With summer approaching, I’d like to suggest the “Spiritual Discipline” of digging deep into the Old Testament. I’ll tell you why and how, but first, let us look at whether this is something God has revealed as His desire for us.
2 Timothy 3:14-15; but first the reminder, at the point in which Paul is writing this letter, the “New Testament” has not come together as a book yet, it is still at that point in history being written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. So, in this verse, hear Paul refer to the writings, and know that Paul is referring to the Old Testament.
So much to unpack here, you must be willing to muse, and walk slowly through these verses.
Timothy was Taught
He was taught by trustworthy people, and had been convinced that these writings are indeed sacred. These words are not “just words” that can be understood by reason alone–they are sacred. These words are words, but the meaning is understood as we “lean not on our own understanding,” but on the understanding God gives.
There is a time in every human’s life in which he or she is “separate from Christ, excluded from the Commonwealth of Israel, strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” (Ephesians 2) We were “darkened in our understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance” dwelling in us, and therefore unable to take in the light (Ephesians 4). We were enemies of God, who wanted knowledge and wisdom and power apart from Him. Simply reading the sacred writings in my own understanding apart from Christ would not bring knowledge, my estranged mind needed revelation, not simply the opportunity to read.
Yet, God has ordained that His words be written, and taught, and preached, and heard, and pondered; because He does illumine our minds and give understanding, because He does reveal Himself, because He reconciles us (I am not longer at enmity with God! I am forgiven, reconciled, adopted, brought near!).
Who taught Timothy?
No doubt he sat through teachings at a local synagogue. But Timothy’s faith was passed on, the faith once for all handed down (see Jude), by his mom and grandma. Mamas, hear me out–we are theologians, we are teachers, we have an incredibly high calling! We must walk in this, and not say “but…” And especially not say “I’m a bit busy with my real job…” We are also responsible for so pursuing the LORD that we are eventually known as those who “adorn the doctrine of God” and are respected as those who teach other women what is good, sensible, righteous (see Titus 2).
There may even come a time when we correct the theology of those whose teachings are lacking a fullness of doctrine (Acts 18). In the passage below, this man had a knowledge of the Scriptures (Old Testament) and how Jesus fulfilled much, he had been instructed, and was eager to teach others also. But Priscilla and her husband take him aside to correct him.
Women, sisters-in-Christ, let us so know the Old Testament too! Let us know the way of Jesus too! Let us recognize when something is lacking. Apollos did not preach heresy, he simply did not have the fulness–and Priscilla did.
24 Now a Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was proficient in the Scriptures. 25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was accurately speaking and teaching things about Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John; 26 and he began speaking boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the way of God more accurately to him.
Back to the original passage, 2 Timothy 3:14-15; we see that these writings are able to give the wisdom that leads to the faith that is in Christ. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. We know Him because grace and truth are revealed by Him, because the Light came to enlighten (John 1). He is the Light, and has light, and reveals light; and His light is truth.
So how does He does this today, for us? His Spirit of Truth at work in us. Jesus came to reveal the Father, never spoke apart from the Father, and the Spirit is sent to continue this work (see John 14-18). We must prayerfully come to His words, asking Him to show us wonderful things (Psalm 119:18), He will. Dig deep, read whole books in one sitting, take notes, write out verses in your journal, converse with older sisters in the faith, and ask your pastor or elders for help and clarification.
When we hear Jesus, and believe, we are believing Him who sent the Son (John 5:24). We hear Him in the sacred writings, in His words, as the Spirit illumines (see 1 Corinthians 2 and 2 Corinthians 3-4). Let us therefore continue in these things as well! Abide, muse, ponder, memorize and delight; put on and adorn; meditate day and night; proclaim and teach. Let that which was written for your encouragement truly encourage you toward persevering in “the faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 15)