A podcast listener named Koby, who also keep current on our blog at desiringGod.org it seems, writes in to ask: “At 7:15 in your sneak peek video in the “Look at the Book” series, you connected the ‘sacred writings’ and ‘Scripture’ then made the jump to say that these inspired writings produce or yield ‘faith in Christ Jesus’ for salvation. But it seems that Scripture here makes one wise for salvation THROUGH faith, so faith is the means by which Scripture produces salvation, not Scripture producing faith. So my question is: how do you take ‘through’ (dia Gk.) to mean ‘produces’ or ‘yields’? How do you arrive at the conclusion that Scripture produces faith from this text?”
That is a complicated question. I am sure the listeners are kind of: What? What did he say? So let me try to answer it in a way that clarifies the question and I don’t think it takes long. I really look forward to doing this more often that if people see to look at the book, they have another question and they call you or, you know, they write to you and we can kind of tie together, look at the book and APJ this way. But so look at the verse. Here is 2 Timothy 3:15 which he is asking about. From childhood, Timothy, you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise unto or for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
Now Coby says, quote, I think this is the very words: It seems that Scripture makes one wise for salvation through faith so that faith is the means by which Scripture produces salvation, not Scripture producing faith. Now Coby sees these as alternatives. Either Scripture produces or yields salvation or Scripture produces faith. But I don’t see them as alternatives. Both are true and both are essential. The Scripture makes us wise for salvation through faith. Yes, faith is the means by which Scripture leads to salvation. That is right. And Scripture does this by wakening and producing or yielding — that is the language I used in the LEB — faith. In other words, if faith is essential to salvation, which it is, then if Scriptures are going to lead to salvation, Scriptures must do it by awakening or producing or yielding faith.
So Coby is asking: How do you arrive at the conclusion that Scripture produces faith from this text? And my answer is: It seems to me to be demanded by the wording. Here is the wording again. The sacred writings are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. If the sacred writings lead us to salvation through faith in Jesus, then they must be the means used by God to awaken our faith. That is, they produce faith. And then I find that confirmed in Romans 10. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.
So let me just close with one application beyond what Coby asks, because I think it is relevant here. The sacred writings that Paul is talking about here that lead us to salvation and produce faith that brings us to salvation are the Old Testament Scriptures. These made Timothy wise unto salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. That is amazing. The Old Testament Scriptures are designed by God to lead us to faith in Jesus Christ. They are not an end in themselves. Romans 10:4. The goal of the law — and I think it means the instruction of God in the Old Testament — the goal of the law is Christ for righteousness to all who believe. This is how the Scriptures make us wise unto salvation. They prepare our minds and our world view and our hearts so that when Jesus the Christ is proclaimed we are ready, we are wise and we believe and are saved.
Thank you Pastor John. That video can be found at desiringGod.org, embedded in a blog post titled: “A First Glimpse at ‘Look at the Book’” … So what is Look at the Book — this series of videos we’re calling “a new chapter in John Piper’s legacy.” Well you can find out more in episode #354 of this podcast series. … I’m your host Tony Reinke, have a great weekend.