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Confidence in God’s Word

Truth In Love 460

God's unchanging strategy for the believer's ministry is to stand on the glorious, inexhaustible, and sufficient Word of God.

Apr 8, 2024

Dale Johnson: This week on the podcast, I have with me H.B. Charles. He’s the pastor and teacher at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville and Orange Park, Florida, where he has served since 2008. He’s primarily responsible for preaching, teaching, vision casting, and leadership development. Outside of his ministry with his congregation, he regularly speaks and teaches at churches, conferences, and conventions around the country. He’s contributed to several books and journals. Pastor Charles is the author of “It Happens After Prayer,” “On Preaching,” “On Pastoring,” “On Worship,” “The Difference Jesus Makes,” “Getting Right with God,” and “Reaching God’s Goals for Your Life.” Pastor Charles and his wife Crystal have three children: H.B. III, Natalie, and Haley.

H.B., I’m so grateful for you, brother, grateful that you’re here with me today. We’re going to talk about 2 Timothy 3, and I’m really looking forward to this conversation brother.

H.B. Charles: Thanks for having me. It is a joy to be with you.

Dale Johnson: I don’t know if you even know this, HB. I am from the Jacksonville area, and so it is a frequent thing when I visit home I actually slip in the back of your church. You probably had no idea. But I enjoy hearing you exposit the Word, brother, and I’m so grateful for your ministry. And I’m looking forward to our conversation even today. As we talk about confidence in God’s Word, that is something that seems to be waning in the culture in which we live, where people are wanting to run to all manner of different kinds of things. But the Scripture is very clear that we are to be dependent upon God and God’s revelation to us. I want you to describe the type of confidence that we can have in His Word, which is self-ascribed in the Scripture. You mentioned 2 Timothy 3. In that passage, Paul is encouraging young Timothy for us to be confident in the Word that God has given.

H.B. Charles: So I don’t think the end of that chapter, that does emphasize the importance of continuing in the Word with confidence in the Word, I don’t think we get the magnitude of that chapter as it closes in those verses unless you read through it from the beginning of the chapter where Paul predicts that times of difficulty will come. And the first half of that chapter is a description of cultural decline, a turning away from God, a turning away from truth. And yet, here’s the beauty of this chapter and why I meditate on it often personally and think it is so important for the church today: Paul gets to the middle of that chapter after describing how terrible the times will become, he does not give Timothy a new strategy for the changing times; he tells Timothy to stick with the Scriptures. And the saints need to hear that. Those who lead the saints, minister to the saints, counsel the saints need that constant reminder that we do not need any new strategies for the changing times. The word of God is absolutely sufficient. And in those verses 14-17, Paul will go on to talk about how the Word is God-breathed, how it is profitable, how it is clear, how it is powerful, and how it is able to save the lost through faith in Christ Jesus.

Dale Johnson: Amen. I want you to talk about that particular issue because I love it when Paul describes to Timothy from where he learned this Scripture. And that really is not the focus; it’s the Scripture itself and what it’s powerful to do. The Bible says it’s powerful to save. I want you to unpack that as Paul builds then into 16 and 17 to highlight the Word and the work that it accomplishes.

H.B. Charles: I don’t think it is a light thing that Paul not only tells Timothy that his confidence in the Word should be rooted in not just what he learned but where he learned it, from whom he learned it. Verse 10 of that chapter makes it obvious he learned it from Paul, he learned it from others, and we know from chapter 1 that he learned it from his grandmother, Lois, and he learned it from his mother, Eunice. And Paul will go so far as to say that the truth that he learned and firmly believed he did not learn in seminary. He learned it as a child, which I don’t think is a throwaway statement. I think it is a statement about, well, I will say it is a reminder that while parents may wait to teach their children the truth, the world is not waiting to teach them lies. From childhood, we should be teaching children the sacred Scriptures. But it is a statement directly about the clarity of Scripture. As it has been well said, the Word of God is shallow enough for a child to get a drink without the fear of drowning and is deep enough for the greatest of Scholars to dive in and never reach the bottom. The Word of God is sufficient because the Word of God is clear.

Dale Johnson: That’s right. And the Word of God, his point there is that the Word of God saves. Describe what Paul is meaning when he’s talking about salvation particularly to Timothy and he’s giving confidence to Timothy that if it could save him, it can save people.

