By John Greening
It is one thing to have a pile of random car parts, but quite another to assemble those parts into a finely tuned and operationally sound automobile. Every part in the pile has value, but if you fail to connect the parts properly, you will not achieve the intended results.
In a similar way, individual verses of Scripture realize their greatest potential when taught in their context that explains their true and full meaning. Each verse by itself is God’s inspired truth. However, we may overlook God’s intent for a verse when it is not connected to others. As the divine author of Scripture, God formed books and intended each book to be seen in the flow of the entire Bible. This is how God communicates His ideas that He wants us to learn.
Second Timothy 3:16–17 is a primary statement about the origin of God’s Word. We believe in verbal plenary inspiration; each individual word of the original Scriptures, as well as the entire Bible, was God breathed. When words are understood in their context and in relationship to each other, the profitability of Scripture is realized in the form of doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness (v. 16). Scriptures achieve their divine purpose when the learning objective of perfected lives, equipped for every good work, becomes a reality (v. 17). When a believer is understanding and applying Scripture in the God-intended manner, that believer can possess a robust spiritual maturity that is finely tuned and operationally sound. Collectively, the local church will have a faith that is believed and practiced.
I am all for memorizing Scripture. As a boy, I memorized tons of verses to progress to the next level of achievement in a Bible club. Unfortunately, the Bible club program did not include structured teaching of those verses in a way that explained their intent. I did not profit fully from the Scriptures. Fortunately, the training I received from Sunday School teachers with organized curriculum, my pastor-dad as he preached the Word, and both of my parents as they taught me the content and implications of the Scriptures helped me grow in my understanding. Without that supplemental instruction, I easily could have had a pile of random Bible verses that didn’t benefit me to their fullest potential. I could have misused that pile of verses by drawing conclusions that the divine Author did not intend.
In its formation, the GARBC committed to a core of theological tenets known as the fundamentals, based on a comprehensive doctrinal study of the Word of God. Association founders thoroughly explained the fundamentals by developing articles of faith. These articles provide the doctrinal construct that gives us our identity as a fellowship. The inspiration and authority of the Scriptures are the basis on which all the doctrines rest. We believe all of God’s Word is truth.
However, having a doctrinal statement is not enough. The Scriptures are meant to be taught. In the surrounding context of 2 Timothy 3:16–17, we discover that Timothy learned the Scriptures as a boy, making him wise for salvation (v. 15). Timothy did not simply memorize a pile of verses. He learned the Holy Scriptures from someone who taught him what the Scriptures meant (v. 14).
Every week when we are in our home church, Daria and I teach the Word of God to children. We use the Kids4Truth Clubs children’s program published by RBP. Kids4Truth Clubs is a remarkable approach to teaching the Scriptures in an organized and age-appropriate manner so that kids learn doctrine. Our students are not only learning verses, but they are beginning to understand what those verses mean in real life. The program’s purposeful explanation of the verses is resulting in the students’ growing faith and practice.
As Paul admonished in 2 Timothy 4:2, the Word of God is to be preached. Every week pastors of Regular Baptist churches are preaching the Word of God in an expository manner. They present Scripture not as a random pile of verses but as a divinely designed canon, taught according to their divine contextual intent. The faithful and consistent teaching of the entire Word will achieve the learning objective of perfected lives equipped for every good work.
Remember the car parts? Just because you have a trove of auto supplies doesn’t mean your car will run well. Likewise, a pile of unrelated Bible verses won’t ensure spiritual maturity. Make sure you are getting the most profitability from your Bible instruction. Teach all Scripture for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, and learners will grow in their faith and practice.
John Greening is national representative of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches.