“All scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, reproof, correction and righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17)
It is a mark of God’s Word that it changes us. The apostle Peter says that the Word of God is the instrument through which we receive new birth, “for you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring Word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). Likewise, James says that the Word of God also produces a new nature: “He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all He created” (1:18). Clearly, God’s Word is a powerful transforming influence on our lives.
But in what way should God’s Word transform us? The apostle Paul tells Timothy that one very important effect of the Word’s ministry in a believer’s life is to make him/her “thoroughly equipped for every good work.” While there is some confusion in the modern church about the place of works in the believer’s life, both Paul and James are agreed on this: a life of good works is one essential outcome of the ministry of the Word in the believer’s life. Indeed, Paul makes it clear that good works are an essential outcome of any true Christian experience. They are the fruit of genuine faith.
Why is this so? Paul tells us that it is a central element in God’s plan of redemption that we are “created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). Further, he tells Titus that good works are a crucial outcome of his ministry. He reminds him that Christ redeemed us so that we would be “eager to do what is good” (2:14). He also tells him that he is to teach the Christians in Crete that one aspect of being good citizens in a pagan culture is that they are “ready to do whatever is good” (3:1). Then, towards the end of his letter, he emphasises that the Gospel must bring about change in people’s lives for the better, “I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good” (3:8).
So it is hardly surprising that Paul tells Timothy that Scripture plays a central role in preparing each one of us for a life of good works. How? According to the apostle, Scripture has a unique capacity to make us fit for serving God. It’s not that Scripture makes us ‘perfect’; however, it is able to make us ‘fit’ – in terms of motivation, character and wisdom – to undertake whatever God, in His providence, assigns us to do.