H.B. Charles: This phrase that Paul uses there in verse 15 is loaded. He says that the sacred Scriptures are able. That able refers to the inherent, abiding, and sufficient power of Scripture. It is able to make you wise. The way of the world is the way of folly; the way of the Word is the way of wisdom. But this is not general wisdom. It is godly wisdom. It is able to make you wise for salvation. The Word of God is the wisdom of God that saves the lost. It is able to make you wise for salvation, Paul says, through faith. So it is faith that turns knowledge to wisdom. The Ethiopian eunuch was reading Isaiah and it wasn’t making sense, and when he has shown Christ in the Scriptures, it all comes alive. It is able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. And of course Christ is the object of faith, and He is revealed in all of His saving power in the pages of the sacred Scriptures. He Himself says in John 5:39-40, you search the Scriptures because you think in them you will have life, but these are they that testify of me, but you will not come to me and have life. So you will never find life in the Scriptures until you meet the Life-giver in the Scriptures.

Dale Johnson: I love that. I think as you described that salvation, the Bible itself, the Words of God, are able to make us wise unto salvation. You know, unfortunately H.B., I think many people reduce that simply down to justification. It certainly means justification; we would not question that, but I don’t think it only means justification. I think what Paul goes into talking about the inspired Word and what it’s able to accomplish through reproving and rebuke and disciplined training in righteousness, that it’s for more than just justification. It’s also for sanctification. Would you agree with that?

H.B. Charles: So verses 14 and 15 declared that the Word of God saves, then verses 16 and 17 declare the Word of God sanctifies, and I don’t think those two truths are independent. They are organically connected. And so he says in verse 16 that the Scripture that is God-breathed is also profitable. Not just to get you to heaven, but he says in verse 16 it is profitable for Christian maturity. Basically, those four terms he uses there, teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness, are making two points. The Word of God has the power to sanctify us by causing us to think biblically and to behave biblically. It will change our thinking, it teaches and rebukes, it changes our behavior as it corrects, and it trains. It’s profitable, he says, for maturity in verse 16, and then will go on to say it’s profitable for ministry in verse 17.

Dale Johnson: Yeah verse 17. He says it’s profitable not just for a few good things or not even reduced to spiritually good things. He says it’s profitable for every good work that we can do. And H.B. it’s no secret that you’re a preacher, you’re a pastor of a local congregation, every week you labor to stand up and preach the Word. I’ve heard you preach many, many times. I don’t think I’ve ever heard you give your opinion. I think what I’ve heard you do is stand up and speak what you believe in full confidence what the Bible says. I want you to describe why you think that’s so important for your own congregation, that you labor over the Word so that you can preach the Word because you believe something about that Word when it’s preached and its effect on your people. I want you to talk about why that’s so important to you as a man who stands in the pulpit and faithfully exposits the Word.

H.B. Charles: As a young Christian, I was in a church environment where the question was being asked a lot during those days “What’s your spiritual gift?” And I took all the inventories, and every one I took said something different. I couldn’t figure it out! And that verse 17 was life-changing for me. I’m telling you, that 2 Timothy 3:17 says that if I would give myself to the Word, it will make you complete and equipped for every good work. And I don’t think that is hyperbole. I think rather than chasing what I am gifted at. I think if the man of God gives himself to the study of God’s Word, if he allows the Word to teach, rebuke, correct, and train him, it will make you ready for every good work God will call you to do. But I also believe that there is a specific good work that Paul has in mind and that is in verses 1-2 of the next chapter where he says, I charge you before God in Christ Jesus who will judge the living and the dead and by His appearing and His kingdom preach the Word. So I am both a student and an advocate of expositional preaching. And by that, I believe the preacher’s job is to find the God-intended meaning of the text and build a sermon that is rooted in and in alignment with and flows out of the God-intended meaning of the text. You’re just to be a mouthpiece for the text. And if you ask me “why expository preaching?” I would say because 2 Timothy 4:1-2 come right after 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Because the Word of God is that: the Word of God. Why would you search around for something to say? In preaching, in the small group you lead, in shepherding your children as parents in the home, or in counseling troubled souls, give them the Word. It is sufficient to meet every spiritual need in our lives.

Dale Johnson: That is so helpful, and coming from one who stands faithfully and preaches the Word even to someone like me who spends a lot of time studying the Word so that I can counsel. It’s no different weather in public proclamation or in private ministry of the Word; it is the Word that does the work, both as you mentioned in justification and is what we labor to see in sanctification. That is the will of God, for us to be sanctified. And as you mentioned at the very beginning, there’s not a different method. He’s not created a new way for us to accomplish that; He’s provided all that we need. And so, brother, I’m so grateful to spend time with you, to hear you talk about this text, how it’s meaningful to you, and it’s motivation for you to continue preaching the Word. Brother, thanks for being with us today.

H.B. Charles: Thanks again. It was a joy.

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