"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16-17)The term "scripture" here simply means something written down or drawn. It is the Greek word "graphe" from which we get our words for "graph" and "graphite." However, its usage in the New Testament is always in reference to the divine scriptures, specifically the scriptures of the Old Testament. It would be several hundred years before the New Testament writings would be called "scripture."
Paul tells us that all scripture is "God breathed," given by the inspiration, or more accurately, by the outward breath, of God to mankind. The scriptures differ from other philosophical writings in that those writings represent the best of the understanding and contemplation of man, where as the scriptures represent the best of the revelation of God. God has taken an active approach in communicating His thought and revealing His personage to mankind. These documents do not reflect man's highest achievement in holy thought, but God's gracious revelation of Himself and His purpose and will for mankind. When we read scripture, we are not reading human thought, but the revelations of God.
Paul tells us that the scriptures are able to equip us in many ways that we might be fully equipped and ready to face all necessary circumstances in life. It is through our interaction with God's Word that we become adequate as servants of God, fully prepared to accomplish His will and purpose in our lives. However, as we shall see, it not thought our knowledge of the word alone that we are equipped, but through our obedience and our experiential living of its truth that we are changed and made adequate. The scriptures work in our lives in four significant ways.
Teaching: Solomon tells us that, "The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; and with all your acquiring, get understanding." (Proverbs 4:7) Wisdom, knowledge, and understanding are critical to any son or daughter of God. So often we walk in darkness and confusion because we view our life and the world around us through wrong lenses. We think and view things from a worldly perspective which leads only to worldly assumptions and conclusions. We need to learn to understand ourselves and the world around us through a Godly perspective with true knowledge and understanding as to how we were created, for what purpose, and how life was truly meant to be lived. Knowledge leads to understanding, understanding to wisdom, and wisdom to light. It is the scriptures that can teach us and give us such knowledge and understanding.
Reproof: It is through reproof that our souls are convicted of our sin. Sin has many definitions, but one is to miss the mark. Paul tells us that, "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) We have all fallen short of becoming the people God created us to be. However, without such a revelation, without such reproof, we would not know about our sin or about our need to change. Acknowledging our problems is the first step in fixing them. Acknowledging our sins is the first step in repenting of them and learning to live free of them. The scriptures have a way of reflecting our lives back to us, to show us who we really are, and to compare that to who we were created to be. Without this revelation, we would all, "die in your sins." (John 8:24)
Correction: This Greek word means to "straighten up" or to "stand up again." It speaks of a reformation of one's character; a change; a restoration to a pure and holy disposition. The scriptures not only speak to our sins but they also show us how to overcome; how to live a life in opposition to our sins. For example, Paul writes, "Therefore, laying aside falsehood, Speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another... He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good." (Ephesians 4:25, 28) The scriptures instructing us to replace one behavior with another; replacing lying with the truth and replacing stealing with giving. Reproof shows us we are wrong, correction shows us a better way.
Training: Paul tells Titus that the grace of God has come, "instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age." (Titus 2:12) The scriptures constantly call us to a life of righteousness and godliness. It calls us to discipline our bodies, to mortify the deeds of the flesh, and to flea youthful lusts. Correction is reactive while training is proactive. We need not wait till we sin, to be reproved, and to find the correction of the scriptures. Rather, the grace of God has come to instruct us to live differently; to reject the world and its ways in favor of God's world and His ways. Those who obey the scriptures as part of a daily disciplined life, find themselves being trained for righteousness. Righteousness and godliness do not just happen, they are developed through the constant training and discipline of the scriptures. It all begins by an obedience that is the outgrowth of faith; faith in God, His Word, and His power.