written by: Warren Wiersbe
(taken from Living a Holy Life, pg. 3-5)
Our Lord Jesus stated four of His priorities in His high-priestly prayer in John 17. He prayed first of all that the Father might be glorified through the work of the Son (v. 1). Then He prayed that the Church might be sanctified (v. 17). Third, He prayed that the Church might reach the lost (vv. 18-20). Finally, in verses 21-24, He prayed for the building of Christian unity.
Let’s focus on His second priority. “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” The word “sanctify” means to set apart for special use. It contains the idea of holiness of character, but basically it simply means to be set apart for God’s glory and for His special use.
In verse 19 our Lord Jesus said, “And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.” He meant, “I am setting Myself apart to die for sinners on the cross, to be raised from the dead, to return to heaven where I will intercede for them.” The Lord Jesus had set Himself apart to glorify God and to reach a lost world by dying for sinners. Now He is setting us apart for God’s glory and God’s special use, and He does it through His Word.
Second Timothy 3:16,17 tells us how the Word of God is supposed to work in our lives. “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 complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
The Word of God has four very special ministries: doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness. This is how God works in our lives through His Word. He teaches us doctrine – what is right. He reproves us and tells us what is not right. He corrects us by telling us how to get right. And then He instructs us, or tells us how to stay right. What’s the result of all this? “That the man of God may be complete” (v. 17). The result is Christian character – a person who is mature, balanced, complete and fitted to serve God, “thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
The purpose of Bible study is the building of character and the building of the Church – getting busy for God. Too many people today want to study the Word of God but don’t want to practice it. But the result of true Bible study is the building of character (becoming more like the Lord Jesus) and equipping for service (finding where God wants us to serve Him).
God’s Word is profitable for doctrine – that is for teaching. Bible doctrine will change our lives if we will fulfill four obligations. We must know it, for we are students of the Word. We must practice it, for we are servants of the Word. We must guard it, for we are soldiers. And we must share it, for we are stewards.
We must know the Word of God. Many people only read their Bibles historically. Historical truth is important. The Bible is not filled with myths and stories that people made up. It is history. It’s good to have historical truth. But on top of that is doctrinal truth where God reveals Himself to us, and then on top of that we have practical truth where we go out and do what God wants us to do. We also have devotional truth where we claim the promises and note the principles that are there. But devotional truth that is not based on doctrinal truth will lead you astray.
It’s good to read the Word of God devotionally, but we must also study the Word of God doctrinally. Why? Because knowledge is vital to Christian growth. We grow by obeying the truth of the Word of God. Matthew 28:20, a part of our Lord’s Commission, says, “Teaching them.” After you have won disciples, you have a responsibility to teach them. When Paul wrote his first letter to the confused, divided, carnal Corinthian church, he said over and over again, “Don’t you know?” And that was the whole trouble – they didn’t know. Or they had forgotten what they once knew.
In I Timothy 4:3 Paul warned about people who had gone astray in the matter of diets and of marriage. Why? Because they did not know the truth. Believing is important. Faith is important. But faith and knowledge do not contradict one another. In II Timothy 1:12 Paul said, “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” Paul was not ashamed. He knew what he had believed. He’d been persuaded by it. That’s the way every Christian should witness. The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ has been given only one basic body of doctrine. In I Timothy 1:3 Paul wrote: “As I urged you when I went into Macedonia – remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine.”
© 2005 Warren W. Wiersbe
© by The Good News Broadcasting Association, Inc. All rights reserved.
Dr. Warren Wiersbe (1929-2019) was an internationally known Bible teacher, author, and conference speaker. He graduated in 1953 from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard, Illinois. While attending seminary, he was ordained as pastor of Central Baptist Church in 1951 and served until 1957. From September 1957 to 1961, Wiersbe served as Director of The Literature Division for Youth for Christ International. From 1961 to 1971 he pastored Calvary Baptist Church of Covington, Kentucky south of Cincinnati, Ohio. His sermons were broadcast as the “Calvary Hour” on a local Cincinnati radio station. From 1971 to 1978, He served as the pastor of Moody Church in Chicago 1971 to 1978. While at Moody Church he continued in radio ministry. Between August 1979 and March 1982, he wrote bi-weekly for Christianity Today as “Eutychus X”, taught practical theology classes at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and wrote the course material and taught a Doctor of Ministry course at Trinity and Dallas Seminary. In 1980 he transitioned to Back to the Bible radio broadcasting network where he worked until 1990. Dr. Wiersbe became Writer in Residence at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids and Distinguished Professor of Preaching at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. In his lifetime, Dr. Wiersbe wrote over 170 books—including the popular Be series, which has sold over four million copies. Dr. Wiersbe was awarded the Gold Medallion Lifetime Achievement by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA).