“And that from a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
Mankind is naturally inclined to be religious, in some way or manner. Cain was as zealous in his way as Abel, but Cain’s religion was of this world, and required no faith to open to him by revelation, the things of the Spirit of God; and all worldly religionists from his day to the present time, have gone in the way of Cain, ran greedily after the error of Balaam, and perish in the gainsayings of Core. However they may differ on minor points, they all agree that the salvation of men depends upon the will and works of men, and all repudiate the doctrine that salvation is exclusively of the Lord. They differ much as to what is to be done, but all agree that something must be done by the sinner, or he cannot be saved. Certain who went out from the apostles taught the churches that except they were circumcised, and kept the law of Moses, they could not be saved. Jews, Pagans, Papists and Protestants, all have their terms, conditions, offers, proffers, means and instrumentalities, which they hold to be indispensable to salvation, and among others in modern times, there are not a few who hold that the holy Scriptures, if studied attentively, will so enlighten the natural judgment of men, as to give them a saving knowledge of God; and the Bible is therefore a means of salvation. These construe the text proposed for consideration, as establishing that doctrine, and hence the zeal which has been manifested for the last half century for supplying the heathen with Bibles, and missionaries, by which they claim they are putting into the hands of the heathen the means or instrument, by which they can, if they will, secure their everlasting salvation. We will examine the passage before us, and see if it warrants any such conclusions. Timothy, unto whom the words were addressed, was a Gentile, his father being a Greek; but his opportunities to become familiar with the Old Testament Scriptures, were far greater than what was common among Gentiles, because his mother, Eunice, was a Jewess; and of her and her mother, Lois, Timothy’s grandmother, it is said, that the faith which Timothy possessed, had dwelt in them both before it was manifested in him. This undoubtedly accounts for the fact that Timothy had from a child known the Scriptures. He had known them from oral instruction, and from reading them. He knew them in their letter, as they were read in the synagogues of the Jews every Sabbath day. Whether Timothy had any spiritual knowledge of them from his childhood we are not informed, unless we so construe the words of Paul in our text as to signify that Timothy was divinely instructed from a child. Paul himself also had known the Scriptures from his infancy, for he was well instructed in the law and the prophets, and in all the Jews’ religion, so far as the letter of the Scriptures was concerned; but we know that he was as ignorant of everything of a spiritual nature, as any of the heathen who had never seen the Scriptures, or heard them read, until God was pleased to reveal his Son in him. With all his biblical knowledge, and religious instruction, and pharisaical zeal, he continued to breathe out slaughter against the saints, and verily thought he ought to do many things contrary to Jesus of Nazareth, until about noon of the day when God arrested him on his way to Damascus.
The Scriptures of the Old, as well as those of the New Testament, are holy Scriptures, because they were written by holy men, who wrote as they were inspired by the Holy Ghost. But holy as they were, they could not give eternal life to any dead sinner, who read them. The carnal Jews, with many of our day, sincerely believed that they could, and to expose their error, Christ said to them, “Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they that testify of me.” Instead of embodying eternal life for those carnal Jews, they contained a full and complete testimony of Christ, in whom those Jews did not believe. But our text says they are able to make thee (Timothy) wise unto salvation. But how, through the reading or studying of them? No, certainly not. Thousands had read and studied them, and had become as familiar with them as Timothy or Saul, but died in their sins. Paul does not say they were able, but which are able. Timothy, at the time this address was made to him, was manifestly a subject of saving grace, and Paul was persuaded that the faith which had dwelt in his mother and grandmother, dwelt in Timothy also. Being now a christian, having the faith of God’s elect, born of God, and taught of the Spirit, those Scriptures which he had only before known in their letter, and which had had no power to give him the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, are now, in his quickened, regenerated state, able to— to do what? To save him from the perdition of ungodly men, from the curse of the law, or from the wrath of God? By no means. From all these he was already saved, as Paul had affirmed in the first chapter, and ninth verse, of this epistle, was already accomplished. “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” What then are the Scriptures able to do for a saved, called, justified and divinely instructed Timothy? They are able to make thee wise unto salvation, that is, to that salvation in which he now stood, to enlighten his spiritual vision in more fully comprehending that glorious plan of grace and salvation in which he with all the election of grace was embraced, and thus save him from being like children tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine. The salvation unto which the Scriptures are now able to save thee (Timothy), is fully expressed in the next verse: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” They are not designed that the man of the world may be perfect, but the profit is unto the man of God, in furnishing him to all good works, and thus making him wise unto salvation, through - what? Through faith which is in Christ Jesus; not through faith which originates in the creature, but that of which Christ is both the author and the finisher, that by which we live. “For the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who hath loved us, and given himself for us.” This faith is in Christ, and Christ is in you, the hope of glory. The Spirit of Christ was in the prophets and men of God who wrote the Scriptures, and being in them, signified beforehand the suffering he should endure, and the glory that should follow. The same Spirit is now in the saints, and by it the Scriptures, in their spirit and life, marrow and fatness, are opened to their understanding, and they are thereby made wise, for if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
Middletown, N. Y.
May 1, 1856.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 3
Pages 331 - 334