This Bible, the Word of God, is truly a special book!

As I’ve been thinking about the Word of God this week, I’ve had a song on my mind that a fellow named Gary Duty from Michigan wrote several years ago. These words have been recorded by several groups, and the song says…

It’s a well of pure water when I’m thirsty and dry,

Bread when I’m hungry and worn.

When the battle is raging, it’s my faithful sword,

- shelter from life’s troubled storm.

It’s a light on my pathway and a lamp to my feet,

When the world gets so dark you can’t see.

And I’ve not made a change in one word that it says,

But it’s sure made a change in me.

This blessed old book that I hold in my hand,

It’s true from beginning to end.

It’s the solid foundation where I firmly stand,

Sin kept me from it, now it keeps me from sin.

When I think what it cost just to hold in my hand,

It reminds me that I owe a great debt,

To all of the martyrs who’d go to the stake,

And quote it with their dying breath.

Now its critics are many and believers are few,

But one thing I’ve found to be true.

If you find when you read it that there’s something wrong,

There’s something wrong with you.

This blessed old book that I hold in my hand,

It’s true from beginning to end.

It’s the solid foundation where I firmly stand,

Sin kept me from it, now it keeps me from sin.


Can I say to this church today … Stay Focused on the WORD of God!

If you’re not a Christian, come today and let us show you from this book how you can be saved.

Christians, would you come make your pledge today to be a Bible-focused, Bible-centered church? Would you come and make a renewed commitment today and say, “Lord, I want your Word to be ‘lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path’?” Come right now!