An Important Watchword


2 Timothy 3:14-4:4 ESV

3:14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
4:1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

A watchword is “a word, phrase, or signal given to a guard or the like, used to ascertain whether an unknown person is friendly or hostile… [It is also] a motto, esp. used as a rallying cry or slogan.”
When we think of what God has done in the history of the church, there are five important watchwords from the Reformation. We can say that they set forth the essence of Biblical teaching that was learned during that mighty work of the Holy Spirit.

  • According to the Scriptures alone
  • By grace alone
  • Through faith alone
  • In Christ alone
  • To God alone be the glory

Today, we want to look at the first of these five watchwords.
Idea: We must always be thoroughly convinced of the absolute authority of the Old and the New Testament Scriptures.

  • Absolute – because it is divinely authored, unqualified, unbending, and final
  • Authority – objective fact whether or not people accept it; God said it, that settles it
  • Alone – adding neither tradition nor experience

I.          The Scriptures tell us how we can be right with God (3:14-15)
Prior to the great revival called the Reformation, most people in Europe professed to be Christians, but most were in a condition of deep spiritual darkness. They might have had a zeal for God, but it was not according to knowledge.
A.        A correct knowledge of human need and of our only real hope comes through the Scriptures alone.

1.         It is certainly true that God has revealed himself in his creation (Ps 19:1-6; Rm 1:18-20).

2.         But it is only in the Bible that we can learn God’s plan of salvation (Ps 19:7; 119:55). One of the great blessings of the Jewish people was that the true God gave them his word. Timothy’s mother and grandmother were Jewish, and they taught him God’s word. The Holy Spirit uses the word of God when he gives new birth to people (1 Pt 1:23; cf. Jn 3:5-8; Ti 3:5).

B.        We must understand that the mere reading or knowledge is insufficient. We must also have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Th 2:13).

1.         Hearing without faith lacks any value (Heb 4:2).

2.         We ought to pray that the Lord would give the gift of faith to people as they hear the word (2 Pt 1:1; cf. Eph 2:8-9; Heb 12:2; Ph 1:29). Pray for five people!

II.        The Scriptures tell us how the Lord wants us to live (3:16-17).
Illustration: Since there was so much confusion about the way of salvation, it is no wonder that the lives of the religious were so corrupted before the Reformation. The human heart always runs to one of two extremes—legalism or lawlessness.
A.        They profitableness of the Scriptures to those in Christ

1.         They provide the “blueprints and specifications” for the true Christian way of life. Knowledge of the blueprints and spec book is essential in construction, if the building is to please the owner. Positively, teaching tells us what a believer’s life is to look like. It presents the characteristics of Jesus Christ that we are to imitate. Negatively, rebuke tells us what to avoid—if you do these things, you are not showing the pattern of Christ in your life.

2.         They provide material for the actual construction. When Jesus saves us, the Holy Spirit begins the task of renewing our lives. He gets involved in transforming our ideas, thoughts, and attitudes, and he also starts to transform our words and actions. Again, there is a negative and a positive side to what the Spirit does through the word.

a.         Negatively, he uses the word to correct us. For example, we might be used to talking with destructive speech (Eph 4:25-5:7). As Isaiah realized when he saw the Lord, he was a man of unclean lips among a people of unclean lips (Is 6:5). In many ways we were under the control of sinful patterns of thinking and action.

b.         Positively, the Spirit uses the word to train us. He tells us that we show the newness of Christ in specific ways.

B.        The purpose or the goal of the Scriptures

1.         The idea is that we might be properly outfitted (1 Pt 1:13-2:3). If you are going to run or walk, you need the right shoes and clothing for comfort and safety.

2.         The object is that we might do good works (Eph 2:10; Ti 2:14). As God’s priests and temple, we are to bless others by acting with God’s kind of goodness.

III.       The Scriptures tell us how to minister God’s word (4:1-4)
Illustration: Prior to the Reformation people were in error about salvation and the true Christian life, and they were also in error about how the church and her ministers should minister for God. Like the previous two points, it is always necessary to be continually transformed in ministry according to the Scriptures.
A.        What to do: Preach God’s word (4:2). The world is not perishing for lack of information, but for lack of correct information about Christ and the good news that is empowered by God the Holy Spirit.

1.         A minister must correct, must point out wrong ideas and practices (1 Tm 5:20; Ti 1:13; 2:15).

2.         A minister must rebuke, must tell people to stop continuing in their present, sinful course of life (Lk 4:39, 41; 8:24; 9:42; 17:3).

3.         A minister must encourage, must help people along the right way. He must be a helper for the joy of others (2 Cor 1:24).

B.        How to do this good work (4:2)

1.         Do it with great patience—waiting calmly upon God for his action in the hearts and lives of people. He needs to humble himself before the Lord.

2.         Do it with careful instruction. The battle is for the souls of people, and the battleground is the mind (1 Tm 4:11-16). He needs Biblical precision.

C.        Why to do this good work (4:1, 3-4)

1.         We must preach the word because of the wickedness of people.

2.         We must preach the word because of the coming glory of Jesus Christ.

Apply: Since you know the glory of Christ, read the Scriptures that speak of him, pray in conformity with the word, and tell others the good news.
~ Dave
Pastor Dave Frampton
The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are featured here at CMC. As a Bible teacher he excels. Teachers and student alike will profit much from his labor in the God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church.